Blog

Detroit: SEE-FOOD Capital of America

Small restaurants that once served a dense residential population have nearly disappeared in Detroit.  To attract attention to their wares, these small businesses had to communicate quickly with people passing by in automobiles and on foot, and chose to do so with images of food painted on walls. Here, the simple message is unmistakable and […]

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Hair Today-Gone Tomorrow in Detroit

Hair care in Detroit is a huge cash business. Beauty salons, predominantly female owned, and male-owned barbershops, take on unwanted retail space in nearly-impossible locations along major streets. The goal is to establish an independent money flow in the city’s often-difficult financial environment, and involves spending long hours on your feet. Building a regular client […]

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MultiColor Motown – Focus on Green

A subtle green-trimmed sign in front of the Paris Hotel on St. Aubin Street in Detroit reads,“Your Home Away From Home Since 1952”  Now abandoned, the hotel sits forlorn in a desolate location. Green is not the most popular  architectural color in Detroit, but Glass House Hand Car Wash survives, and makes a brilliant statement […]

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Finding Curtis Lewis

I was driving North on Schaefer Avenue, south of Fenkell Street, in Detroit. I noticed on the right a bold commercial wall, a painted advertisement — “I Make Stars” — for Bill Cason Photography. I stopped to admire it. Upon closer investigation, I noticed the signature of Curtis Lewis at the lower left of the […]

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Motown A Go Go 2019

The 2019 Motown A Go Go at Bert’s Warehouse Stage in the Eastern Market area of Detroit attracted over 300 dedicated music lovers from Great Britain’s Northern Soul Movement, in addition to a substantial Metro Detroit audience. The event spans four nights of live performances by 23 or so musical artists/acts that recorded in Detroit […]

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MultiColor Motown – Focus on Blue

Blue is not the most common color in Detroit architecture – it competes with the sky and is hard to see at night – but it’s a constant in the landscape.  Spray Services is a current business that supplies paint equipment for auto repair. Sam’s Auto Parts’ sign still stands on 8 Mile, and OK […]

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Billy Davis – Mr. Music History

I walked into the cavernous Bert’s Warehouse Stage in Detroit’s Eastern Market for a photo shoot at the 2018 Detroit A Go Go Friday night show. A trim guitarist with red shoes was tearing up the stage, bending strings, backed by the house band that featured a 10-year-old harmonica player, Mighty Michael Mendelson. I would […]

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Ronnie McNeir – 20 year veteran of The Four Tops

I first saw Ronnie McNeir – a 20-year veteran of The Four Tops – perform solo at the Detroit A Go Go 2017. He took the stage in a blue graduation cap and gown. I had no idea what he was doing. Turns out Ronnie was performing his first 45 song, Sitting in My Class, […]

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MultiColor Motown – Focus on Red

Detroit’s transportation arteries are bright red. Streetscape architecture needs a gimmick to attract the fleeting attention of passing motorists.  In this instalment of Multicolor Motown I’ve gathered examples of the use of red in advertising and landscape. What few examples of red neon signage still found in Detroit stand boldly against the elements. Kowalski “Kowality” […]

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Multicolor Motown – Focus on Yellow

The progression of Detroit’s commercial archeology is linear. One-story buildings have replaced others demolished to accommodate widened transportation routes now striped in yellow. These wide corridors service manufacturing, retail, and Downtown Detroit. To attract the attention of passing motorists, retail buildings are painted in yellow striping paint. It is durable and hard to miss. The […]

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