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Monica Bowman

By Amanda Lewan
September 11, 2013

On Cass Avenue in Midtown, a brand-new building called the Auburn is home to students and professionals as well as several new restaurants and shops, including the contemporary art gallery the Butcher’s Daughter.
It’s a perfect spot for the art gallery that was originally located in Ferndale. Major Detroit arts institutions like the DIA and MOCAD are nearby and this area of Midtown is fast transforming into an arts and design district. Unlike major museums though, this smaller, curated gallery helps Detroiters connect with and purchase art from the local contemporary artists of metro Detroit.
Monica Bowman began the Butcher’s Daughter in 2008 when there were few employment options available. Her professional experience was in international business commerce, so she jokes that she moved "from automotive to art." Monica studied art history at Oakland University and obtained a Masters of Art and Museum Studies from Georgetown University.
Monica grew up on the outskirts of Holly, Michigan. Inside her small hometown there were few cultural outlets for creativity and diversity of thought.
"My experiences have led me to believe that there are millions of places and people who feel constrained and are wanting to experience ideas through art," says Monica.
The Butcher’s Daughter features local artists as well as those with connections to metro Detroit. The art on display exemplifies what Monica refers to as her attempt to live in a curious, intimate, and stimulating world with room for many interpretations and voices. In Detroit, there are many voices to be showcased, and many different styles to see and experience.
Monica sees art as a vibrant way to reflect and understand Detroit’s community.
"Historically, dreamers and makers have always been the muscle that propelled this city forward," says Monica. The artists are a part of that vibrant community, reflecting on the makers—the shift workers at a local factory. The artists reflect on what makes Detroit the living, breathing city we see around us.
Not only does the Butcher’s Daughter showcase a variety of local art, but Monica also helps place the artists’ work in international art fairs and exhibitions on the behalf of the artists.
"Ultimately, for me, it’s about getting the work into proper collections and securing a livelihood for artists so they can continue to be productive," says Monica.
Detroit’s artistic culture may be rich in an innovative, American-made history, but it’s also one that struggles to grow. Having more small galleries adds to the diverse representation of local art in the city. Monica believes there are many strong supporters who are keeping the arts community alive.
"Many cities arguably have more established and traditional funding sources," says Monica. "Regrowth through creative capital is not possible without the guts of the individuals who remain curious and fight tirelessly against cynicism to support the artists, galleries, and nonprofits within the community."

The Butcher's Daughter held its first gallery opening this summer, attracting over 600 visitors to the month-long exhibition. Monica believes the next exhibition will continue to draw a growing crowd of art enthusiasts in the city. The next exhibit at the Butchers Daughter will open September 21*, featuring a solo show by artist Hartmut Austen.

*UPDATE: Since publication of this story, an accident has shut down the Butcher's Daughter gallery until further notice. 

All photos by Doug Coombe. 

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