By James Hanlon
Leader Staff Writer
Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night will keep this faithful postman from his post on the Polly Ann Trail. The Detroit Institute of Arts’ Inside|Out program installed a reproduction of Vincent van Gogh’s 1888 “Portrait of Postman Roulin” to the trail next to 33 Pleasant St. in Oxford Village, just west of the Larry Obrecht Bridge over M-24.
The popular program brings high-quality reproductions from the DIA’s collection to outdoor venues throughout metro Detroit. “The Inside|Out program allows us a unique way to engage with tri-county residents by bringing art from the DIA into the communities in which they live,” said Salvador Salort-Pons, DIA director, in a statement. “This year providing a way to bring communities together in a safe, outdoor fashion outside of the museum walls has a whole new meaning.”
The Postman is one of eight pieces along the Polly Ann and Paint Creek trails in Oxford Village, Orion Township, Lake Orion and Oakland Township. The two trails have recently been connected via a 3-mile long path and bridge over the Paint Creek.
“This will be the second time the DIA art has been showcased on the Polly Ann Trail,” commented Linda Moran, manager of the Polly Ann Trail. “We are excited to be able to work with the Paint Creek Trail in such a wonderful joint venture. The DIA Inside|Out program was so well received by our trail users it is exciting to be able to bring it back again.”
The reproductions will be on view until November. The artworks are placed within walking or biking distance of one another, allowing trail users to make a day of enjoying artwork outdoors. The three other sites on the Polly Ann Trail are in Orion Township. A map showing the locations of the artworks is at dia.org/insideout.
You can also see the original van Gogh painting at the DIA museum in Detroit. It is one of at least six portraits the Dutch impressionist painted of Joseph Roulin between July 1888 and April 1889.
According to the DIA’s description, “While in France, painter Vincent van Gogh was often too poor to pay for models. So his good friend Joseph Roulin sat for several portraits. The word “Postes” on his hat (French for mail) tells us he’s a mailman. If he looks puffed up and proud in this portrait, it’s because he had recently become a new father.”
As a part of the tri-county millage passed in 2012, the DIA offers free museum admission to any resident living in Macomb, Oakland or Wayne counties. The millage also supports free programs such as Inside|Out.
The 2021 Inside|Out program also features five special installations in Northern Michigan. High-quality reproductions are on view for a second season on Mackinac Island, Bellaire, Ludington, Douglas and Hancock.
By James Hanlon