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Downtown Farmington unveils its latest public art installation

A new mural greets those traveling north up Farmington Road and into downtown Farmington, a colorful work that celebrates the city’s rich history and today’s diverse population.

The city’s latest foray in its public art campaign is a colorful 8 ft. by 36 ft. mural by local artist John Martin. The mural, submitted under the theme Cultivating Community, was recently installed along the south wall of the CVS Pharmacy at State Street and Farmington Road.

Celebrating the community of Farmington and those that visit its downtown, the mural features the word 'Welcome' in a variety of languages, the artist’s attempt to recognize the different groups of peoples that have come to call Farmington home.

Also featured is a variety of graphics that reflect the nearly 200 years downtown Farmington has been a center of activity, yet represented with a colorful, modern flair. Some graphics are more obvious than others, and the city will soon unveil a legend for observers to learn about each.

To the right is Nathan Power, son of one of the town’s founders--though wearing a pair of Elton John-style sunglasses. To the left is a Detroit United Railway car, the interurban line that connected Farmington to downtown Detroit.

In between is a number of other graphics, some more prominent than others, yet all connected to the city’s local culture. These include the Lone Ranger, an ox, sunflower, and chimney swift, among many others.

"All of the imagery has special meaning," says Kate Knight, Director of the Farmington Downtown Development Authority.

"It’s fun peeling back the layers of how much is represented."

This is the second artwork installed as part of Downtown Farmington’s Public Art Program. The David Barr Sculpture Exhibit was installed in Riley Park earlier this year.

This is just the beginning for public art downtown. Knight says that enthusiasm for the projects has been so great that she anticipates many more in the future.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

Detroit Zoo's red panda forest gets expansion, rope bridge


Rare red pandas are getting fancier digs at the Detroit Zoo.

The zoo has unveiled its newly expanded Holtzman Wildlife Foundation red panda forest, where visitors can cross an 80-foot-long rope bridge perched 10 feet high that cuts through the trees for a better view of the endangered species.

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Downtown Farmington mural installation reflects rich history

Downtown Farmington’s first official mural project was installed this week on the north elevation of the building at the corner of Farmington Road and State Street.  Crafted by Farmington Hills’ artist in residence, John Martin, the 36 by 8-foot piece graphically illustrates Farmington’s unique history and diversity.   
The Public Art Committee, established by Farmington’s Downtown Development Authority in early 2018, kicked off Farmington’s Public Art Program this summer with the David Barr Sculpture Installation in Riley Park.  Ending the year on a high note, the Committee installed its first mural, with plans for more, says Committee Chair, AJ Cooke. “The committee is thrilled to display the mural in Downtown Farmington while we concurrently plan more creative projects for our community to enjoy in the future.”  In fact, the Public Art Committee has a master plan for public art in Downtown Farmington referring to the Public Art Blueprint, crafted via public input collected in 2016 and 2017. A mural program was just what the community was asking for.  
The mural installation has been long awaited as the committee juried mural submissions earlier this year. According to the Call to Artists, proposals focused on “Cultivating Community” and the Committee encouraged applicants to “use the local neighborhood and culture as inspiration for their design.”  According to Cooke, John Martin’s proposal stood out. “Though we received several aesthetically appealing designs through our open call to art, John Martin’s submission was ultimately chosen because of its balanced composition and historical references.  We were intrigued by its throwback iconography – some of which is instantly recognizable, while others perhaps require research – all collaged together in one saturated graphic.” The mural is intended to entice both art lovers and history buffs alike.    
Mural fabrication and installation were made possible through a grant awarded to the Farmington Downtown Development Authority by Flagstar Bank in partnership with Main Street Oakland County. Downtown Farmington is a Main Street Community, which makes them eligible for placemaking grants that support projects like this one.
John Martin’s mural is rich with history and meaning. In order to express the intricacies, the Committee has plans to host a public event with John Martin in early 2019 to discuss his creative intentions as well as the historical references.  The Public Art Committee hopes the event will spur excitement regarding the Public Art Program and invite residents and visitors alike to enjoy Downtown Farmington’s growing arts and culture scene.
For more information about the John Martin mural and the Downtown Farmington Public Art Program, please visit downtownfarmington.org or follow Downtown Farmington on Facebook and Twitter

All Aboard! model train exhibit presented by the Stoney Creek Model Railroad Club


The Stoney Creek Model Railroad Club has been planning this model train exhibit for one year and they can’t wait to share it with the community. The Calf Barn will be filled with modules that have been painstakingly built in scale and show locations near and far. A scavenger hunt through the exhibit adds to the fun. This wonderfully detailed exhibit, All Aboard! is a perfect family outing during the holiday season.

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Orion Township Public Library teen department wins Best Buy Community Grant

The Orion Township Public Library was recently awarded the Best Buy Community Grant to help fund teen technology programming.


“The grant will strengthen the library’s ‘ThinkLink’ partnership with Lake Orion Community Schools,” said Teen Librarian, Dan Major. “This program provides library material delivery to schools as well as after school programming for middle school students.”


The money from the community grant will be used to purchase touch screen stations for three middle schools and Lake Orion High School.  These stations will allow students to request books for delivery and register for programs at the library.  The grant will also be used to convert our computer lab into a modern Makerspace.  The plans for the Makerspace include new equipment like a VHS/DVD converter, photo scanner and digitizer, laser engraver, digital art station, video editing software, and more.


“In addition, several Best Buy employees have generously volunteered for the ‘ThinkLink After School’ program,” said Major. “They will show middle school students some of the latest and greatest technology and teach them to create new and exciting projects in our freshly renovated Makerspace.”


For questions about the Best Buy Community Grant contact Dan Major at dmajor@orionlibrary.org, or 248.693.3000 x413. The Orion Township Public Library is located at 825 Joslyn Road, Lake Orion, MI 48362 and is open 9:30a-9:00p Monday through Thursday and 9:30a-5:00p Friday and Saturday.  For more information visit orionlibrary.org.

Inaugural Deaf and Loud Symphonic Experience with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra set for Dec. 16


Classical music will meet hip hop, pop, and world-class percussion when Eminem publisher 8 Mile Style Music presents The Deaf and Loud Symphonic Experience, starring three renowned deaf artists performing an unprecedented concert with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO) on Sunday, Dec. 16 at 7 p.m. at Orchestra Hall in Detroit.

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What Little Caesars Arena looks like as 30,000 Lego bricks from Legoland


The attention to detail is stunning. A master builder from Legoland of Auburn Hills has built this replica of Little Caesars Arena.
Here are pics and fun facts of the mini arena made from 30,000 Lego bricks.

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Visits with Santa, yoga, and more holiday fun in store during Holiday Splendor at Cranbrook House

Holiday Splendor will soon return to Cranbrook House with seasonal fun, including a chance for children to share their wish list with Santa Claus. New this year, participants will have the chance to destress from the hustle-and-bustle of the holiday season during two yoga sessions offered in the Cranbrook House Library. Proceeds from this annual holiday fundraiser support the preservation and beautification of Cranbrook House & Gardens. 
The event begins with Yoga, Teas & Trees on Thursday, November 29, 2018 from 5:30pm to 7:30pm and 7:00pm to 9:00pm. Each session includes a 60-minute yoga class led by a Citizen Yoga instructor, a self-guided tour of the Holiday Splendor displays, and complimentary tea and hot cocoa. 
“If you want to experience the holiday exhibits in the evening, join us during yoga,” said Randy Forester, Fund Development Chair for Cranbrook House & Gardens Auxiliary, “yogis will have a relaxed environment to view the trees and cross off some of their holiday shopping, since each session is limited to only 15 guests.” 
Holiday Splendor will be open to the public 12:00pm to 4:00pm from Friday, November 30, 2018 through Sunday, December 2, 2018. Santa will visit with families from 9:00am to 12:00pm on Saturday, December 1, 2018. A scavenger hunt will keep children of all ages entertained and adults may find inspiration in the holiday trees and tables that adorn the historic manor. The gift shop will be open for holiday shopping during the entire event. 
“This event continues to be a holiday tradition thanks to our dedicated volunteers, talented individuals and local organizations such as the Herb Society of America Southern Michigan Unit that decorate the house, and our loyal patrons who return every year,” said Ellen Dougherty, Chair of Cranbrook House & Gardens Auxiliary, “we are pleased that our fundraiser also helps support Mittens for Detroit in their collection of new mittens and gloves for Detroiters in need.”  
General admission is $20 for adults, $15 for Cranbrook House & Gardens Auxiliary members, $10 for children ages five to 10 years old, and free for children under four; tickets may be purchased in advance online or at the door during the event. Admission for yoga is $35 per person. Santa admission is $15 for adults and $10 for children ages 10 and under. Reservations are required for the yoga and Santa events and may be made online or over the phone. 
Cranbrook House is located at 380 Lone Pine Road, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan 48304. Parking is available onsite and across the street at Christ Church Cranbrook. A shuttle will be provided during general admission. 
For more information on Cranbrook House & Gardens, please call 248.645.3149 or visit http://housegardens.cranbrook.edu

Historic local cemetery a focus as experts discuss preserving and revitalizing sacred places

Pontiac’s historic Oak Hill Cemetery will be featured at the 2018 Heritage Conference as national and local experts discuss strategies to revitalize sacred spaces, ensuring they have sustainability as special places and community assets.

“Sacred Spaces, Special Places” is set for Nov. 5 at All Saints’ Episcopal Church, 171 Pike St. in Pontiac. Registration is $25 and includes a continental breakfast and lunch. Online registration is available at AdvantageOakland.EventBrite.com.

The conference focus ranges from church buildings to cemeteries and their landscapes as sacred spaces and their value as special places for communities. The keynote speaker is Bob Jaeger, co-founder and president of Partners for Sacred Places, a Philadelphia-based non-profit that focuses on transforming and revitalizing historic and sacred spaces into special places that nurture, uplift and better serve their communities.

“For anyone interested in Oakland County or who wants to learn about some of our historical assets and strategies to preserve them – this is a must-attend conference,” Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson said.

Two members of the county’s planning division will present workshops at the conference:
  • Ron Campbell, a principal planner, architect and expert in historic preservation, will give a presentation entitled, “The Architecture of Death: An Integral Part of Life Today. The aspect of death has motivated some of the most iconic structures in a community and created some of the most memorable spaces.
  • John Bry, a principal planner and Main Street Oakland County coordinator, has more than 20 year’s experience in historic preservation, heritage tourism and community revitalization. His presentation is entitled, “Thinking Outside the Fence: How to Preserve Your Historic Cemetery.
The conference includes a tour of Oak Hill Cemetery. Oak Hill was established in 1822 by the city of Pontiac and was named to the National Register for Historic Places in 1989. The remains of six veterans from the Revolutionary War, more than 27 soldiers from the Civil War, including Gen. Israel B. Richardson, and Michigan Gov. Moses Wisner are all interred there.

Bry said municipal cemeteries are often huge financial burdens for communities, requiring partnerships that may include the city, a non-profit and a third party to pay for ongoing maintenance and repair. He estimated the annual cost for upkeep on Oak Hill is more than $200,000.

There is a reception following the conference at Fillmore 13 Brewery, 7 N. Saginaw St. in Pontiac, which is sponsored by the Oakland County Historical Commission.

The conference is sponsored by the Oakland County Department of Economic Development & Community Affairs, Oakland County Parks, the Historical Commission and produced with the support of the Oakland County Board of Commissioners.

Molten Sensuality: The Crystalline Creations of April Wagner

The new glass exhibit entitled Molten Sensuality:  The Crystalline Creations of April Wagnerat the Saginaw Art Museum brings the fire of epiphany glass studio to mid-Michigan, October 5, 2018 through January 2019.  

The 6,000 sq. ft. exhibit by award-winning glass artist April Wagner serves as a retrospective of her work at epiphany glass studio over more than two decades.  Featuring more than 100 pieces, the exhibit includes a chronological overview of Wagner’s glass artwork from the early Volcano and Splash series, to sculptures and wall pieces, showcasing the evolution of custom installations including chandeliers, wall sculptures and iconic freestanding pieces.  Wagner will create a custom hanging installation for the show, as well as a freestanding sculpture to be revealed.  Collectors will lend their pieces to the exhibit to provide a full overview of the evolution of the glass work. 
The show will also include a video component, focused on the glassmaking process.  Here Wagner explores the many ways in which glass can be manipulated through its various phases, using 2,000 degree furnaces, applied pressure, gravity and force to create elegant shapes and vibrant colors. Many of Wagner’s pieces are inspired by her love of nature, and she notes, “Everything in nature is beautifully designed and that design serves a function, color, scale and form.” 
“April Wagner is a world-class glass artist and widely recognized for her incredible talent,” said Stacey Gannon, executive director of the Saginaw Art Museum.  “Her exhibition, “Molten Sensuality:  The Crystalline Creations of April Wagner,” is one of the most interesting exhibitions we’ve curated at the museum.  Full of color, texture and illumination – it is not a show to be missed.  I know that visitors will be taken by the beauty and awesomeness of the display.”
Wagner studied art and glass at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit; New York Experimental Glass Workshop in Brooklyn; Alfred University in Alfred, New York; and  Interlochen Arts Academy in northwestern Michigan. As an artist, she has been committed to this elegant material since attending college. She opened epiphany studio in Pontiac, Michigan in 1993, where she makes both functional and sculpture works in glass – bridging both fine and decorative art.
“In college I discovered molten glass as a material,” said Wagner. “It was love at first sight and in the 24 years since, nothing has changed. Glass captivates me with its seductive allure. In my work I try to capture the fluidity and grace of the glass without over-tooling and marring it. The physical act of creating glass, taking raw material and breathing life into it, defines my place in the universe. Using this material requires skills that take years to master and I am somewhere in the middle of my journey,” shares Wagner.
Her work has been featured in Detroit Home Magazine, HOUR Detroit and more, and she made the 40 Under 40 list of the most talented, driven and dynamic professionals under the age of 40 in Crain’s Detroit Business.
In her artwork, the vibrant colors, hues and shades of glass combined with the fluidity and flexibility of the medium, come together to provide limitless interpretation of the natural world through glass art.
“I am intrigued by the process of blowing glass into linear and organic shapes,” said Wagner.  “Then I play with them in space. By turning, twisting, or repeating the shapes I investigate their relationship to floor, wall, or tabletop. In creating multiples and assembling the shapes together, almost like found objects, I create large scale pieces. I use color to push and pull the eye around or up and down the piece.
“My intention is to create objects that are captivating to look at in their environment. Whether a private, public, or corporate space I choose the colors, shapes, and scale of the work in direct response to that specific environment and that viewer. Ultimately the viewer must consider the fragility, strength, and beauty of this material.”
A public question and answer session with glass artist April Wagner, owner of epiphany glass studio, will be held on Wed., Oct. 17, from 6 – 8 p.m. at the Saginaw Art Museum.  The public is invited to this free event, and no reservations are required.
epiphany glass, www.epiphanyglass.com, is a state-of-the-art, 4,000 sq. ft. glassblowing studio and gallery located in Pontiac, Michigan.  Since 1997, epiphany’s distinctive look has been created by artist and owner April Wagner.  Wagner adds a contemporary twist to the traditional fazzoletto technique, which originated in the Venini factory of Murano, Italy, during the 1930s and was later popularized by Seattle glass artists. Her work is found in many public and private collections, including those of GM, Pfizer, Cobo Center, Strategic Staffing Solutions, Vladimir Putin, Goldie Hawn and Kate Hudson.
The Saginaw Art Museum is a vibrant arts and cultural resource for Saginaw and the Great Lakes Bay Region. Since 1947, the Museum has brought more than 4,500 years of creativity to the area through visual, auditory and performance arts from Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas. Housed in an historical 1904 Georgian-Revival mansion with Italianate gardens and two award-winning modern wings, the Museum has a permanent collection of art in excess of 2,000 objects, a dynamic exhibition program, a major art reference library, collaborative education programs, and special events. Various levels of membership offer access to the Saginaw Art Museum and its historic gardens as well as reciprocal benefits to more than 800 museums and 300 gardens throughout North America.

The Yarn Stop: "Winding up" two years of commerce, classes, community engagement—and fun


Troy resident Susan Hendrie is knitting a sweater for a new baby in her family. A soft, cozy rainbow of muted reds, blues, and yellows, the project is almost completed.

“I needed a little help finishing it,” Hendrie says, “so I came here to a daily “Help Me” session at The Yarn Stop in Clawson, where I can have time, one-on-one, with a yarn project instructor.”

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White Lake photographer is "People’s Choice" in 2018 MI Great Artist Competition

A White Lake Township photographer whose entries focused on a Great Lakes theme was the top vote getter which guarantees him a place in the finals of the 2018 MI Great Artist online art competition.

The photography of Thomas Bos was the runaway winner of the popular vote, getting nearly 1,700 votes for his entry. Bos will receive $750 among other prizes for being the inaugural “People’s Choice” winner. He is also the first of five finalists in the competition. Thirty-four other artists from Southeast Michigan were also selected by a public vote to have a chance at becoming the 2018 MI Great Artist winner.

“Congratulations to Thomas for catching the eye of the voting public and to our other semi-finalists,” Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson said. “Our judges have a real challenge before them as they decide the ultimate winner. I wish them luck.”

Patterson and Park West Gallery founder and CEO Albert Scaglione launched the contest in 2012 as a quality of life initiative to identify and support up-and-coming artists. They will announce the winner at an evening gallery reception on October 23. The finalists will share a prize package worth more than $16,000.

Nearly 27,000 votes were cast over two weeks during the online voting. The field of 209 artists was reduced to 35 semi-finalists. Originally the top 30 artists were to be selected but the closeness of the voting and the quality of the entries made it necessary to include the additional five artists.

A panel of judges will review the work of the semi-finalists beginning Monday and announce the five finalists on September 18. Their work will be displayed at Park West Gallery in October.

Twenty-two Oakland County residents, five from Wayne County, four from Macomb County, two from Genesee County and one each from Livingston and Shiawassee counties were selected as semi-finalists:
  • Vince Adragna, White Lake
  • Thomas Bos (Bos Exposures), White Lake
  • William Brody, Holly
  • Karen Buscemi, Rochester Hills
  • Nicole Buza, Livonia
  • Izzy Cagalawan (@izzca), Macomb
  • Aurina Counts-Garbovits, Waterford
  • Arlinda H. Crossland, Bloomfield Hills
  • Lacy Draper, Roseville
  • Susan Lori Emerling, Keego Harbor
  • Rachel Fernandez, Detroit
  • Melissa Filimon (Zoey Z.), Swartz Creek
  • Kim Fujiwara, Rochester Hills
  • Donna Gonzalez, Wixom
  • Cindy Heming, Waterford
  • Devendra (Deven) Joshi, West Bloomfield
  • Loren Lacy, Shelby Township
  • Pat Langner, West Bloomfield
  • Lilian Rose Lebednick, Farmington Hills
  • Mia Miller, Waterford
  • Catherine Perez, East Pointe
  • Wendy Popko (Poppy), Sterling Heights
  • Arthur Richards III, Madison Heights
  • James M. Siatczynski, Troy
  • Curtis Simmons (Made of Earth), Bancroft
  • Jen Spezia, Ortonville
  • Michael Tingley, Southfield
  • Vasu Tolia, Bloomfield Hills
  • Robert J. Tyrrell, Grosse Pointe Farms
  • Genevieve Van Zandt, Brighton
  • Brooke Voeller, Livonia
  • Brian Wagnitz, Waterford
  • Courtney Welch, White Lake
  • Zach Joseph Wendt, Rochester Hills
  • Denise Cassidy Wood, Northville
The artists’ work can be viewed at MiGreatArtist.com.

The MI Great Artist winner will receive $1,500; five submitted artworks framed by Park West Gallery; a group exhibition October 23-30 at Park West Gallery in Southfield, with an award ceremony and reception October 23; and a selection of business services from the Oakland County One Stop Shop Business Center; among other prizes.

Four runners-up will each receive $375 and other services.

The judges are Scaglione; Charles Boike, artist, lawyer and 2012 MI Great Artist finalist; Phil Gilchrist, executive director of The Anton Art Center in Mount Clemens; Barbara Heller, director and conservator – special projects for the Detroit Institute of Arts; Dominic Pangborn, founder of Pangborn Design Collection and a former professor at the College of Creative Studies; artist and sculptor Don Tocco; and Kristie Everett Zamora, arts and culture coordinator for Oakland County's Department of Economic Development & Community Affairs.

MI Great Artist partners include Oakland County, Park West Gallery, AdvantageOakland.com and Oakland County Prosper® magazine.

5 fun and funky yards you have to see in Oakland County


A 7-foot-long dragon on a corner in Ferndale, a 4-foot-tall red apple on a front lawn in Pleasant Ridge and a chair big enough to fit six people in Berkley. 

Those are just some of the funky and unusual pieces of lawn art you'll find in front yards across southeast Oakland County.  

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Forest of 65 red utility poles appears in Southfield: Why they're there


Southfield’s mavens of modern art applauded after cutting the ribbon on metro Detroit’s most ambitious new piece of public art — described as “an abstract grove of trees.”

As with most public art, not everyone is sure to cheer. This piece is bright red, three stories tall, made of used utility poles and stretches the length of a football field. So, is it beautiful — and worth $50,000 in public money?

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New Franklin gallery uses art to heal

The Village of Franklin is a quiet, tree-filled area that harkens back to another era. That's why it's the perfect place for a new art gallery centered around healing and meditation. 

Jacqueline Drake opened her gallery, by the same name, at 32611 Franklin Road in May this year and hasn't wasted any time connecting with her customers. Drake runs "healing art" workshops for the Gilda's Club, cancer and crisis centers, and hospitals and businesses.

"I wanted to take my workshops to the next level by creating a full-experience that touches all your senses in a healing environment," Drake explains.

Drake's two-month classes, such as her Mindfulness and Meditation Through Painting, are aimed at helping people slow down from busy lifestyles and to focus on being "present in the moment." The purposely small classes often start with a guided meditation before participants paint what they experienced.

"I teach them how to compose a piece by using their very own insights into themselves that they have discovered during the meditation," says Drake.

Participant Eileen Harryvan described the gallery and Drake's classes as a "break from the rest of the world" and a place to get "a little boost of peace and calm."

Drake says the gallery was 20 years in the making and that Franklin was natural choice for her after moving to the area 10 years ago. She says part of why a therapeutic art space works is because of the historic village's pace of life. "Franklin village is known to be a quaint little village in the middle of busy metropolitan area," Drake says. "I believe the village itself has many healing qualities because it connects people with a simpler time."

Drake's historic building on the village green bares the slogan "The Town that Time Forgot," a sign that Drake couldn't bring herself to alter when she and her husband did a six-week renovation blitz. "To finally build and create my dream business was daunting, crazy and exciting all in one breath."

Drake has plans to expand the gallery's calendar to host more events, including a music night for local singers and songwriters to perform and record, poetry readings, and listening events.

"I believe I am just beginning on a long journey to create a community space, " Drake says, "and am constantly looking for ways to have a positive impact on the community while helping people experience the beauty and powerful influence that art has." 
455 Arts + Culture Articles | Page: | Show All
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