Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Taking the Show on the Road to Rhinebeck, New York

Call me spoiled, but all I have to do is collect up interesting parts, dream up some designs and the Richard Gage Design Studio builds it. This week we are feverishly building industrial lighting which is all the rage on the coasts. We also have in production a table we designed from old-balusters, a stand for a gladiator helmet made out of a street sign, a light-up arrow to restore and a light that spells "COOL" fabricated from a board found with a series of holes drilled through it. Detroit continues to be in the hot seat for creative inspiration of all kinds, and we've become a regular weekly feature in the New York Times ( see the article from last Sunday's NYT travel magazine titled, "Artists in Residence" from last sunday's issue 9/26/10). I've appointed myself the steampunk ambassadress to next week's show in Rhinebeck New York, upstate an hour and half from the city and I'm crossing my fingers the magic translates to good sales. What could possibly be easier? I get to keep my ratty jeans on and one of my Detroit t-shirts, have an excuse for my perpetually short dirty fingernails and dealer scars as if I looked that way because I just got done changing the oil in my used Chevy van. I hear it's a "decorator crowd" in Rhinebeck, all shopping for their multi-million dollar country homes and New York City apartments with their decorators in tow. Though it won't be like the good ole pre-Madoff days, even austerity has more zeroes behind it than I owe to the man. If Detroit is what they want, I'll just unpack the tool and die shops, factories and old Detroit now jammed into my shop and watch it take on that Marcel Duchamp quality it does when it's presented in a pristine white show booth. It may not look like it, but I also have a girlie side underneath the dirty blue collar and trash mouth which makes for a bi-polar design aesthetic that I manage to make work. Like pairing the factory grunge with the very beautiful cast iron laurel branches and medallion that I'm offering from that media darling, Michigan Central Railroad Station. I contend it was the far more beautiful little sister to its thriving big sister Grand Central Station which shares the same architect. Even though ours is in a ruinous state, negative attention is better than none at all and it's what's keeping it in the limelight and away from the wrecking ball. As long as it still stands, idealistic Detroit lovers like me still hold out hope it and other beautiful buildings like it, will one day be restored to something of their former beauty and purpose. The pair of vintage cast brass lions from an old Detroit estate and a copper deco pediment both in green patina remind us that Detroit still has plenty of its historic elegance. Hand-made folk art, 100+ year-old nautical carved wood fragments from a Great Lakes vessel, advertising signage and the random collection of found stuff makes for a fun display. It's a deep source of pride to come from a legacy of craftsman, designers, engineers and the hard-working skilled labor that built it all and I think that energy brings it together. It would be nice to have a big city trust fund, but I was raised with a midwest work ethic, on a GM engineer's salary and it financed a great university education so who am I to complain? I'm out there representing all of you Detroiters and Midwesterners, so wish a home girl some luck.

1 comment:

littledubs said...

Hi Marisa, I have been reading your blog and love it, and love your attitude about salvage and keeping all that wonderful old history and craftmanship out of the landfills. I've often thought it would be fun to open a salvage business, but it's a scary proposition! I live just south of Kalamazoo and I am a huge fan of the Heritage Company store in Kalamazoo, and have purchased many items there to put in my old farm house. I was in Detroit recently at a concert at Fox Theatre, hadn't been to the city since I was a child. The architecture in the downtown area was nothing short of stunning and it made me wonder how much beautiful architectural heritage was being torn down in all of the abandoned homes in the city. A necessary evil I guess, but sad nonetheless. Anyway keep up the great work and the great writing, I really enjoy it!