The Societie of the Culturally Concerned celebrated Dell Pryor on December 16, 2018 for her significant contributions to arts and culture in Detroit. The setting was a private dining room inside the historic Italian Midtown restaurant, Mario’s. Author and playwright, Bill Harris captured Dell succinctly in the program, “From the beginning, Dell entered artistic unexplored territory, staked her claim and planted her flag, which became a beacon and rallying spot for the community.”
Over 50 years ago, Dell Pryor turned her passion for art and design into a thriving business. Dell Pryor studied interior design in college and afterwards brought her talent to styling the residences of friends. Having met several visual artists, Dell Pryor began incorporating the visual arts into her design work before transitioning full time to a gallery owner. Cluttered Corners in Greektown was a treasure trove of antique furniture, rugs, and original works of art. When Dell moved to Harmonie Park in the 1980’s, her opening night artist receptions were legendary. Artists Adger Cowans, Camille Billops, Harold Neal, Kimberly Camp, M. Saffell Gardner, Gilda Snowden , Anita Bates and Ibn Pori Pitts were just a few of the featured artists. Art patrons, musicians, art students and future collectors gathered at Dell Pryor Galleries in mass. Opening night with Dell was the place to be. Through the careful guidance of Dell Pryor, many private collections were established.
For several years, after leaving Harmonie Park, Dell occupied a smaller gallery space in Bricktown. Tulani Rose, the business operated by Sharon Pryor, Dell’s daughter, was located one floor above the gallery. Dell Pryor Galleries continued to be the source of great art, art education and noteworthy opening receptions. Forever the visionary, Dell relocated to Midtown, opening Spiral Collective in the 1990’s. Spiral was the initial home of Source Booksellers and Textures by Nefertiti. Dell created a thriving headquarters for four businesses owned and operated by women of color. At the Midtown location, Dell, an avid jazz fan, began hosting live jazz sets to mark International Jazz Day. Art and jazz enthusiasts gathered in the intimate gallery setting for the annual event. While Dell Pryor Galleries and Tulani Rose now occupy a much smaller space in Midtown, after one visit, you will conclude less is more. The artwork continues to be original, nuanced and expertly curated.
To celebrate Dell as the Societie did on December 16, is to celebrate Detroit. Dell, our native daughter can be seen at every art event and jazz venue between Detroit and Ann Arbor when she is not in the Gallery. All of this at 91 years young, Dell is a cultural icon who continues to enrich us with her knowledge and enthusiasm for jazz and the visual arts.