Friday, September 24, 2010

Art Prize Update

Hello to our Ice House friends and supporters!

Our time at Art Prize has been great thus far. It's been a real treat to see the new 7 ft print and film displayed at the Women's City Club in Grand Rapids, and meet other artists and art lovers in the community. If you're in the area this weekend or upcoming week we'd love your support! You must activate your voting status in person at the event in order to vote. Here are all the details. Our text voting ID is 51341.

If you're in the Detroit area and would like to visit us in Grand Rapids, you're in luck -- there are still some spots on the bus! The bus will leave this Sunday at 10 AM from 12050 Hall Road in Macomb County, and return in the afternoon. Please email me for the details and to reserve your spot!

Thanks to all for your continued support. See you in Grand Rapids!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Ice House Detroit is organizing a field trip to the Grand Rapids Art Prize!

The bus will leaving Sept 26 from a location still to be determined within Detroit.

We're organizing a bus trip to Grand Rapids from a central location driving directly to Grand Rapids and returning back after a few hours of taking in the art in GR. Once in Grand Rapids there will be free mini bus service to all 7 of the curated venues.

Documentation of the Ice House Detroit project will be in the Women's City Club.
It is an 1860's Heritage Hill two-story Italianate Villa home which survives as one of the remaining examples of this style of architecture in the latter part of the 19th century.

I am excited to display my new 7 foot print in its MOMA-produced frame, alongside the film which was recently transferred to bluray in high def. But I Imagine there will a lot of good work to see!
Special guest bus busker, Matthew Varvil!

Please RSVP to this event via the facebook event page.
It costs $20 per person, and lunch will be made available.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Ice House Detroit Final Image and Film to be shown at ArtPrize Festival in Grand Rapids Michigan

Gregory and I are glad to announce that we will finally be exhibiting a large-scale print of the final image taken during the Ice House Detroit project, in addition to the film that Greg worked on. We both were interested in showing the work first in Michigan, and when we were asked to be a part of the Artprize city-wide arts competition happening in Grand Rapids this fall, we decided that would be a an amazing place to start.

Artprize is a massive undertaking which matches up more than 1200 artists from around the world with venues across the city of Grand Rapids, Michigan. It is also a public competition where prizes are awarded based on votes cast by anyone who is in Grand Rapids to see the festival during the time period of September 22 through October 10. If you are in or near Grand Rapids during this time, please check out our work. It will be on view at the Women's City Club, located in a historical Italianate building near downtown. All of the work in the Women's City Club was curated by Michelle Bosak of Kendall College of Art and Design. Thanks goes to Michelle.

I hear there is a text voting system to be used by those that register at Artprize in Grand Rapids, and our Text Voting ID is 51341 to vote yes for us. More info to follow on the voting process.

Artprize Arts Festival
Grand Rapids, MI
September 22- October 10

Our Venue
254 East Fulton St
Grand Rapids, MI

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Recently, I talked to Khalilah Burt Gaston of the State of Michigan Land Bank, who gave me the updated news on their nascent deconstruction program in Detroit.

So for everyone out there, this is the report I was given:
The Michigan State Land Bank is moving forwards with their plans to start deconstructing instead of demolishing homes in the Detroit area. They have sent a Request For Proposals to 8 or 9 local nonprofits to do the first phase of work, and these are due back around July 21. The first phase of deconstruction work will involve 9 homes, of which the Ice House Detroit project property is one. So the Ice House Detroit house will be deconstructed during the month of August or early September.

As a reminder, Gregory and I stipulated with the State of Michigan Land Bank that deconstruction of the house be one of the conditions upon which our contractual lease of the house, and our financial contribution to them, would be based.


Thursday, April 29, 2010

Demolition sounds great, but in my knowledge, American urban history does not look kindly on population relocation, whatever the reasoning, because its always political who is being moved, whether for a new highway, new developments, or any other reason. There's always a good chance the people making the decisions for relocation are not the ones being relocated. It affects the integrity and history of neighborhoods and cities alike.

When Mayor Bloomberg of New York City made 220 people including myself homeless in 2007 by allowing a forced "evacuation" of a loft building with 5 hours notice, I certainly thought there were other options that could have been explored. I feel like there are other options in this case also, and will be curious to see what happens.


Thursday, April 1, 2010

Detroit spring demolition begins April 1 2010

Today Mayor Dave Bing began to make good on his promise of tearing down 3,000 vacant buildings before the end of the year. Crews started early this morning in the Delray neighborhood at 1123 Lewerenz St and as of an hour ago the crew had moved on to their second demolition site near the intersection of 14th St. and Martin Luther King.

Recently, two separate surveys revealed that nearly 1 in 3 Detroit lots are either vacant or abandoned.

The Detroit Data Collaborative's block-by-block analysis of about 343,849 residential parcels found that about 64 percent contained occupied housing, nearly 10 percent had vacant homes and more than 26 percent were empty lots.

The survey conducted in August and September found 219,511 occupied homes, 33,529 vacant homes and 91,488 vacant lots. It also said 86 percent of homes appeared to be in good condition, while another 9 percent needed minor repairs.

Whereas most homes in disrepair are demolished, the Michigan State Land Bank has repeated that it is their intention to deconstruct the Ice House Detroit property on McClellan St. Theirs is a unique project that disassembles rather than deconstructs homes so that the materials can be reused and recycled.

Also today, on what feels like the first day of spring in New York, Matthew and me met to discuss the book design which we are beginning to lay out. The book will document the production process of the Ice House Detroit installation from beginning to end, including stories from Ice House neighbors. The book will be given as a reward to those that donated to our project and will also be made available through local channels.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

With the opening of tomorrow's event there has also been a bit of reflection regarding all of those that have contributed to our successful project.
I wanted to take a moment to thank everyone that extended themselves: from The ARD TV in Germany to local resident Michael T. Jones that lives in the abandoned school across the street, a brilliant conversationalist that could use a hand.

It is with the highest regard that I thank all of the local Detroit support- there are so many. But if it were not especially for David Runk, Philip Cooley, Erica Hill, Tom Stoye, and the Michigan State Land bank, this project would not have gone off in the same manner, if at all.

It should be noted that The Michigan State Land Bank's Executive Director Carrie Lewand-Monroe, and Development Specialist Khalilah Burt both extended themselves for a community based project in a manner that is not so commonly seen in other states. It is because of their continued interest in community stabilization, and their goal of fostering the development of the blighted, tax reverted properties that they got behind our project from the very beginning.
I am extremely pleased to hear that it is still the State's intention to go ahead with the deconstruction rather than the demolition of the property at 3920 McClellan St.
If they have continued interest in working with us on the property, we hope to lease it in the future, and to further it's use as a beacon for constructive dialog between the far east side residents and those outside the city limits.

To the Michigan State Land Bank- thank you for keeping Michigan a productive State.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

art update

It has been nearly two weeks since our return to Brooklyn. The drum scans of the 8x10 images are back and here is one of the images.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

February 13

We've created a flickr page for your Ice House photos, which we'd like to include in our upcoming book. Please upload your images here. Phone and camera images are both needed.

Here's a shot of our film crew from photographer and Ice House collaborator Tom Stoye. Thanks for the great documentation.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Hello to Ice House Detroit friends

Since making the location of the house public we've been touched by the continued strong interest in our project. Just today there was a group of architecture students that had come in from Toronto to see the Ice House project. What we have decided is to open up a flickr community photo group where you can contribute the digital photos you have taken of the house. We are also interested in your cellphone images which you have documented in the recent weeks. If you would be so kind as to upload your images to this link with a photo credit, we would like to use one from every person for a couple pages in our book we will be self publishing.Thanks!

Monday, February 8, 2010

What's next for the Ice House property?

Thanks to our great crew (and Mother Nature for a string of cold days) we were able to finalize the icing of the house. Early yesterday morning, a professional lighting crew was brought in to light the Ice House Detroit landscape with painterly skill. The crew was directed by Richard Sands while Gregory photographed the project with his 8x10 still camera and directed an installation film of his own. This film was shot using a 35mm movie camera. The large lighting and film component which was completed early this morning brought our collaboration to another level, utilizing the architectural installation as a canvas for yet another form of expression. We will no longer be working our 24 hour shifts, but we are still interested in maintaining the dialogue amongst the citizens of Detroit. The neighborhood in which we decided to do our project is one of the poorest in the nation but after getting to know many of you personally we have been genuinely inspired by your perseverance in the face of systematic disregard and neglect. Thank you for your kind and generous support and for all of the stories you have been so willing to share.
For those of you who have not seen the home thus far, please feel free to view the project at 3920 McClellan St. (just off of Mack). It can be viewed for the next several days until the sun takes it back.

There are other questions which remain with regard to our project. Will the Michigan State Land Bank live up to their "intention" of using early release prisoners to deconstruct our home as opposed to the standard demolition? We have spoken to several organizations that are ready to walk through the home to agree that the inner wooden structure of the Ice House has maintained its integrity. The Detroit Salvage Warehouse was one such group which had been in talks with the state regarding this program. Let's see if the State can figure out how to put some of the citizens in this "far east side" neighborhood back to work with the new program of deconstruction. With the overwhelming number of empty homes in disrepair and the large amount of unemployed people needing jobs... It doesn't take much ingenuity to consider giving these contracts to the people that need it most and not these large demolition crews from the suburbs that do not appreciate the value of recycling building materials.

This digital photograph was shot a week ago. We will be processing the film from our large lighting set up this week. Stay tuned to see one of our final images in the near future.

You can continue emailing us your comments about the project, or leave a response to this post if you like.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

It's a wrap! ...

Yep, that's right! It's a wrap. Stay tuned for upcoming images and video from the people from the neighborhood and production crew.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

February 3

We came across this astrological reading for our project and it bodes well for us. Fingers crossed that the sun doesn't come out today!

We thank you again for all of the support and interest from both near...

... and far.

- Gregory Holm

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

February 2

Just around 7am Monday morning I was visited by an inquisitive gentleman carrying warm coffee. It wasn't long before we began sharing stories. Hours later, Lester had become somewhat of a neighborhood ambassador; taking hold of Matthew's video camera, he captured some good samples of what we have been experiencing all week.

We also discovered how to equalize the temperature from the attic space to the outside air. The temperature was brought down from 42 degrees to 24 in a matter of minutes by creating a cross breeze. This should keep the top portion of the roof from melting every time the sun comes out. As of this morning, I am finally confident that our project will not melt by our Feb 7 date of completion. This is when we will make our location public.

Monday, February 1, 2010

February 1

Hello all Ice House enthusiasts. First I want to send out a thank you to the many of you that have been stopping by with warm regards and hot chocolate! Hearing so many of your personal stories has been the most rewarding and motivating aspect of this project. Without the positive feedback and sense of excitement I have received from the local community, creating this tiny beacon of icy light in a mostly disregarded section of Detroit would not have been possible. I cannot stress that enough.
During my time here I have explored the surrounding neighborhood extensively and I would estimate that nearly 1 in every 4 homes is either in a state of disrepair or completely abandoned. And although many have chosen to view these conditions with apathy, my point of view is one of optimism for the future driven by a sense of nostalgia for this neighborhood's past beauty. Amidst the soaring oaks that line these spacious blocks remains a modern and organic grid filled with possibilities that perhaps the fresh eyes of a new generation will bring to fruition. The Ice House project seeks to demonstrate that in much the same way -- as building materials are reclaimed from the many abandoned houses in Detroit, so to can the affected neighborhoods themselves be repurposed through the creativity, spirit, and sense of community clearly demonstrated by the residents themselves.
-Gregory Holm

Saturday, January 30, 2010

There was a full moon in Detroit last night

Jeff Williams and myself worked nearly 30 hours on the house up until this morning. This full moon was with us nearly the entire time.

-Gregory Holm

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Jan 28

The weather is getting colder and the sun is on the retreat, so we are back to icing! Our plan is 24 hour daily icing all week long, with 59 hours under our belt so far. Blogging with cold hands, but the house looks amazing.

This is really a sight to see! Check it out while it's still cold... If you're interested in contributing please get in touch: or

Friday, January 22, 2010

Jan 22

Ice House Detroit had another productive week. This past Martin Luther King Day we funded a food and clothing drive with United Peace Relief Detroit. By all estimates we fed 250 homeless in just a couple hours. Thanks to the fine young adults from the Waldorf School in Indian Village, Mike, Ralph, and Judy Frontera, Marie Caruso, Sarah Johnson, Jean Wilson, Audra Kubat and everyone else for coming together to make food and serve the local community at Detroit's NSO in the Cass Corridor.

It also looks like we are expecting some colder weather to arrive in the next week. We are looking forward to the below freezing temperatures and completing the Ice House Detroit project shortly thereafter!

Sunday, January 17, 2010


We've had about four days of downtime, working on the house and waiting for the weather to cool down again. Although we won't be finalizing the project tomorrow on Martin Luther King day, we will be feeding many homeless in cooperation with United Peace Relief Detroit, per our commitment to the city. If you'd like to get involved or contribute food, socks, blankets, etc., we will be on the corner of MLK and 3rd St. starting at noon and staying until we give away the 20 gallons of chili and soup, and 50 loaves worth of sandwiches.

It looks as if we'll be back to icing the house in the evenings this week. Our downtime has allowed us to create a much more automated system of water application, and our setup time is now only about 30 minutes. If you'd like to help out anytime this week, please email Greg or Matthew.

photos by Tom Stoye

Friday, January 15, 2010

Jan 15 2010

While I feel that the terminology "Saving Detroit" is a bit melodramatic, there are limitless organizations in Detroit that are toiling away on a daily basis to improve the general quality of life of everyone living here.

I talked with Carol from the Detroit organization ArtRoads this afternoon. She has been following our project, and saw that we were doing food and clothing drives. In association with this, she has made a contribution of blankets, and dropped them at the Detroit Rescue Mission.

Carol's organization is the only organization in Michigan bringing art back to inner city public schools that no longer have art programs due to budget issues. She invites those that are curious to get in touch with her, and above all to visit her classrooms. On Fridays, she's at Edison Elementary. If you're interested, get in touch with her at (313) 407-9805. Or make a donation online.

Carol Hofgartner
Executive Director
Art Road

313) 407-9805

Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries
150 Stimson St
Detroit, MI 48201-2410
(313) 993-4700

On Thursday I happened upon a southwest Detroit art opening and thought I would pop my head in. Interestingly enough, it happened to be a "Detroit Lives" art exhibition. My friend Jerry Paffendorf was selling square inches of the city for a dollar each -- a really interesting micro real estate concept called Loveland. It was also the premiere of the film "The Farmer and the Philosopher" which speaks of the fertile landscape of DIY potential in the city. It was such a refreshing experience to find myself in the midst of a very well attended event, full of young adults that all seemed to be highly activated with a sense of urban responsibility. Thanks to Philip Lauri and Aaron Timlin.
I was really taken by Vanessa Miller's photo interviews which pinpointed some of the many individuals making a difference in the city.

Lizzy Baskerville
Cass Cooridor
I’m a willing and active participant/resident/member of a burgeoning group. I am trying to fit in. I am listening to what’s going on and I’m slowly reinventing myself by doing so.
I am honored to work for East Michigan Environmental Action Council in Detroit with the Greener Schools Program. I’m investing in our schools and school buildings by helping create environmental labs, media labs, adventure playgrounds, and outdoor classrooms. Detroit schools are becoming centers of exploration, creativity, self-discovery, community, empowerment, and ACTION. This impacts our youth - they need an outlet for their brilliant minds. This impacts
our sense of place - we are nurturing our community and building for a self-sustaining future. This impacts our school closures - we want our students to have real reasons to stay in school, to look forward to going to school, to be needed. Most of all it’s impacting me - I work with incredible Detroit women, and from their passion and dedication I am inspired daily.
There are a lot of visionaries here, and I wouldn’t be here without them. However I’m more of a person of action - I like the visions and I want to make them real. If we listen to one another and are self-aware, motivated, and most importantly work collaboratively, I see positive things. I see a city and an economy that is inclusive and nurturing, united within itself, independent from outside money, and really fucking proud of itself.

Mike Medow
Cass Corridor
I have always lived in Southeast Michigan and I love Detroit. I have lived in the city for four years. My family is here and most of my closest friends are people I have known since elementary school. I grew up immersed in local underground music, culture, politics and I feel very fortunate that I have been able to follow those passions to the present.
Currently, I work on two projects. I facilitated the process of bringing the Allied Media Conference (AMC) to its new, permanent location in Detroit in 2007, and I now serve as Operations Director for Allied Media Projects staff collective, the parent organization of the AMC.
In late 2007, I co-founded EMERGENCE Media with Invincible and Wes Taylor, and we have been releasing and promoting Invincible’s music and video nonstop ever since.
I also do some one-off consulting on various projects. One of the main side-projects I am working on right now is editing/admining, which is a project of the Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership.
My expertise is in back-end operations especially project management and financial management. This is where visions are implemented into reality. Detroit is home to brilliant grassroots organizers and visionary artists. I help translate those visions into realistic budgets, project timelines and workplans.
One of my favoriate bands of all time CRASS said “It is essential that our dreams become reality or there will cease to be one.”
With school closings, lay-offs, foreclosures and utility shut-offs, and persistent crime, many Detroiters are facing a crisis where if we do not organize alternatives for our communities, life in the city will become increasingly unlivable.
There is so much that we can do for ourselves in Detroit without waiting on someone else to fix our problems for us. I think the future of Detroit is that we are going to invent a new kind of city based upon community media technology, urban agriculture and green building, music and creative visual culture, alternative education, and restorative justice. We have a lot of building ahead of us.

Sarah Kubik
I recently left the Detroit limits to move to Hamtramck into a house that has been in my family for over 50 years.
I am the founder of Recycle Detroit, which is an organization that supports recycle initiatives in SE Michigan. We have been responsible for helping change the city of Detroit’s recycling contract in 2007. Collaborating with other organizations to hold cleanups in the city and recycling city festivals have been other type of events that we’ve taken on. Supporting the community of Detroit is important to us, because that is what drives sustainability. If we know we are in together than there will be more participation. This is the probably the most gratification, besides seeing recycling results that I get doing community outreach in Detroit. Recycle Detroit is still in its infancy stage. We focus on getting our hands dirty to promote environmental management. It seems to work for us when we lead by example.
We tend to take problem areas and make them a viable project by the time we are done. Cass Park is a perfect example. It is in the historical district of the Cass Corridor. The park is known to be feeding ground for church groups and the homeless. Both trash and community members find refuge in the park. We have found that there is no accountability to maintain the cleanliness of the park from those who use it for whatever reason. Neighbors have taken responsibility, but not the entire community as a whole. Recycle Detroit decided to take Cass Park underneath its wing. Synergies have occurred in Cass Park because of the initiative. Men’s Health Magazine worked Recycle Detroit in the Fall of 2007 to do a clean up in the park and built five fitness stations for the community. April 18, 2009 will be the 3rd annual Earth Day cleanup. The organization will not only clean up the park, but they will also go down the block and help out the Detroit Veteran’s Center in which their services are needed. Last week, Recycle Detroit worked with BuildOn, a youth organization to recycle the DVC’s old computers and unused donated clothing. Recycle Detroit feels the organization’s strengths are networking with other projects and groups to promote a quality of life in the city in which everyone can participate.
I never had imagined that my passion for trash would have influenced as many people as it has. I honestly thought I was just going to hold a monthly neighborhood recycling collection. Probably the most bizarre impact was the city contract. The city of Detroit improved their recycling program, which hadn’t changed in 17 years. Even though Recycle Detroit is no longer affiliated with the business who continues to hold the contract, we feel it more than necessary to take part of the credit for the change.
Businesses have benefited from my research (not always by choice), to the point they are now profiting.
WSU has hired me in 2008 to help organize their recycle program. Spring 2008, WSU placed over 600 recycling containers throughout the campus. Wayne State is now slowing seeing improvements.
A good example would be since the Fall of 2008 they have diverted over 25,000 pounds of paper from the waste stream. Recycle Detroit will recycle the Movement 2009, Dally in the Alley 2009, and continue to help organizations and businesses with their recycle needs.
I hope that the citizens who are paying attention to their personal impact to the environment will also be active in the public policy of Michigan and Detroit’s waste stream to be sure that the most sustainable and affordable forms of technology and collection systems are being used. The reality is not everyone will be proactive, so stewardship needs to be promoted from all levels in order for society to see results.
Unfortunately at times, big business rules Michigan’s waste stream.
A place of cooperation of community based values with entrepreneurs and community organizations who will localize crucial life systems, such as urban agriculture, literacy, public education, environmental management, mental health support, transparent political system, mass transit, and affordable health care. These components will begin to make Detroit and the state of Michigan look attractive to outside industries and individuals to move their efforts here. Detroit will always be the hub for change. If the mentioned about services become available at an affordable rate, then there will be results of change to soon follow. At risk community members would then become more productive, because they wouldn’t have to worry about meeting their basic needs. These same people will be able to focus on having a life, instead surviving life. This in return will create Detroit has a city of regeneration not degeneration.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Jan 12 2010

Where to start.... Well we still have our backbones.

Two days ago, Larry, our water guy, came by with 6000 gallons of water. After some trial and error we ended up using a large hose to mist the house for our initial Ice test. Lucky for us, Tom Stoye, Rosie Sharp, and Tim Nutt showed up for some support for this endeavor. By Midnight, 18 degrees had become 10. Tim and I decided to let others rest and carry on until the morning. By 6am we had over an inch of ice covering the entire house and nearly an empty truck of water. We have learned that even with low temperatures the sun has more of an impact on the melting of ice. After a 22 hour day we regrouped, did an interview with a Swiss Public Radio correspondent, and were ready for more challenges... Our biggest will undoubtedly be the foreseeable forecast which is leading up to our shoot date. It looks as if we will have highs just above freezing with a spattering of sunny days...Hmmm.

Today we had a very nice meeting with Erica Hill from the Detroit Film Office, and some conversations with some of Detroit's finest fire fighters. Tomorrow we install a sprinkler system in the house, figure out how to tap / blow out a hydrant, and protect a large hose from the passing cars, German TV, and another all nighter with the hoses.

photo: Rosie Sharp
photo: Rosie Sharp
photo: Rosie Sharp
photo: Rosie Sharp


Saturday, January 9, 2010

Jan 9 2010

Gregory and I have been in Detroit since before New Years, and will be in Detroit for the rest of the month working on this project. We've been doing some work on the house in the last few days boarding up the windows and doors, cleaning the trash left in the yard, and scraping snow off the roof from the last snowstorm.

It's very clear that the house has been squatted within the last several months judging by the mattresses, alcoholic beverage containers, and the dollar bill we found on the coffee table. All of the plumbing, electrical, and wiring of the house has already been scrapped, except for one piece of aluminum tubing in the basement, which was used by the squatters to have unregulated heat, bypassing the gas company's meter.

We're a little surprised that the house had initially been put on the demolition list, as the structure and walls are in decent condition, and it appears as if the roof has been replaced within the last year.

We have a lot of volunteers who will be working with us next week, but so far it's only been Gregory and I on site getting everything ready, which has been really nice. Next week, we will be providing soup and chili on site for people that are volunteering and those that are curious or hungry in the neighborhood, provided by United Peace Relief Detroit, and Greg's Mom and Aunt.

We're consulting with Greg's uncle Mike, a retired Ford Motor Company plumber, on the basics of assembling a system of water outlets we can use to ice the house off of a city hydrant. Also Larry our Water Guy will be coming over to the property tomorrow to consult with us in regards to ice coverage.

We appreciate all the press inquiries thus far, and we apologize for not being able to get back to you. With the current cold front hitting the city, we are very limited on time right now, and we are hoping to be able to respond to all of your calls and emails when preproduction is over.