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Sunday, June 9, 2013

Stay Out of Town Virginia!

Detroit Institute of Art (DIA)
I've been a member of the Founder Society since before I could vote.
The DIA's Great Hall. Our Thinker used to be in here. Now the copy welcomes
visitors outside of the main entrance to the museum on Woodward .  To the right of this great hall are the American Art
Galleries . To the left is the Medieval section where my young sons loved to play guessing games as to  who could be lying in that stone sarcophagus?
Rivera Court with its famous frescoes depicting  Detroit's Industrial Heritage. Every Friday night, there are freeconcerts
put on in this hall by local musicians.  The hall is packed. 

One of my favorite DIA paintings: John Henry Fuseli's The Nightmare. I wrote my term paper for
Art History on this painting.
The Kresge Building of The Center for Creative Studies (now known as The College of Creative Arts) where I studied sculpture, anatomy and design.
The campus is East of John R, the street that runs behind the DIA. We used to go to lunch
at the museum. The museum was home then as it is now.
College of Creative Studies Center Gallery. A place that makes my heart sing.

Satisfied with my initial drawing  done in pastel on a prepped canvas, I reached for the burnt sienna and there was none. I Gotta Crow was stopped cold. I ransacked the studio not believing I didn't have a tube of the staple color on all the paint palettes in the world, but came up with nothing. That session ended with disgust.

As did reading the newspaper and online articles this weekend.

 I was enraged over the  talk in the papers and online of selling off Detroit's museum's very fine art collection to pay Detroit's debts.  Then there was  this snobby biatch from LA (who was born in nowheresvilleas far as any biography I could find),Virginia Postrel whose derogatory remarks about my city and our art churned my stomach and  me take the fight stance.  Read about it here.

My favorite contemporary painting by an
artist whose name escapes me. With me, it's never the
creator's name that sticks, it's his/her work. 
Yes, the city is in financial trouble.  Yes, our art collection is formidable and could pay off a lot of the city's debt. But I say let the past city councils who incurred those debts work them off as indentured servants to the city they plundered , (dressed in orange coveralls of course Virginia--I know how very important fashion is to you). Charge the suburbs more for their water. Charge toll fees for the use of our expressways-- a brilliant innovation and the first in the world. Tear down the decaying Joe Lewis Arena and the Manoogian Mansion and the burned out houses in neighborhoods deserted long ago and sell parcels of  land to developers to build independent townships closer in to the beautiful downtown epicenter with its best in the world accoustics opera house, museums, music halls, theaters  and restaurants, but keep your mits off our art!   'Backwater' Detroiters  earned  every piece  we have housed, bequethed, funded, maintained, looked after all of our lives.

I took my ire out on the blog. Deleted two previous posts. I hated that Olive tree even if it did give me a couple of afternoons of free association fun. I worried that publicly voicing my decision to forget about making money with my art upset those of you who actively pursue the business end, so I deleted that text too.   I still stand by my opinion, however. Money in my art equation has always been detrimental to my productivity; the idea of having to produce art that people like to live with and can afford  freezes me up--that's why I think agents and gallery representation is important for artists like myself, an admitedly selfish Expressionist who adores exploration. While I call myself a dabbler, my tongue is in my cheek. I am anything but. Art is a major part of life--both making it and preserving it--mine, yours and particularly the 650,000 world class works in Detroit's outstanding museum originally founded in 1885, 69 years before Getty opened the front doors of his home so kids like Virginia could  get their first look at  his collection!  I'm just a wee bit pissed  at this woman who traded honest journalism for notoriety--albeit fame and fortune--via controversial prattle unsubstantuated by any research. But don't do your homework now Virginia.  Don't come to town.  You're not welcome.

In progress, a strong design, and a very complicated composition  by an artist
from a 'backwater' community which happens to own an art collection other's envy.
Note the chalk markings as I am still working out the composition and the palette. This one is going to take a while.


  1. Bravo!
    What wonderful content. I love your spirit and the marvelous way you have with words.
    Even though it is a very serious post I had to laugh...dressed in orange coveralls!
    Also at one of your favorite paintings. Such a handsome guy sitting on top of her.

    1. Well Virginia wrote a book on style so I would Imagine that she would appreciate indentured servants being approgriately garbed while they picked up the trash along the freeway embankments. People who write about style--consciously think about style--usually don't have any of their own. Style can be acquired, but it's no good if it's trendy; it has to come from within. But that's another story.

      I didn't realize how much that art meant to me over my lifetime till this weekend when I caught up on what was going on with it. Perhaps that's why I chose to show you Fuseli's Nightmare? The weight of her demons sits on her gut. I feel demons sitting on my gut who would bring extreme sadness to a city who is already sad. Where there is art, there is hope, joy and pride.

      With this last recession, Detroit has lost a large portion of its population as people moved elsewhere to seek a livlihood. Victoria lives in LA. LA's museum of note is the Getty, which since 1957 has grown into a lovely art center--much like Minnappolis' Walker. Our museum with our depleted population get 500,000 plus visitors a year. The Getty with LA's much larger population gets a million visitors a year. Based on population numbers, the Getty gets 9% of LA's population visiting while Detroit's DIA gets 15%. And we're 'backwater' folk when it comes to art!

      It's been a very long time since I've been an activist, (The Womens march down Pennsylvania Avenue for the ERA), but I do feel I might just be carrying a sign sometime soon. I would lay down my body on the front steps as a part of a human chain,but at this age, getting up would be a problem. :-))

  2. Wow, such passion a and brilliantly expressed. I hope your voice is heard and they don't sell. I never heard anything so moronic!
    Your painting is coming on a treat. Although it is not the type of painting that appeals to me, you have shown me the thought and work that it takes to produce. I used to dismiss such work as scribble. Not any more, and I thank you for that.

    1. I don't know where this painting paint sprang from either. It is very unusualy for me, but maybe it's a harbinger of where I'm going with landscapes? Meanwhile Burnt Sienna. I may have opted to trade that color in for the oil equivolent to acrylic Red Oxide and that's why I can't find any in any in my stashes? Red oxide will not do for a portrait underpainting. Off to the supply store. I also discovered I do not like any grade of oil paint below the top grade. I got #3, just one below the top grade and it's are not oily enough.

      Abstractions spring from realism. This painting surprising as it may be is very close to my reference photograph. I show it the next time I show this. It does need simplification, but I'm still deciding which lines I like the most.

  3. I think you're on the right track, love the abstract feel and the energy.

    1. The reference photograph is of a tree that collapsed in the forrest at the point of collapse. Though the painting looks abstract, it's really a zoomed in close up of the break in the trunk. I'm pushing the colors of course and will simplify eventually.

  4. What an interesting post! Now way can they sell the art collected and loved over many years to pay debts! Never!

    Really like how the work is progressing above!

    Thank you So much for you lovely comments on my blog. :-D

    1. My pleasure Helene. Thank you for your condolences on this current crisis. I don't understand it either. People have donated and bequeathed in good faith--and hopefully with the proper stipulations attached? Did you know that the DIA was the first museum to seek out and return a work of art to its proper owner once they discovered the piece had been confisgated by the Nasis? It started the trend of investigating where art comes from. We also have an excellent, highly skilled Restoration Department who repairs and cleans and refurbishes art for other museums, for which the museum is paid of course. The museum is the center of Detroit's cultural life, which is as rich as it can be given the deplorable government the city has endured since Coleman Young came into office and started diddling around.

  5. I love how you manage to get movement into your work, Amazing.

    1. When I'm hyped, I'm hyped. thanks Ann. Now that painting needs to settle down, (as do I). What I like about building a painting like this is the underlayers never quite disappear as reason takes over. Those underlayers enhance the final composition, add to its depth and make the surface richer.

  6. Ik ben onder de indruk van alles de gebouwen wat er mee gebeurt je indrukwekkend schilderij lieve groetjes Danielle

    1. Detroit does have an impressive art collection Danielle. You should plan a trip. As for the painting, it is a nice relief from portraiture, but I did bite off a difficult challenge when I chose my reference photograph. It doesn't matter. Slowly, surely the painting will be reconciled.