Begin, Begin

In the early 90’s, I studied sculpture at a grad school outside of Detroit. The school, Cranbrook, was a good fit for me. Although sitting in my studio reading and building all day long was great, the school itself was a bit isolating. Built in the mansion district of Bloomfield Hills, the school is literally a walled in utopic mid-century Arts and Crafts garden with a seemingly minimum one hour drive to escape. Once the cold and snow started (mid-November), only an occasional run to the distant 24 hour big box lumber supple store seemed worth it.
As it was my first time away from home and I had art on my mind, the isolation seemed fine. When I did get restless and needed to escape the garden, I would jump in my station wagon and drive North to the flea markets in Pontiac and Flint. Walking the maze of aisles lined table after table with worn and used stuff calmed me. Objects and people felt solid there in a way the big box lumber store or the walled in academy did not. 
One night last fall I ran into a friend in Brooklyn. She said she was working on a public art proposal for the city of Flint. We talked about the city and I told her about the flea market and the winter skies. She asked if I was interested in contacting Stephen Zacks who was organizing some projects in the city. After dragging my feet a bit, I emailed Stephen and told him about my work in the collaboration MTAA and my fondness of Flint. I said I was interested in remotely sending Flint a set of public sculptures and performances. He sounded interested and said if I could fund it myself, he could offer some help with resources and contacts in the area. I said perfect and sent him this list of possible artworks.

So, for the next 12 months, I will be thinking of the city and people of Flint Michigan. I have no order of production for the list of 10 artworks nor detailed plan for them at this point. I do have a faith in a process. I have a site, a goal, some people, the Internet and, as 2012 is a leap year, 336 days. I hope to post here once a week or so to let you know how it is going. 

If you are near Flint and would be interested in working on one of the projects or just want to say “hey”, send an email to mriver (at)

On the Nairobi Mtaa Blog

Okay, here’s the cut. I have done a lot of walking around Nairobi for close to 2 decades. There is a lot happening in everyday life in Nairobi. I’m going to be making observations first, then react to what I’ve observed, and the rest of you guys get to contribute their two cents etc. And guys, lets keep it civil shall we. And yes, there will be the photos. This blog is meant to be an archive of Nairobi through time, starting 2014. And so, here we go.

On Dada and The Public Library of Flint

With the need for x10 to depart from somewhere, let’s start with #2
#2 Give the Flint Public Library a signed hardcover copy of National Gallery of Art’s 2006  DADA exhibition catalogue.

Let us start 161 years ago in America in what will become the city of Flint. On March 22, 1851 a group of women, concerned about the lack of cultural and educational opportunities in their community, met at the home of Maria Smith Stockton. As a result of the meeting, the group adopted a constitution written by Sophia Gotee Jenney that established the Ladies Library Association.

Let us now move the clock forward 65 years from that meeting in Flint and look over to Europe on the brink of WW1. In Switzerland we see the opening of the Cabaret Voltaire, the spiritual birthplace of the art movement DADA.

Cabaret Voltaire - Under this name a group of young artists and writers has been formed whose aim is to create a centre for artistic entertainment. The idea of the cabaret will be that guest artists will come and give musical performances and readings at the daily meetings. The young artists of Zurich, whatever their orientation, are invited to come along with suggestions and contributions of all kinds. -Zurich, February 2, 1916


Now, move forward in time again. Move 95 years later and West to America. In a small apartment in Brooklyn, New York in the Fall or 2011. I’m sitting at my laptop writing down 10 artworks that I would like to build in Flint. I want to start by sending a gift to Flint. This gift should be able to be held and brought home by anyone in the city. The gift can be a book. It should be  a ridiculously large book.

Move forward in time to now. Now for me is 5:51 pm on New Year’s Eve 2012. This will be the past for you. Looking up from laptop, I see my DADA exhibition catalogue.

Now backwards in time a few years and a few miles West to the Museum of Modern Art. I’m wondering around the DADA show. So much stuff. So much text. It’s hard for me to focus on anything but the fact I’m wandering around a museum. Works come in out of focus. I’m happy when I recognize an artwork without reading the text. I might be with my ex-girl friend. She loved to wander around museums with me. I can’t remember. I do remember covertly filming Duchamp’s optic disk. If I find the video buried on some old external hard drive, you will see it below. If not, it is also lost. 

Forward in time and back to a public Library in Flint. In a few weeks, someone will read an email explaining that a person in Brooklyn would like to donate a book about European art movement. Maybe the email says the book is part of an art project called Flint, MI x10. Maybe not. Some people get turned off by that stuff. They think it’s a con or something.

Not sure. Let’s stop for now and write that email in 2012.