Visiting my Home Town…..

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My Grandmother’s dressing table and my inadvertent selfie.
I have lived in and around Detroit for so long that I am now a Detroiter. I haven’t visited my hometown of Minneapolis and environs since my Mother’s funeral. My Aunt Betty has been asking me to come for quite for some time and I finally decided to go for a short family only visit. My brother, Bruce, is living with Aunt Betty. He is a chef and I wanted to taste his food again.

When I walked into the room where I would be sleeping, a rush of memories came back. The room was furnished with my Grandmother’s furniture. In the picture above, it is my Grandmother’s dressing table. I lived in her house for a some time and can remember seeing her at the table putting on her makeup. The picture came flashing back. Aunt Betty reminded me that she kept gum in the top left drawer to freshen her breath. And I remembered that I carefully removed some of the gum on occasion.

There was also a dresser, rocking chair and a reading lamp with an adjustable height so Grandfather could read in bed without disturbing anyone. I used the lamp to read at night. As I used it, I remembered it.

Although I haven’t talked about it much, I am a quilter. I am doing a Grandma’s Flower Garden quilt. I have seen so many of that pattern and none of them have seemed quite right. My Greatgrandma’s quilt was on the bed and it was just right.

20140814-102324-37404047.jpgthe best part of seeing it for me was that it was so well done. It shows a beautiful color sensibility and exquisite quilting. I can only hope that my version will be half as nice.

Palmer Woods Music in Homes, Detroit, MI,

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On Saturday, June 21, 2014, I went to the finale of the Music in Homes series in Palmer park in Detroit. The event came I with a tour of the first two floors of the home, a catered dinner and on this evening a jazz program.

It was a beautiful evening in a older Detroit neighborhood with winding roads. Rounding each curve offers a new view of an elegant home. Most of the homes are derived from Medieval English architecture. The home for this concert was a Dutch Revival home built in 1928 by architect Robert O. Derrick. It is almost 7,000 square feet.

During the recent recession, the bank foreclosed on the house and it was left standing empty for three years before the new owner bought the house. They are in the midst of restoring the house to some of the original features where possible. We got to see the first and second floors. The house has four beautiful fire places including one with the original Delft tiles surrounding the fire place.

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This is one of the many interesting furnishings around the house.

20140714-133154-48714525.jpgThis was a view across the street from the second floor. The house was still in an unfinished state but it was easy to see the care and attention of the new owners and how dazzling it will be when it is finished. Perhaps Music in Homes will be invited back when the renovation is complete.

The jazz was performed under a large tent and after touring the house and socializing a bit, I went to the tent to get a good seat. The musicians were Kamau Kenyatta(keys), Spencer Barefield(gtr), Marion Hayden(bass) Djallo Djakate(drums) and Shahida Nurullah as the vocalist. We got a printed program with ten different numbers listed. Perfect for two sets. They played the first set and then took a break.

We went back into the house for the catered dinner by Potts Style Catering. We had Jerk Chicken, Jamaican Rice and Beans, Summer Citrus Salad with Peach Cobbler for dessert. The chicken was quite spicy, of course. It was not too spicy for my taste. The rice and beans had a way of bringing the spiciness down a bit. The salad was not as much citrus as the name suggested. And the peach cobbler was really very sweet. This was catered and they did a great job considering how long they had to hold the meal. Since I was at the end of the line, maybe the citrus was just gone by the time I got there.

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There was quite a line for the dinner.

After eating and getting settled, the second set began. Over the two set, the song I liked best were “In Walked Bud” by Thelonious Monk, “Mr. Kenyatta” by Lee Morgan. Shahida sang with such depth and passion that it reminds that there are vocalists whose voice is truly an instrument.

It was a really nice evening and I will go back when they resume in the fall.

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Left to Right:Kamau Kenyatta on keys, Marion Hayden on bass, Shahida Nurullah on vocals and Djallo Djakate on drums Spencer Barefield on guitar(hidden).

River’s Edge Gallery – A Change of Pace

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A friend invited me to the opening of “The Motor City Griot Society” by Steve Galzer, a ceramic artist, at the River’s Edge Gallery in Wyandotte,MI on June 20, 2014. Wyandotte is a community in the Detroit Metro area which is about 25 miles south of me. I have never been there so this was my first trip into a “Down River” community. During the last leg of the trip, I looked out my window to the left and saw that the community was on the Detroit River and had city parks to take advantage of the location. I soon arrived in the center of Wyandotte and went looking for a place to park. I got stuck in traffic.

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I found a place to park about a block from the gallery and considered myself lucky since the central business was alive with people and I could hear a performer singing under a tent about a block towards the river. As I got out of my car, I saw that I had beat the horse and carriage.

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It had been a rainy day and was still sprinkling at times. I walked across the street and wandered into a gallery that seemed to specialize in craft work. I wandered out again and decided to go to River’s Edge around the corner.

The gallery was a small gallery that had an eclectic assortment of art. They had paintings, mobiles, photos, sculptures, blown glass, ceramics, mixed media and more. I spotted the 40 piece griot collection on the far wall.

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I began to look around and saw some blown glass and ceramics.

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The gallery was on three floors and they were serving snacks on the second floor. They had an assortment of hummus, crackers, cheese and fruits. I sat in one of the chairs to look at he art. I had a seat where I could see quite a few pieces. I like this method of looking. I allow myself to slow down and my eyes go from piece to piece. I first saw a sculpture of a hand..

20140622-115343-42823590.jpg At first glance, it was an accurate rendition of a hand. By taking my time, I began to see how complex it was. If I rush, I just see the whole and miss all the details that are so extraordinary.

I walked downstairs just as my friend came in. It was fun to watch her make some of the same discoveries. There was to be music which was billed as “soul hop”, a combination of soul and hip hop. We chatted while waiting for the music. When the sic started we listened for a moment and continued to chat.

After chatting and touring all three floors we went to a coffee shop on the corner and had coffee to end the evening.

The Mike Jellick Trio Conflated with a little Funhouse

MJT set ip at NNL

<The Mike Jellick Trio is conflated since it is covering two weeks. Every Wednesday night, unless there are substitutions, the Mike Jellick Trio plays for the evening, They play alone for the first set and have other musicians substitute or join in on other sets. I feely admit that I like the first set and much more often than not give the other sets a miss. I admire that the members of the trio do a lot towards mentoring many young musicians. The music is usually so good for me that I go home after the first set even though I may start the evening with other intentions. It may be also that I have something to eat at Northern Lights Lounge so I am also somewhat relaxed after the first set with a little food and a glass of club soda garnished with a slice of lime on the table.

The weeks I am talking about were November 20, 2013 and December 4, 2013. The trio had the same musicians with Mike Jellick on keys, Jesse Kramer on drums and Miles Brown on Bass. The two evenings had a completely different feel or maybe I did. Something I will never know. The factual difference is that on the first evening, Mike Jellick announced all the songs and on the second, one was announced. I did arrive after the set started on both evenings so all I can say absolutely is the only song I heard Mike announce on the second evening was “Swinging at the Haven”. The first week had Autumn Leaves, “Swinging at the Haven”, “Caravan” and “Benny’s Tune” and more.The difference may have been the crowd. The first week, the crowd was loud, attentive and appreciative. The second night was much quieter.DSCN0085/p> Left to right: Mike Jellick on keys, Miles Brown on bass and Jesse Kramer on drums.

I found that I really like hearing “Autumn Leaves”, “Caravan”, and “Swinging at the Haven”. Although some songs get tired and some are done too much, when I hear a group that can make these songs sound so fresh and new it is exciting and that is precisely what the Mike Jellick Trio does to the music. Of the three, my favorite is “Caravan” (not played the second week) and I have heard the song so many times it has its own groove in my brain. When the trio plays the song my groove has to rearrange itself to accommodate the fresh perspective offered. And it is exciting and makes me excited by music all over again. So, the key to why I like the group as I have said before in different words, the innovation I hear at this venue is beyond compare.

MJT

After the Mike Jellick Trio on December 4, 2013, I headed to Motor City wine for The Funhouse since I had the energy and had not been there in a while. The server at the bar remembered that I like the San Pelligrino blood Orange soda and got me a glass as soon as she was free. I walked in on the last song of the set. I refer to this as my impeccable timing.

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Left to right: Kris Kurzawa on guitar, Skeeto Valdez on Drums, James Simonson on bass and Philip Whitfield on keys.

I was sitting by myself when the servers from Northern Lights Lounge came in and we sat together. Skeeto had wished me a happy birthday and the refrain was repeated several times to my embarrassment. Of well, once a year is not all that tough. The Funhouse is another unique style of funky, happy jazz that is a real pick me up for me. This is a place where I can settle into a groove and go with it. It is another place where the musicians have played enough with each other that it is a group rather that a battle of egos. The music is tight and cohesive and is always solid entertainment. I left toward the end if the set since I had an early morning appointment. It is always hard to leave when you want more.

A Gift From My Mother

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After visiting the Detroit Institute of Arts recently, I realized how enthusiastic I get when I see certain pieces. The one above by Odilon Redon called “Evocation of Butterflies” painted about 1910 is one of the ones I like. It reminds me so much of some of the colors and design elements used in the 1960s. When you see it in person, there are some absolutely brilliant dabs of color that are almost iridescent.

While I was growing up, I’m sure my mother took me to the available art museum and galleries several times a year. When we traveled or went on vacation, we always went to the art museums. I can remember all the talk around me about art. When we walked through a gallery or a museum, she talked about the paintings and the artists.

She also painted as a hobby. There was almost always a painting in progress or some other art project in the house.

I only have one of her paintings (pictured below) and it was not her favorite. When I look at it though, I remember all the time she spent with me looking at art. Taking each piece in, letting my eye wander over the piece and enjoying it so much.

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Detroit Institute of Arts Sunday Afternoon

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Yesterday, Sunday, September 15, 2013, I went to the Detroit Institute of Arts(DIA) to visit some art I hadn’t seen in a while. It was a cool day with drizzly rain. Yard work was not an option. The sky was a mottled grey with occasional bursts of sunlight.

When the Detroit Emergency Financial Manager(EFM) decided on bankruptcy for Detroit, Christies Auction House visited the DIA. I guess it took something like that to make me pay more attention to the treasure I have available to me.

This time I opted for the Dutch Golden Age(17th century) when the Dutch Republic was important in trade, militarily and art. I so enjoy the way they used light in the paintings which was so much like the way the light was playing in the sky outside. We can take photos of the paintings as long as we do not use a flash. The Dutch Golden Age has quite a few galleries. Many of the paintings in the era were secular. It give us a glimpse into some of the ways life was lived in the era.

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The painting above is called Game of Cards (ca. 1660) by Hendrik van der Burch. I noticed this one because then proportions of the children are the same as adults. So, although people tend to think of the era as an almost photographic depiction, it is not. The paint has a Persian rug, a pitcher modeled after Chinese pottery and a map of England. The servant most probably has been brought from Africa. It shows the global nature of Dutch Republic trade.

One of the other things I think of when I think Dutch Golden is landscapes. Possibly, because of the geographic location, the cloud formations can be striking. There were painting of pastures, seas, coastlines and more. Again the use of light to emphasize or illuminate was amazing. I took photos of two landscapes by Jacob Issaksz van Ruisdael. Both are oil paints on oak panels painted mid-17th century.

The first one is just called a”Landscape”( ca. 1646)and is probably what I think of when I think of Dutch landscape. It captures the excitement of the ever changing weather. It may be one of my favorites because I am living in a place with many different kinds of weather. Looking at the painting, you can see that he used so many colors in the sky. I am a cloud watcher and love the sky when it includes reds. According to the museum write up next to the painting, the picture is a snapshot in time and implies the impermanence of life.

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The DIA has some guides to the art posted nest to the picture. They tell the viewer what the various pieces of the pictures mean. If you go to a present day gallery, the viewers sometimes talk about all the symbolism in pieces. I sometimes wonder if the artist was asked.

The next one is titled “The Jewish Cemetery”( ca. 1654). There is a lot of symbolism in this one according to the write up. The clouds imply rain and rebirth. The rainbow hope after a storm. The lighter clouds show the end of the storm as another beacon of hope. The ruins and tombs show impermanence and the inevitability of death. Here light is used to signify hope in the face of mortality. The way the Dutch Golden Age artists use light has always been a joy to my eyes.

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In Rembrandt Harmansz van Rijn’s depiction titled “Christ”(ca.1649), he used a Jewish model which was not usual. He paid attention to historical accuracy when possible. In this painting, there is no obvious external source of light. The light shining from with in the portrait shows compassion. according to the write up.

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There is so much in this section of the DIA that I could not do it justice. It is wonderful to have a museum that always leaves me wanting to come back.

As I was walking out, I heard the Sunday afternoon piano concert in the Kresge Court. I stopped by the DIA Café for lunch before heading home. I got to there 15 minutes before it closed so my selection were limited. The food is usually good so I went with the roast turkey dinner.

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Since it was the end of the day, my plate got loaded. It was fairly good for a meal that had been in a steam table for a couple of hours. Actually, the mixed steamed vegetables were slightly al dente and surprisingly good and I got at least two portions.

After lunch( they were closed by the time I finished, so no doggy bag), I waddled to my car to go home. I had no desire to eat for the rest of the day.