Prairie Ronde residency

This week I was so happy to begin drawing at an old paper mill in Vicksburg, a thirty minute drive from Kalamazoo. This is part of the Prairie Ronde residency programme which has been ongoing while the renovation of the mill is in the planning stages. Paper mills are dotted along the rivers all around these towns, it was a big part of Michigan history at the beginning of the last century. Getting to find out more about that history through the buildings themselves and the communities that grew up around them has been fascinating.

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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.

 

 

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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Vintage Kalamazoo

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I first visited Kalamazoo in 2013 and was impressed with the architecture that survived from the last two centuries. I have since discovered that the city is unique in having several historic districts; it is incredible that these old wooden houses have been conserved for so long. This time around I have begun sketching the urban landscape which feels like walking through a Hopper painting. These will be on show in an upcoming Art Hop.