Free City 2016: Motion & Play

FRI. & SAT., AUG. 19-20, 2016


The 2016 Free City festival takes motion and play as its theme, inviting installations, sculptures, projections, and performances employing movement of objects and people through unexpected, unexplainable, and uncanny means. In its investigation of the phenomenology of motion, Free City 2016 invites artists and participants to ask: How do we move? For what purpose?

Fazed Grunion
FIG Projects, 10 Instructions to Visit Flint
Peter Pawlicki, Beacon
Peter Fend, Great Lakes Rendering
Ben Gaydos, wind/ stone/ water
Sandra Branch, Gallery on the Go
AKOAKI & Detroit Afrikan Music Institution, The Mothership
Paolo Pedini, mural
Peter Halquist, Poke
Desiree Duell, A Body of Water
Jason Ferguson, Domestic Carnival: Flint
Oreen Cohen, Exploded Parts: GM Ignition Switch
Marisa Jahn, Bruce Lee Dispatches
Little Bang Theory, Laugh, Clown, Laugh
Hubert Dobler, 64TEETH Photo: Hubert Dobler

Free City is a large-scale public art festival that temporarily reclaims the former Flint-Chevy manufacturing site along the Flint River for public use. The festival features dozens of music, dance, and theater performances, art installations, and hands‐on workshops – all free and open to the public – to reconnect residents to the Chevy Commons site and its future potential. A critical mass of temporary activities turns the abandoned industrial property into an active public space, highlighting the ongoing transformation of Flint.

Sandra Branch, Flint, muralist
Rodney Campbell, Flint, sculptor
Oreen Cohen, Pittsburgh, sculptor
Hubert Dobler, New York, sculptor
Desiree Duell, Flint, activist artist
Peter Fend, New York, conceptual artist
Jason Ferguson, Ypsilanti, sculptor
FIG Projects, Montreal, architects
Ben Gaydos, Detroit, designer
Freeman Greer, Flint, architect
Frazed Grunion, international, graphic designers
Peter Halquist, Ann Arbor, architecture
Gregory Hatch, Columbus, textile artist
Marisa Moran Jahn, New York, transmedia artist
Christina Long, New York, visual artist and print-making
Frank Pahl and Little Bang Theory, Detroit, musicians
Peter Pawlicki, Sterling Heights, sculptor
Paolo Pedini, Detroit, painter
Anya Sirota + AKOAKI & Detroit Afrikan Music Institution, Ann Arbor and Detroit, architects and musicians


Vehicle City Stage curated by Jay Rowland

Where: Chevy Commons, entrance at Stevenson St. between University and Kearsley

Friday, Aug. 19
5 pm Mike Roland, Flint, acoustic alternative rock
6 pm Scott Green, Flint
7 pm Apollo’s Din, Montrose, grungy trance blues
8 pm Big Donut, Flint, southern 70’s rock
9 pm Katie Stanley, Fenton, folk blues americana

Saturday, Aug. 20
5 pm Wax Wane, Linden, post rock instrumental
6 pm Urban Panda
7 pm Sprowt, Flint, pop punk
8 pm Allday Monday, Flint, acoustic alternative folk
9 pm Fink, Flint, feel good psychedelic funk jazz blues
10 pm Breaker Breaker, Flint, southern rock blues

Intergalactic Stage featuring the Mothership curated by Detroit Afrikan Music Institution

Where: Chevy Commons, entrance at Stevenson St. between University and Kearsley

Fri. Aug. 19: 6 – 10 pm Synergistic Mythologies, BRYCE DETROIT, Efe Bes, Onyx Ashanti
Sat. Aug. 20: 6 – 9 pm Efe Bes x iBm

The Mothership arrives from O.N.E. MILE, Detroit’s collaborative North End cultural project, alongside a group of musicians curated by Detroit Afrikan Music Institution, promoting new modalities of contemporary music by African descendants in the 21st Century. The mobile Mothership is a nomadic urban icon designed to transmit a diasporic African cultural narrative by Anya Sirota + AKOAKI.

“Decked out in polished gold vinyl and dichroic film on the outside, Akoaki applied car customization techniques to create the structure’s eye-catching polygonic shell, as if it were a nod to the Mothership’s home turf in Motor City and to North End’s cultural legacy. Colorful lighting adds the finishing touch of psychedelic oomph, while billowing smoke effects make the structure appear as if it just successfully landed at another jammin’ function to get the party started.” – Justine Testado, Archinect

Laugh, Clown, Laugh by Little Bang Theory

When: Sat. Aug. 20, 2016, 8 pm (sunset)
Where: Chevy Commons, entrance at Stevenson St. between University and Kearsley.

Detroit’s Frank Pahl and his “toy” music trio Little Bang Theory perform a live-score accompaniment to the 1928 MGM film Laugh, Clown, Laugh, featuring star of early cinema Lon Chaney, using children’s toys like brightly colored hand bells, crank-operated music boxes, toy pianos, and xylophones. Little Bang Theory is the brainchild of Detroit composer/sonic artist, Frank Pahl, performing with members Terri Sarris and Doug Shimmin. Little Bang Theory have performed at the Detroit Film Theater, Toledo Museum of Art, Mattress Factory in Pittsburgh, Theatre Gigante Studios in Milwaukee, The Carnegie Theatre in Covington, KY, and Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, among other places.

“A heart-broken clown and a romantically smitten count meet and join forces to help each other until they discover that they are in love with the same woman…Traditionally, silent movies were given live accompaniment by the resident pianist or theater organist of the theatrical venue. What if he replaced the organist with his own trio? The result is an entertaining evening of captivating joyful cacophony.”Wayne F. Anthony, Toledo Blade

When: FRI. & SAT., AUG. 19-20, 2016


00 0115

Since 2013, more than 125 artists and organizations from the city, the region, and the country have participated, including more than 50 from Flint and 35 from southeast Michigan and the Great Lakes region, as well as international artists from Germany, Ireland, and Poland. The event attracted thousands of visitors from the region to activate the sprawling city-owned landscape at the curve of the Flint River.

The 2014 festival on August 22-23 focused on light and sound, with an emphasis on new media (video, electronic arts, and sensor-controlled and programmed lights), art that engaged active public participation and conversation, conceptual art, and art that played with social processes and scripted actions. The 2014 festival took place across multiple sites in Flint, including the landscape of Spencer’s Art House, the Spring Grove Silos, and Stone Street.


Directions to the site

Chevy Commons is located a few blocks northwest of downtown Flint between the Carriage Town neighborhood and Kettering University. From the north: From I-23 / I-75, take exit 117A to I-69 E. Take exit 136, turn right onto Grand Traverse. Turn left on Kearsley and right on Stevenson St. From the south: From I-75 N, take exit 116B to I-69 E. Take exit 136, turn right onto Grand Traverse, turn left on Kearsley St. and turn right on Stevenson St. From I-475 N, take exit 7, merge onto M-21 W toward Downtown/Court St. Continue onto Chavez Dr. Turn left onto E Kearsley St. and right on Stevenson. From the east: From I-69 E, take exit 136. Turn right onto Grand Traverse, turn left onto Kearsley St. and right onto Stevenson St. From the west: From I-69 W, take exit 136. Turn left onto Grand Traverse, continue to Kearsley St., turn left, and on Stevenson St. turn right.