Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Saturday, July 24, 2010
There's nothing more romantic in the antique business than a country auction. The drive out to the country, the rolling hills of southeastern Michigan lush with rain and heat, the pleasant crackle of gravel under your tires and the prospect of treasure as yet exposed to the public spotlight. This auction however, held more emotional significance to me for this estate was that of a dealer I, and the rest of our antique community deeply respected and recently lost . Exceptionally bright, with exquisite modern and esoteric taste, Greg researched everything and had a collection I aspired to. Greg's interests and expertise were vast, from minerals to outsider art, from americana to modernism. And this auction was just the stuff they found in his basement! The more valuable items had already been whisked off to more serious markets. With not much money to spend on the heels of Brimfield Shows, I had to focus my energy on the folky, off-beat things of his that I truly loved. His business partner and long-time dealer friend of mine, Bob Ketelhut told me about this apple he had, a large "Claus Oldenberg" thing he knew I'd want, with the words "New York, NY" on it, delicious. I prayed I wouldn't be outbid by some of the heavier hitters I knew were in the house. I was also keen on a pair of spectacularly spooky pair of hand-carved sandstone gargoyles, a beautiful pencil drawing of a cowboy from the 30's and a whimsical articulated doll that would be a nice remembrance of Greg. At the risk of sounding really out there, I have to tell you a couple of things that happened last night that gave me pause and made me consider our proximity to those who have passed over to the other side. When I lined up to get my bidding number, the number that should have been mine was 63. As the auction staff was filling out the paperwork, I actually considered asking for the next place in line because 64 is the year I was born. Just a little superstitiousness on my part, but I let the silly thought go. What's in a number really? The attendant looked a bit befuddled just then, looked at the "63" card and inexplicably took the next card and handed me "64." I got a little jolt I tell you. Then, just as the auction was about to get underway, the sky grew black and a spectacular thunderstorm cracked over our heads with rain coming down so hard it was hard to hear in the barn. I miraculously got everything I wanted and at prices well below what I know Greg had paid for them. I think he would appreciate that I cared so much about his things. (I also know he would have been slightly miffed that they didn't go for more money-that being the measure of our craft) But, what I'd really like to believe is that he had some hand in the proceedings and meant for these things to come to me.
Running around all week to pick up the Brimfield load in Bay City from Rick Klass (ever helpful, generous and strong as heck), getting it unloaded, the long process of introducing the new adoptions to the existing foster family of someone else's cast-offs and finding for each of them, another who would bring out the best in them. That I'm bringing all these very different things together and making them work together feels very much like making a family where there wasn't one before. It's an ungodly amount of work to rearrange it all, and during a heat wave, with the lousy air-conditioning, and still I'm saying to my intern Erika (a saint to help me) that this is my favorite part of the job!? I realize as I write this that it's the natural calling for this middle child. I want to bring people and things together, watch new connections being made, have a ball. And, selfishly, surrounding myself with people and things feels like love to me. It's also a bit of self-styled therapy, a natural response to the much more challenging effort of maintaining connectedness with my colorful and strong-willed blood-bound family. I know you know what I mean. I think it's not unusual for one's calling to be somewhat born of a desire as yet unfulfilled from this most primal of experiences. So why are we being subjected to her personal issues when all we wanted to know was what's new at The Heritage Co.2? Look it's 5am people, I had a few things on my mind, it's a labor of love and I simply cannot separate me from it or vice versa. Permit this hard-driving, middle-aged woman a bit of ego; for all the bumps in the road, it looks pretty damn cool in there. It surely looks like no other and it means a lot to me that you stop by from time to time and let me share it with you.
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Sunday, July 18, 2010
Mania offers no rest breaks. I wake up to watch the sun rise on Lake Huron at 6:30am then start sweeping the walk at 7:30am. I stop short of a full-on landscaping effort. Rick wakes up and starts the coffee. It's not 15 minutes before we have the sketch pad out and get right into a design for the DIFFA (Design Industries Foundation FIghting Aids www.diffa.org) fundraising event at the Center for Creative Studies new Taubman Center (www.centerforcreativestudies.edu). GM gave CCS the old Argonaut building for a dollar or something. It was part of their original headquarters, which the Taubman family restored for the school. The DIFFA event is to be held on the top floor which sports a vaulted ceiling and views of the city. It's gonna be awesome. This is the beauty of adaptive reuse (which should be going on in earnest in Detroit..you know my schtick.) We're sending our son to the new middle school there next year, but I digress.
Hour Magazine (www.hourdetroit.com) is sponsoring the DIFFA event which is a first for Detroit. It usually happens in places like New York and San Francisco, so this is a big deal for our design community, the effort to fight aids and the community at large. Basically designers team up with sponsors to design "fantasy" table settings and then donors get to eat dinner on them. Of course we've known about it since spring, but we've both been too busy to really do anything with it until the deadline is upon us. I get the call from the organizers on Friday as I'm just returning from Brimfield that,"hey, we need to get your design going" ..yikes!! Like the MOCAD fundraiser, we work best under pressure (mania at it's finest) and we sit at the cottage kitchen table this morning to work it out. Then it hits Rick: materials I just bought in Brimfield for a new project he's designing for another local cultural institution would be great for a table setting. If those donors agree, DIFFA benefits while creating a secondary benefit to this other institution! We high-five each other, what GENIUSES!! Just goes to show you how small a big city can be and how crucial building this kind of community is to resuscitating the life force of our beleaguered, beloved Detroit.
Friday, July 16, 2010
Saturday, July 10, 2010
- take shopping local to the next level-community networking
- exercise thrift and
- cook at home.
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
In the new paradigm I no longer try to do everything myself. Times were tough in the D and I had to save myself some money by not having parttime help….you can imagine how much fun I was. Starting out afresh with new people is always hard. I'm terrible at delegating, too busy multi-tasking to explain things AND not especially detail-oriented or organized. The most important thing I needed was someone who can sell, a closer. Someone with the confidence to sell a thing, even though they may not know much about it. I needed Jerry Meresky. He conveniently lives across the street, he's a closer. He used to have a furniture store in Detroit and offered to help me out. He's doesn't really need the money as much as something to do. He's free on the precious weekends and old school for real. Jerry is my 82 year-old sales associate. OK so the phone connection thing is too tiny for his fingers to plug it in and out of the fax machine. Forget it! he's a deal maker and knows how to move a heavy thing. He likes to work the crowd, smooth with the ladies (whooo-ahhhh). At the other end of the spectrum is my Sunday fill-in Jenna Zerbo. She's 22, cute as they come, and in-love with the stuff. OK she can't lift the 100# concrete Madonna. Hey, the men are falling over themselves to do it before she even thinks to ask. She works at Inn Season, our favorite vegetarian restaurant around the corner, and is use to waiting on customers. That two-page, neatly printed receipt with all the zeros she collected on a Sunday made my heart sing. Jenna it turns out, is also a closer. Plus she wants to work in exchange for stuff. You know I'm all about the barter!! My serious saving grace is behind the scenes. David King, who actually rents studio space from me, paints for me, runs interference with Hollywood (he use to work out there, he gets it), opens the store for customers that come off-hours, moves heavy stuff AND helps with the weeds…He listens to my rants, he's cerebral, intelligent AND easy on the eye. Down kitty. Last but certainly not least is Amy Nolfo Wheeler, the upstairs dealer that covers the store on Thursday and Friday. She's the other mom with muscle, thinks nothing of schlepping an oak entry door down the stairs by herself, NEVER misses a good garage sale, makes it all look like a million bucks upstairs AND drives in from Indiana every week. Are you feeling the love? how lucky am I? At the risk of sounding like I'm all that, here's what I think this is guys. You gotta make a nice place for luck to live in your life. I tell my kid this all the time, take an interest in other people, BE OF SERVICE. Sounds like a religious thing alright I can live with that. I learned it from my parents, I practice it everyday. I think if you work hard and try to help other people whenever you can, it will come back to you. When I made that early Saturday am call to David and said, "gee I messed up can you help me RIGHT NOW…I'm grateful that he wants to and will. Same for Jerry, Jenna and Amy. So when you get the call to help, I'm just saying that you ought-a should take it.
The very thing that makes you good at something will inevitably catch you up short somewhere else. It takes awhile to learn patience with your weaknesses and how to work around them. The other thing that comes with time is truly getting that things are rarely as "dire" as they may initially appear and to expect change. So you might as well calm the *&#!? down and ride it out. I remind myself of this about 100x a day.
For instance, I just get to chillaxin at the cottage on a beautiful holiday weekend when the call comes in (barely, poor cel service). I forgot 3 things "Real Steel" needed for the scene they are shooting shortly. They expect it to be delivered stat. I've got an 82 year-old man running the shop. He's not running anywhere else. Being ultra reactive, I am good at the quick response, but what comes with it is a tendency to panic. It's not that your failings will ever go away. It's more like the company that won't leave. You learn to acknowledge the feeling without getting dragged down by it. "Oh, you're still here. Well, if you want to hang out, cool, but I'm going to bed." You have to be a problem solver. I'm good at working the network. I've got good help in spades. I take a calming breath and text message David King (and thank you jesus for david king) . It goes through and he's on his way. Problem solved
People it's all in the details. It's all about service. It's all about smiling when you might rather scream. I could have started this blog out with that. Oh yeah, there's like a billion books I could have read on this already. Which reminds me of another of my failings, I'm stubborn, I gotta learn everything the hard way.
I watched as my baby jesus (aka my 11-year-old Wyatt) loaded his own bags in the bins and walked through security…from the other side of the gate…on his way to Italy for a month. He never looked back. I've said this 10 times already and it's still shocking to me. Oh I know, "whatever! another madonna and child melodrama" and "it's different when it's your own!" blah blah blah. I'm just saying! Proud mother teared (big surprise) with pride to see that young man looking forward to his bright future. "He's gonna be a senator or an ambassador!" my friend Danielle said, so there. He's off with 3 other American messiahs to an international peace camp where they will hook up with kids from 10 other nations. Some genius, a woman naturally, came up with the idea in the late 40's that if kids came together at this tender age, they'd make lasting friendships and wouldn't shoot at each other later. I think Dickie Cheney missed his flight. These people are so enlightened. His mother is crossing his fingers that he will actually write and collect interesting stuff in his new journal (and floss and brush everyday…) Everyone's checking to see how the parents are doing post departure. Shoot Rick and I are so busy I'm glad he's got something more interesting to do than traipse around with his nintendo while we work. We left the airport and proceeded to work until late into the night. More movies and a t.v. show added to the line up. Stay tuned for tales from "Machine Gun Preacher" and "Detroit 187." "Transformers" will be here in a few weeks and I just got word that Sean Penn is doing a whole movie here and we will be busy with productions until May of next year. With any luck I'll actually make a decent living this year.