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Monica Bowman

Any way you cast it, the beauty of art is its ability to project intrigue onto, say, an overturned refrigerator. This week Monica Bowman, founder and director of The Butcher's Daughter gallery, opens a window onto the relevance of contemporary art for Detroit communities.

Post 1: An Obligatory Choice

A lot is said to me about my courage to open a gallery during a recession. Truth be told: the choice to become an entrepreneur wasn't a courageous one; rather, it was obligatory. You see, upon graduation from Georgetown, industry jobs common for graduates entering the work force were scarcely available. Many institutions were downsizing and in some cases closing altogether. The situation was familiar to me; I was born and raised in Michigan.
 
Being no stranger to the results of an economic downturn, I was prepared to gather resources, utilize connections, and mobilize others in the community with very little budget and no previous experience running a small business to secure a spot for doing what I love and am trained to do. Sure, my background in international trade provided insight into commodity trading, however, this is not just any commodity. It's art.
 
You know that old saying, "Necessity is the mother of invention"? This was the case with the branding and marketing of The Butcher's Daughter. Drawing from my own personal experiences, I borrowed a philosophy I grew up with and understood: value for quality.  I also created strategic goals related to my interests and those relevant to the field of contemporary art.
 
This leads to what I feel is a huge innovation for art galleries in Michigan: the desire and capacity to not only represent artists or sell art, but also to provide context for WHY the art is relevant. The Butcher's Daughter does so by citing trends in the contemporary art market, placing the work within an art historical or academic framework using contemporary theory and discourse and, finally, supporting regional talent and community infrastructure.
 
The gallery often hosts events in conjunction with exhibitions to further explore the curatorial vision and artists behind the work on view in the gallery. These ideas are all documented in my Prime Cuts blog and on the gallery’s Twitter and Facebook page.
 
During the course of my guest spot blogging for Metromode, I plan to share my insights and perspective in regards to issues that affect you (no matter what role you feel art plays in your life):
 
Blog #2: COMMUNITY – "Who is Contemporary Art About?" This installment will address how contemporary art impacts your life
 
Blog #3: INFRASTRUCTURE – "You, Me and Them" will provide an overview of local art resources and illustrate the vitality of their services   
 
Blog #4: REGIONALISM – "The New Cultural Capital" will wrap up the series with a perspective on how creative capital saves local economies  
 
See, that's the beauty of context at work… the realization that you have an active role in cultivating cultural capital/local talent while enriching your life and the lives of others in the community. 


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