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.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Returning...and catching up...

As I prepare to return to Detroit this next week, I realize the blog has been ignored lately and it seems normal for I often post more when I am actually in Detroit, capturing current observations. 

This past six months, especially late 2014 and early winter 2015 became busy - an exhibition of work from my REVISIT.RENEW.NEW series at the SarahLeePROJECTS booth at PhotoLA and the multitude of art fairs that happen in Southern California in January and February.

At PhotoLA, I did bring three additional large prints from the DETROIT:DEFINITION project as well, all from my photography shoot in November of Wayne State's new Multidisciplinary Biomedical Research Building between Woodward and Cass, a terrific example of repurposing and expansion.  The block had been formerly inhabited by the Daigleish Cadillac Building, originally designed by Albert Kahn in 1927 to house the Walter J. Bemb Buick-Pontiac dealership. 

The architects, Harley Ellis Devereaux Corp., designed an inspiring building full of glass and light while saving the original showroom facade on Cass.  Outside of the new addition, the reflective glass mirrors a fast-changing neighborhood and soon, the M1-Rail will appear in these windows as well.

In the interior, the third floor retained the original roof of what was originally the indoor auto storage area, complete with driving ramp; the latter now replaced by those gorgeous multi-paned south-facing three story windows and open lobby.

 I am returning to Detroit the week of 16 March and look forward to seeing the construction progress for the building is set to open soon.

And in fact, development and re-development as well as a search for Detroit's architectural wonders seemed to be the theme of this past November exploration as I caught snaps of an amazing church, toured a Minuro Yamasaki building, and grabbed some outside snaps at Mies van der Rohe's Lafayette Park.

I had a chance as well to capture some images from the return of the Livernois Avenue of Fashion - great shops, restaurant - the 1917 American Bistro ! - and well worth exploring.
I wandered north of 7 Mile but I hear that just south it is coming back as well.

A sample of my work from previous visits as well as these past two in Fall of 2014 is incorporated into my newest "Scouting Update," a continually revised booklet sampling some of the work from these Detroit visits.  It can be seen online - DETROIT:DEFINTION/SCOUTING UPDATE20110-02014 - at issuu.com

One goes to art fairs to show, to buy, to covet and to find inspiration - and this year, to exhibit as mentioned at PhotoLA -  and during this winter's moment in Los Angeles last January/February, I wandered from opening to opening (Art ContemporaryLA), a book fair (Printed Matter LA Book Fair), a major photographer's talk (Simon Norfolk), listening to Bach's St. Matthews Passion sung by the Master Chorale at Disney Hall and then off to the Paramount Ranch/Art LA fair in the Malibu Mountains, an old movie ranch where I rode as a child with my father through the western town sets.

All of it is helping me narrow my focus about Detroit as I see how other artists - we all do learn from and are inspired by others - take their own personal stories, their own curiosity and form it into narratives for others.  The DETROIT:DEFINITION project, originating originally with my own curiosity to see the city of my birth,  is captivating me, changing me and allowing discovery not only of this evolving city but of myself as well and society as well.

I look forward to being there again.

Here are recent articles and books I have been reading recently on the city:
When You've Had Detroit  by Rollo Romig
A Detroit Anthology, Ed. Anna Clark.  (So far I've read Marsha Music's beautiful essay, "The Kidnapped Children of Detroit")
thanks for the view, mr. mies: lafayette park detroit

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