Thursday, May 9, 2013

May Day, May Day! Wandering Returns with the Sun

Wellll, fancy that! May has decided to be May! Blue, blue sky was (internal) sigh-inducing during the work day, but the fact that it's report time helped to focus me, as I'm geeky enough to actually enjoy me some report writin'... By the time I left the office, clouds had overtaken the blue, but it was still in the mid-70s. So I decided to have a little "niff about," as Compatriot is fond of saying /doing.

You may recall the Detroit Institute of Art's Inside/Out program, which they have been doing around Michigan for a few years now. They erect a high-quality reproduction of one of their vaunted works, somewhere outside; and provide the usual museum placard which gives a wee insight into the work, along with an invitation to come see the the actual work in the DIA itself. Pretty cool idea, right? I'd be interested to see how many more people were inspired to come because of it; though most likely they were going for a general rise in visibility, which would eventually spill over into visits/donations/membership. In any case,the idea's fantastic! So, it came to Ann Arbor recently, with an idyllic landscape by Jasper Francis Cropsey hanging out on a brick wall around the corner from my office. Wednesday seemed to be a perfect evening for a follow-up.

Again, Judith waves me past the alley -- or peers for greater trouble -- nothing to see here, no heads to speak of -- so I wander in the direction of Kerrytown. I hadn't put two and two together to conclude that Artemesia Gentileschi had painted several in this grisly series, even though the first one I had seen was the actual beheading of Holofernes -- it's visceral and more of-the-body than most Biblical depictions from the time frame: you get a sense of Judith as strong and grimly up-to-the-task at hand. The painter does not spare the viewer the blood spurts, or the need for the maidservant to help hold him down, as she wields the sword against the tendons of his neck.

But my goal this time was to find a happier Matisse, which I could not seem to locate in my head, despite their simple map. I headed toward Kerrytown area, but not before I was halted by the cleverness on display at Liberty St. Robot Supply & Repair.


Sub-par shot. But it's good enough to have you saying...
"Butter my butt and call me a biscuit, ain't that a sweet little riff on Magritte??"

And it is, it certainly is.  When I popped into the store for a side shot, the volunteer at the desk said, "Oh, yeah the window designer is a volunteer here, Oliver something. he's a graphic designer and he used to do photography for National Geographic." Those 826 folk, with their talent and brains and helpfulness...

 Just enough detail! tractor feet...
a sporting bowler and a healthy apple timer face. Nicely done!
... Off we go. Oh geez, but then there's a music store window. How does anyone get to their appointed destination, on a sunny day, when the work day is finished, and a boyfriend can not come over? In a minor way: wanderlust.

To be honest, I don't shop in Underground Sound much following unrelated times (and far between times, to be fair) where I got the cold shoulder there, though surely there are friendlier music enthusiasts who work there now. I wish Hideaway Music from Chestnut Hill was plunked down in Ann Arbor, because that place just felt *fantastic inside* when I popped in over the holidays with my sister last December, you know, old phonographs, huge old music poster, hipsters and average folk alike, flipping through new and used jazz CDs (and records, imagine that) and popular CDs. *sigh* In any case, a record store window is happy making.

And also, in case you were wondering, The National has a new one coming out, which I did *NOT* know because I like some hip music, but I am SO not hip. I rely on Curly Girl to tell me what Pitchfork is talking about and my young stats-brained coworker to tell me what's catchiest. You'll be relieved to find out that The National has clearly not grown any sunnier and damn, but that is one disturbing poster. I'm not sure how I feel about segregating the "me" on the second line, though. Yes! No! Thoughts? Do share, though I  know you're unlikely to leave comments on my blog. Pass me a note in third period or give me a hand signal in the elevator: I'll get it. Meanwhile, I'm sure Javier will be geeked to find out they have a new one: "I didn't want to say anything at the time but that is the WORST MUSIC I have ever played checkers to. Ever." Fine, the music isn't rousing in and of itself and the singer's self obsessed deep-deep voice may not inspire one to feats of strategy. But sometimes you're just intent on playing checkers. So, new CD, woohoo!

Ayyyyyand onto Fifth and Huron. I walk up, I walk down. I eventually suss out what I should have already known: that the shiny new quite expensive building is the Justice Center cited on the map. I can't help wondering, now that I know someone who is endlessly fundraising, how these placements came about -- did higher sponsors get the paintings on their buildings, or were they funded elsewhere and then a committee decided on potential locations? Because it would be a boon to participate in this right? Certainly *based on completely anecdotal evidence* there was criticism about such a lavish building during a rough time and then wasn't the architecture too modern, possibly ugly to boot? But I'll say, having walked around the building, I grew more fond of its design. So much light, such shiny surfaces against strong texture. Lovely outside space, with an unusual tumbly kind of fountain...I eventually found it on the far side.

It initially looked a bit washed out, which was disturbing: how can *Matisse* look washed out? Maybe it was the direct sunlight, but viewing it at an angle returned it to some of its inherent richness.

 {The Window. Apparently, the *first* Matisse to be bought by a U.S. museum, according to placard! Now that I did not know.}
On to Kerrytown proper.
The Fruit Vendor (1615) was perfectly placed on the exterior of one of Ann Arbor's best fish markets, as well as lovely produce market.  
The offer has been made, let the haggling begin.

Surely you understand I can't spend all of it here. Don't we all say this? Plum Market doesn't listen either.
Just around the corner, we have the barely known Zingerman's Deli, with a belle of the ball.
Madame Paul Poirson to the right, Camp Bacon to the left

 *Portrait Painter to the Stars!*John Singer Sargent was known for making people look Painting was his calling and the elite were his bread and butter. Not sure if it's due to the black ribbon, but her neck seems unnaturally long.
graceful hands, the gleam of gold and glitter of lace, also delivered with lightness and grace

Happy Spring, and Happier Summer, Folkses! May creativity and bounty fill the most sunlit days. I look forward to carving in the cool of the basement and lolling in the improvised backyards of parks, with books and baguettes and savored memories to come!

bing cherries and melty chocolate. read some, maybe eat some more...


  1. Ha! "Plum Market doesn't listen either".
    And double Ha! "'re unlikely to leave comments".

    Since blogger just lost my long response, here is a shorter second version.

    I love The National(s) and I did not know they had anything new, so you're way hipper than I.

    As far as the dangling "me"...maybe they ran out of room and didn't want to reduce the font size - No? (snicker) Rebuttal argument already starting in my own mind... 'yeah, but how do you explain the right margin justification then?' Who really cares about the "me" when you have that weird image to focus on?!

    Speaking of seeing art from the great masters - I recently saw a real Miro, and it wasn't in a museum (or out in the streets for that matter).

    Somehow I feel that the Matisse would have been better placed at Kerrytown (the Farmers Market), given that it reminds me of how I feel when I'm sitting at Sweetwaters, and that the haggler (The Fruit Vendor) piece would have been better suited for the Justice Center - as I don't like haggling and I'm pretty sure I'd feel equally uncomfortable at the Justice Center. Though I think the high-society lady portrait is well placed at the non-affordable (at least to me) Zingerman’s.

    I think using the 'subject matter' is too matchy-match, and the pieces would have been better placed, if based on what they evoked.

    Thanks for sharing the tour!

  2. ohhhh, I hear you, Stone Bridge. Good points. But I can also see that if maybe their main objective is to snag people who don't normally got to DIA, or have never been, the subject matching is a nice way of saying,"Hey, art is actually relevant to daily life"...though maybe that's also too simplistic. And that still doesn't apply to justice center. Separately, I don;t think Justice Center would have been on board with a painting with haggling in it. Where did you see the Miro? ...And yet more music we have in common :)