A Donelan cartoon that appeared in the Advocate back in the eighties.
Of course back then it was called "retro" and the aesthetics pretty closely mirrored those of the original period, with maybe a slight emphasis on the camp element of it all. Well we've come a long way, baby. Classic modern (as it is now called) is everywhere, and not only has it been revived, it's been assimilated, reinterpreted, restyled and ripped off. It's now a standard decorating element in any sophisticated decor.
The Detroit area has a few stores that specialize in vintage modern, notably Vertu in Royal Oak (just a few doors down from Pronto, if you need a landmark) and Xavier's 20th on Michigan Avenue in Corktown (just a little ways down from Slows, if you need a landmark). These places are great, but if you want a bigger, world-class selection of premium, hard-to-find, exclusive modern design then you have to check out the Michigan Modernism Exposition, which is next weekend at the Southfield Civic Center. And there is no better way to do that than at the Friday Night Preview Party, which as it turns out is also a benefit for the Detroit Area Art Deco Society.
Oh the good times I've had at the charity preview! And by good times I actually mean having a few drinks and then undertaking some frenzied scouting and lusting and purchasing of awesome classic modern things. It's been a few years since I've attended, but I used to go every year with one of my best friends who, as it turns out, is also an inveterate shopper.
The thing is, you have to go to the Preview Party to see the best stuff. Judging from our purchasing alone, by Saturday morning some amazing pieces were already removed from the selling floor. One year she bought this unbelievable orange and yellow Higgins Glass three-pendant ceiling fixture that I still pray she leaves to me should, God forbid, anything happen to her. Another year she bought some uber-glam Coppola e Toppo costume jewelry that not only looked great on her, but served me very well one year for a drag Halloween. And I snagged my Bertoia slat bench there (for a song, really) that is coveted by more than one friend.
That's the much-loved Bertoia bench there, underneath the memories.But it's not just the buying that makes it great. Walking around, a glass of wine in hand, and discovering amazing things you've never seen before is the real treat. And sometimes finding out that cute little antelope sculpture you bought at Treasure Mart in Ann Arbor for $4.80 (discounted 20% because it had been there two months) was actually a Frederick Weinberg piece worth about $200 is exciting too.
Now I get invites to a lot of charity events and I've kind of gotten to the point where "it's for a good cause" really doesn't rope me in anymore. I need it to be fun, or interesting, or compelling in some way. So despite the fact that the charity preview is, in fact, for a good cause (read more about DAADS on their website), I can whole-heartedly recommend it as time and money well spent. It's Friday, April 18 from 7 to 10pm, $50 if you buy in advance, there are wine and hors d'oeuvres included, and jazzy live entertainment to boot.
Oh and did I forget to mention? It is always swarming with homosexualists.
So instead of just sitting around workin' your hole next Friday night, why don't you get out for a little once-a-year fabulous that could, ultimately, provide you with something to take home for a little year-round fabulous?