DETROIT: Delights for the Eyes and the Appetite

24 May

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You may have noticed the increasing number of posts we have been doing on art in Detroit, the reason is simple: Detroit is steadily taking over the spotlight as the hub of the current art scene in the Midwest. There is a new realization that the creative industries are important to today’s economic growth. The College For Creative Studies is a world leader in art and design education and plays an integral part in educating artists and designers in fields such as transportation design, film, animation, fine arts, consumer electronics, advertising and more. CCS was founded in 1906 as the Detroit Society of Arts and Crafts, today it encompasses two campuses and enrolls over 1400 students. The last couple of years we have made it a point to attend the student exhibition and sale held in the spring, it’s amazing! Held at the A Alfred Taubman Center For Design Education, the building itself makes the perfect backdrop for the art. Located on West Milwaukee the building was designed by (you know who….) Albert Kahn, constructed in 1928 and known as the Argonaut Building. Home to the former General Motors Research laboratory,  GM donated the 760,000 sq. ft.  structure to CCS. After $145 million dollars in renovation, Taubman being one of the main benefactors, the place was renamed and opened its doors to CCS and the Henry Ford Academy School For Creative Studies.

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May 12th was the first day of public viewing and sales, so we were sure to get there bright and early. The exhibition takes place on floors 8 through 11, we like to start at the top. The building itself is fantastic, such character from the beautiful exterior brick and stone to the large windows and spectacular views. I always think an old building somehow absorbs the life of the activity going on inside its walls throughout the years, giving it a personality of its own. The structure feels solid, and sturdy. The 11th floor hosted Crafts, Fine Arts, Rugs and Transportation design, the level of talent displayed is phenomenal. Kris took special interest in transportation design, the student model shop area was open to visitors. As we walked around looking at the student’s work from rendering to models, I wondered if one of them may become the next Harley Earl, or Virgil Exner. Will cars really look like this in the future? The 10th floor exhibits were illustration, photography and product design, I think this was my favorite floor.

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In my wildest dreams I could never even imagine being able to draw, paint or create as these talented people do. We saw so many pieces we would have purchased if someone hadn’t beaten us to it……Greeting cards, posters, canvas and skateboards all uniquely decorated with striking or amusing images. Each floor is large and takes a fair amount of time to browse. The 8th floor showcased advertising, entertainment arts, graphic and interior design. Small rooms were set up with televisions showing both animated and shorts. In the advertising area it was fun to see the interesting ideas students dreamed up for well-known items. As a whole we generally walked around feeling absorbed and entertained by our surroundings; certain things really grabbed our attention such as the images projected on blank walls changing shape and color. The art feels fresh and exciting like looking at the world through a 20-somethings eyes.

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We walked through each floor twice, by then it was lunchtime. For years we have eaten at Seva which opened in Ann Arbor back in 1973. Much to our delight they recently opened a second location right here in Detroit. Tucked away on E Forest between Woodward and John R next to the N’Namdi Center for Contemporary Art, they offer both indoor and patio dining. The menu selections are completely vegetarian, don’t let that scare you, the food is fantastic, vegetarian or not! The indoor space is light filled, exposed brick walls remind you that the building was a historic garage, art work decorates the walls. The restaurant offers a full bar, fresh juice bar and coffee bar, not to mention some of the best food in the city. When we eat at Seva we have to have the Enchiladas Calabaza, try it and you’ll understand why….The delectable enchiladas  are filled with a creamy concoction of butternut squash, cream cheese, green onions and chiles, topped off with a spicy tomato sauce, a winner every time. We paired the enchiladas with the spinach salad: baby spinach, avocado, char-grilled tempeh, cukes, red peppers and onions tomatoes and croutons served with an awesome smoky maple dressing, so good! We enjoyed a leisurely lunch and a cherry-lime Ricky cocktail, yum. Those of us in the Detroit area are lucky to have access to such high quality art and truly wonderful restaurants.

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