I was lucky enough to be able to visit family in Detroit over the summer.  It is a city rich in American history despite the huge problems we’ve been hearing about in the news.  I was so impressed by what I saw that I want to cast a positive light amid all the gloom we hear!

General Motors HQ

The area is historically rich with innovation and intellectual achievement, the largest of which is the automotive industry.  My brother-in-law Bobby works for GM at HQ and he took me on a quick tour of the major buildings.  This brought back fond and distant memories for me — A looooong time ago I worked for Hewlett-Packard and frequented Detroit to plan and market automotive IT specific products.

Motown

And what about Motown?  It was awe-inspiring to realize the music giants that came from this humble blue and white home — still standing today.   This is downtown Detroit,   a place where artists continue their foothold due to low rents and the rich artistic history.

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Pewabic Pottery was founded by Mary Chase Perry Stratton and Horace James Caulkins in 1903.  Their work with kilns and modernizing the technology contributed greatly to the Arts and Crafts movement and the American Craftsman style. The studio continues to create tiles that have become a part of many buildings across the US.

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I was delighted when my mother declared that I had to work these tiles into her bathroom remodel.  Right on it mom!

The Detroit Institute of the Arts has been forefront in the media surrounding Detroit’s financial struggles.  I need to tell you that the DIA is one of the most impressive art museums I’ve been to in the United States.  Not only was the art world-class, but the presentation and setting was beyond anything I have experienced elsewhere — including San Francisco and Los Angeles.  Really.

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One of the most well-known artist represented in the DIA is Diego Rivera.  His  “Detroit Industry”  is an enormous room-sized mural  and was very controversial at the time because it highlighted Rivera’s Marxist political views.  It  is now viewed as one of Rivera’s greatest murals.

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Brother-in-law Bobby is proud to be part of the ongoing Detroit automotive industry and happily stands in to provide us some perspective on the enormity of Rivera’s murals.  
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In addition to the Rivera work, I was caught off-guard by  Alan Davies’ ‘Portrait of a Hindu’, 1963. It took my breath away.  Davies is a Scottish born expressionist artist who was greatly influenced by Jackson Pollock and Joan Miro. I’ve already designed an entire room around this painting — in my mind of course!  (Prospective clients, are you reading this?)

Frank Brangwyn’s ‘Come Fill the Cup’ was another breath-taking piece.  An Englishman, he painted this in 1906 and like Rivera was commissioned by Rockefeller.

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Another highlight of my Detroit visit was a side trip to Ann Arbor where I was delighted to visit to one of my primary vendors, Habitatery.   And what a treat to arrive at their studio with this waiting for me!  Thank you Habitatery.

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