Best Arts 


Best Place to Buy Art - 323 Gallery

Logistics and an understandable need for more space prompted 323East to close up shop in Royal Oak and embrace new digs - a refurbished three-story, 10,000-square-foot building on Gratiot in Detroit. Three things to remember - they kept the name, they still plan on running 1XRUN and they will continue to be the definitive emporium for Detroit art created by Detroit artists. Of course, they'll also be running the best place to purchase that art - as well as the works fashioned by a galaxy of national and international names. Reader, you're long overdue for an original piece by Ron Zarkin, Bethany Shorb, Glenn Barr, Audrey Pongracz, BASK ....

Best Comedy Club - Mark Ridley's Comedy Castle

The comedy at Mark Ridley's castle of mirth comes from people who are on their way up, people who are becoming more and more well-known and people so firmly established that their visits are just a personal way to say thanks and return a favor. Among those who belonged in all three of those categories at one time or another are Jerry Seinfeld, Paul Reiser, Rosie O'Donnell, Jay Leno, Gary Shandling, Jon Stewart, Dennis Miller, Jim Carrey, Lewis Black, Drew Carey, Kevin James and Ellen DeGeneres. That's an impressive list of alumni - and reason enough to drop by to see the names that will be famous tomorrow.

Best Community Theatre - Stagecrafters

Stagecrafters in Royal Oak seems almost tailor-made to refute each and every slanderous joke that has ever been made about community theater over the years. Headquartered in the beautiful and historic Baldwin Theatre in Royal Oak, Stagecrafters has presented everything from Wait Until Dark (and yes, people screamed when THAT scene happened in the final act) to the musical Titanic. And they have done so with a professionalism and spirit that speaks well for a company's dedication to the oldest rules of show business.

Best Dance Company - Eisenhower Dance Ensemble

This eclectic troupe has been all over the place! And if a schedule that includes practically every corner of our state isn't impressive enough, bear in mind that the EDE also made a successful stop at St. Petersburg in Russia not too long ago. Along the way they also picked up enough praise and awards to become a byword for choreographic excellence and skill. Not bad for another home team from these parts.

Best Exhibit - The Dirty Show

Erotic art from across the country and from every corner of the world comes to Detroit and is placed on display at a Detroit location. What's not to like? This year's show was the fourteenth consecutive celebration of eros and other sundry matters. We made our rounds at the 2013 showcase and the exhibit once again proved to be the best box of Valentine's Day candy you could possibly wish for.

Best Film Series - DFT

Not that we're discouraging you from taking Cinema 101 in college, but a more expansive (and less expensive) education is always available at the Detroit Film Theatre. Over the years Elliot Wilhelm and his associates have managed to bring an eclectic river of celluloid to the DIA's auditorium - movies that have never been shown in Detroit and sure as hell never made it to the shelves of Blockbuster or Hollywood Video. In addition to that, the DFT has maintained a splendid retrospective series of screenings devoted to the classics and a lecture program featuring academics, critics and film professionals who have a more insightful view of how motion pictures are made.

Best Local Art Film Theater - Main Art

We're fond of art houses that eschew the term "art house" and all the other labels that hint at a noblesse oblige attitude toward movies, popcorn and midnight specials. Don't get us wrong, however. The Main in Royal Oak has succeeded admirably in being everything you could desire in a cinema that bucks the prevailing octoplex mentality - a discerning bijou in a lovely city that delivers indie, foreign and provocative films on a weekly basis. We also love them for two other reasons - they permit a comfy alcove to be used for local art exhibits and they also serve as a screening facility for the statewide Mitten Movie Project. That's neighborhood-friendly in anyone's book.

Best Local Artist - Matt Eaton

Considering his lineage, it's no wonder that Matt Eaton opted for a lifelong commitment to the arts. And considering his talent, it's with little surprise that he became one of the city's most acclaimed artists - admired not only for a skillful brush but also for the thoughtful manner in which he integrates social commentary in his pieces without making them obvious or polemical. Throw in the fact that he also managed to make a success out of the Red Bull House of Art - a forum for young Detroiters who seldom get a chance to put paintings in a public space - and you have a complete picture of a dynamic work in progress.

Best Movie Theater - Palladium 12

Lush, plush and as comfortable as a space at Club Med, the Uptown in Birmingham is the most hedonistic movie theatre experience in this corner of Michigan. Three floors, a dozen or so screens, facilities for group trips and corporate meetings - it's the perfect biosphere for an audience waiting impatiently for the current offerings from Hollywood and beyond. And that's real butter on the popcorn!

Best Museum - DIA

As evidenced by the avalanche of votes that passed a crucial three-county vote of support and confidence, it's pretty obvious that you and countless others cherish the Detroit Institute of Arts. Small wonder. In good times and bad times this trove of priceless works has been a gift to every citizen here - an oasis where the human soul can be reminded that the creative impulse is a constant reminder that the soul itself is immortal. And no single painting in history has captured the magnificence and duality of an industrial identity like the Rivera murals.

Best Novelty Performance Troupe - Detroit Bellydance

The exquisite movements and affirming spirit that exemplify Middle Eastern dance is celebrated by the incomparable Lana Mini and the "tribe" known as Detroit Bellydance. Featured and praised in our pages as well as others, these dancers have performed at public and private gatherings throughout metro Detroit. The company also holds classes, workshops and forums for all levels of skill. Put a little fun in your life, ladies - and pick up some zills!

Best Street Art - Detroit Beautification Project

A joint venture by Contra Projects of Hamtramck and 323East Gallery, the Detroit Beautification Project enlists a small army of Detroit "taggers" and a supporting contingent of national and international street artists to "legally place their marks" on selected stretches of Grand River Avenue between I-94 and the Lodge Freeway, Jos Campau Street between Hamtramck Drive and McNichols Road and Eastern Market District. The finished and ongoing works have not only brought belated recognition to the artists themselves, but incomparable beauty to hitherto unadorned neighborhoods. That's real street cred for all concerned.

Best Theatre Company - Ringwald Theatre

Ferndale's Ringwald Theatre is home to the master chefs of Who Wants Cake? and the thespians who provide all the icing. Helmed by Joe Bailey, Joe Plambeck, Jamie Warrow, Lisa Mellin and Vince Kelley, the company prides itself on works that "blur the lines between race, income, religion and sexuality." Nevertheless, those blurred lines have produced moving, funny and memorable productions of incredible clarity and intensity. Make sure you buy tickets for Sons of the Prophet when it opens in coming weeks.

Best Theatrical Ensemble - Detroit Repertory Theatre

The Detroit Repertory Theatre has succeeded for more than half a century in bringing modern and original works to its base of operations downtown. A socially committed and racially integrated company long before those virtues were either popular or expected, the DRT also nurtured local talent - actors and actresses who have gone on to become acclaimed artists throughout the nation. Their 2013 season is already underway and a tribute to Council Cargle, a DRT veteran who passed away earlier this year, is in the works. Here's to another 50 years of determination and artistry!

Best Burlesque - Detroit Dizzy Dames

Burlesque has a history as honorable as any modern art form of the last hundred years, so it's with genuine pride that we once again acknowledge your votes for this dedicated troupe. The cast has grown over the years and the routines are becoming more and more ambitious in recent months, but Lushes and the girls are still giving every show a special extra kiss to Detroit audiences that have been loyal to them since day (and g-string) one.

Best Underappreciated Gallery - Oakland University Art Gallery

Thanks chiefly to Dick Goody and Susan Evans, the Oakland University Art Gallery has gained an enviable reputation for exhibits of national standing that have been reviewed in both national and international publications. More than that, the gallery has been an incubator for scores of young Michigan artists who are now making their mark here and elsewhere. If your roving eye needs proof, we suggest you investigate The Roving Eye: Aura and The Contemporary Portrait.



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