Tuesday, May 24, 2016


Farwell Building - digital overpaint - 2016 (M. Van Buhler)

Last year, late in the fall - a friend and I were driving in the dark of night through Detroit's Eastern Market.  The GPS failed us somewhat and we ended up in a maze of warehouses on a poorly lit street.  What my headlights did catch as we pulled along was truly jaw dropping sights of graffiti spreading high on the walls that closed in on the street.  These works were hard to see in the absence of street lighting, and because we had a destination, I did not stop to get a better feel for the individual work(s) - but in it's whole, it was a stunning image.

It goes without saying that people have different views about the merits of graffiti and I don't intend to get into a pro/con debate for it's existence - other than obviously the context of the work and the placement can be born from a whole host of emotions, expectations - etc.  In other words, historically graffiti has been seen as scary as a disruption to the status quo - which is in part exactly why it exists. And though I've always admired talent and expression in most any form -- that night, it occurred to me that graffiti could also be born out of love - or just the sheer existence of it, the mark of human interaction - could be loved.

In a way less gritty manner, (in the comfort of the Laz-y-boy late at night holding a lighted pad), here is a digital painting - with a focus on the play of colors that I love, the structure of the underlying building that I find appealing. This is an abandoned building in downtown Detroit called the Farwell building. It at one time was artist lofts of the Tribes of Cass Corridor. (My mother was a member of the Willis Tribe - but later than the group in the Farwell building .)

The building has been abandoned since the mid '80s, but apparently it is due for a revitalization/renaissance soon.

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