January 2011: I am preparing for my first real visit to Detroit, the city of my birth. I am a Californian, where I have been since age one when my parents packed me into a car to seek fame and fortune in LA. It is strange to be defined by something unknown but when asked if I am a "native" Californian, I answer, "No, I was born in Detroit." It seems time to investigate what that means. So I have come "home" on my birthday to photograph Detroit.

This blog is part of an accompanying journal about the project.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

American Pie

A friend passed along this video made in Grand Rapids in response to those who also call it a "dying city."


My entry into "career" life started with Don McLean's "American Pie," released by United Artists just days after I started work there. It's theme, even after 40 years, is again significant in the narrative of our lives for just back from my second visit to Detroit, I can see the same spirit and joy in this great midwestern city.

From Detroit's Annual Downtown Hoedown 2011, Saturday 14 May 2011.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Magazine Up

The first issue of DETROIT: DEFINITION, A WORK IN PROGRESS is published and available at the POD site, Magcloud. www.sarajaneboyers.magcloud.com

This is the first in a series of seasonal "reports" about my photographic exploration of Detroit, the city of my birth. I will return each season over the next year and one-half.

I've just returned from the second visit, "Spring," and am sorting through pics, thoughts and experience. Cannot wait for summer!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Back in Detroit

In Detroit already for 4 1/2 days. So busy I haven't yet posted.

On the first afternoon, last Thursday 12 May after a very early morning flight into unseasonably hot and muggy Detroit, a visit to Belle Isle at dusk seemed the thing to do. I was far from alone in that thought.

On the drive toward the western point: scenes seemingly sprung from Seurat's Grande Jatte. Electric green lawn descending down past the ducks and geese to the river. As the sun lowers, the dual points of Detroit downtown and Windsor, Canada narrow the straight in a lovely gray silhouette.

I drive the Island twice at least, stopping to watch the families headed over the bridge to picnic at the end of the day, then on a known section of the circular drive where are parked rows of cars with trunks open and groups of teens lounging in/leaning against each, their gaze more inward to the other cars than perhaps to the view, reminiscent of my youth cruising Hollywood Boulevard (never telling my parents) with girlfriends in the yellow convertible GTO.

The weather has now turned what I thought was unseaonably cold and rainy and yet all of this is Detroit in May. Notwithstanding, the streets now busier, tulips even in front of the more sketchier home, and on the weekend both at the Eastern Market with its annual flower day/weekend and at the confluence of the annual Hoedown, the largest free country music festival in the nation, and the Tigers at home, a diverse and fun crowd on the streets. More to come...

Just discovered, from last September's Detroit Free Press, a magical series on Belle Isle, its beauty and its concerns and those who are fighting against invasive species while inviting even greater exploration of the wonders of this park, larger than NYC's Central Park:

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother in Detroit

My friend and fellow photographer, Aline Smithson, asked us to send in a photograph of our mothers to celebrate today, Mother's Day 2011, on her terrific LENSCRATCH blog.

Immersed in my magazine creation, I could only think of this photograph of my mother. I am guessing is from December 1944, only a couple of months after her marriage to my father and her move to Detroit to be with him. The notation looks like it is 1944/45 but I am assuming it was '44 since she looks quite thin and if it were December of '45, I would almost be born and she would be looking very pregnant.

She is wearing my favorite pin, a '40s Alfred Philippe Trifari Jelly Belly Frog, that she gave me decades ago and that I wear to this day.

The window from which she is looking out is not the Pinehurst home. Possibly the address at 3444 Second Avenue? She looks delighted to be in Detroit.

When it comes down to it, Mother's Day reminds us that we are full of hope and thoughts about the future and how we accomplish that to which we aspire. For what is the birth of a child, if not a moment of dreams? The concept of "rebirth" speaks to renewal and a fresh new life. Detroit is in this stage.

I am looking forward to returning there at the end of this coming week.