Vintage Kalamazoo 3: hats

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I can’t keep my eyes off these wonderful hats from the 40’s at JBird Vintage, so what else to do but….start painting them! Apparently it was the one thing that people were still creative with during the wartime since clothes were kept very simple and functional.    Also a couple more houses from the historic Stuart district and Michigan Avenue downtown.

 

 

And back to Kalamazoo: Wall St

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On arriving I was lucky enough to take over a vegetable plot in the Wall St Community Garden. At two blocks from where I’m living it’s near enough to feel like a back garden to get out to when you’ve been at the screen all day and I inherited sage, kale and raspberries. Starting in July was a bit late to do much planting, but it feels like I just got to do the nice bit which was the picking and eating.

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Murals in the Market: Detroit

Last but not least a few images from the Murals in the Market event last Friday in Detroit, an event that has grown exponentially in the last two years. The amount of people there was incredible and the murals impressive, although we come from a place where graffiti is a bit old hat having been co-opted for a political cause. Financing the medium encouraged exploration and Venezuelan tags and murals are much more creative than many I’ve seen abroad, but this is definitely more ambitious in scale and scope and not obliged to serve as propaganda. In fact the murals really make the most of what could be a devastated urban landscape and convert it into an open air museum.

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MOCAD Detroit

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So we finally made our way down Woodward Avenue past the motorways and construction sites to the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit. The main show by a Detroit artist called Sanford Biggers was Subjective Cosmology, described as an “unseen world made visible”. At first glimpse it could be the parallel worlds that people of different colour and ethnicity seem to inhabit here, as someone observed, it’s a room full of corpses, and as a comment all too pertinent in the exhibition text with the “continued killings of unarmed black civilians by the police”.

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Downtown Detroit

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Turning the corner on our way downtown from the Heidelberg project was this beauty of a building all boarded up and awaiting rescue. The mix of styles from Art Deco to Neogothic is almost whimsical in many buildings dotted around and a testament to the tremendous energy and creative freedom that must have existed in the city’s heyday. And so very different in feel from Europe, I was particularly struck by a church that seemed to use gothic and islamic in one go and was Pentecostal in denomination. Downtown we caught a quick glimpse of wonderful stone carved skyscrapers while looking for galleries that were shut and decided to make our way up to MOCAD. Even though a light rail is just being installed (we saw a train speeding by but were told later it must have been a trial run) it’s not particularly friendly to pedestrians as we found wandering down Woodward Avenue. Maybe too much to ask of a city which was (is?) the epitome of the automobile culture, and still has a way to go reinventing itself in that sense. Definitely a long way before I’d be comfortable cycling around the expansive motorways. There are civic minded details that we appreciated though like the outdoor reading room at the library…

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Detroit: the Heidelberg Project

Tyree Guyton  has been a pioneer in urban renovation with the Heidelberg project since the mid eighties and it’s already world famous, but how to resist taking a few more pictures of such an interesting installation. Several people came by while we were there to wander through and do the same, even a police officer! Obviously the reasons that led to this amount of open space available are not ones that anyone would repeat intentionally, but it definitely feels inviting if you like to intervene creatively in your surroundings. Such as in the work of Monica Canilao (although from California not Detroit) she also uses recycled materials, found objects and has a wonderful mural on Gratiot Avenue from last year.

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