The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
Cass Corridor artist and living legend Robert Sestok. Photo courtesy of the artist
Robert Sestok contains an awful lot of Detroit’s history for such an unassuming presence. The unraveling of his understated personality reveals an astounding cultural and historical index of Detroit, painstakingly accumulated since his move to the city in ’67, against the tidal wave of outward migration. In his time, Sestok has seen the rise and fall of buildings, of his fellows in the Cass Corridor art scene, and of the city itself.
Now Sestok is thinking bigger than ever as he seeks to encapsulate a lifetime of his work in City Sculpture, a sculpture installation across four empty city lots that will house 30 pieces of his signature welded steel sculptures, ranging in size and some of them weighing in at up to a ton.
The proposed site for City Sculpture, off the freeway service drive behind Jefferson School. Photo courtesy of the artist
Sestok is spearheading the effort to raise grant funding and purchase the lots for installation of his sculpture park, which will serve as a retrospective space for pieces that date as far back 1980, giving patrons a full array of his life's work. Sestok's statues are already the mainstay for other public art spaces, including the Detroit Riverfront Park and the Lincoln Sculpture Park. The park is the first step in a far-reaching plan which includes a museum space that will offer a welding workshop series, and an "artpole," which will invite guest artists and community members to design, create and raise flags of their own creation during flag-raising parties. Should City Sculpture actualize according to plan, Sestok's long-term vision for the site includes utilizing a crane to create pieces of even greater scale.
"Arcs and Shields," a new work in progress that will be featured at City Sculpture, created from a 100-gallon propane tank. Photo courtesy of the artist
This is the frontrunner among Sestok's ongoing projects, all of which seem to indicate a deep love of the city and a desire to preserve, renew and monumentalize its history. He is also developing a collection of video-stories from residents of the Trumbullplex, Detroit's premier anarchist collective, of which Sestok himself was a resident in 1974. To hear Sestok speak on his experiences is to uncover a trove of information and memory about life and art in Detroit, treasure that Sestok is always willing and eager to share.
We're listening, Bob. Big things happen for those who think big.
"U.S. 10," another work to be featured in Sestok's City Sculpture. Photo courtesy of the artist
You can see Sestok's work currently on display in "STROKE," a group show at the Grosse Pointe Art Center from May 17th-June 1st.