Nothing Happens Unless First A Dream

By: NIA BATTS

Long before I knew Peter, I always admired his work on the walls of my friends and loved seeing his outdoor installations.  His painted collages bore images and sayings that always uplifted me; “Grattitude” (yes with two t’s), “Don’t Panic” (a welcome reminder) and my personal favorite that covered a massive billboard on the freeway riding into New York City, “Nothing Happens Unless First A Dream.”   

One morning while Peter and I were meeting for breakfast, he asked me if I had seen the paper, and when he slid it across the table I saw that the headline read: “City of Detroit Files for Bankruptcy” — and for a moment, my heart stopped.

I was born and raised in the city of Detroit and left to attend school in New York when I was 18. And the years that passed during my time away turned out to be some of the city’s most economically devastating.  But true to the spirit of my hometown and the people who inhabit it, those years also became some of the most hopeful. Detroit is the “renaissance city”; the very essence of rebirth and perseverance is in our bones and blood, in our music and art.

While I was away I actively found ways to bring the work I was doing in New York back home to Detroit, but it would still be 5 years after reading that headline that my co-founders and I would bring Blows to life on Library Street. Dreams can be hard, and they can also take a really long time.

In December of 2018 I received a call from Peter, congratulating us on our 1 year anniversary. He was calling from his Miami studio in the Wynwood Walls, and in the midst of Art Basel no less. He said he was working on something for us. Peter had been hunting and archiving images of Detroit, its people, its spirit, its gifts to the world, and he wanted everyone in the salon to have the opportunity to see it before it was done. We were overwhelmed with emotion when it showed up in person the day before Christmas.

Dreams can be hard, and they can also take a really long time. And along the way, people will disappoint you, and others will surprise you in very unexpected ways, they’re all reminders to keep going, that the contributions we make to the world matter. Thank you, Peter.

If you have the opportunity, please do visit us at the salon, and see it. Its very existence on our walls is a beautiful tribute to the resiliency of the city we cherish.

Nia Lauryn Batts is the co-founder and CEO of Detroit Blows; voted 2018’s Best Salon for a Blowout by Hour Detroit Magazine. She formerly held positions at Viacom, Warner Music Group and Island Def Jam Records. As a producer, her projects have been nominated for Emmy, Peabody, NAACP, and Banff World Television Awards. Nia resides in Detroit and Los Angeles, where she volunteers as a birth doula, and continues to find herself at the intersection of entertainment and impact.