Making Room for The Butcher’s Daughter

Monica Bowman comes from a long line of butchers. She knows a thing or two about keeping things fresh.

Bowman, founder of the aptly named The Butcher’s Daughter art gallery, was feeling a bit stale and cramped in her second-story exhibit space in Ferndale, just outside of Detroit.

So she packed up her things and started setting up shop in the burgeoning Midtown area. Her new gallery space opens tomorrow with “Robert Platt: Insubstantial Pageants of the Mind’s Eye.” Or, check out the Facebook group.

In this Q & A, Bowman opens up about running an art gallery, her relationships with exhibiting artists and her decision to relocate.

Describe The Butcher’s Daughter.

The Butcher’s Daughter was created in 2009 after finishing up my museum studies MA at Georgetown. Originally, opening in Ferndale (a mile outside of Detroit proper), the gallery hosted 20 exhibitions and over 50 artists.

The gallery name comes from a paternal lineage of butchers in my family: the brand was conceived with this in mind. Therefore, I view my specialties as it relates to art analogous to what you’d expect from your butcher: integrity, fresh products, and rigor in terms of connoisseurship and experience.

No one wants to buy meat, let alone art, from a supplier that lies, sells rotten products, or is careless or lazy about their trade.

How do you decide which artists to exhibit?

I often joke that I have to like hanging out with an artist in order to show their work, but it’s sort of true. Studio visits are important to me. I do a lot of them and I believe it’s a great way to begin a relationship.

To work with me an artist must be prolific, professional, open to collaboration, and have a big-picture perspective of their career. This narrows the field for me and the artists I choose, therefore, it’s a matter of seeing and experiencing lots of art from Detroit and elsewhere.

What made you decide to re-locate?

The artist community and patrons in the Metro-Detroit area are hardcore. No rain, hail, snow, sleet, freezing temperatures, or natural disaster keeps them from supporting their artists. After nearly four years of running the gallery out of a 750 sq. ft., second floor space, I knew it was time to move on and up the game. Literally, the space was becoming too small for the hundreds of people who came out to the openings and, figuratively, it was constricting the ideas that could be cycled through the space.

Midtown Detroit was the only solution. It is, arguably, the hottest up-and-coming cultural and retail district in the city.

I feel like we all deserve a new space to celebrate a new chapter together.

What is the most rewarding part about running The Butcher’s Daughter? 

This is crass but the truth is: I like writing checks to artists. Nothing makes me happier than paying artists to do what they love. You know, it’s like they say, “If you love what you do, you never have to work a day in your life.”

Name three things in Detroit that make you happy.

1. Rivera Murals at The Detroit Institute of Arts.

2. The barramundi with a glass of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc from Atlas Bistro.

3. Spring on Belle Isle.

To learn more about Monica Bowman and the artists at The Butcher’s Daughter, make sure to visit the gallery’s website.