Pylon

 Posted by on August 8, 2017
Aug 082017
 

Philip A. Hart Civic Center Plaza
Jefferson and Woodward Avenues
Detroit, Michigan

Pylon by Isamu Noguchi

120 feet tall by 7 feet square The Pylon is the terminus for Detroit’s main street, Woodward Avenue.

Created by Isamu Noguchi, the monumental work is of joined steel sections.   The rectangular pylon makes a quarter turn as it heads upwards to the sky.

Isamu Noguchi (November 17, 1904 – December 30, 1988) was a Japanese American artist and landscape architect whose artistic career spanned six decades, from the 1920s onward. Known for his sculpture and public works, Noguchi also designed stage sets for various Martha Graham productions, and several mass-produced lamps and furniture pieces, such as the Noguchi table for Herman Miller, some of which are still manufactured and sold.

Belle Isle

 Posted by on August 4, 2017
Aug 042017
 
Belle Isle

Belle Isle Detroit, Michigan Belle Isle is a 982-acre island park in the Detroit River, between the United States mainland and Canada. Belle Isle is the largest city-owned island park in the United States and is the third largest island in the Detroit River. It is connected to mainland Detroit by the MacArthur Bridge. One interesting story told about the island is part of Motor City history. It is said that one night in 1908 Byron Carter of Cartercar stopped to help a stranded motorist on Belle Isle. When he cranked her Cadillac, it kicked back and broke his jaw. Continue Reading

FLW in Detroit

 Posted by on August 3, 2017
Aug 032017
 
FLW in Detroit

The Melvyn Maxwell Smith and Sara Stein Smith House Bloomfield, Michigan The Melvyn Maxwell Smith and Sara Stein Smith House also known as My Haven is a Frank Lloyd Wright designed Usonian home that was built by the owner/occupants in 1949 and 1950. The Smiths were two public school teachers living on a tight budget, to realize their dream they scrimped and scraped in ways most people would never consider, but the reward is this wonderful gem. It is said that Mr. Smith, upon seeing a photo of Falling Water for the first time while studying to become a teacher, Continue Reading

Detroit’s Guardian Building

 Posted by on August 2, 2017
Aug 022017
 
Detroit's Guardian Building

500 Griswold Street Detroit, Michigan There has been so very, very much written about the Guardian Building of Detroit, that my writing here is simply for me to remember this stunning building and that I had the pleasure of walking into it and staring. Built for the Union Trust Company the building is 486 feet tall with 40 floors and was the second tallest building in Detroit and the world’s tallest brick building when it opened in 1929. Designed by Wirt Rowland of  Smith, Hichman, and Grylls it came in at a cost of $12million. The tangerine colored “Guardian Brick” Continue Reading

Detroit’s Renaissance

 Posted by on August 1, 2017
Aug 012017
 
Detroit's Renaissance

The Book Building at 1249 Washington Blvd, Downtown Detroit So much has been written about Detroit’s decline, and yet so little has been written about its renaissance.  Yes, the outlying areas have a long way to go, but the new construction and renovations happening in the downtown area are staggering.  This post by no means covers the enormous amount of renovation occurring, these are just a few of this author’s favorite buildings. The Book Building, designed by Louis Kamper for the Book brothers, was built in 1917, the tower was added in 1926. There was considerable criticism about the building Continue Reading

Heidelberg Project

 Posted by on July 31, 2017
Jul 312017
 
Heidelberg Project

3600 Heidelberg St McDougall Hunt Neighborhood Detroit, Michigan Just 15 minutes away from the African Bead Museum is the Heidelberg Project.  I went anticipating a fabulous folk art installation due to all the hype, disappointing is the kindest word I can use. That being said, the motivation behind the project and the heart poured into it, should not ever be dismissed. There are three over riding themes to the Heidelberg project: clocks, faces, and shoes.  The clocks are to remind you that it is never too late to act.  You may think you do not have the time, or it Continue Reading

African Bead Museum

 Posted by on July 25, 2017
Jul 252017
 
African Bead Museum

Dabls’ MBAD African Bead Museum 6559 Grand River Avenue Detroit, Michigan * I had the absolute privilege to speak with Olayami Dabls, the creator of Dabls’ African Bead Museum (pictured above), and he told me some of his story.  He began this project during the Clean Up Detroit program, a project to help clear all of the empty lots of the trash and building parts left after many homes were bulldozed. He repeated often, how he was surprised the city had not shut him down and how happy he was to just keep doing what he was doing.  He did point Continue Reading

Pewabic Pottery

 Posted by on July 24, 2017
Jul 242017
 
Pewabic Pottery

1025 Jefferson Avenue Detroit, Michigan   Pewabic Pottery is a ceramic studio and school founded in 1903 by artist Mary Chase Perry Stratton and Horace James Caulkins. Caulkins was considered a high-heat and kiln specialist, and developed the “Revelation kiln”.  Caulkins invented the kiln to help with his dental supply business, he then sold his kilns to other dentists so they could fire enamel for their patients. Mary Perry Stratton was “the artistic and marketing force. Mary Stratton established the ceramics department at the University of Michigan and taught there. She also taught at Wayne State University. In 1947, she Continue Reading

The Saarinen House

 Posted by on July 23, 2017
Jul 232017
 
The Saarinen House

Academy Way Cranbrook Bloomfield Hills, Michigan A tour of the Saarinen house is an amazing look into the perfectionism of Eliel Saarinen and his design beliefs and senses.  The house combines  Arts and Craft movement ideas with Art Deco elements for a stunning and harmonious work of art. * The home was built concurrently with sculptor Carl Milles next door for a cost $140,000 for the two.  The typical cost of a home at that time in Detroit was $6250. The home was completely restored in 1994, after having been changed by subsequent owners from 1950 to the 1990s. The Continue Reading

The Spirit of Detroit

 Posted by on July 21, 2017
Jul 212017
 
The Spirit of Detroit

2 Woodward Avenue Detroit, Michigan This stunning sculpture is the best-known piece of public art in Detroit.  It’s location and presentation was well thought out. The backdrop was designed by the architectural firm of Harley, Ellington and Day, also responsible for the Veterans Memorial Building in Detroit. The sculpture itself is by Detroit area sculptor Marshall Fredericks. Commissioned in 1955 for $58,000, the sculpture was dedicated in 1958. The seated figure represents the spirit of humanity. In his left hand, he holds a gilt bronze sphere, with emanating rays, symbolizing God, in his right hand he holds a group of Continue Reading

Civil Rights Monument

 Posted by on March 31, 2017
Mar 312017
 
Civil Rights Monument

Capitol Park Richmond, VA March 2017 The Virginia Civil Rights Memorial sits on the grounds of Capitol Square in Richmond VA and commemorates the protests which helped bring about school desegregation in the state. Unveiled in 2008 this $2.8 memorial was designed by Stanley Bleifield. From the Richmond Times-Dispatch: “A Commonwealth once synonymous with defiance of court-ordered school integration celebrated the latest symbol of its often-difficult embrace of equality with the Virginia Civil Rights Memorial in 2008. It represents a key moment in the history of the civil-rights movement in Virginia. The statue spotlights the African-American students in rural Prince Continue Reading

Reconciliation Triangle

 Posted by on March 28, 2017
Mar 282017
 
Reconciliation Triangle

East Main Street Richmond, VA March 2017 Reconciliation Triangle has a fascinating and worldwide story. The statue represents Richmond, Virginia’s place in slave history.  With the addition of Liverpool, England, and the republic of Benin, West Africa, identical statues by Liverpool artist Stephen Broadbent are in place in each country marking the three points of the infamous slave trade triangle. The statues symbolize a commitment to new relationships based on honesty, forgiveness and reconciliation. In 1999, President Mathieu Kerekou of the Republic of Benin convened an international gathering at which he apologized for Benin’s part in selling fellow Africans to Continue Reading

Lily Pond

 Posted by on July 21, 2016
Jul 212016
 
Lily Pond

125 W. Fullerton Parkway Lincoln Park Chicago, Illinois Chicago’s official motto is “Urbs in Horto,” which translates to “City in a Garden”, much of the garden aspects of this town can be attributed to Alfred Caldwell and his mentor Jens Jensen. Lily Pond is the work of Alfred Caldwell. During the depression, Caldwell worked on and off for the Chicago Park District. It was a tumultuous relationship, but it was also steady work. In 1936, under the guise of the Park District and with WPA money Caldwell designed the Lily Pool. Caldwell suggested that “besides being a nature garden,” the Continue Reading

Boulder Man

 Posted by on July 19, 2016
Jul 192016
 
Boulder Man

951 Chicago Avenue Oak Park, Chicago On the piers flanking the entry to Frank Lloyd Wrights 1898 architectural studio in Oak Park, Illinois, sit these two pieces, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and executed by Richard Bock. “Boulder Man” is the most valuable of Richard Bock’s work.  He originally designed and modeled the piece to top a gate post.  The body, apparently half buried in the earth is stunning from every angle.  These sculptures are reproductions.  They were re-created from photographs.  The originals had disintegrated beyond repair, the replicas were done during the 1980s restoration of Frank Lloyd Wrights home Continue Reading

Standing Lincoln

 Posted by on July 17, 2016
Jul 172016
 
Standing Lincoln

Off N. Lake Shore Drive near W. North Avenue Chicago This is one of the two sculptures in Lincoln Park that were bequeathed to Chicago upon the death of lumberman Eli Bates. This 12 foot tall figure known as the “Standing Lincoln” was the first of Saint-Gaudens’ statues of Lincoln. He received the commission for this monument in 1884 and began work the following year. Lincoln had made quite an impression on Saint-Gaudens when he saw Lincoln in 1860 . “Lincoln stood tall in the carriage, his dark uncovered head bent in contemplative acknowledgement of the waiting people, and the Continue Reading

Shakespeare in Chicago

 Posted by on July 16, 2016
Jul 162016
 
Shakespeare in Chicago

N. Lincoln Parkway West and W. Belden Avenue Chicago According to the Chicago Parks Department: “When Samuel Johnston, a successful north side businessman, died in 1886, he left a sizeable gift in his will for several charities as well as money for a memorial to William Shakespeare in Lincoln Park. A competition was held to select a sculptor. The winner was a Columbia University graduate, William Ordway Partridge (1861–1930), who had studied sculpture in France and Italy after a short stint as an actor. This commission presented a unique challenge for Partridge since the only known portraits of William Shakespeare Continue Reading

Eli Bates Fountain

 Posted by on July 15, 2016
Jul 152016
 
Eli Bates Fountain

This whimsical fountain is known as both the Eli Bates Fountain and “Storks at Play”. Eli Bates was a Chicago lumberman who died in 1881. He bequeathed a fund for the commission of Standing Lincoln, also by Saint-Gaudens, and this fountain, both to be placed in Lincoln Park. Installed in 1887 it was a joint collaboration between Augustus Saint-Gaudens and his student Frederick W. MacMonnies The figures for the fountain were cast by the Henry-Bonnard Bronze Company of New York. Augustus Saint-Gaudens has been in this site before, you can read about him here. In 1880 MacMonnies began an apprenticeship Continue Reading

Columbus Circle

 Posted by on July 14, 2016
Jul 142016
 
Columbus Circle

Columbus Circle In front of Union Station Washington D.C. The fountain, which was co-created by Lorado Taft and architect Daniel Burnham, was influenced by a fountain designed by Frederick MacMonnies that was displayed at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. MacMonnies work depicted a figure of Columbia sitting on a ship with a figure of Fame standing on a ship prow holding a trumpet and a representational figure of Time dominating the stern. With this sculpture Lorado Taft has Columbus standing, arms crossed, facing the Capitol. He is flanked by an American Indian, representing the “New World” facing Continue Reading

Fountain of Time

 Posted by on July 11, 2016
Jul 112016
 
Fountain of Time

6000 Cottage Grove Avenue Chicago, Illinois Fountain of Time, or simply Time, is a 126 foot long sculpture by Lorado Taft, within Washington Park in Chicago, Illinois. The sculpture was inspired by Henry Austin Dobson’s poem, “Paradox of Time”. “Time goes, you say? Ah no, Alas, time stays, we go”. The sculpture includes Father Time, hooded and carrying a scythe. He watches over a parade of 100 figures showing humanity at various stages of life.   Although most of the figures are generic Taft included himself, with one of his assistants following him, along the west side of the sculpture. He is Continue Reading

Fountain of the Great Lakes

 Posted by on July 9, 2016
Jul 092016
 
Fountain of the Great Lakes

Nichols Bridgeway Off E. Jackson and South Michigan Avenue Chicago Fountain of the Great Lakes or Spirit of the Great Lakes Fountain is an allegorical sculpture by Lorado Taft at the Art Institute of Chicago.  The fountain was moved to this spot in the 1960s. Created between 1907-1913, the bronze fountain depicts five women arranged so that the water flows through them in the same way water passes through the Great Lakes. The fountain is Taft’s response to Daniel Burnham’s complaint at the Columbian Exposition in 1893 that the sculptors charged with ornamenting the fairgrounds failed to produce anything that Continue Reading

Eternal Silence

 Posted by on July 9, 2016
Jul 092016
 
Eternal Silence

  The Eternal Silence, (also called Eternal Silence or Statue of Death)  marks the grave of Dexter Graves, who led a group of thirteen families that moved from Ohio to Chicago in 1831, making them some of Chicago’s earliest settlers. Graves died in 1844, seventy-five years before the creation of the statue, and sixteen years before Graceland Cemetery was founded; his body was presumably moved to Graceland from the old City Cemetery.  The funds for the monument were provided in the will of his son, Henry, who died in 1907. The will provided $250,000 for a Graves family mausoleum, they received the Continue Reading

Adam’s Memorial

 Posted by on July 9, 2016
Jul 092016
 
Adam's Memorial

Section E Rock Creek Cemetery Washington D.C. I visit the Adams Memorial whenever I am in Washington D.C. This hauntingly beautiful sculpture is one I can never tire of.  It is by sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens. The Smithsonian probably writes about it best: Marion Hooper “Clover” Adams, wife of the writer Henry Adams, committed suicide in 1885 by drinking chemicals used to develop photographs. Adams, who steadfastly refused to discuss his wife’s death, commissioned Augustus Saint-Gaudens to create a memorial that would express the Buddhist idea of nirvana, a state of being beyond joy and sorrow. In Adams’s circle of artists Continue Reading

The Mosaics of the Marquette

 Posted by on June 23, 2016
Jun 232016
 
The Mosaics of the Marquette

The Marquette Building 140 South Dearborn Chicago This spectacular, and difficult to photograph, mosaic is in the rotund of the Marquette building.  Designed by J.A. Holler of the Tiffany Company it depicts the Mississippi voyage of Louis Jolliet and Father Marquette. Louis Tiffany was the son of jeweler Charles Tiffany. His career took off after the display of his mosaics in the chapel at the 1893 Columbian Exposition, also known as the Worlds Fair in Chicago. Jacob Adolph Holzer was a Swiss artist who worked for Tiffany as chief designer and art director,  he was responsible for the design and execution Continue Reading

The Marquette Building

 Posted by on June 19, 2016
Jun 192016
 
The Marquette Building

The Marquette Building 140 South Dearborn Chicago   These four bronze plaques sit above the entry doors of the Marquette Building in Chicago.  They were done in 1895 by Henry MacNeil (1866-1947).  At the time MacNeil shared a studio in the building with painter Charles F. Browne. Louis Jolliet and Jesuit Father Jacques Marquette, were the first non-Natives to explore and map the Mississippi River in 1673. The four bronze plaques are the story of their journey. They depict the launching of the canoes, the meeting of the Michigamea Indians, the arriving at the Chicago River and finally the interring Continue Reading

May 192015
 
The African American Monument of Savannah's Riverfront

Savannah Riverfront East Side – near the Hyatt Elevator This monument was built in 2002, designed by Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) professor Dorothy Spradley, it shows a family embracing with the chain of slavery at their feet. “We were stolen, sold and bought together from the African continent. We got on the slave ships together. We lay back to belly in the holds of the slave ships in each others excrement and urine together, sometimes died together, and our lifeless bodies thrown overboard together. Today, we are standing up together, with faith and even some joy.” Dorothy Continue Reading

Two Worlds Apart

 Posted by on May 19, 2015
May 192015
 
Two Worlds Apart

Julliet Gordon Low Federal Building-Telfair Square 124 Broughton Savannah, GA Produced by Ned Smyth, these pieces were in conjunction with an exhibit at the Telfair Academy in 1992.  

A World Apart

 Posted by on May 19, 2015
May 192015
 
A World Apart

The Center of River Street, on the west side of the Hyatt tunnel Savannah, Georgia This World War II monument is also known as “The Cracked Earth” monument. The two halves of the globe are split, representing the conflict of a world divided. Inside are the names of all who served from Chatham county, Georgia. The dream of the Chatham County Veterans Council, this memorial took ten years of fundraising to accomplish. Architect, Eric Meyerhoff,  was approached by the City of Savannah to help design the memorial. “This was a World War, and I wanted that theme,” Meyerhoff said. “The world was Continue Reading

Maynard Dixon and A Pageant of Traditions

 Posted by on March 23, 2015
Mar 232015
 
Maynard Dixon and A Pageant of Traditions

The Stanley Mosk Library and Court Building Gillis Hall 914 Capitol Mall Sacramento, CA I recently toured the newly restored California State Library building.  The $62 million restoration brought the library/courts building into the modern age. (The project came in under budget at around $49 million). Although this Maynard Dixon mural experienced a small amount of damage during the restoration, it remains in Gillis Hall for all to enjoy. Titled, A Pageant of Traditions, the mural is sixty nine feet long and fourteen feet tall. The mural, painted after the library was opened in 1928, symbolically depicts the greatest influences Continue Reading

The Responsibility of Raising a Child

 Posted by on October 20, 2014
Oct 202014
 
The Responsibility of Raising a Child

5th Avenue between Yamhill and Taylor Streets Portland, OR Along the TriMet route you will find this 2004 bronze buy Rick Bartow. Rick Bartow weaves Native American symbols of parenting and life cycles throughout The Responsibility of Raising a Child. The sculpture started out expressing the difficult circumstances of single parents, but by placing the infant in the basket it becomes a hopeful, encouraging and optimistic work. * Rick Bartow was born in 1946 in Newport, Oregon to a Yurok and Wiyot father who relocated to Oregon for work and married Bartow’s Euro-American mother. His artwork is influenced not only by Continue Reading

Nepenthes

 Posted by on October 20, 2014
Oct 202014
 
Nepenthes

Along NorthWest Davis Street Portland, OR These amazing structures are by Seattle based artist Dan Corson and are titled Nepenthes.  There are four of them along NorthWest Davis Street ,each standing 17 feet tall covered in photo-voltaic cells.  The elements glow at night. Nepenthes, named after the magical greek potion that eliminates sorrow and suffering. From an article by DesignBoom: By referencing the patterns of Oregon native vegetation and other carnivorous plants and inserting a quirky expression of nature into an urban environment, these sculptures celebrate historic Chinatown’s unique and diverse community. The structures are created out of robust layers Continue Reading