January 2011: I am preparing for my first real visit to Detroit, the city of my birth. I am a Californian, where I have been since age one when my parents packed me into a car to seek fame and fortune in LA. It is strange to be defined by something unknown but when asked if I am a "native" Californian, I answer, "No, I was born in Detroit." It seems time to investigate what that means. So I have come "home" on my birthday to photograph Detroit.

This blog is part of an accompanying journal about the project.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Cool Detroiters

From a post on Detroit Nation, a terrific group of Detroit ex-Pats who love their city and have been organizing meetings and visits to "give back:"

This cool Flash Mob scene at Detroit River Days by Michigan BlueCrossBlueShield employess, sporting t-shirts with "At home in the D."

Michigan Blue Cross Flash Mob at Detroit River Days

The music "beeKoo Mix" by Laswell http://ccmixter.org/files/lazztunes07/12238

Saturday, June 18, 2011

So Many Projects, So Little Time

It is a month tomorrow since I returned from my second visit to Detroit, the spring trip where I discovered that "spring" in the MidWest is not quite what I expected: cold and rainy with only the beginning - but what a beginning! - of flowers sprouting, alternating with the sense of summer's hot, humid days. Actually liked them both except when I was over in Windsor, Canada photographing for the Finding Chinatowns project and it was 44 degrees, windy and raining. My Southern California thin skin was throbbing with the painful cold and, I've learned, again, that when one returns across a border and is asked what one was doing in a foreign country, NOT to say that I was "shooting!" Luckily a border agent with a sense of humor who asked me how many people I killed. "Photographing," Sara, not "shooting." I remember this in airports but here, hmmmmm....

But it is a month and I've not even had a moment to look through my photographs from the trip for it has been so very - wonderfully - busy on my two other ongoing projects: readying for the solo show this summer on FINDING CHINATOWNS and meeting several deadlines on the continuing project photographing and documenting in part the construction of the incredible 747 Wing House almost finished at the top of Malibu. A lot of what I am learning on that house, especially in terms of the complexity of shooting architecture, is being applied to my work in Detroit for Detroit is about buildings, the environment and those who pass through them. Each time I visit, I find that the challenges of place relate back to what is happening there. In fact, cannot wait until I can get into these spring pics, hopefully this next week now that I have the exhibition and printing in production.

In the interim, this past Thursday, 16 June, Sam Lubell of the Architect's Newspaper has written up and published in the A/N Blog a "Sneak Peek" of the 747 Wing House, using some of my photographs.

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Hub

Detroit is crawling with terrific media. In just these past few months stories from, of course, the venerable Detroit Free Press, Detroit News and best of all, the online news blogs and radio including The Detroit Hub, Model D and WEDT (101.9fm), an active NPR station out of Wayne State University. From a variety of perspectives, catching up with the real news has so changed the view of this city from the caricature depicted outside to that of a vibrant city filled with character, will and strength within.

From just this morning rummaging around The Urban News Hub, both present and past:

and best of all, today
17 June 2011 DEAR WORLD: SMART KIDS LIVE IN DETROIT .... JUST SO YOU KNOW reporting on the number of terrific, "smart" college-going kids who just are graduating from the Detroit Public Schools.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Kunsthalle Detroit

With a strong background in contemporary art, I absolutely applaud yet another terrific sign of Detroit's ascension again: the opening of the Kunsthalle Detroit http://www.kunsthalle-detroit.org/#!

In a neighborhood west of Wayne State, Kunsthalle Detroit is starting off with a spectacular exhibition of some of the more prominent video artists. Not all from Detroit yet the show is making a statement for this city where so many artists are flocking, listening no doubt to Patti Smith (see Times blog below), as well as their own always avant-garde instincts. Detroit's combination of an easier cost of living for always financially-strapped artists while being a place where the history, amazing and tough, combined with aestheitc perception and expression provides a symbiotic fertile ground for innovation and growth.

In her Times blog, "Go to Detroit, Young People," Detroit writer Karen Dybis quotes David Byrne: "The skies here are bigger than in New York."

I love periodically returning to the city at this time and historically, wasn't this a similar experience in those early days of Ford and others that too provided a growth moment - a long moment - for this city? It's happening again.

Check out the Kunsthalle's FB page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Kunsthalle-Detroit/108340745867164

And the video of the opening: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Em3iCTBnol4

some other press on the Kunsthalle:
New museum, Kunsthalle Detroit, to open exhibition space

Video art museum takes shine to Detroit's gritty charm

Art museum to open in rough section of Detroit

A New Cultural Light in Detroit

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Reclaiming the industrial waterfront

The riverview in Detroit is incredibly beautiful with the flowing Detroit River, a bridge to Belle Isle, and the across river view of Windsor, Canada, the only point in the United States where Canada is south. The riverfront was formerly filled with industrial buildings but now a public walkway is developed and even during my rainy Spring visit, while at the Hoedown in Hart Plaza, I looked down on so many on promenade.

So I love this news from the Architect's Newspaper blog:
Now Docking: Detroit's evolving waterfront gets new terminal building.

Detroit is filled with significant architecture and it looks like this little building will add to the mix.

An organization worth checking out, one bringing Detroiters already and hopefully a burgeoning tourism to Detroit: The Detroit RiverFront Conservancy, responsible already for the three-mile walkway. http://www.detroitriverfront.org/ and the Dequindre Cut Greenway, an urban recreational path.