DETROIT: 3rd Thursday

27 Apr

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As the art scene continues to grow at an astonishing rate in Detroit there is an increasing number of cool things to do most any night of the week. Tonight is the 3rd Thursday of the month, Art Detroit Now has  big plans for the evening; a combination of contemporary art, amazing artists and extraordinary venues; let’s go! We arrive at the Pioneer Building on East Grand Blvd, years ago we heard that it had been turned into studio spaces for artists, we’ve always wanted to check it out, tonight we finally get our chance. We park alongside the building, rain is coming down in buckets, we make a dash for the door. Inside, we grab a studio floorplan, we hear voices nearby and use them as a guide to find the first studio. Spaces come in all shapes and sizes, often larger studios are shared by two or more artists. The first one we enter is a small, cozy space, completed pieces dot the walls, the smell of paint thinner and oil paint hang heavy in the air, music plays quietly in the background. After we  look around we proceed back down the hall, pieces of art from studio tenants grace every wall, the work is fantastic. We meander in and out of first floor studios; styles range from striking to serene, colors cover the gamut from subtle to intense. We are greeted warmly by Joan Farago, for the last two years she’s had pieces in Art Prize in Grand Rapids; it’s wonderful to have an opportunity to talk about her art and Detroit’s continually expanding art scene.

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We climb the stairs to the second floor and then the third, the structure feels solid, indestructible in the way only old buildings do. The wood plank floor is quiet and easy on my feet, huge load bearing  beams are made of wood, remnants of its early history are still visible. Built in 1908 by the Trippensee brothers, the building was originally used to manufacture enclosed bodies for Buick and Ford. In the early 1920’s it was the home of Rickenbacker Motor Co. It spent most of its days as a manufacturing facility, in 1960 Pioneer Office Products took it over. In 1994 the building was purchased and renovated by the current owners who turned it into 29 distinct studio spaces complete with large windows and fantastic industrial views.

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We wander into studio # 303, Birgit Huttemann-Holz stands off to the side as we admire her work. A large table sits central in the space, on it are jars of what appears to be hardened wax, open containers of powdered pigment represent every color of the rainbow. She approaches us, I compliment her work.  She explains  that she does not use paint, that each piece is ‘painted’ with beeswax. Having never heard of this she sees she has piqued our interest and demonstrates the procedure, we are fascinated. She lights the blow-torch, yes, a blow torch, and completes the process, the beeswax gives the colors a luminescent look, as if you can peer right into them, absolutely stunning!

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We continue our journey through the Pioneer Building stopping into each open studio, hosts offer a variety of goodies; cookies, candy, even wine, we meet an array of interesting folks. The back wall of Jeanne Biere’s studio is lined with vintage black and white photos, as we draw closer we realize that they are not photos, but paintings of photos, each image is captured perfectly. Teresa Petersen  creates art from found objects, her collages use vintage items, they are whimsical and fun.   The building is generally not open to the public with the exception of 3rd Thursday. If you can’t make it down on a Thursday, write this down, on the first Saturday of October they host the annual Artist Open Studios, an open house of sorts complete with food and live music; you are welcome to come in, tour the building, meet the artists and purchase their work. It’s already on my calendar!

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Having spent way more time than expected at the Pioneer we can no longer ignore our hunger. Since there are more activities  going on in Eastern Market we head to Supino Pizza for a quick dinner. We place our order at the counter and have a seat at one of the smaller tables, I love the homey feel of the place; black and white checkered floors, community tables and quirky art formed from ordinary items. Kris sets our drinks on the table just as the house salad arrives, that was fast. We douse the tender greens in the house made lemon basil citronette, delicious. Our pizza arrives just as we finish off the salad, a tasty combination of pepperoni, mushrooms, green pepper and a kick of spice melded together by gooey mozzarella.

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We dodge the raindrops once again as we head down Russell Street to Germack Coffee, open until 10pm for the occasion, they have live music tonight.  The Chili Mexican is my favorite drink, but tonight I want something warm; I order a cappuccino, unfazed by the weather Kris asks for an iced coffee with a splash of  house made vanilla simple syrup. Steven whips up our drinks, we move to the back of the shop where the music is set to start. A trio by the name of The  Marble Fauns, begins to play; two guitars, two women and one man, their music would probably be described as folk, I would call it old-time folk. Voices blend beautifully in simple harmonies, the music, uncomplicated tunes are played effortlessly. The girls do most of the singing, after a little coaxing the guy agrees to do a number where his voice is showcased, he’s great! Drinking my coffee and listening to the music I feel like I could sit here for hours. I can’t wait for the next 3rd Thursday.

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