This is not an official blog of the City. It is the work of Mark Kapel who is solely responsible for content.

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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

City Considering Tree Ordinance

The City Event Calendar  which appears on the City website was updated somewhere between Monday morning  and Tuesday afternoon to include  an Ordinance Subcommittee Meeting for Tuesday evening. Despite the late notice on the eve of a winter storm, six  interested individuals, four committee members and a  representative from the city's consulting firm, McKenna Associates overwhelmed the small conference room in back of city hall. While seating could be found for all, when  Mayor Zambricki went to retrieve his cell phone from the pocket of an overcoat,  he found it had been moved to the top of the fridge. Bottom Line? When the Ordinance subcommittee meets the cognoscenti (including a former mayor) show up. They knows something is up. Like CHANGE. You don't think the ordinance committee meets to announce that it has, reviewed all the ordinances and they are just fine. Or do you  ? The Zambricki  administration has made  it's game plan quite clear in the last and only issue of the Hills Highlights published this year.

All administrations  like to monkey with the muni's,  or the muncipal codes also know as ordinances. They are called that because the language of the ordinance begins with the words "the City of Bloomfield Hills Ordains...". The Roman Catholic Church ordains Priests to further it's mission and the City of Bloomfield Hills City Commission does the same with Ordinances. To create or change an ordinance a majority of the three of the five votes on City Commission  is all that's required. Residents have no direct say in passage of ordinances. If you don't like an ordinance your  only recourse is to elect commissioners who will change it.

Tracking ordinances is easy. They are listed on the City website along with the the City Charter but in an out of the way place.To find them you can click on the underlined Tracking ordinance link which begins this paragraph or you may use the quick find drop down box on the city's web site. Select  Code of Ordinaces from the drop down menu and then from the Code of Ordinance selection to your right select Visit the Municode website .On your left in outline form is the City Charter, the key document on how the city is governed. The Charter can only be changed by a vote of the people. Beneath the Charter are all the city codes. To your right taking up two thirds of the page is a listing of all the ordinances that have been changed listed in chronological order since 2009.

Since its inception the Zambricki administration has passed six "Ordinance to Amend" existing ordinances. Most concern procedural or administration matters. One was a Master Plan inspired Gates and Fences  ordinance. By clicking on the ordinance listed  in this case Ordinance No. 391 you will get all the details including the margin of passage (5 to zero in this case.)

 Ordinances or revisions  start with the Ordinance Subcommittee task force, which consists of two members of the planning commission and  a member of city commission appointed by the Mayor and in this case the mayor himself. After they are drafted they go the planning commission where there is a public hearing. Then it goes to the City Commission for approval. 

The Tree  ordinance is still in sub committee. Many City's and Townships have Tree Ordinances. Bloomfield Township is one example. You may see theirs by clicking on Township Tree Ordinance
Proponents  of such ordinances  say such measures are needed  to preserve the natural features of  a community. Proponents of such measures in the City say their proposed ordinance is  necessary and a lot less restrictive than other communities.
Whose Trees are these ?

Opponents say they are my trees. Back off Big Government. By the seventh word, of what was going to be a lengthy(see above) explanation, my wife was dead set against  a  tree ordinance and wanted to know what she could  do or where she could  go to say so.

Regardless of whether you are in favor of such an ordinance or opposed, There are many things you can do !

Pay attention to meetings. By law they are posted and you have a right to attend. The Planning Commission will meet on December 13th at 4pm. That is where the ordinance will go when finalized. Check the meeting agenda which is available a day  or more before the meeting. You will find the agenda and the agenda package which will have all documents on the proposed ordinance (if it is an agenda item) on the City's website and in this blog. It is anticipated  (but not  absolutely  certain)  that the Tree ordinance proposal won't be ready for the Dec 13th. In which case it could possibly appear on the agenda for the January Planning Commission meeting. If that happens  look for sub committee meetings announcements where the suggested ordinance  will be fine tuned. It is entirely possible that that matter might drag on for months and not reach a commission until early spring. There will be a public hearing at the planning commission  meeting that decides the matter  but you may have opportunities to speak at other meetings. Feel free to write this publication, The Mayor, your City Commissioners, or members of the planning commission. In the slightly altered words of former Mayor Michael McCready, your input is valuable and valued.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Revisiting Fielding Nair One Month and Ten Days Later.

The immediate result of The Fielding Nair presentation for a unified high school may be one few anticipated ….that of a unified community.  

Some Bloomfield 20/20 members intent on recalling the entire school board openly hoped the presentation which came with a $65 million dollar price would spark outrage to further the recall campaign.

The Fielding Nair  presentation which lasted less than a half hour piqued interest  enough to prompt a hour a half question and answer discussion. One lady wanted to know about Lunch. " I know it sounds silly but we are from Ohio and there everything at the school seemed to revolve around lunch," she explained before asking if the plan had the capacity of feeding 1600 to 1800 students in one or more seating.  It did and less than a minute  Fielding Nair showed  her via the overhead a number of options for high volume or low volume meals.  Options were the key to the plan's acceptance. Options precluded outrage. No one in attendance  said we spent $800,000 for this ?

The Fielding Nair proposal quickly became known as Plan A. That Plan involved a hybrid high school of 36% renovation and 64% new construction. The post that details plan can be found at the bottom right hand corner of this blog under "Top Ten Most Popular Posts." Titled, Bloomfield Hills High School. First look, it is the fourth most popular  of 90 posts.
Many in the audience however gravitated to an uninvited guest, Plan B. That was the backup plan, should the funding vote fail. It was proposed in earlier meetings by superintendent Robert Glass.  The plan would maintain one high school, Bloomfield Hills High School, on two or more existing campuses. 

Bloomfield Township resident John Roach said,  “Yes Plan A  looks very charming. So have previous plans. But what are you going to do if you don’t have the money? We need to know what we get will if we don’t opt for what you want us to get.”

Even the School Board’s toughest and sometimes harshest critics Bloomfield 20/20 found Plan B as something less than outrageous.

Chris Fellin of Bloomfield 20/20  said, “This Plan  B appears to be either moving all the 9th and 10th graders to Lahser and all the 11th and 12th graders to Andover or moving 10th -12th graders to Andover and 9th graders to some other sight. …To me new is not necessary.”

Jenny Greenwell, the leader of B20/20 trashed the Fielding Nair proposal as an unreasonable expense, but curiously made no mention of Plan B.

 A week earlier when told of the Plan B she said, “I could almost live with that.”
Of the School Board she said, “Our Public school system should not be hi-jacked by Trustees who are not acting in the best interest of students and tax payers. “

Does that sound different than “re-call the entire school
board now?”

And now for a tongue in cheek (look closely and see the slight traces of a smile on School Board Trustee Mark Bank) Plan B2. It's been on You Tube as the Trailer Park Plan.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Baldwin Library Books Delivered to Your Computer and Automatically Returned on the Due Date. Library to Host Holiday Gift Picks: eReaders 12/5

If you are reading this,  the Birmingham Baldwin Library Public Library at 300 West Merrill  Street Birmingham Michigan (248)-647-1700 is a couple of mouse clicks away.

Go to the right hand side of the page. The second heading down, under official sites  is Baldwin Library. Under that heading are three bullet point Baldwin Library subheadings.
  1. The first is a link to Library's website.
  2. The second titled,  Books and Beyond  is a link to the library's quarterly magazine . Residents of the City of Bloomfield Hills will   receive a printed copy of the publication in the mail shortly. Readers of this blog or the library's  web site  get a sneak preview now. The magazine will stay on our site until the next issue is published in order to be a to be a continued source of reference should the paper edition get tossed, or lost.                                                                                                                                                  
  3. The last Baldwin bullet point is the link that lets library card holders use the library on line from home or elsewhere.

All the books (both electronic and audio) that are available for electronic check-out  appear here. Many offer samples. There are a number of categories such as audio fiction/non fiction,  recent returns, and buried treasure  that appear beneath the picture below which can be found on the right hand side of the page.

Directly above the picture are detailed instructions for down loading  free software that will allow you to download e-books  or audio books to your computer. There they can be read or played (if your computer has a sound card and speakers). The e-books can also be transferred to a Nook or other portable book reader. The audio books can be transferred to a portable Walkman like player. When the due date arrives the E-book or audio will automatically be removed from your computer or portable reader.You must remove the audio book from a portable device if you copied to one. 

The instructions for downloading the free software are fairly straight forward. This writer had  a little difficulty because I didn't follow the instructions exactly. If you have problems stop by the Baldwin library and a librarian will help you. In fact the the Baldwin library will sponsor the following free class ...

Introduction to eBooks and Audiobooks
Sat., Jan. 7 at 2 p.m. or Mon., Feb. 6 at 7 p.m.
Call 248-554-4650 to register.
Read and listen to books from your own home.  Learn the difference between eBooks and Audiobooks and learn about the Library’s down loadable media. Basic computer and Internet skills are required.

You select a book  by clicking on it. If it is available it will say "Add to cart.". If it is not, you may reserve a copy when it becomes available by clicking on, "Place on hold." To check out a book you have put in your cart you will need your library card number and the four letter Pin number you you chose when you received your card at the Baldwin Library.

Reading a book on your computer works but there are more convenient ways. If you are thinking about a portable book  reader as a gift for others or even yourself consider the following  free class next Monday at the Baldwin Library.

Holiday Gift Picks: eReaders
Mon., Dec. 5 at 7 p.m.
Call 248-554-4650 to register.
Just in time for the holidays. Stop by the Library to learn more about eReaders and to get hands on experience with a Nook, a Sony Reader, a Kindle and an iPad. A short presentation on the different kinds of eReaders and then participants will have the chance to try different kinds.

Monday, November 21, 2011

More From the 11/17 School Board Meeting.

Who is Joan Berndt ?
Taking the Oath of Office

Berndt, a lifelong Bloomfield Township resident, and an oboe player, earned a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Music from the University of Michigan.
She then taught music in Oakland County elementary and secondary schools In Birmingham, Rochester and Ferndale and at Oakland University.
She was also the conductor of the Troy Community Orchestra for ten years.
Her husband, William, of over 50 years, was a high school band director.  
By taking the oath of office , Joan was able 
to taker her seat on the dais that very evening.
Their son Ross is  graduate of Lahser High School.
In addition to her extensive and volunteer work on school board committees, board members cited Berndt’s background as an educator as a reason for making her their first choice.
Berndt, will serve until the election November of 2012 at which time she must, in order to retain her seat, be elected by the residents.
 If she is elected she will serve the remainder of Peterson’s term which ends in 2014.
In other school board developments, Brian Goby director of the school districts Physical Plant Services requested the school administration to proceed with seeking bids for a long list of improvements.
These projects to be completed in 2012-2013 are to be funded from the sinking fund.
 He also requested $325,000 “for emergency, unplanned, and strategic roof repair.”
That prompted Board Vice President, Ed Ford to ask, “How do we arrive at facilities in Bloomfield Hills that would not rival those in third world countries? “
Mr. Goby replied that the district had over million square feet of roof surface. He also said that many a of the upcoming projects involved mundane items periodically in need replacement items  like doors and window. When all project are completed, Goby estimates that  there would still be $7 million dollars in the sinking fund.

The School Board also honored district students who were selected as National Commended Scholars or National Merit Semi Finalists.
The pictured  students were the only Academic Honorees able to attend the Board meeting to receive their awards in person. Andover students to be recognized as National Commended Scholars: Alexander Chocron, Taha Suhrawardy, Elliot VanValkenburg, and Iris Wu. National Merit Semifinalists: Mark Andonian, ASllison Donnelly, Harrison Kenum, Zachary Prebay, Jennifer Sterbenz,Hiba Chaabi, Stacy Hanus, Yun Bin Park,Jonathan Schiff, Vic Sun, and Chelsea Zhou.
Lahser Student to be recognized as National Commended Scholars: Marlene Heberling.
The Lahser tennis team was also recognized for making the state finals. Participants include Rob Emmitt, Lorenzo Lorenzetti, Max Scher,Micheal Daniels, David Gwidzdala, AJ Smith, Trevor Wod, Max Hemmerich, Matthew Meehan, O'neal Koger, Rohan Sinha, and Brendan Tsai.
 Kyra Weeks, a student at Andover high school, and the district's only  merit semifinalist to be honored in in two categories, was also unable to attend.
 She also has a role in the school’s production of Beauty and the Beast  whose opening night coincided with that of the board meeting.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Joan Berndt appointed to Bloomfield Hills School Board at 11/17 Meeting

Thirteen residents inquired about the vacant position. Ten filled out a two page “essay question” application form and were invited to meet with the board. The interviews  were structured and each candidate was asked the same questions. "What would you do if..." or "How do you feel about..." were common queries directed at topics such as academics, government, and economics. Of the first ten, five were invited back for second interviews. The five finalists were Howard Barron Jr. (pictured above left) Joan Berndt (above right), David Fink (not pictured), John Roach (above center) and David Zeigler (not pictured).

For Joan Berndt and John Roach the application process and even the essay  questions on the application were very familiar. In the fall of  2010 Berndt and Roach applied for a school board vacancy  but the appointment went to current board member and Secretary Robert Herner.

Then the board members gave their evaluation of  on the five candidate and stated a favorite which constituted a vote. The order in which those votes were given by board members was Ford, von Oeyen, Bank,Herner, El-Sayed  and Day. That particular order bears no resemblance to seating  position, alphabet, seniority or any other discernible rule of order.For aesthetic reasons  relating to pictures on a page the board members evaluations presented here are also out of order.

Ed Ford. Board Vice President. In a particularly challenging time.Ed appreciates John Roach's regular participation at board meetings. Joan Berndt is one candidate who rises to the top. Ford says she knows the community because she "She lives it." She also represents a predominant part of the community, the Seniors

 Robert Herner. Board Secretary. "I was going through the process a year ago.There is no luxury of time.No time for a learning curve.Howard Barron know the financial and pushes for value based spending, John Roach personifies the community involved contrarian  Joan Berndt is the top choice in all skill sets.A life long educator.Passion for music and arts. Supporter of a comprehensive education

Jacqueline E-Sayed.Phd. Liked Howard Barron and David Fink  but John Roach and Joan Berndt were at the top of the list.Roach a process person vs Berndt an educator.Key that person selected "hits the ground running." Chose the educator. Joan "knows" students.

Mark Bank. John Roach and Joan Berndt  Involved forever. Truly involved. Their knowledge precludes learning curve, Mark said  was stuck and  would like to hear from other board members before making a decision.

Ingrid Day.  Board President. Gave a shout out to candidate Scott Ziegler a special needs teacher. Saluted  the finalists as Howard Barron and David Fink. John Roach  has been consistent. Big on community participation. Will provide board with  a healthy dose of reality.Joan Berndt is Ms. Core values. Wouldn't leave without explaining her core values. Both candidates very good. Defers her opinion to listen to others.
Cynthia von Oeyen. Board Treasurer. Joan Berndt has a passion for learning. Knows the challenges board faces from Lansing.

When a four to zero preference for Joan Berndt became apparent. Board members Bank and Day voted for  her to show unanimous  support for the new board member.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

November 3rd Bloomfield Hills School Board Meeting Updates

Herner Elected Secretary
At the recent Bloomfield Hills School Board meeting Trustee Robert Herner was elected Secretary assuming the duty held by the departed Trustee Kate Petterson. Herner a 2010 appointee to the board will run in for an elected term of office in 2012.

Andover 2012 Football Decision Imminent 
The fate of the Andover football will be decided by the end of December. District Athletic Director Mike Cowdrey decisions, told the board now “ decisions must be made now.” 
If the 2012 football program is to be cancelled  students who wish to transfer for athletic reasons must enrolled in their new school by the 1st day of the second semester which is early January. 
Current numbers as reported by Cowdrey are four returning seniors, and eight tenth graders for a total of 12.  An all-male school assembly produced 12 “commitments” from students not currently in the football program and twenty one “maybes.” Parents from the the Andover Touchdown Club hope to convert some of the maybe and their parents  into definites. 22 players are required to scrimmage at practices. The 2011 Team had 24. Thirty five players would be ideal.
The school board re-affirmed “It would do everything in its power to make sure Andover has a football team next fall.”

City of Bloomfield Hills Resident, 
 Assistant  Superintendent, Human Resources/Labor Relations.
Christen Barrnett, Assistant Superintendent presented the Board with a detailed summary of annual legal expenses for the district from 1977 to present day. In 2009-2010 the district spent a record               $337,458.62, This year’s number of $131,477.61 is substantially lower.  The lowest annual total during the time period considered was $43,806.65 in 1978-1979.
The above video We are going to be friends was presented by Laurie McCartney Assistant Superintendent  for Instruction as part of  Future Focus.  The video was created by White Stripes (Seven Nation Army) for the Deaf Professional Arts Network (D-Pan). It was filmed last summer at Hickory Grove and some Bloomfield Hills School students are in in it. The Bloomfield Hills School District  teaches seven spoken  languages (Latin, French, Spanish, German, Arabic, Japanese, and Chinese) and American Sign Language. Recently The Ohio State University added American Sign Language to it's curriculum and credits in ASL will count towards the university's language requirement.

School Buses
The Board also considered the recommendation of Brian Goby Director the District’s of Physical Plant Services to purchase one new special education school bus and four regular buses with a budget amount of $433,570.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Cranbrook 11 11 11 Events Today and Monday (eleventh and last day)

Sunday, November 20 (Public Hours: 10am – 9pm)

11:00 AM: No Object Is an Island Exhibition Tour (Tours meet at the Front Desk)
12 Noon: Family and Youth Tour of the No Object Is an Island Exhibition
This tour, led by members of the Cranbrook Schools Upper School Docent Club, will offer a fresh perspective on the exhibition for visitors of all ages, in particular students and younger viewers.
1:00 PM: Collections Wing Tour (Sign up for Tours at the Front Desk)
1:00 PM -3:00 PM: Family Workshop: Storytelling and Mythmaking with Author Judy Sima (Cranbrook Art Museum Lower Level)

2:00 PM: Saarinen House Tour*
Monday, November 21 (Public Hours: 10am – 9pm)
11:00 AM: No Object Is an Island Exhibition Tour (Tours meet at the Front Desk)
1:00 PM: Collections Wing Tour (Sign up for Tours at the Front Desk)
2:00 PM: Saarinen House Tour*

5:00 PM: Closing Dialogue: Cranbrook Academy of Art's Ten Artists-in-Residence. Moderated by Reed Kroloff and Gregory Wittkopp.

* Saarinen House Tour departs from the Front Desk and is limited to 16 people.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

City Commision Meets Tonight at 7:30pm Library Liaison, Roads, Surveys, Public Safety, and More

City Commission  Agenda Package
Planning Commission 4pm Agenda Package

 A lot revisiting of old topics.

Discussion  of a Library Liaison  (Agenda item 16 ) is of note and discussed in previous post.

Also of note of is return of Colbalt  Communications. Hardy, McClure, and  Salloum favor resident surveys mailed to all residents. Mayor Zambricki wants information on the survey methodology. So City Manager made the call to Colbalt.  The first three (all women and and three out of five is first for the city)  have it right.
The Mayor wants to pop the hood and monkey around. It's really very simple. There are 3800 people in this City and if City Commission asks they will tell what they think. They will also be honored to have the opportunity to do so which means good vibes at election time. Third party surveys by outsiders that cost money (which seems to be a premium these days ) are bad vibes. Hardy, McClure, and Salloum. Interesting. Maybe the gals are taking over.

The Cell Phone tower people unless there is a last minute agenda item addition are again a "No Show". What they insist is so heck fire important for the community is now dragging into  it's sixth month. The commissioners have seen pictures of proposed sights. The residents have seen nothing except what  you read here.

The Agenda package is a lengthy 143 pages long. No need to speed read it before the meeting however.  We hit the highlights of new stuff and the rest you can read  in review.

Baldwin Library Card Now Available. City Commission To Consider Position of Library Liaison at Tonight's Meeting.

The above card issued to the author at 10 am this morning is reported to be the fifth card issued to a City of Bloomfield Hills resident. To get your card you must go the library and present a Photo ID with your City of Bloomfield address. There is also a simple form to fill out. For your copyof that form  Click Here. It would be helpful to all considered if the five hundred  or so people for voted for the millage get their cards as soon as possible. It will be very embarrassing if  weeks  goes by and only 16 people have applied for cards.   Every day that you let go by without getting your card is one less day you will have to use it. Contract ends November 15th 2014.

Library Liaison
The position of Library Liaison is a very important one. It will be interesting to see how City Commission views this position. The election results from last Tuesday show the city is still divided on the Library issue.
Detractors  say the library won't be used  and we are wasting our money. Supporters say otherwise. The proof will be in the actual usage figures the Baldwin Library has promised to provide. We hope.

In a letter advocating support of the millage the following was said:

"Since Michigan’s Library Privacy  Acts prohibits  the disclosure of actual usage, Baldwin will provide our city  commission with quarterly statistical reports for oversight and review."

The Michigan Library's Privacy Act prohibits nothing of the sort. It prohibits disclosure of what books or videos individuals chose to check out.  It has been amended to allow disclosure to parents of overdue books by off springs. It says nothing about disclosing community usage information  in terms numbers of cards issued, number of visits, and number of items checked out. If the information is offered on a quarterly basis, we should ask for it on a monthly basis.

The Job of the Liaison is not to inform us of  used book sales or macrame classes but to insure we get the maximum value out of the money we are spending. That will require persistence on the part of liaison and is not a job for an unabashed library supporter.

If a commissioner is chosen  Micheal McCready  would be a good choice. While is a millage supporter he also negotiated the the library agreement and he takes a very level headed approach. Sarah McClure would be an OK  second choice. Pat Hardy is too Pro library and Connie Salloum is too new.

This not a task to delegate to City Manager Jay Cravens or any non resident city employee.

In terms of citizens finding the right balance between the forces of pro and con will be difficult. Appointing two might not be a bad idea. Larry Neal and Bob Toohey would be acceptable together. Neither would be acceptable without the other.

The ideal liaison would also be responsible for establishing services Baldwin promised during the campaign such as book drops, a satellite library at city hall,  home bound services, and school coordinated home work assignments with the Bloomfield Hills School District.

The liaison would be a combination ombudsman and people's advocate insuring the success and enjoyment of our three year $800,000 experience and perhaps insuring future continuations.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Live (more or less) from The Cranbrook Art Museum on Opening Night 11-11-11

They may not realize it but many City of Bloomfield Hills residents drive by the Cranbrook Art Museum  when  they drive down Lone Pine.  Look north at Martell and  it's the big thing with pillars There is a rather picturesque gate (one of many on the Cranbrook campus) and series of fountains rising like steps on a staircase to the big  thing with  pillars which is actually a porch. On the  west end of the porch is  "The Library" and  east end is "Art Museum." It  is one of the most photographed scenes in the greater Detroit metropolitan area. If you are giving out of town relatives a  house tour  Martell  runs right into it and makes for a spectacular conclusion.. There is also a convenient stop sign at the corner of Martell and Lone Pine, ideal for  Aunt Phyllis to get a  picture.

This writer is embarrassed to say, that until last Friday 11 11 11, I was one of the city residents who didn't realize what he was passing by. That evening however I was privileged to attend the museum's "public welcome"  Grand Re-opening. The  event which started at 9pm   was preceded by a "members only or anyone who wishes to become a member) reception. In reading newspapers accounts,which focused exclusively on the first show and comparing it  my own  recollections of the second,
I got the idea that either two separate museums had grand re-openings on the same night or that the Cranbrook Art Museum with a vast array of inventory was switching exhibits on the sly and on the run.
I saw no evidence of the latter. There were too many people for  that to happen. The former seems even more improbable. So I guess the  eye of the beholder saw or chose to see different things, which is my whole problem with art. I never see what I am supposed to see. Maybe in say the late sixties or seventies that became OK. I  don't know. The last time I was in an art museum was 1967 MoMA (Modern Museum of Art NY)  and the  Uffizi Galleries (Florence Italy in the year of the Flood) Then a brick fell on my head and when I came to art wise it was 11 11 11.
Approaching the Museum from the campus side, on 11 11 11 one encountered  search lights, the red lights of backed up traffic, and lines of people. The entire porch was one long line which moved quickly but wasn't diminishing.

I got in line at 9:25  and was admitted at 9:45. Looking backward I noticed the line was even longer than when I joined it. Inside I was amazed at the user friendly, and surprisingly (at least to me) festive atmosphere. Almost everyone brought a camera. Talking and even laughing were permitted. The bugaboo about boring paintings on a wall paintings  daring you to see what you were supposed to see was trumped by amazing sculptures that encouraged viewer interaction.

I must admit I was looking for anything by Thomas Hart Benton. I discovered  one of his paintings   on the cover of the Journal of American Medical  Association   magazine lying around a  doctor's office. I  could look at Boom Town (1928) or Hail Storm (1942) all day. There is no subtlety here. Benton is anything but. What grabs you is his vivid interpretations..You may not recognize  the artist  by name but  you have seen his paintings, and when you see them again you will remember.

Striking out on THB, I looked for the  draw of the art impervious, the Cash Bar. It was not well marked but I found it. There was a stair well to the left side of the Gnu's with faces. which was a most popular exhibit but one I didn't get. I don't know why.They say THB was a realists but his universe was curved as is ours. They say we don't see the curves  because our mind invents straight lines. In Benton's world the straight lines have been removed. Even his murals which beg for the conventional  (some city or state was paying for them) explode with scenes scattered across the canvas wily nily. Maybe that is where his pupil Jackson Pollack got the idea of  what to do with paint splatters.

At the top of the stairs a four or six some of young adults  had gathered chairs,and were having a party of their own. At least that was my impression. They may have been verbal mimes  from the drama school  in yet another interactive exhibit. The Cash Bar featured  premium liquor, wine, and micro brews at rather, considering the real estate, reasonable prices. Coffee and Rolled Gold Tiny Twist pretzels were complimentary. Surprisingly so were desserts served by the circulating wait staff on trays. I stopped at four (pastries) which included  lemon tart, chocolate cake, brownies, and a creme creation with chocolate flakes. One drink  was enough to turn the artistically impaired into an art expert however. I was told no, No one had seen any Thomas Hart Benton but there probably was some somewhere. Besides who was Thomas Hart Benton anyway ? I was happy to enlighten but drew a complete blank about  somebody named "Carl " who's last name was mystery. It seems he designed much of Cranbook and  some things at the University  of Michigan as well. It was not, everyone agreed ,"Lewis" or "Sagan." Ha Ha.

A word of caution for imbibers. Plan your visit to the Cash Bar carefully. The Cranbrook Art Museum, however fun and free spirited  is not  the French Quarter of New Orleans. Quite understandably beverages are restricted  a small area. which means if you sip and talk you will be staying perhaps longer than you intended.

Artist Studios

When I emerged, the verbal mime party at the top of the stairs was starting to break up and the museum was slowly emptying, but  I found what I was looking for and more .By  an abstract I saw a couple. She was explaining to him that if you looked at the painting long enough, things happened .My mother used to say a painting in a museum in San Francisco did the same thing. Look and keep on looking and the fog would dissipate and the harbor would appear.
When they left I tried it and it didn't work for me, I didn't think it would.. Then I went downstairs and found this .....
It is what happens when you take pictures with a dirty lens or in the rain. Only the artist was doing neither. It could also be rain drops on a windshield. The depth is startling and the more you look at the more you see . The painting definitely has mojo.  I do  better looking at this second hand in a photo than I did standing in front of it. Maybe I was standing in the wrong spot. Definitely a street scene on a rainy night. Maybe it was . beginners luck or an easy picture but I was in no position to argue. I got it and it was good.
 And finally a painting  where the painter seems to be aware of the presence of the great  Thomas Hart Benton. A mural ? Yes. Real ? More so than Benton.  Benton's critics used to accuse him of social realism. Benton observed people and depicted them in a unique way. In rural pictures usually  without comment. In the murals about city's the  comments were caricatures. Here there are no people. The curves have been replaced with straight line slashes. What was round in Benton is warped here. A city is sliding into the abyss. It is already begun and apparently will continue. Toppled street signs  can bee seen center bottom. In Benton's world and art, storms and natural disasters were common. There was no blame. Nature is Nature. Here there is blame and anger but it is silent and  not directed. In front of the painting  are series of plastic boxes containing  signs of  people who seem much more optimistic that what the artist depicts.  One sign says "anything helps." In the above nothing helps. People observe it and move on.

You remember the man named "Carl" whose last name nobody could remember ?  It's Carl Milles who among other things designed the fountain below which everyone saw on the way in and out.

In Evelyn Waugh's novel Brideshead Revisited, 
Cordelia asks Charles, "Modern Art is all Bosh isn't it ?"
"Great Bosh." Charles replies.
"Oh I'm so glad", Cordelia says, "I had an argument with one of our nuns and she said we shouldn't try and criticize what we didn't understand. Now I shall tell her I have it straight from a real artist and snubs to her."

My wife asked me if all the stuff at the Cranbrook Art Museum was modern. I said  it was. There might have been some, Cezanne. I didn't see any but I'm  sure they have  some  somewhere. At one time Cezanne was modern and for awhile Thomas Hart Benton was his pupil. In the 1930's Benton was modern enough to make the cover of Time.

All bosh but  great bosh. Amusing, entertaining, and thought  provoking in an interesting and unpredictable sort of way. For $45 a year you can go every day if you desire and get other benefits as well. From many parts of the City you can walk. Not many communities have an art museum as renown as Cranbrook. and as one resident solemnly put it, "For two and a half years, I've waited of this moment."

Friday, November 11, 2011

After a 22 Million Dollar, 2 Year Make Over, Cranbrook Art Museum Re-opens Tonight.

Photos and Graphics Courtesy of Cranbrook.
 Today is 11 11 11. If you are an  ArtMember of the Cranbrook Art Museum today is your lucky day. You may attend the the members only, Opening  Reception at 7pm free of charge. Details of  tonight's tours, lectures,and performance are available below. Just remember 7pm, Tonight, the eleventh day, of 11th  month, of the eleventh year.

If you are not a member but wish to become an ArtMember of the Cranbrook Art Museum today is also your lucky day. You may attend the members only opening reception by purchasing a membership at the door. The price is $45 for individuals and $65 for family memberships. Membership benefits are quite extensive and include a year of free admission to the Cranbrook Art Museum, reciprocal befits with other area art museums and more.

Photos and Graphics Courtesy of Cranbrook.
 For a complete list of benefits  and levels of giving go the museum's web site .
If you are  proud member of the General Public the luck of 11 11 11 rubs off on you too. You may purchase an $11 pass good for admission to all eleven days of the 11 11 11 event (during which the museum will be open for 11 hours per day).  That works out to only $1 a day. Try and beat that !
If the the above possibilities boggle the mind and you can't decide, general admission for tonight only is  $8 for Adults, $6 for Seniors  and $4 for Students and Artists. Don't know the price for artists whose talents have yet to be discovered . The better part of valor for such yet to be recognized talent would be to pay by age  or buy the $11 deal which is better per diem than internationally renowned artists can obtain (unless of course they buy the $11 eleven day pass.)

Photos and Graphics Courtesy of Cranbrook.
The point of all the price options is to show how easy and affordable it is to get involved with one of  the great attractions of our city. Visiting Cranbrook and it's museums is main reason many non residents and visitors to the Greater Detroit area come to the City of Bloomfield Hills.

As Reed Kroloff, director of Cranbrook Academy of Art  and the Art Muesuem, told the Eccentric Newspaper, "People may not realize it but Cranbrook Art And Design is everywhere. Whether you are sitting in an Eames office chair or riding in a new subway car in New York City, you are experiencing design by a Cranbrook Graduates." 

Friday, November 11
7:00 – 9:00 PM: ArtMember’s Opening Reception

Memberships, including the 11-Day, $11 membership, will be available at the Front Desk. Cash Bar in the New Studios Building Lobby.
7:00 – 9:00 PM: Collections Wing Tours (Tours depart from the Archives Reading Room in the Lower Level)
7:30 PM & 8:30 PM: Bob Turek Presents, "A Cautionary Tale - A Musical in Two Acts"
Act I - "Morning Dirge" (7:30 PM)
Act II - "Cautionary Tale" (8:30 PM)
Public Hours: (9pm – 12midnight)
9:00 – Midnight: Public Opening Reception
Admission: $8 Adults; $6 Senior Citizens; $4 Students and Artists
Cash Bar in the New Studios Building Lobby

9:00 PM –Midnight:
EMERGENCE presents “A Night of Music: Night One"
Featuring: Invincible, The Rarities, and The Cupcake Collective. For a full description, click here.
Saturday, November 12 (Public Hours: 10am -11pm)

11:00 AM: No Object Is an Island Exhibition Tour (Tours meet at the Front Desk)
1:00 PM: Collections Wing Tour (Sign up for Tours at the Front Desk)
1:00 –2:30 PM: Cranbrook Academy of Art Alumni Panel - Moderated by Academy Director Reed Kroloff
In Dialogue, On Craft: Artist Nick Cave (Fiber, 1989) and Museum Director and Curator Gregory Wittkopp
In Dialogue, On Site: Artist Samantha Fields (Painting, 1998) and Artist Beverly Fishman
In Dialogue, On Process: Artist Shannon Goff (Ceramics, 2003) and Curator Sarah Margolis-Pineo
In Dialogue, On Fiction: Artist Kate Clark (Sculpture, 2001) Writer Christopher K. Ho

2:00 PM: Saarinen House Tour*
4:00 PM: Collections Wing Tour (Sign up for Tours at the Front Desk)
7:00 PM: In Dialogue: Artist Anthony Burrill and the Musicians of Acid Washed - Moderated by Designer Elliott Earls (deSalle Auditorium)
8:00—10:00 PM: Concert: Live from Berlin and Paris - Acid Washed (deSalle Auditorium, Cash Bar in Hartmann Gallery)
Sunday, November 13 (Public Hours: 10am – 9pm) 11:00 AM: No Object Is an Island Exhibition Tour (Tours meet at the Front Desk)
12 Noon: Family and Youth Tour of the No Object Is an Island Exhibition
This tour, led by members of the Cranbrook Schools Upper School Docent Club, will offer a fresh perspective on the exhibition for visitors of all ages, in particular students and younger viewers.
1:00 PM: Collections Wing Tour (Sign up for Tours at the Front Desk)
1:00 PM -3:00 PM: Family Day - “Pressed and Bound” Bookbinding Workshop with Terry Conrad (Cranbrook Art Museum Lower Level)
Families are invited to investigate the tricks and techniques of bookmaking—from the printing press to binding. Using his alternative press on display in No Object Is an Island, printmaker and Cranbrook Academy of Art alumnus Terry Conrad will demonstrate the printmaking process, illuminating how words and images go from ideas on a page to reproductions produced in multiple. Conrad will also facilitate a creative project for younger museum visitors, helping them to design, create, and decorate a journal of their very own. This workshop is open to families and school-aged youth.
2:00 PM: Saarinen House Tour*
4:00 PM: A Detroit Symphony Orchestra String Quartet: Hai-Xin Wu, violin I; Laurie Landers Goldman, violin II; Glenn Mellow, viola; Shanda Lowery-Sachs, viola; and Paul Wingert, cello.