2016, Massey was commissioned to create a new fresco at the Cobo Center in Detroit. He was commissioned by the Detroit Regional Convention Facility Authority (DRCFA), with the idea being to create a work that would symbolize the spirit and personality of the city in a way that only Massey could be capable of.
The project was partly funded by the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs and the National Endowment for the Arts, with the Cobo Center being chosen due to its historical and contemporary significance as one of the major convention centers in the city.
From its very first event - a Florists' Telegraph Delivery convention - to its upcoming student robotics tournament, the Cobo Center has been at the center of Detroit's cultural evolution and played host to countless residents and visitors to this special city, making it a perfect place for a timeless work of art from one of the city’s greatest creators.
All About Hubert Massey
Hubert Massey was born in 1958 in the Michigan city of Flint in Genesee County. A lifelong lover of art, Massey studied at Beecher High School and went on to obtain a Bachelor of Arts at Grand Valley State University. He graduated in 1981 and then jetted off to Europe to study at the University College London (UCL) Slade School of Fine Art to expand his understanding of art and widen his skillset.
He studied alongside several Fresco experts, including multiple apprentices of the great Diego Rivera, a pioneer for Fresco art in Mexico. From there, Massey came back home and worked as a pictorial painter for over a decade with the Gannett Outdoor Sign Company, meeting his wife Marquita and having three children and experimenting with various art mediums in his free time. Massey has since established himself as one of the leading lights in the Buon Fresco style, also known as True Fresco.
With over a dozen works of public art on display all around Michigan in major cities like Detroit, Ann Arbor, and Grand Rapids, and many commissions from universities and other insitutions, Massey has been one of Michigan's finest artists of recent decades. Some of his most impressive work can be seen at the Atheneum Hotel, the Detroit Athletic Club, and the the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History.
An award winning artist, Massey has been honored with the the Distinguished Alumni Award from Grand Valley State University and the Spirit of Detroit Award, as well as being granted access to the National Society of Mural Painters of New York. His work is challenging, inspiring, moving, and unique, with his pieces being seen and admired by millions of Michigan residents and visitors to the state from all over the world.
The Hubert Massey Fresco Project at Cobo Center
Massey's fresco piece for the Cobo Center is entitled 'Spirit of Detroit'. It was unveiled in September of 2018 after many long days and hours of work. Unless a convention or special event was being held at the center, Massey worked through from 7am until sunset each day. The project began with an idea in his mind, which became a drawing, which was then transferred over onto a 30' x 30' square on a Cobo Center wall.
From there, Massey and his assistants painted onto wet plaster in the traditional fresco style to bring the piece to life. Celebrating the city's cultural and historical diversity, the highly detailed image shows various figures and landmarks. It includes the Ambassador Bridge and the city's streets in the background, with a female figure dominating the foreground of the piece, spreading her arms, embracing the city and linking the suburbs to the industrial areas.
The fresco also features a Native American figure and various other characters, with bold, bright colors catching the eye and lots of different stories and ideas being told and shared all at once. It's a piece that tells you something new every time you look at it, a veritable explosion of ideas that perfectly reflects the vibrancy and ever-changing aspects of life in Detroit.
Hubert Massey's Cobo Center fresco sits in pride of place in the 723,000 foot exhibition center, perfectly visible for the enjoyment and admiration of the almost one and a half million visitors to the center each year. It joins several other works of art featured in the center from other internationally renowned artists like Carl Milles, Gilda Snowden, and Tyree Guyton. website