The Detroit Art Exhibit You Have to See (and the Food to Go Along With It)

If you haven’t been to the Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo exhibit at the Detroit Institute of Arts yet, you have until July 12th to check it out. And it’s most definitely worth seeing. The exhibit is a celebration not just of Rivera and Kahlo, but also for the DIA, which was able to make it through the Detroit bankruptcy without losing its artwork. The close call happened because the city owned the museum and selling art could have brought in much-needed cash. What stopped it? Something called the Grand Bargain, where private individuals, companies and organizations (including Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan), pledged money to keep the art in the DIA.

In addition to the famous “Detroit Industry” mural Rivera painted directly on the museum walls, the exhibit features almost 70 other works of art from the two artists. It is also the first time the DIA is showing work by Kahlo, who was married to Rivera when he was working in Detroit.

This exhibit isn’t just a feast for the eyes. There are lots of chefs around the city using the special exhibit to inspire their menus with Mexican fare. Here’s a taste:

  • You probably haven’t heard of Azul, because it didn’t exist before this exhibit. It’s a special pop-up restaurant right in the DIA, and it’s the perfect mix of Mexico and Detroit. The food includes tacos, rice and beans, guacamole and salsa, but the décor comes from vendors in Southwest Detroit.
  • El Barzon, which is in Southwest Detroit at 3730 Junction, has added an Oaxacan mole negro to the menu for the entire run of the exhibit. It’s a sauce made from chiles, chocolate, peanuts and cloves over turkey legs.
  • On Friday nights throughout the exhibit, El Zocalo at 3400 Bagley Street is serving up a dish inspired by the cookbooks and notebooks of Kahlo. There will also be infused tequila created with Rivera and Kahlo in mind, like hibiscus, cucumber and habanero.

Don’t stop with this exhibit. Learn about other can’t-miss spots around the state with these blogs:


Photo credit: Barb Crawford


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