What if you had a Shinola of the ghetto? What would that be like and what would it sell? It would have the designs from the the stores, the soul food restaurants, the mechanic shops on things like towels, blankets, shirts, ties. It could start with images that already exist and create a link to the painters who are probably going out of business because signs are now made on vinyl. You could generate the sense of design and creativity that manifested itself in the storefront churches, party stores, memorials.
The story is not very complicated. It's just that tens of millions of people live in ghettos in the country, and we all know examples of movie actors that came out of there, athletes, musicians, but you know what you don't have? None of the famous black artists, and I mean visual artists or architects, come from that area. And then I remember all these years of going to storefront churches and looking and seeing all the stuff that people put up there. You know, going into the party stores, barbershops, getting a haircut, and seeing a completely different sense of order, design, signage, and also seeing that nobody was preserving that stuff.Now, having put the skeleton of a business plan out there, will anybody embrace the idea? So far, much of the stuff expressing the sensibility of black Detroit has been T-shirts with block print. Are we ready for a business, online or brick-and-mortar, that sells beach towels with artwork by Bird, or neckties decorated with art from a storefront church? Are there black entrepreneurs who want to deepen and extend our understanding and appreciation of the homegrown art of Detroit? It's an interesting question.