Access Art's Belle Isle Public Art Exhibit 2012 Takes Detroit Arts Outdoors

A special art exhibit taking place at Detroit's island park this weekend promises to bridge the gap between the natural and creative worlds. The Belle Isle Public Art Exhibit is being put together by Access Arts, a division of the Detroit-based group Forward Arts, which has held the show there for the last three years. This year's event, which opens Saturday and runs through next Friday, will feature a total of 11 installations and performances emphasizing the island's pastoral environment.

Visitors should expect a diverse range of works that include a sun-inspired gradient of colored fabric, jewelry for the Detroit River, a floating head and a virtual soundscape installation.

This year artist Stephanie Howells is creating a work called "Medusa Gardens" with her sister Julie. The work involves the creation of "jellyfish-esque forms through the integration of synthetic man-made materials with organic living materials," according to the Access Arts website.

Howells has been involved with the exhibit since it started in 2008 and feels the equality of this year's show will be enhanced because the artists stipend has been raised from $150 to $350 per project with the support of backers like Eastern Market's Supino Pizzeria and Green Living Science. The effort is also getting crowdsource funding for future projects from a local website called

"I'm excited," said Howells. "I think there's going to be a lot of solid pieces."

Founder Louis Casinelli told The Huffington Post the show improves each year as the artists learn more about the island, which he sees as a reservoir of creative inspiration.

"The park kind of calls for it," he said. "There's a lot of environments that are good for site specific art. It really gets people to explore."

The artists featured in this year's show are Melissa Vogely Woods, Care Fox, the Chocolate Cake Design Collective, Halima Cassells, Chido Johnson, Ginger Chase, Julie Howells and Stephanie Howells, Carleton Gholz, Sean Hages, James Cornish and Lisa LaMarre, and Angeles Cossio.

The show will offer guided walking tours at 2:30, 3:30 and 4:30 as well an Art Ride for cyclists, all leaving from the show's host site outside of the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory. The show opens Friday June 23th from 2 to 7 p.m. and runs from through June 29th. For more information and a map of the exhibition visit