Detroit Artist Sydney James Commissioned For Chroma Development Mural

The Platform, a Detroit-based real estate developer, has announced that work began today on a new mural on its nearly completed Chroma development in Milwaukee Junction, located in the heart of the Greater New Center area.

“The Girl with the D Earring” by Detroit artist Sydney G. James will adorn the western wall of the Chroma building, located at 2937 E. Grand Blvd. The art is a modern Detroit take on Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer’s “Girl With a Pearl Earring,” deemed the most beautiful painting in the Netherlands. 

The mural portrays a Detroit woman wearing a quilted garment featuring signage and logos of historic North End/Paradise Valley businesses. The glowing Old English “D” dangling from her ear is a symbol of all the city and its people. James’ latest masterpiece – following highly acclaimed murals in Eastern Market and other locations across Detroit – is slated to be completed by mid-September.

“The spirit, aura and soul of Detroit is multifaceted,” James said. “From the wide range of music, visual arts, fashion, automotive innovation to everything in between, Detroit has been a city of culture creation. Culture and innovation creates figurative and literal ‘chroma’ – the purity and intensity of color. Though this piece is North End specific, it captures the personality of Detroit, the city.”

James’ art will replace another mural that has been on the building since 2009. The Platform had planned to save that mural, but the extensive repairs necessary to save the long-vacant building caused that piece to be irreparably damaged.  

“Sydney’s stunning mural is the perfect celebration of our city and its people,” said Peter Cummings, executive chairman and CEO of The Platform. “We are proud to partner with her to bring new life to this prominent canvas and create a powerful and enduring landmark that will be at the heart of the neighborhood for years to come. We look forward to unveiling both Sydney’s new mural and Chroma to the public this fall.”

Work began in January 2019 to transform the 107-year-old storage building in Detroit’s iconic Milwaukee Junction neighborhood into Chroma, a hub for creativity, design and community engagment. 

The nine-story, 75,000-square-foot building will offer the Greater New Center area creative office space and co-working programmed by hospitality-driven operator Beauty Shoppe, food-and-beverage, entertainment and event space, and the nonprofit City Year is in the process of moving into the building now. The $16 million renovation will be complete in November. Prime private office and cowork space are available for lease.

Chroma is a space designed to foster innovation, mentorship, incubation and diversity, ideal for privacy and independence, as well as community and cross-collaboration. Fifty floor-to-ceiling windows were added to the historic building, providing not only brilliant daylight to every corner of the building, but also stunning, 360-degree views of Detroit, creating a better connection with the neighborhood. Each floor features wide-open floorplans and 12-foot ceilings, as well as fully furnished and enclosed private offices and studios. A soon-to-be-announced food-and-beverage operation will become a go-to destination in Greater New Center thanks to a beautiful new patio, which will offer diners and workers in the building breathtaking views from the foot of James’ new mural. Chroma also will provide unmatched event and meeting spaces with ample parking.

The Detroit Historic District Commission signed off on the new mural in late July. Work begins today to prime and prepare the wall for James’ work. The artist is to begin her nine-story piece on Sept. 1, weather-permitting.

“I’m honored to be afforded such a task, especially during this time in history,” James said. “The world right now is experiencing so much chaos, yet stillness simultaneously. Many of us, myself included, may be feeling ‘small’ right now while coping and grieving. I hope this piece will offer a little hope, comfort and pride to any and all who view it. I hope they feel love when they see it because that’s indeed what it’s created with: my deep-rooted love for Detroit City, and the passion and love I have while making the work.”


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