Artists adorn new pub in Detroit with large ‘world-class’ murals

Mural by Fell2000ft. All photos by Steve Neavling
Mural by Fel3000ft. All photos by Steve Neavling

A vacant two-story building in Midtown is undergoing a radical transformation with artfully crafted murals and an award-winning pub and entertainment spot that will serve 130 beers on tap.

Local artists recently began painting the building at Woodward and Canfield as part of a partnership between the 4731 Group, which organizes dozens of world-class murals in the Grand River Creative Corridor, and HopCat, a popular brew pub based in Grand Rapids.    

If all goes as planned, HopCat will open in December.

“This is going to be a community destination unlike anything in Detroit,” said Derek Weaver, principal of 4731 Group, which is curating the art project. “The murals create a fun, vibrant energy.”

Derek Weaver of 4731 Group is curating the mural project.
Derek Weaver of 4731 Group is curating the mural project.

All five of the artists are local – Fel3000ft, Elmer, Malt, Melo and Kobie Solomon.

“This is fine art by world-class artists in Detroit,” Weaver said.

The building has been vacant since Agave restaurant closed about eight years ago. On the same block is a McDonald’s and a longtime vacant lot that is being transformed into a three-story design center for Lawrence Tech University with ground-level retail space.

The HopCat building is the only original structure left on the block, which included the mighty Graystone Ballroom before it was demolished. On the other side of Canfield is the gorgeous Whitney mansion, which is an upscale restaurant with outdoor entertainment.

The HopCat building is historic and used to share a block with the Graystone Ballroom.
The HopCat building is historic and used to share a block with the Graystone Ballroom.

The HopCat owners took pains to preserve the building and erected a two-story extension on the rear that is being adorned with murals. The interior has exposed brick and will be decorated with art.

The building is surprisingly spacious. The first floor features an oval bar, restaurant seating, kitchen and a sizable walk-in cooler with 130 craft beers. The second floor includes a stage, DJ booth, bar, seating and a deck.

HopCat has won awards for its beer selection and is known for its “crack fries.” Its first restaurant opened in Grand Rapids in 2008.

Two murals-in-progress from Kobie Solomon (left) and Malt (right).
Two murals-in-progress from Kobie Solomon (left) and Malt (right).
HopCat is on Woodward near W. Canfield.
HopCat is on Woodward near W. Canfield.
Hundreds of spray paint cans will be used during the project.
Hundreds of spray paint cans will be used during the project.
Unfinished mural by Malt.
Unfinished mural by Malt.
Malt works his magic.
Malt works his magic.
HopCat
First-floor bar.
Mural-in-progress by Melo.
Mural-in-progress by Melo.
The outdoor deck that Elmer will paint.
The outdoor deck that will include a mural by Elmer.
Second floor
Second floor
Refrigerated room for 130 beers on tap.
Refrigerated room for 130 beers on tap.

Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.

  • Detroit Urban Design Studio

    This is a fabulous testament to some of Detroit’s Graffiti Kings! We applaud HopCat developer and team for initiating this dynamic project! We work to celebrate local Detroit art on accessories called ArtWear- ‘taking it to the streets’ is our motto- supporting local artists like FEL3000ft is our mission! Detroit artists ArtWear- detroiturbandesignstudio.com

    • SOVEREIGNDesigns

      Not a single local~Scabs all of em

  • Love this !! thank you for sharing #DoItForDetroit

  • Jack Ramsey

    Good idea to have an artist named Malt decorate a pub.

  • zinjanthropus

    The Fell2000ft and Malt murals and just beautiful. They will fit well in the area. Yes Use the talent available and make something unique. Another mall not is needed.

  • Andy

    Hate Hate Hate Hate Hate Hate Hate

    • zinjanthropus

      Looks like a whole heap of hate. I wonder if they even live in Detroit.

  • Loretta

    Can’t wait for someone to tag over those murals. Looks like crap.

    • Thee1tooth

      And who the fuck are you?

  • BIMR

    Wow….how edgy!

    Remember folks looking to buy some stupid “crack fries” and pints that these are the same “artists” that adorn public infrastructure throughout the region with their work. That choice is yours but the work of this 4731 guy on Grand River shares dozens of names that you will see on billboards, traffic call boxes, private property, freeway entrance ramps and wherever else. It is removed at great cost to MDOT, downtown businesses and private property owners. The same goes for the large mural on the south side of MOCAD.

    • Jyarsch Corbin

      Better than the Joumanda Kayrouz billboards all over the city. I’d much rather artists than corporate ad trash all over the city.

    • Muhammad Mojaradi

      Writers are making something of a forgotten city’s abandoned properties. If your going to hate, hate on the killers and drug dealers.

    • Thee1tooth

      Massive amounts of butthurt detected. Please tell me how these murals are affecting and ruining your life. At least this “4731 guy” is trying to redirect the artistic talent of these artists into legal works instead of illegal. What are YOU doing to combat the problem?

      • BIMR

        No way….you first….what are you doing? How about your mama? What is she doing?

        If only your statement was true that the artists are being redirected onto legal canvases. The reality is they are still vandalizing public infrastructure and private property at an increasing frequency. This effects my life by creating an increased taxpayer cost for repair and removal, a decreased perception of safety in my neighborhood thus reducing property values and the direct costs of battling tickets and performing removal on my noncommissioned walls of my property all due to the perceived free for all happening in this area. It’s not the murals themselves but the spillover that the organizers refuse to take social responsibility on that should bother people.

        • Thee1tooth

          My moms dead