Monday, May 18, 2009

show up

You know that new age nomenclature "show up"that means "being present?" As in, yeah it's a real drag being me in this dead retail economy, but I still gotta show up. So I showed up at the Ann Arbor/Saline antiques market show. No, I did not show at the show, I just shopped the show and you should too. Show-nough, the drive out there this time of year is just beautiful, especially after the rain. And,even though it's a small show these days, good stuff still shows up and there's a cadre of seasoned dealers who are the best at what they know and do. It's about shopping carefully. If you shop with care, you'll see that a well-placed question gets you a free education, makes a connection with a real professional who provides a valuable service. When you are ready to buy, you'll have a better idea of an item's worth and chances are you'll have made a real investment, including the one in a real live human being. I purchased a unique table from Sal Palmer. I found out he gets lots of things I'm interested in and he's willing to deliver it to my shop in Royal Oak, how very nice and helpful. Bonus for him is I'll shop with him again. Show's the third weekend of every month now through october

A little sleeper side trek I like to make is to Jean and Judy's barn sale. It's just down the road and they have it the same weekend as the show. I felt like I was in a martha stewart story. Beautiful old barn, kinda down around the ears, Jean and Judy sitting at the table with a big pot of good coffee, a mixed up collection of mugs and a tray of home baked goods. First off, I always look for the best mug, which you get to keep, pay my 50cents and then peruse the collection while I drink it. This trip, I bought a terrific Indian jacket and wore it all day and night. Now I'm hungry, another 50cents and it's a delicious banana bran nut raisin muffin. Tell me where you are going to get more for your buck? Plus, we had a nice chat about Ann Arbor in the 70's, selling art in the diag and getting to go to school there (single best thing my parents and I ever bought me).

Gosh, since I'm already in Ann Arbor and it's saturday, there's a couple other favorite stops I like to make. I splurge and go to Morgan & York on Packard. It's in an old packaged liquor store. They sell the best of everything, wine, beer, pastries (from Japon bakery-authentic french croissants melt in your mouth) olive oil bar (you sample and dispense your own, euro style), bread (avalon) cheese, chocolates, deli etc. I had a $10 blt that blew my mind. Made on an avalon baguette, a fiesta in my mouth, worth every penny. Left owner Tom with some samples of my friend Mark Smutek's coffee/tea/hot cocoa from Kalamazoo, water street coffee joint, maybe they'll carry it.

Last stop is the farmer's market at Kerry Town. I'm gonna get me a new bumper sticker: I stop for farmer's markets. It's a favorite thing to do when I visit any town because they are all unique. I love to see the colors of food and hand-crafts, the people and their kids and pets. Ann Arbor's market is small and full of educated hippie-types, they have lots of obscure plants and the food is organic, top notch. Then, since it's in the parking lot of Kerry Town, you get the added bonus of more interesting shopping. This is a mall that is the anti-mall: killer market and food stalls inside and two stores I love and have shopped for years: Vintage to Vogue and Found. Clothes are a guilty pleasure I rarely indulge and Found sells stuff made with found objects, always good inspiration for me. Newer yummy stores are Everyday Wine, the spice shop and the kids' store, too bad that kid of mine got big. If I were really indulging, I'd hang around and have a gourmet dinner at Eve, but tonight's the Tank opening and Rick and I are the hosts! More on that next time, I need a nap first...

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Postcards from Detroit

Every now and again you fall in love with something that you just have to have, budgets be damned. A painting hanging in our living room by Stephen Magsig is one of those things. Now may not be the time to invest in one of these glorious larger works, but you can own one of his “postcards” for $100. I just so happened to be at his and his partner (a fine artist in her own right) Janet Hamrick’s garage sale last Saturday in Ferndale and got to talking with them about art, Detroit and the future. Stephen walked me back through their garden to his beautiful studio in the garage he converted and showed me these little jewels. He has made the painting of these postcards a daily ritual and sold many of the 600 he’s already painted. Wisely, he captured many of these iconic Detroit images in two books he has published (which I hope to make available at my shop) called Postcards from Detroit. Log onto his blog to see the postcard paintings still available or to buy a book. To see his larger works, take a ride to the David Klein gallery in Birmingham. Should you fall in love, Detroiters, remember an investment in Detroit art, its artists and the courageous local galleries supporting them is ultimately an investment in yourself.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Running Off to Join the Circus

Every now and again a sale makes me say, "now there's a good story." Just this past Monday I sold a rickshaw to a couple running off to join the circus...for real...Check out Andy and his girlfriend, Sea Jae (CJ) of the Detroit Circus and Players Guild, proud new owners of this Heritage Co. special. He does a trick with fire at the end of a rope he whips around. She turns a hoola hoop. They're off to South Carolina next week to join up with The Inner Circus down there. How the rickshaw will work into the act, I can't say, but I can sure see the possibilities. They could too, despite the quirky mechanics (the bike was clearly rigged up and handmade). Sea Jae's dad said, "well, will it make you any money?" I don't know about you, but as investments go these days, I'm betting on youth and the rastafarian rickshaw act. Shoot who wouldn't pay for this hunk to wheel their butt around in this showstopper? It's like it's own carnival ride. Speaking of carnival rides, I bought it a while ago from some drunk guys who were drinking through a 30-pack of pabst at the picnic table, with their pit bull chained to the top and barking like he meant to kill me, in some back lot in Southwest Detroit. Of course I had back up, come on I'm a suburban mom remember? My buddy who rescues animals for a living is the one who spotted it there in the first place and called me on the "salvage hotline" to meet him there. It was quite the traffic stopper, driving with it strapped to my husband's beat up old pick-up. Here's the karmic kicker; on our way home we drove the city streets, not trusting this load to highway speeds. Our spirits were high as the latest best-ever find was now in our possession. We passed some school carnival on the way home and pulled off for a corn dog and a ride on the tilt-a-whirl. Isn't that some kind of freaky foreshadowing? I told you it was a good story. Always something of interest on the streets of Detroit...stay tuned

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Industrious Detroit

OK so maybe I'm not committing retail suicide by clearing out all the inventory at The Heritage Company II that doesn't cleave to my vision of what I find artful in the salvage of industrial Detroit. I just read in this Sunday's New York Times Style section that design leader Andy Spade has a new spot in Manhattan called Partners&Spade that is doing the very same thing: marrying gallery and shop with "oddball" items like old work gloves (have you seen my collection?) and "art objects" (look for a future posting of the tree growing through a bike we just sold) embraced as the "relics of our time." Despite a disappointing response to the 2009 Michigan Modernism show, the booth I "curated" did what I haven't been able to do (to my satisfaction) in the store. So I'm going to quit being a chicken and cluttering up my store and recreate the feeling I had in that booth. I'm newly focused on collecting and designing objects that specifically say, "isn't industry beautiful?" and "wow, was that designed/found/made in Detroit?" and displaying it with a curatorial eye instead of a flea market mishmash. Not that I don't love flea markets, just that the one 4 blocks away does it so well why would I want to compete? The dust is just now starting to clear, in the store that is, so come see our spring 2009 collection of Detroit cool and take pride in being a Detroiter. While you're at it, bargain shop upstairs where everything is atleast half off.
We know the future will look very different with a severly diminshed automotive industry, but for heaven's sake, take a little pride in the artistry, genius and glory of it's past, and help me save it, make that, flaunt it.