Area art lovers got a much-needed boost with the announcement of the Knight Arts Challenge People’s Choice contest earlier this summer, which launched a month-long text to vote campaign to identify a local community-based project deserving of support.
Detroiters picked Hamtramck’s LO & BEHOLD! Records and Books as the award winner.
The store, owned by Richard Wohlfeil, received the news at a celebration event for the 56 winners of the Knight Arts Challenge, a community-wide contest funding projects that engage and enrich Detroit through the arts.
“There is a lot of passion in Detroit for LO & BEHOLD! and that showed in the People’s Choice Award voting,,” said Dennis Scholl, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation’s vice president for arts.
Knight Foundation launched the People’s Choice Award to highlight the work of small and up-and-coming arts organizations in metro Detroit.
The small business entrants, including contest winner LO & BEHOLD, are expected to get a big lift from publicity and social media associated with the effort. Many have never received venture capital or grant support.
LO & BEHOLD is a true start-up in every sense of the word. Opening its doors without any external financial funding, the business has grown to become a viable and vibrant component of the community.
Patrons appreciate Wohlfeil’s personal commitment to the business, from his willingness to work odd jobs just to keep the business afloat, to donating his own personal records and books to keep the shop doors open.
“Seeing a positive, physical change in our community is what gives me the strength to keep going,” said Wohlfeil, who can use the grant to fund an arts project of his choosing.
Wohlfeil, fresh from his victory, will use the $30,000 Knight Arts Challenge grant award to document LO & BEHOLD’s monthly Folk Blues Night performances. The intimate, acoustic events, hosted by two local folk blues musicians, will be recorded using vintage ribbon microphones as an early blues session might have been recorded in the 1930s and 1940s.
With challenge funding, the store will release recordings as a series of LPs, with booklets providing the history of the songs and information on the musicians.
The four other nominees for the People’s Choice Award included artist collective Complex Movements, bike design group East Side Riders, the Mt. Elliot Makerspace and the monthly storytelling event Secret Society of Twisted Storytellers.
To learn more about the nominees, visit knightarts.org/peopleschoice.