A selection of Detroit-centric gifts for your browsing pleasure. Please check back again soon. We will be adding more new arrivals as inventory changes daily - thank you for supporting independent bookstores and shopping local! Happy Holidays!
Detroit: I Do Mind Dying: A Study in Urban Revolution (SIGNED)
This updated edition (signed by Dan Georgakas) includes the original Foreword by Manning Marable, a new Preface by the authors, Dan Georgakas and Marvin Surkin and new chapters on the ‘Legacy of Drum’ by Sheila Cockrel, Herb Boyd, Edna Ewell Watson and Michael Hamlin. Also available are signed copies of Dan Georgakas memoir My Detroit: Growing Up Greek and American in Motor City
“First-rate and absolutely fascinating. This particular piece of American history has never been covered in such depth…everyone who is concerned with political change will learn a lot from this book.” — New York Times
Iggy Pop Bobblehead even more frightening than the original!! a solid and sturdy ”raw power” 7-inch bobblehead–or “throbblehead”–that looks just as frightening as the leathery singer himself… yes, kinda creepy but we love it – makes the perfect punk guardian to watch over your Stooges altar. Made out of a heavy wood resin (unlike the flimsy plastic bobblehead junk) Issued in a limited edition of 1000 pieces.
Also available; the more lightweight, durable, back-bending and eternally shirtless Iggy Pop Action Figure
Forgotten Landmarks of Detroit
Dan Austin, author of Lost Detroit and creator of HistoricDetroit.org, recaptures stories and memories of a forgotten Detroit, giving readers a glimpse into some of the most stunning buildings this city has ever known.
Easily one of the best written and historically interesting books on Detroit’s lost architectural gems… a non-stop greatest hits book you won’t be able to put down.
The Lost Tiki Palaces of Detroit (paperback) – not real new but we love these weird and kooky stories of Detroit’s depravity and sainthood by that second-hand bard Michael Zadorian.
Book Beed: African colonial figure at a computer Exclusive! a Book Beat colonial figure, hand carved in West Africa.
Great Female Artists of Detroit (signed)
Discover the historically significant landscapes, portraits and still lifes of Detroit’s earliest professional artists who reached the pinnacle of the art world. Get privileged access to the artists and the methods that made them great through in-depth interviews and new research.
Not Only Women Bleed (SIGNED)
“Wagner is one of the few truly “star” sidemen in the history of rock. His intensely melodic and biting style had propelled him into the limelight since the late 1960s, when he emerged as a member of Detroit area band the Frost – one of the few groups to match the six-string firepower of their regional contemporaries the MC5. From there his work as a sideman began, wrangling pick-up gigs behind such formative artists as Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis and Roy Orbison.” — Dick Wagner Interview at Gibson.com
Dick Wagner “The Maestro of Rock” takes readers on a literary journey, sharing a lifetime of experience as lead guitarist and songwriter for Alice Cooper, Aerosmith, Lou Reed, Kiss and more. In his captivating, witty, literate, and often touching memoir, Wagner delivers colorful tales of reckless behavior and intimate debauchery with an emotional reverberation that resonates with a wide audience.
Detroit’s Historic Places of Worship (signed copies by the photographer Dirk Baker)
In Detroit’s Historic Places of Worship, authors Marla O. Collum, Barbara E. Krueger, and Dorothy Kostuch profile 37 architecturally and historically significant houses of worship that represent 8 denominations and nearly 150 years of history. The authors focus on Detroit’s most prolific era of church building, the 1850s to the 1930s. Full-color photos by Dirk Bakker bring the interiors and exteriors of these amazing buildings to life, as the authors provide thorough architectural descriptions, pointing out notable carvings, sculptures, stained glass, and other decorative and structural features.
Ghost Hunting Michigan
As part of the America’s Haunted Road Trip series, Ghosthunting Michigan takes readers along on a guided tour of some of the Great Lake State’s most haunted historic locations. With a background in library science, author Helen Pattskyn researched each location thoroughly before visiting, digging up clues for the paranormal aspect of each site. Her approach to each site allows readers to decide whether or not the ghost stories are really true.
thanks for the view, mr. mies: lafayette park, detroit.
This book is a reaction against the way that iconic modernist architecture is often represented. Whereas other writers may focus on the design intentions of the architect, authors Aubert, Cavar and Chandani seek to show the organic and idiosyncratic ways that the people who live in Lafayette Park actually use the architecture and how this experience, in turn, affects their everyday lives. While there are many publications about abandoned buildings in Detroit and about the city’s prosperous past, this book is about a remarkable part of the city as it exists today, in the twenty-first century.
Jimbo Easter: Deep in the Peanut coloring book (signed copies!)
A psychedelic mind-melting coloring book by local weirdo Jamie Easter.
Hungry for Death: Destroy All Monsters w/CD
“Hungry for Death: Destroy All Monsters” is a catalog with the emphasis and focus on the music produced by DAM, including an extensive discography. With essays by Byron Coley and Brandon W. Joseph – and bound inside the back of the catalog is a 32 track, 74 minute CD of previously unreleased DAM music titled “Get Out of My Bedroom! -a mix tape.”
Posted in: Art, Book Reviews, Detroit & Michigan | No Comments »
A Strange Necessity: Rebecca West, James Joyce & the artistic impulse
Why does Art matter? What is this strange necessity?
…the closer you try to approach the facts through history, the deeper you sink into fiction. The greater the care with which you explain a fact, the more nonsensical a fable you fish out of chaos. – Halldór Laxness, Under the Glacier
In her book length essay The Strange Necessity, philosopher-author Rebecca West observed how the creative act can be thought of as a completely holistic and natural force in the world. In the act of creating, the artist becomes a part of nature, at one with it, fused and connected to the natural world. West’s metaphor of the natural artist is ; “determined and exclusive as the tree’s intention of becoming a tree, and by passing all his material through his imagination and there experiencing it, he achieves the same identity with what he makes as the growing tree does.”[i]
Strange Necessity claims the actions of an artist, in the process of creation, comes out of a biological necessity, an unstoppable urge bound up with natural primal desires. The artist can never be in total control of the process of creating, but is only fulfilling a natural process bound up within life. The necessity that West explored can also be simplified as the “spiritual impulse”, an intuitive connection with a higher realm, beyond thought or emotion that resides in the creative act. West further identifies a fundamental unity between all art and experience. The creation of artwork is an act of engagement with life, a process that’s transcendent, connected with a spiritual purpose.
The Strange Necessity is a moving portrait on the motivations of an artist. In her concluding chapters, West shifts to the exaltation and spiritual function a work of art performs on the individual. It is a relationship to art that borders on the sexual: “I have…this crystalline concentration of glory, this deep and serene and intense emotion that I feel before the greatest works of art… It overflows the confines of the mind and becomes an important physical event…Is this exaltation the orgasm, as it were, of the artistic instinct, stimulated to its height by a work of art…”[ii]
This spiritual and orgasmic manifestation of art is noted in the sublime landscapes of Frederic Church and J.M.W. Turner, the firework abstractions of Kandinsky, the musical genius of J.S. Bach and Mozart and the of writings of Melville, Poe and Joyce; works that commune with the soul on a metaphysical landscape. This pull toward the spiritual sublime and orgasmic was fundamental to modernism especially the 20th century impulse of improvisation found in of jazz, rock n roll, film and writing -the same attributes and release of the divine mind found within West’s exaltation of the orgasm.
* * * * *
West used the example of a single day of city life to investigate the novel as a creative act and the moving effect of art on her own life. An intensive study of Joyce’s Ulysses takes place inside a single day of West’s life within her home in the city of Paris. This doubling of art and life was itself at the very center of Ulysses, which also takes place in a single ordinary day in the life of James Joyce. This entwined reflection of art and life between Paris and Dublin is like a movie inside a movie, a hallway of infinite mirrors between art and life the authors walk us through.
Joyce never made public his notice of West’s criticism, however he wrote a scathing but cloaked put-down parody of Strange Necessity within his novel Finnegan’s Wake. West takes the example of Joyce as a motivating pendulum in all the arts. The passage of a spiritual or natural transformation from one artist to the next often occurs between written and visual worlds. That improvised and spontaneous fractured time within Joyce can also be seen reflected in cubist paintings, comic books, a Bach concerto and jazz riffs.
The way art is expressed through society, the way it’s supported, taught, encouraged and critiqued, is often based on the relationship between artist and patron and the political mechanics of the time. During times of wealth and industry (the Renaissance is the most obvious example), this relationship can be developed fruitfully and become a concentrated force.
The relationship of funding and material support in the arts is illustrated in Ezra Pound’s comment that, “Great art does not depend on the support of riches, but without such aid it will be individual, separate, and spasmodic: it will not group and become a great period… a great age is brought about only with the aid of wealth, because a great age means the deliberate fostering of genius, the gathering-in and grouping and encouragement of artists.”[iii] This careful balance and support of the arts is often shaken and disposed of in times of great social upheaval and despair, yet this “strange necessity” is present in all eras, and should be viewed as a constant interior force.
The forces of spirit which effect and drive the arts, is a theme often overlooked and diminished. From the nineteenth century “art reform” to contemporary theorists, metaphysical and spiritual influences continue to be downplayed or ignored. The opening of early nineteenth century America to its vast resources and its “manifest destiny” has been a clear source of our nation’s spiritual tensions and troubles. The drive forever onward instead of inward creates uneasiness and an emphasis on earthbound desires. Conditions of genocide, war, racial divisions and destruction of land and resources can only be reconciled or balanced by spiritual solutions or the transformation of consciousness –conditions that are universal in the art process.
West declared America itself as part of a political necessity; a country of belief and action balanced on a life or death situation. America evolved into existence because of the necessity for freedom, an idea constantly tested and often betrayed by many of America’s leaders. The America founded on the seeds of spiritual freedom and that served as a beacon for other nations has vanished, swallowed by its own greed and widening girth. That noble idea of spiritual freedom has been replaced by a slide into a cesspool of selfishness and technocratic rule. Many artists today are forced into wretched contracts with galleries and create on the same competitive field as Wall Street brokers.
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The idea of spirituality as unbounded space, without restraint, serves the arts and the areas in which art flourishes. New York City came close in the 1930s and 40s as a site where the arts could expand without boundaries. During the development of the ashcan and abstract expressionist schools, modernism rooted deeply there, at least a modernism outside of European influence. It occurred again in the early 1980s with the growth of street art, no-wave and hip-hop. That heroic past has been documented and mythologized, yet, the story of cheap rents, artist garrets and a pioneering spirit is not exclusive and is one we return to again and again, in many sites around the globe.
We see in Detroit now, the same signs, opportunities and conditions as a feral laboratory for the arts. The conditions of unbounded freedom that existed before have returned amid the chaos and “forest clearing” weight of industrial blight and neglect. Small clusters of artistic groups, creative pockets, communal and urban pioneers seem to be sprouting like weeds through the concrete, a city on the verge.
The history of art practice in Detroit has always been connected within small groups of people united in a struggle against outside pressures and lowly political-industrial forces. Surrounded by mighty industrial goliaths (many of them in the process of fading away), art practice became isolated within small radical iconoclastic groups; The Detroit Society for Arts and Crafts in 1906, The Artists Workshop in 1964, Trans-Love Energies in 1967, and the Cass Corridor Movement of the late 60s and 70s were all disparate signs, politicized art movements and protests against society, industry, corrupt education, war or greed, yet too quickly overshadowed and swallowed by mainstream forces. The liquidation of those movements forced many individuals into either larger cities where growth was possible, into further isolation or into the mainstream.
To understand that “lost history” is the process of understanding ourselves as a cultural movement within a larger cultural and spiritual world. Regaining balance and refueling our energies can occur only through spiritual transformation, an inward healing solution. The past is key to understanding the strange necessity of our present condition and for laying the foundations of lasting plans into the future.
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Beauty in things exists merely in the mind which contemplates them. –David Hume, Essays Moral and Political, 1742
The Eighteenth century philosopher David Hume (1711-1776) remained unpopular and mostly unread until the mid-twentieth century. His idea on beauty was that it existed as fragmented perceptions in the mind. That the mysteries and beauty we seek in art are always “impressions of the mind” –the thoughts and feelings we carry within us through comparisons of experience. Hume said, “power and necessity… are… qualities of perceptions, not of objects… felt by the soul and not perceived externally in bodies”[iv] That fragmented-self idea was later embraced and radicalized by Gilles Deluze and the poststructuralists. We are all parts of a greater whole and the process of art is nothing less then the universe being itself and seeing itself.
The eternal return is woven through the fragmented-mind and its removal of the object of our passion. The feedback loop where art, action and mind are one.
[i] Rebecca West, The Strange Necessity (Doubleday, New York, 1928) p.7
[ii] The Strange Necessity, p. 210-211
[iii] Ezra Pound, Ezra Pound and the Visual Arts, Harriet Zinnes, Ed., (New Directions, 1980) p. 266
[iv] David Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature, (New York: Dover, 2003 edition), p. 168
Tags: A Strange Necessity, art and meaning, artistic process, creativity, essay, Hume and beauty, James Joyce, Rebecca West
Posted in: Art, Book Reviews, Detroit & Michigan, Essays | No Comments »
To take photographs means to recognize—simultaneously and within a fraction of a second—both the fact itself and the rigorous organization of visually perceived forms that give it meaning. It is putting one’s head, one’s eye and one’s heart on the same axis.
– Henri Cartier-Bresson
Take care of all your memories… for you can not relive them. -Bob Dylan
From poetic and humorous recordings of family life and urban landscapes to his surprising tabletop conceptual works, Bill Rauhauser’s photography has always been stamped with clarity of thought, gentle beauty and an eye for composition. His decades long love affair with Detroit, modernism, photo history and the organization of forms and their refinement is an inspiring tale. He is at the age of 93, still questioning, developing and recreating himself as an artist.
There’s nothing sentimental, passive or decorative about Rauhauser’s street work yet they contain a romantic and passionate core, all beautifully rendered black and white images, each a small poignant story. Some of the best work is risky, unconscious, snapshot driven and yet also carefully composed, implanted with his memories and a respect for the city and its culture. The urban landscape is the main star in a Rauhauser photograph.
Detroit has become a favorite location for photographers in the recent past, chosen as the symbolic and literal center of the post-industrial wasteland. Many books have documented its magnificent ruins. Rauhauser’s investigation was a prelude to the ruins, a map before the crime-scene, familiar territory for anyone brought up in Detroit in the 1950s-60s.
There is something fatally romantic about an urban photographer in the mid-1950s wandering freely throughout Detroit. Rauhauser’s practice both coincided and sometimes mirrored the beat era mythology that grew around the wandering figures of Robert Frank and Jack Keroauc, whose On the Road was published to a sensational response in 1957. Being anchored to Detroit in the 1950s was a much less fashionable and frenetic situation for Rauhauser, but perhaps a more truthful one. He was stuck in the quintessential American city, the crucible and furnace of Fordism, where the struggles of race and class played out in everyday life.
After describing a visit to Henri Cartier-Bresson’s exhibition at MOMA in 1947, as a “revelatory” one, Rauhauser quickly realized that his life’s passion and career path would soon be devoted to photography. The idea of eternity frozen in a photograph – life organized and contained in a single ‘Decisive Moment’ rang true for Rauhauser, and he began spending his free time on the streets with a Leica 35mm rangefinder (the same preferred camera of Cartier-Bresson).
In 1955, a photograph by Rauhauser (Three Figures on a Bench) was chosen by Edward Steichen for his “Family of Man” exhibition, one of the most successful and viewed photo exhibits in history, seen by over nine million people. Rauhauser took that as an encouraging sign and he continued his street work with renewed vigor. 1955 was also the same year Robert Frank began his cross-country photo project that would result in “The Americans” – another milestone in photo history. Frank’s snapshot aesthetic held a fascination for Rauhauser, who was already practicing those methods himself on the streets of Detroit.
* * * * *
Rauhauser has often referred to himself as a flânuer, a wandering urban observer, sampling and documenting the rhythms and pace of the city. The flânuer was a term popularized by Charles Baudelaire to describe the slow city-gazing, 19th century window-shopping dandy of his time – the romantic wanderer of the urban landscape. Baudelaire admired photography’s documentary nature but also despised and thwarted its fine art applications. In his essay On Photography of 1859, he describes the dual nature of photography and where he saw it headed, “If photography is allowed to supplement art in some of its functions, it will soon have supplanted or corrupted it altogether, thanks to the stupidity of the multitude which is its natural ally. It is time, then, for it to return to its true duty, which is to be the servant of the sciences and arts… Let it rescue from oblivion those tumbling ruins, those books, prints and manuscripts which time is devouring, precious things whose form is dissolving and which demand a place in the archives of our memory—— it will be thanked and applauded.”[i]
The book Bill Rauhauser 20th Century Photography in Detroit is a treasure trove for what it preserves of Motor City life, especially the era following World War II when streets were still filled with vendors, shoppers and energetic activity of all kinds. Rauhauser concentrated his walks along Woodward Avenue, Mid-town (Wayne State University), the riverfront, Belle Isle, and took to documenting small working class homes and the city’s architectural gems. The vibrancy of those times marks a stark contrast to how the fortunes of the automotive capital would slowly unravel.
In over 300 black and white images we journey with Rauhauser in a city overflowing with consumerist euphoria, determination and grit –scenes abundant with immediacy and excitement. The photograph Sander’s Lunch Counter, Woodard Avenue, Detroit shows a group of three women enjoying ice-cream on a typical hot summer’s day, the middle figure blowing a frozen funnel of cigarette smoke into the air, a scene most Detroiters of a certain age can identify with –and there are many others, like the series of the Michigan State Fair sideshow barker’s and their sexy but dangerous looking carnival gals. Street preachers, rushing lunchtime office workers, newsstands, fruit vendors, street cleaners, gamblers, musicians, barbershops, students, bikers and fashionable women fill the book with a timeless lost-world glow. The photos are presented with little or no captions, but they will gain in awareness over time, true vessels of how we saw ourselves and once lived in Detroit before the apocalypse of ruins.
Gazing over the book is like walking through fields of memory, recognizing scenes from a past gone-to-dust and a history belonging to all who’ve lived it or care to see. There are many isolated and lost figures; lonely seniors, tired park-bench warmers, beggars, pimps and bums -the outsiders of society found in daily encounters that break down and disrupt “normal” social order – gatherings and crowded street scenes dissipate into fragile moments of reflection and despair, slices of life’s existential sadness – tiny miracles caught in time.
* * * * *
There’s a wealth of material to soak in, amazing jaw-dropping images that stop you in your tracks. Here’s mid-century Motown, alive with a variety of activities, barbershop rituals, bus-stop ques and swaggering soul brothers and sistahs. One small section devoted to Detroit auto-shows in the 1960s is one of the book’s strongest highlights. Young models with exaggerated flipped up hair-dos, million-dollar smiles, mini-skirts and go-go boots light up the Cobo Hall displays selling sex and sizzle alongside the latest Detroit muscle cars.
This decades-long self-assignment aligns well with many other urban photo projects such as Atget’s life-long study of the monuments and beauty of Paris, Arnold Genthe’s Chinatown in turn-of-the-century San Francisco and the New York Photo League’s gritty documentation of New York City in the 40s and 50s. Rauhauser’s work clearly shows the lighthearted sense of improvisation and quick thinking he brings to street photography, which is the main attraction filling most of the book. It should remain the standard reference for displaying Detroit in classic mid-century for years to come.
Rauhauser’s street scenes are varied in technique and subject matter, ranging from posed snapshots, to comical, uninhibited, and voyeuristic off-the-hip shooting. Many photographs are the result of strong technical ability matched with careful planning and dumb chance. The Zen-like presence of the photographer is there to see and think ahead, becoming invisible to his surroundings and subject. For the most part his subjects are caught off-guard and unaware of the camera. Rauhauser’s key distinction is a graphically charged and constructive eye that builds a photograph from layers of physical reality and desire (the subject matter) against the balanced dispersal of light and darkness.
He once said, “I see in black and white.”- a vision used with good effect alongside the complexity of moving subjects and architectural backgrounds. I think Bill also see’s in shades of desire; a pretty figure, sophisticated well-dressed ladies, women in bathing suits, leggy dancers, snake-charmers, sexy backsides, young women smoking, modeling and performing – a luxuriant parade of beauties and delights!
* * * * *
Several images quote important historic photographs, an ability that came naturally and perhaps unconsciously to Rauhauser with his deep knowledge of photo history. There’s the Atget-like side view of a man in thick boots wheeling a heavy loaded cart of cardboard across the street (p.92) looking plucked from another century and several movement-freezing shots echoing Martin Munkacsi; (p. 83, 143) who once said, “all great photographs today are snapshots.” Rauhuaser’s image of four young blacks on the beach of Lake Michigan (p.114) harken back to the iconic Munkacsi image, Black Boys ashore Lake Tanganyika taken in 1931, an image Cartier-Bresson credited “as the only photograph to ever inspire me.”
Overloaded streets filled with humanity combined with Rauhauser’s eye for women bring to mind Gary Winogrand’s “Women are Beautiful” series ; (p.134, 148, 155, 178, 213) and the flattened almost painted looking urban cityscapes of Aaron Siskind; (p. 100, 130, 164, 194) or the pool-hall greasers of Danny Lyon (p. 62, 209, 219) and the urban lunch counters of Robert Frank; (p. 60, 81). His image of the tough bee-hived French Fry Girl from either Bob-lo island or the State Fair is a powerful 60s portrait, close to iconic. Visual puns and mirrored images abound like the ridiculous toy-car parade Shriner’s convention, Detroit 1978, (p.184), or the odd man at the State Fair unconsciously mimicking a circus banner behind him (p.227) or the Weegee-like bum sleeping off his drunk in the doorway: Cass Avenue, Detroit (p.103).
* * * * *
The still-life series Rauhauser began in late 1960s became known as the “Object Series”. Dejarlais notes in the book’s introduction, “He purposely photographed objects that were invisible to society because of their daily functional use…using a 4×5 view camera he aimed for intense clarity and lit them for optimal revelation of detail…” He furthered these experiments by exploring object abstractions that ended in a series of totally wild black and white architecturally constructed objects, the Egyptian titled Temples and Tombs series –a totally unique body of work in the history of photography, one he discovered by himself and owns –a series created out of found materials and discarded kitchen utensils. These fantastical high contrast works were produced sometime in the late 1970s and early 1980s, a humorous conceptual and creatively jarring body of work, perhaps an antidote to his earlier street photography.
The still life constructions were extensions of the photographer’s passion for architecture (his first profession) and are non-manipulated, experiments in free-form expression. The Temples and Tombs series are self-contained utopian worlds, surrealist M.C. Escher post-objects, (almost a reversal of documentation). The series developed at a time when it was more difficult to work in the street. By the 1980s privacy issues became dominant and the streets were becoming more dangerous. Rauhauser explained that with the still life work, he went into himself and pushed the straight “truth telling” aspect of photography to an extreme edge. The Temples and Tombs were an answer to an exit, analytic fragments of truth found in architectural abstraction, like something Frank Ghery would make from crumpled wastepaper. They are deceptively clever tabletop fantasies – chaotic yet ordered, strange and alien perception puzzles of pure form.
Rauhauser’s 1970s elemental object series and still lifes are relatives to Marcel Duchamp’s revolutionary notion of the readymade[ii]. By isolating the found object, removing it from its normal usage and understanding, Duchamp wished to challenge the viewer and what we accept as works of art. Duchamp presented the bicycle wheel, urinal, bottle rack and the snow shovel – the everyday object as some of the first minimalist artworks – what he called “a form denying the possibility of defining art”.
Where Duchamp wanted to go against the grain and destroy “retinal art” with his readymade sculptures, Rauhauser emphasized the beauty and aesthetics of simple objects and common sculptural form; the baseball, derby hat, music stand, ruler, rain boot, transistor radio tube, etc., the everyday objects he was attracted to for primarily aesthetic and functional reasons – objects whose “form followed function.” These were then presented as purely clean and flat minimalist “retinal art” – a sly reversal of Duchamp’s approach. The photographic isolation of the object became a commonly used devise that would influence book and graphic illustration to a staggering degree by the early 1990s. Rauhauser’s careful choice of objects are linked in a self-referential index – functional forms that also register as signs and symbols in the photographer’s visual autobiography.
* * * * *
The book’s lack of complete annotations is a mystery, a small flaw that could be fixed in a later printing. The dark grey chapter headings are abrupt and intrusive beside the photos, upsetting the flow of the book. The overall size is about 8.5 x 11″ and is overly generous with photos in a short span, over 300 images appear in 311 pages. The paper is of good quality with almost no bleed-through and a soft varnish was added to the photos which have a great tonal range and appear printed in tri-tone or full color. The decorative glossy cover is a great graphic image of a summertime parade down Woodard Avenue with the world’s largest American flag flapping on the side of the Hudson’s department store, a female photographer shooting her family, with her prominent ass in the foreground. The book design is functional, but could be improved with a looser, less crowded layout and little more research for the captions.
A 30 page introductory text by Mary Dejarlais gives a close inspection to Rauhauser’s history and background, his formation as an artist and educator, from his beginnings in Detroit’s Silhouette camera club to his current adoption of digital photography. Dejarlais lays out the influences and histories that informed Rauhuaser’s photography and thought, including his friendship with photo dealer Tom Halsted and central figures Cartier-Bresson, Robert Frank and film theorist Siegfried Kracauer.
Dejarlais’ introduction also makes clear Rauhauser’s contributions to photography and the city. Over the course of five decades many area students (who are now professional photographers) had taken Rauhauser’s classes at the Society of Arts and Crafts, later the College for Creative Studies (CCS). As a teacher and photo collector he exposed students to firsthand examples of famous photo works, originals he brought into the classroom. In 1964, Rauhauser opened Gallery Four, one of the first galleries in the US devoted exclusively to photography. He was also responsible in the early 1960s for bringing the attention of collecting and appreciating photography as an art-form to the Detroit Institute of Arts, one of the first national museums to display an interest in the medium.
* * * * *
Rauhauser has worked a lifetime in semi-isolation (a common situation in Detroit), but its one of the aspects he most enjoys. Detroit allowed him the freedom of anonymity, of walking the streets unfettered and for many years the city proved to be a trusted canvas and muse. He has not spent his time searching for exhibitions or promoting his work outside the city (even though there are few opportunities in Detroit for exhibiting or receiving critical feedback). He works along self-imposed rules, free to explore anywhere his imagination takes him.
When thinking of Rauhauser’s extended street project, I’m reminded of the quietly eccentric and stoic Eugene Atget (1857-1927), a photographer who witnessed and documented the working classes alongside the 19th century grandeur and transformation of Paris, lugging his heavy view camera across the city photographing beggars and prostitutes to regal palaces and elegant parks. Atget was unrecognized by the public but enthusiastically followed and collected by a small group of surrealist artists who eventually saved his work from certain destruction. Images taken by Atget now construct our view and how we think about Paris from the late 1890s and early 1900s. They are a transformational archive.
Bill Rauhauser 20th Century Photography in Detroit is not the glossy hallmark tour of the Motor City you might expect. The Book is a gritty but sincere survey across a sixty-year arc of Detroit images, from its industrial peak to its gradual decline. It’s raw do-it-yourself journalism of the common man, an urban spectacle and a private diary of the past, one photographer’s long term affair with photography, photographic history and Detroit, and is unlike anything published on the city before. Rauhauser is a stealthy, acute observer and flânuer of daily life, a masterful sage in our midst.
Just over 10 years ago, after Bill Rauhauser’s retirement from CCS, he began to seriously collect and organize the body of his photographic work. These reflections become a source of renewal for the photographer who has made a public offering in the form of books and donations of artwork. Major collections of his photographs now reside in the Detroit Institute of Arts and the Burton Library in Detroit. Soon after the publication of 20th Century Photography in Detroit, a man in the audience during Bill’s presentation at the Book Beat, purchased an extra copy for his niece who is a curator of photography at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. The Museum then showed an interest in purchasing works and were recently given a donation of original silver prints by Mr. Rauhauser for their permanent collection.
Bill Rauhauser 20th Century Photography in Detroit (2010) is the most comprehensive monograph of Rauhaser’s work to date. It also compliments several other books he produced and helped to publish over the past decade; Detroit Revisited (2000) with photographer’s John Thomas Baldwin and Gene Meadows, text by Mary Dejarlais, Bob-Lo Revisited (2003) with text by Martin Magid, Detroit: Auto Show Images of the 1970s (2007) and Beauty on Detroit Streets (2008) text by Mary Dejarlais. All should be known to anyone with an interest in photography, urban studies and the history of Detroit. Rauhauser and Dejarlais have recently formed a new joint publishing partnership named Cambourne Publishing and we eagerly look forward to future volumes.
Last Note: The famous Three Figures on a Bench photo shown at the beginning of this article was later appropriated and cast in bronze by another artist. It was a life-sized replica of the photo, except it showed the figures engaged in sex, but that’s a story for another time.
[i] Charles Baudelaire, On Photography, Salon of 1859 http://www.csus.edu/indiv/o/obriene/art109/readings/11%20baudelaire%20photography.htm
[ii] on the readymade: Introduction, ToutFait Towards a Definition at http://www.toutfait.com/unmaking_the_museum/introduction1.html
Tags: 20th Century Photography in Detroit, Bill Rauhauser, detroit art, Detroit Photography, photography book review
Posted in: Book Reviews, Detroit & Michigan, Photography | 2 Comments »
This has been a great year for outstanding children’s books. Book Beat owner and children’s book buyer Colleen Kammer has put together her recommended choices and picks for this year’s best. This is just a sampling of some of the best this year. Space does not allow us to list all the best books.. please stop in soon and browse our selection – many of our titles are signed by the authors and artists. Call ahead if you’d like to have a selection of books held for you – just let us know the child’s age and interests. Most of our new hardcover books are discounted 10% in store. Books are always the best gift choice! Thank you for shopping here!
Knockout Picture Books for reading aloud & for early readers:
A true story from the civil rights movement
When African-Americans in a poor community– inspired by a visit from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.– defied local authorities who were trying to stop them from registering to vote, many got around a long detour on mule-drawn wagons. Later, after Dr. King’s assassination, two mules from Gee’s Bend pulled the farm wagon bearing his casket through the streets of Atlanta. As Alex looks into the eyes of gentle Belle, he begins to understand a powerful time in history in a very personal way.
A true story inspires the moving tale of a mule that played a key role in the civil rights movement– and a young boy who sees history anew. Staff Favorite Ages 5 and up
A Russian/Jewish story for ages 7-11
The Cat in the Doll Shop by Yona Zeldis McDonough is a fictional book aimed at the younger crowd. This book is a sequel to The Doll Shop Downstairs.
Anna, whose family owns a doll shop, discovered a cat in the yard behind the store. What made it even more exciting is that the cat is about to have kittens….
Michigan Author & Illustrator & Winner of the Caldecott Award 2011
“…short and gentle enough to make a fine bedtime story for any child who is getting tired of Goodnight Moon.” – One Minute Reviews
“The artwork in this quiet tale of good deeds rewarded uses woodblock-printing techniques, soft flat colors, and occasional bits of red. Illustrations are positioned on the white space to move the tale along and underscore the bonds of friendship and loyalty. Whether read individually or shared, this gentle story will resonate with youngsters.” – School Library Journal, Staff Favorite: Ages 2 and up
A Detroit Inter-generational Civil Rights Story
“Loving view of gains across generations.” – Chicago Tribune, Ages 6-9
“With tenderness and pride, a grandfather shares the many skills of his hands with his grandson, who is a happy student. Those hands can tie knots, play the piano, perform card tricks and swing a baseball bat. The text is beautifully cadenced. “Well, I can still teach a young fellow / how to do a waterfall shuffle / —yes I can.” But then comes the mood-shattering remembrance. Those hands, not so very long ago, could not touch the dough in the Wonder Bread factory. Those hands did not stay still: They joined in protest with many other hands and voices and achieved equality. The little boy learns all his lessons well, with a tasty loaf of bread as his crowning achievement. The author has based her story on conversations with an African-American bakery union activist, according to her author’s note. Cooper’s signature artwork in muted shades of yellows and browns intensifies the warmth of the intergenerational bonding.” –Kirkus Review
A sublimely touching and funny story… a charmer for cat and dog lovers…
Feline friends Bud and Gabby are back! But this time—and much to Bud’s dismay—there’s a dog in the picture. The dog’s name is Cookie, and although fun-loving Gabby enjoys Cookie’s company, grouchy Bud does not. In fact, Bud gets so fed up with Cookie that he kicks her out of the house. “No dogs allowed!” he declares. But when a big black rain cloud approaches and Gabby looks worried, will Bud have a change of heart?
Cuddle up with your little penguin this winter!
“Dodd chooses a carefully designed spatial arrangement of the text and simple, visual language, repeating the refrain “and I am small” as the little one encounters all that largeness, creating empathy and understanding for the timid little penguin without being overly sweet or cloying.A lovely, reassuring bedtime story with a simple message of parental affection that littlest listeners and readers will take to heart.” -Kirkus
One of the BEST storytelling books we’ve come across this year! Staff Fave: Ages 4-8
Written by the acclaimed author of “The Phantom Tollbooth, ” this is a simply told story about a boy who moves to a new neighborhood and finds a unique way to make friends. With whimsical illustrations by award-winning illustrator G. Brian Karas, here is a read-aloud that’s great for storytime, and is sure to be a hit among fans of Juster, Karas, and anyone who is “the new kid on the block.”
Excuses, Excuses… Ages 4-8
“I Will Not Read This Book” is pitch perfect for anyone who has ever dealt with a reluctant child. Much of the reluctance comes from doing things on their own, and as we see in this book, once someone the boy loves has someone to read with him, the reluctance goes away. -crackingthecover.com
Cupcake colors animate Nana Quimby’s kitchen and her friendly urban neighborhood, while silly noises (“thump-thump-bang-bang-bonk”), repeating phrases, and improbable numbers (“She opened the door, and a million frogs hopped, jumped, bumped, and bounced across the kitchen floor”) keep this sweet tale moving smartly along. Most satisfying is the way that the children get to order Nana Quimby around, and the humility with which she obeys them. Ages 4–8.
Check out author Hassett’s Frog-filled Home!
YOU WERE BORN TO SHINE!
Aimed at smaller children, The Crown on Your Head makes statements and then backs them up with a simple explanation most children will understand. Every colorful page of the book portrays a child living life to the fullest. If you’re looking for a short picture book capable of expressing your love toward a child, this may be the book for you. Ages 4-8
Classic Chris Van Allsburg
“His first non-fiction work, Queen of the Falls (2011) is also one of Chris Van Allsburg’s best. Indeed, in some ways it marks a return to form….” – Nine Kinds of Pie
“Queen of the Falls is an amazing tale of the power of nature — and of the little old lady who might be considered the precursor of today’s reality-show stars. And for kids, it’s a vivid demonstration that you don’t have to be young to do something really, really dumb in pursuit of fame and fortune.” -WIRED
Signed, first edition copies of Chris Van Allsburg’s Queen of the Falls are still available! Staff Favorite: Ages 6 and up.
A Uniquely Retold Aesop Classic for All Ages
“No, this isn’t the story you think it is. Note that the top billing is reversed. Rand Burkert — who wonders whether Aesop was an apocryphal African storyteller — suggests that different Aesop’s fables show the lion sometimes as a tyrant but sometimes still teachable. Few artists can make the coats of both a lion and a mouse call out equally for a touch, but Nancy Ekholm Burkert’s careful pen-and-ink drawings and watercolor washes do just that and help us enjoy the newness.” – Chicago Tribune Ages 4-8
This may inspire children to write to someone they love, for Ages 3-7
Mouserella misses her grandmouse, so she writes her a letter. At first she can’t think of anything to say, but once she starts, the news begins to flow – she found a cat whisker at the zoo, she taught her ladybug to fetch, she made shadow puppets with Dadmouse during a blackout – and just like that, the events of the past few days come to vivid life in her letter, as does her love for Grandmouse.
Children will enjoy reading the story from top to bottom, like a real letter, and Mouserella’s funny drawings and lively adventures will spark their imaginations and just might inspire them to start a correspondence of their own.
Exceptional art, sensitive story reunite a boy and his bear. Ages 2-5
When Jonathan loses his best friend, a stuffed bear named Frederick, he sets sail on the Big Blue Boat to find him. Along the way he assembles a ragtag crew, including a mountain goat, a lonely circus elephant, and even a friendly whale. Adventure and intrigue (and pirates!) follow.
Twilight is a liminal moment, especially in a child’s day.
A star is how you know it’s almost night,” looking over the shoulder of a little boy, dog-walking, looking toward a star in the twilight sky. In a loose star-celebrating narrative, Mary Lyn Ray and Marla Frazee direct our gaze to the mind- and heart-lifting power of stars — both in the night sky and in the star shapes around us. The text recognizes the power of stars children are given at school, for instance, or meritorious stars they might make for themselves. Blue-sky-thinking, luminous children are set against a sky-blue palette. -Chicago Tribune Ages 2-6
Forceful & Iconic – a treasured keepsake for African-American families
In eighteenth-century West Africa, a boy raised by his blacksmith father and the Mother Elements–Wind, Fire, Water, and Earth–is captured and taken to America as a slave.
The willingness to turn the dark history of the past into literature takes not just talent but courage. McKissack has both. All ages. -Publisher’s Weekly Ages 6 and up
What you love will always be with you
Bestselling author, Alison McGhee reminds us all that nothing that has been cared for can ever disappear for good, for, “What you love will always be with you.” And, this tender story about the power of friendship will stay with readers long after they turn the last page. Ages 4 and up
Introducing Joe Louis to a New Generation a NY TIMES BEST ILLUSTRATED OF THE YEAR 2011!
On the eve of World War II, African American boxer Joe Louis fought German Max Schmeling in a bout that had more at stake than just the world heavyweight title; for much of America their fight came to represent America’s war with Germany. This elegant and powerful picture book biography centers around the historic fight in which Black and White America were able to put aside prejudice and come together to celebrate our nation’s ideals. Ages 6 and up.
This heartwarming story celebrates the special bond between grandparents and grandchildren, and is perfect for children who imagine their toys have secret adventures when no one’s watching. Ages 3 and up.
Patricia Polacco (www.patriciapolacco.com) was inspired to tell this story when a young visitor to one of her programs brought the much loved and tattered real-life Bun Bun Button up to her table – and gave it to her. Patricia is the beloved creator of over fifty picture books, and is also an energetic and enthusiastic public speaker – she visits over one hundred classrooms every year.
“This is an important book, best shared with children in a setting where discussion of both the rights and the illustrations is encouraged.” – PW
This beautiful collection, published 60 years on, celebrates each declaration with an illustration by an internationally-renowned artist or illustrator and is the perfect gift for children and adults alike.
Memoirs of a Goldfish (hardcover, signed )
Michigan Library Association Book Choice ages 3 and up
With his bowl to himself and his simple routine, Goldfish loves his life..until assorted intruders invade his personal space and bowl. Goldfish rethinks the pros and cons of a solitary life. And discover what he’s been missing.
Middle Readers & Young Adults
“A delicious, fun read, this book of pie and mystery is a treat whether read with alamode or alone. It’s an ideal book for classroom sharing as well, after all who doesn’t like pie?” – Waking Brain Cells, Appropriate for ages 9-12.
“PIE, set in Ipswitch during the summer of 1955, is a high-spirited, hoot of a whodunit for upper elementary and middle school readers. This tale is going to inspire a mess of pie baking in your neck of the woods…Those who are familiar with a certain famous and esteemed children’s literature award are going to get quite a belly laugh out of reading the history and details of the national pie making award that Polly wins an unprecedented thirteen times in a row. And as sure as life imitates art, I bet that there will be a passel of people dishing about PIE when the year-end lists are being compiled.” – Richie’s Picks
Vordak the Incomprehensible : Rule the School (hardcover, signed edition)
“Prepare to be conquered by the world’s funniest supervillian”
But this isn’t just an instruction manual for school-age world dominating wannabes. Grown-ups will get plenty of tips themselves, and the humor with which the book is written is great for all ages. I, particularly, took plenty of notes in my Take Over the World notebook. When I wasn’t laughing maniacally, that is. -WIRED.com Ages 9 and up.
“Imagination runs wild in this creative adventure.” – NY TIMES
The Hunger Games meets Harry Potter… [The Unwanteds] is sure to be a double hit.” ~ Kirkus Reviews
“Reading Lisa McMann’s THE UNWANTEDS was like discovering a brilliant, lost children’s classic—except it’s never going to be lost, because readers will never, ever forget the magic they’ll experience in its pages.” –James A. Owen, author and Illustrator of HERE, THERE BE DRAGONS
Hautman skillfully subverts clichés in this subtle, authentic, heart-tugging exploration of first love, but his sharp-eyed view of high-school social dynamics and the loving friction between parents and teens on the edge of independence is just as memorable. Grades 8-12. –Gillian Engberg, Booklist
A funny, clear-eyed view of the realities of teenage love from National Book Award winner Pete Hautman.
Jen and Wes do not “meet cute.” They do not fall in love at first sight. They do not swoon with scorching desire. They do not believe that they are instant soul mates destined to be together forever….
The Visionary Art of Chris Van Allsburg Inspires Best-selling Writers
“There are no clunkers here. Each contribution has its own telltale flavor of menace, leaving readers to discover their favorites. For those wishing to catch a good fright while simultaneously having their leg pulled, Jon Scieszka’s light-gauge horror story toys gingerly with the genre’s conventions, mingling chatter about dust bunnies with a veiled reference to cannibalism. Readers who would rather step headlong into “Twilight Zone” territory will enjoy M. T. Anderson’s creepy account of a boy who accidentally learns that reality is nothing more than a fabrication designed for his benefit, or Walter Dean Myers’s resonant fable about a book that has a different ending each time it is read.” –NY Times, Reading level: Middle grades -Ages 10-15
This delightful book from a fan- and bookseller-favorite kicks off a brand-new series sure to become a modern classic. Ages 8 and up.
“This enjoyable romp turns mischief into political action and a stone palace into a cunning character. These kids are clever, as is George’s lively adventure. May pique castle envy.” —Kirkus Reviews
“…intricately constructed plot, well-paced suspense, credibly rendered fantastical elements, thoughtfully drawn characters and authentically detailed settings, satisfies on all levels.” – NY Times, Ages 10-14 years.
A mysterious apothecary. A magic book. A missing scientist. An impossible plan. It’s 1952 and the Scott family has moved unexpectedly from Los Angeles to London. There, fourteen-year-old Janie gets a homesickness cure from the neighborhood apothecary and becomes fascinated by his defiant son, Benjamin Burrows—a boy struggling with his destiny, who isn’t afraid to stand up to authority and who dreams of becoming a spy.
Found photography drives ‘Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children’
“It’s a gothic tale with a teenage protagonist, which is why the publisher is marketing it as a young adult novel, but I read it and liked it, and I’m in my 30s. The book came about when Riggs started collecting found photography at flea markets and swap meets about three years ago. He kept coming across strange creepy pictures of kids and felt like he wanted to do something with them. ..” –LA Times
A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. And a strange collection of very curious photographs. It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. Staff favorite; Ages 13 and up.
“Better than The Hunger Games. . . . This book will blow you away.” – MTV Crush
“Recommended to fans of sci-fi post-apocalyptic fiction. Readers who are missing new installments of The Hunger Games might find a kindred book spirit here.” –Early Nerd Special
“Young’s powerful debut, first in the Dustlands series, is elevated above its now familiar postapocalyptic setting by an intriguing prose style and strong narrative voice that show a distinct Cormac McCarthy vibe. It’s a natural for Hunger Games fans.” _ PW
Blood Red Road has a searing pace, a poetically minimal writing style, violent action, and an epic love story. Moira Young is one of the most promising and startling new voices in teen fiction. Ages 13 and up.
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