Highlights from the Detroit Art Scene: Part II

Posted on March 5th, 2012 by

A blog post by Senior Collections Manager Jobi Zink.

One of the “selling” points of the CAJM conference inDetroitwas the many museums that we would go to. Rather than just attending sessions in one hotel or conference center, we toured a number of museums. Several of the sessions were then related to the exhibitions we just saw.

We began Tuesday morning at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History (www.thewright.org)

While I remember Chris Webber for calling a time out for University of Michigan during the 1993 NCAA Championship game when his team did not have any time outs remaining, I learned that he began to collect African American artifacts in 1994. His collection,including slave records and costumes worn by James Brown, was donated to the Wright in 2007.

Our final conference sessions were held at the Detroit Institute of art (www.dia.org). As an art history major specializing in American Art, I felt like I was in heaven!

We ate lunch in the Rivera courtyard, surrounded by “Detroit Industry” murals by Diego Rivera. Rivera was a Marxist who believed that art belonged on public walls rather than in private galleries; he also gave the worker and the manager equal stature in art and in life.

For more details about the 27 panels that Rivera completed in just 11 months click on this link: http:///www.dia.org/art/rivera-court.aspx

I had a flashback to our February 10th field trip to the National Gallery of Art when we came to “Watson and the Shark” by John Singleton Copley. This is the third and smallest version of this painting. The second painting is in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Encountering “First State Election in Detroit, Michigan, 1837” by Thomas Mickell Burnham was very timely as Tuesday was theMichigan primary!

Rabbi Sprinzen would be proud that I can still read “Sampson” and “Delilah” in Hebrew. I love the frames on the Elihu Vedder paintings, too!

This piece reminded me a little bit of the Hutzler Cabinet. Must be all of that dark wood and intricate design.

I’ve always found the triptych “Classical Figures” by Thomas Dewing to have a calming effect on me.

I had no idea that all of this amazing art and history was hidden in Detroit. Thank you, Deborah, Josh, Terri & Stephen and the rest of CAJM, for the opportunity to see it all!

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Highlights from the Detroit Arts Scene: Part I

Posted on March 2nd, 2012 by

A blog post by Senior Collections Manager, Jobi Zink


This week I went to Detroit, Michigan for the Council of American Jewish Museums (CAJM) conference.  I’ll be honest. I didn’t want to go. After all it was Detroit in February. I was expecting 3 feet of snow on the ground, whipping wind, gangs, abandoned houses, and open drug trade.

Axel Foley (character in Beverly Hills Cop), Rapper Eminem and the movie 8 Mile did not leave an overwhelmingly positive impression of Detroit.

After 4 days of touring museumsin the city and suburbs, my opinions have greatly changed! Mother Nature cooperating with 40 degree days certainly helped, but the arts scene was truly impressive.

It isn’t a trip to Detroit without some Motown.

The Cranbrook Art Museum is on a 175-acre campus. The museum just underwent a $22 million dollar renovation—I couldn’t wait to check it out! http:///www.cranbrookart.edu/museum/

Eliel Saarinen designed the museum in 1942. The sculpture and ponds seem like a natural extension of the building.

Rachel, Elena &LeighAnn relax on a bench in front of a Sol LeWitt mural, part of No Object Is an Island: New Dialogues with the Cranbrook Collection.

The Henry Ford Museum was another enormous facility—the galleries alone are 3 acres, and then there is Greenfield Village and the factory. We only had one hour to tour the exhibitions before sessions began on Monday morning. http:///www.thehenryford.org/

The “exploded” Model T allows visitors to see how the car is assembled, even without visiting the factory.

While many visitors are awestruck by the John F. Kennedy Limousine, I was charmed by Teddy Roosevelt’s Presidential horse-drawn carriage.

It was very powerful to hear the recorded testimony of Rosa Parks about why she didn’t move to the back of the bus in Montgomery, AL in 1955 while I sat in the very seat in the second row that she refused to vacate.

The “With Liberty and Justice for All” exhibition had the chair in which Abraham Lincoln was sitting when he was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth at the Ford’s Theater in Washington, DC in April 1865.

Someone was working on one of the giant engines in the collection.

E.T. would have his choice of phones. While I didn’t see many cordless phones from the 1990s, the Iphone 4S is on display in the lower left corner.

Model kitchen from the 1930s made me think of the Chosen Food exhibition, as did the model kitchen at the Arab American National Museum.

The dome above a fountain in the lobby and mosaic in the hallway of the Arab American National Museum. http:///arabamericanmuseum.org/

No one from the CAJM contingency was surprised that there were suitcases at the beginning of the main exhibition, “Coming to America.”

The empty case was a powerful reflection of a refugees account, “we brought nothing with us.”

Docent Guy Stern, who just turned 90, gave us a personal tour complete with anecdotes of the “Ritchie Boys” exhibit that he curated at the Holocaust Memorial Center. www.holocaustcenter.org

Check back on Monday for Part II!

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A Visit to the Mount Clare Museum House!

Posted on December 29th, 2010 by

Last week the Collections staff of the JMM decided to go visit former volunteer Debbie Farthing at her new (old) home at the Mount Clare Museum House! The house was all decked out in its Christmas season finery and we had a great time getting a full tour (we even got to peek into the back offices and storage areas) and catching up with Debbie.

Jennifer takes the stairs like royalty.

Jobi is tickled pink by the awesome greeting card Debbie picked out for her.

Some beautiful stairway decorations.

Debbie tells us about some of the objects on display.

Margaret Carroll's fabulous dress.

I thought this painted table was pretty neat.

Especially because it pictures Mount Clare itself on it!

Jobi demonstrates for us in front of the "pouting room." Don't you wish you had one of those?

Pretty chair, right? Guess what! It's hiding a chamber pot underneath!

Me, Debbie and Jenn under a kissing ball.

Where curators belong...locked in a closet.

But alas, eventually our tour ended and it was time to go. Debbie went back to work, Jobi and Jennifer headed back to their vacations and me? I went home sick. But at least I got to see Mount Clare dressed up for the holidays! We can’t thank Debbie enough for taking the time out of her day to show us around and really make Mount Clare House and the Carrolls come alive!

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