DETROIT — Detroit faces the best/worst of times. It teems with inventive artists and entrepreneurs whose work and presence generate solid philanthropy and investment. At the same time, increasingly severe budget cuts are hitting schools, police, firefighters and transportation systems hard; poverty and crime remain high. Understanding the city’s open land mass (roughly 143 square miles with a population of just over 700,000 — compare this to Manhattan with about 34 square miles and over 1,600,000 residents) helps to make sense of things.
So much iconic American literature portrays, often humorously, neglected or badly treated boys doggedly tracking down adventure (Huck Finn, Tom Sawyer, Nick Adams). For these protagonists, play is not a luxury but a lifeline. Matt Zacharias’ episodic, mixed-media exhibition Childhood, Boyhood, Sonic Youth is just such a journey. The show starts off with a search for dad, or at least for things solid and male, but winds up somewhere else.