Detroit’s Definitive Color Photography Book – Talking Shops!

Talking Shops: Detroit Commercial Folk Art is now available in paperback from Amazon and Wayne State University Press.  

Photographer David Clements captures a gloriously funky array of Detroit’s urban folk art”…Detroit Free Press. 

I have selected 10 images from the 135 photo publication for review. All photos are ephemera. Painted to attract business, warn off criminals, sell beauty, food and entertainment. 

I was photographing Ethel’s Cocktail Lounge on Mack Avenue. It was a bitter, below zero crisp blue January afternoon. Across the street still sits the Elbow Lounge. While shooting, I hear from Elbow’s doorway: “Hey, there is somebody out there by your Car”. Soon a man comes from the bar to check on me and his Cadillac.  I explain that the image I am shooting will not be there much longer. Ethel’s is closed. The Lounge was a stopping point for artists moving up the ladder or down the ladder of fame. He agreed and casually tells me his long history of seeing great talent performing here. Junior Walker and the All Stars, Sam Cooke… a long list of artists. He was satisfied that I was not hurting his prized Cadillac, returned to the stoop of the Elbow Lounge, and called out: “He’s all right”.

I have always loved the copy:
“If your hair isn’t becoming to you, you should be coming to me.”

 I love the python length, three jointed index finger of Lady Lisa. No wonder she had a creative touch.

Images of mean dogs are still painted on walls. In dim light they are a deterrent to crime.

 I was never sure which appendage was used.

Paris N Soul Food. W. 8 Mile Detroit. The image was so neatly painted on the alley wall.

Straight 2 U BBQ seemed to have promise. Good graphics, clean store, and drive-thru, the money maker after dark. Gone.

“We Tote The Note” is a car dealer phase. Buyer finances vehicle with the dealer. Weekly direct payments were always preferred.

I only met Yetta Boo once. At the store. Her marketing idea, based on her physique, was to wash cars physically, especially the windshield. Seasonal work.

Talking Shops: Detroit Commercial Folk Art
Author:  David Clements
Available from Amazon  and Wayne State University Press

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