Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) Announces SYNC: Art Meets Technology, Fundraiser

Friends of Modern and Contemporary Art (FMCA), an auxiliary support group of the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA), is hosting SYNC: art meets technology on June 23 from 6:30 to 11 p.m. at NextEnergy, 461 Burroughs in Detroit’s TechTown. SYNC is a fundraiser to support restoration and conservation of the monumental Tony Smith sculpture Gracehoper, which sits on the DIA’s north lawn.

Tony Smith, Gracehoper, 1961, welded steel and paint. Detroit Institute of Arts.

SYNC: art meets technology will highlight how art and technology intersect in the 21st century and will feature five artists whose works are based in technology and science. The artists have created event-specific works, carefully designed to consider the theme and the physical environment at NextEnergy, and include outdoor ambient works to indoor sound interventions and interactive hanging sculptures. They are: Steve Coy, who presents a new augmented reality and projection work; Joel Peterson, with Grace Harper, an interactive sound installation; Sarah Wagner and Jon Brumit, who will design and install a custom overhead lighting environment with a sound element; and AJ Manoulian and Ted Sliwinski presenting “Mind-Controlled Ferrofluid,” where guests will be able to move a magnet using their brain waves.

“I am very grateful that FMCA, which has in the past supported many important acquisitions, has chosen to fund the conservation of one of our most important contemporary art sculptures,” said Graham W. J. Beal, DIA director. Protecting and conserving outdoor sculpture brings its own special problems, but is essential not only for the well-being of the work, but for the reputation of the museum. Funds raised through this event will comprise a significant portion of the cost to conserve our monumental Tony Smith sculpture, Gracehoper, so that it can continue to please our many visitors.”

The event begins at 6:30 p.m. with hors d’oeuvres, a creative strolling supper by Cutting Edge Cuisine, wine and a specialty drink. At 9 p.m., several top neighborhood bartenders from Detroit restaurants will create their version of a Gracehoper drink, which will be entered into a tasting competition.

Entertainment will be provided by some of Detroit’s finest musicians and dancers. Mise en Place Dance creates movement that is physical, athletic and unconventional. Haleem Ar-Rasheed will present his troupe, Hardcore Detroit, and its signature version of jit, a combination of break dancing and shuffle unique to Detroit. The Hot Subs of Detroit will play gypsy jazz. Alvin Hill, a multi-media composer, will accompany the dance performances and DJ a portion of the evening. DJ Prevu will cue up tunes and mix sound throughout the evening.

Three ticket levels are available. A $250 Patron ticket includes the event and an invitation to an insider’s view of Gracehoper while it is undergoing conservation treatment. A $150 ticket includes the event, and a $50 ticket includes entry at 9 p.m. for dessert, coffee and the Gracehoper drink competition. For tickets, visit or call 313.833.4020.

Tony Smith’s Gracehoper
Since 1972, Smith’s Gracehoper, a sculpture on the north lawn of the DIA, has become an iconic landmark in Detroit. Standing 22.5’ tall, 23’ deep, and 46’ long, Gracehoper was commissioned by the DIA and fabricated by Industrial Welding Company of Newark, New Jersey. Gracehoper offers insight into Smith’s sculptural approach in its integration of industrial fabrication methods and use of modular components in its construction.

Speculation about the origins of Gracehoper’s title has aligned it with Smith’s interest in the shape of railroad coal cars, called “hoppers,” as well as the fable of the grasshopper and the ant as retold by James Joyce in Finnegans Wake. In the novel, a beast named Gracehoper comes to represent change, progress, and dynamism.

NextEnergy and Tech Town
NextEnergy is a non-profit organization launched in 2002, whose mission is to advance alternative-energy technologies. The company is located in Detroit’s Alternative Energy Renaissance Zone near Wayne State University’s (WSU) campus, which is also home to Detroit’s business incubator TechTown, an affiliate of WSU. NextEnergy and TechTown play key roles in support of innovation fundamental to Detroit’s renaissance and Michigan’s growth in emerging industries.

Friends of Modern and Contemporary Art (FMCA)
Friends of Modern and Contemporary Art (FMCA), the museum’s oldest auxiliary, supports the mission of the DIA and the curatorial activities and operation of the James Pearson Duffy Department of Contemporary Art. FMCA sponsors and organizes activities and programs that will promote awareness, interest, appreciation, knowledge and understanding of all aspects of modern and contemporary art.

The Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA), one of the premier art museums in the United States, is home to more than 60,000 works that comprise a multicultural survey of human creativity from ancient times through the 21st century. From the first van Gogh painting to enter a U.S. museum (Self-Portrait, 1887), to Diego Rivera’s world-renowned Detroit Industry murals (1932–33), the DIA’s collection is known for its quality, range, and depth. The DIA’s mission is to create opportunities for all visitors to find personal meaning in art.

Programs are made possible with support from the City of Detroit.

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