about the trip

Iron Mountain, 2013.

A Composer. a painter. a poet. a photographer. a filmmaker.

Gene Knific, a Kalamazoo native, had a vision to explore how different mediums of art interacted with one another.  As a student of the University of Miami, where he studied Jazz, Gene became curious to learn more about how young artists molded themselves into entrepreneurs in order to further develop their sincerity as artists; their voices as creators; and how the world around them was reflected in their work.  With only weeks to prepare, Gene set out to gather a group of young artists who were serious about developing their craft as a full time occupation.  He found a painter, a poet, a photographer and a filmmaker.  And in the summer of 2013, they set out on a road trip from Kalamazoo, Michigan to the top of the upper peninsula in Copper Harbor with one mission:

To create.


Beyond the 2013 road trip, the film contains a unique dialogue among professional artists, curators, university professors and historians that take a deeper look into the influence of art on communities and the purpose of artists.  These interviews also explore a rare perspective regarding the shaping of an artistic mind, and paired with the footage of the road trip, offer clarifying discussions into understanding the necessities of a creative expedition.  

The collective also crosses paths with some of the key players involved in the Detroit bankruptcy situation in 2014.  Following the trip, Gene and Bradley take an inside look into what the Detroit Institute of Arts means to the community of Detroit and its surrounding counties.  During the time of the interviews, MITTEN provides perspective between conflicts surrounding the idea of selling the museums collection as a means of bailing out the city from their massive debt.

Interviewees include Alberto Ibarguen (President of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation), Annmarie Erickson (former VP of the Detroit Institute of Arts), Shelton Berg (Dean of the Frost School of Music, University of Miami), Valeri Peterson (Author of Sex, Ethics, and Communication), Joe Lavano (GRAMMY Award Winning Jazz Saxophonist), Dennis Scholl (Former VP of Arts, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation), Guy Sanville (Artistic Director, Purple Rose Theatre Company), and many more.

The collective

Gene Knific

gene knific

Gene Knific is a musician, composer, and producer.  Since the filming of ACP: Mitten, Knific has won two ASCAP Foundation awards for composition, won a premiere by the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, premiered over a dozen other commissioned jazz and chamber works. As an active performer, Gene has toured the U.S., Russia, and Mozambique with various jazz groups, and was invited to perform at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. Knific performed with MacArthur Genius Grant/Grammy Award winning saxophonist Miguel Zenón, and jazz saxophone legend Joe Lovano. In 2017 he will be releasing his own debut album, producing an album of his own chamber arrangements for The Merling Trio, and releasing three EPs of cowritten material with Chicago synth-pop band IVERSON. He graduated 2014 from the University of Miami Frost School of Music with a B.M. in jazz performance and composition.  He currently resides in Chicago, IL.



Monica Dubray is an artist and curator currently based in Detroit, MI. She received her BFA in Graphic Design from Western Michigan University, where she began working in exhibitions for artists such as Willie Cole and Saya Woolfalk. Since then, Dubray has worked as an illustrator and graphic designer for companies such as Driven Solutions Inc. and Whole Foods Market. She is currently a Jr. Art Director at Trent Creative and a designer for the Liberati Group, both dedicated to humanitarian-centric design and strategy in the Metro Detroit and New York City areas. For more information on Dubray and her work, visit monicadubray.peeky.com.

august smith

August Smith currently lives in Boston, MA, where he's pursuing his MFA in poetry. Since leaving Michigan, he's established an independent publishing press (Cool Skull Press), won Nostrovia's 2015 chapbook contest (with his entry Bird Lizard Horse), self-published three chapbooks, embarked on a Michigan-based poetry tour, and hosted a living room poetry reading series. He has also worked some terrible jobs, gotten his heart broken one-and-a-half times, and lost the occasional hard drive. His forthcoming full-length book of poetry will eventually exist in the world; he's just tightening the screws. http://august.mostlymidwest.com


rosalee ward

RosaLee Ward graduated from Western Michigan University with a Bachelor's of Fine Arts with an emphasis in Photography and Intermedia. After a brief stint in Phoenix, AZ as a social media marketer, she returned to her hometown of Kalamazoo, MI, where she currently resides. She is now the operations manager of a small nonprofit music school, and continues to make internet-based and textile artwork. She also recently picked up the guitar and collaborated on a Detroit-based zine project.







bradley michael

Bradley Michael is a writer, producer, traveller, and he is also the director of ACP: MITTEN.  Since the shooting of ACP: MITTEN, Bradley has explored Australia, Japan, Costa Rica, trekked the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal, and practiced technical canyoneering in Utah.  In 2014, he worked with The AKT Theatre Project, who produced the world premiere of his play So Long Until Tomorrow in Wyandotte, MI.  Michael is currently working on a short fictional narrative film, as well as a young adult novel.

Bradley Michael is the owner and founder of Quill and Arrow Media LLC, an independent production company, whose website you're already on!