This retrospective exhibition of the work of textile and interior designer Ruth Adler Schnee (b. 1923), still in active practice at age 96, affirms her pivotal role in the development of the modern interior. The exhibition presents at its core the body of textile patterns that Adler Schnee has created over the course of her prolific seven-decade career, including the screen-printed fabrics that helped define mid-century American modernism as well as their later translation into woven textiles. These designs become the filament that weaves throughout Adler Schnee’s professional networks, crossing between her and her husband’s retail entrepreneurship and her interior design commissions and architectural collaborations.
Born to a German Jewish family in Frankfurt, Germany, her mother’s Bauhaus training and creative circle of friends developed Adler Schnee’s interest in vibrant use of colors, rich textures, modern form, and the thoughtful study of architectural space from an early age. Following the Nazis’ Kristallnacht pogrom of 1938, the Adler family fled to the United States and settled in Detroit. First studying fashion design at Cass Technical High School and interior architecture at the Rhode Island School of Design, Adler Schnee received an MFA in Design from Cranbrook Academy of Art in 1946, becoming one of the first women to receive this degree. She went on to found a design consulting firm and modern design shop in Detroit with her husband Edward Schnee, launching a business which brought good design into important modern homes for over half a century.
Vintage textiles, archival drawings, and photography, and assorted ephemera, as well as her ongoing textile collaborations with companies such as Anzea Textiles and KnollTextiles, come together in an architectonic display to illuminate the underrepresented narrative of how women shaped the direction and reception of modernism in postwar America. The exhibition reveals her rigorous, iterative design processes and presents the more ephemeral residential and commercial interior design projects alongside the material through-line of her textiles.
An extensive 200-page publication accompanies the exhibition and situates Adler Schnee’s practice within her professional network of peers and collaborators—such as Alexander Girard, Jack Lenor Larsen, Angelo Testa, Albert Kahn, Eero Saarinen, and Minoru Yamasaki—while documenting her textile oeuvre and her fascinating life’s journey.
This exhibition is supported by the Graham Foundation for the Advanced Study in the Fine Arts.
Ruth Adler Schnee is organized by Cranbrook Art Museum and curated by Ian Gabriel Wilson, the Jeanne and Ralph Graham Collections Fellow. The exhibition is made possible with support from the Clannad Foundation and the Maxine and Stuart Frankel Foundation.
August 29, 1981
Cranbrook in 1946 was an enchanted place! A liberal European background and Beaux Arts training at the Rhode Island School of Design during wartime, hardly prepared me for it.
Harry Bertoia, Charles Eames, Ray Kaiser (later Eames), Florence Schust (later Knoll), and Harry Weese were no longer the all-star cast. But their spirit of experimental design, so enthusiastically fostered and promoted by the Saarinens, was still all-pervasive.
Ideas of using organic forms in design, coupled with new and untried materials in ingenious and revolutionary methods, were difficult to absorb. It took two months of the precious nine months of my fellowship period to make the personal adjustment. I deplored this loss of time. But once I realized that the “world was my oyster”: that there were no limitations except those posed by myself, I produced.
It was the most exhilarating experience to watch my work unfold from day to day.
Evenings at Saarinen House are long remembered. Discussion on design and creative processes were always the topic. Loja would be ensconced on a hard bench, cushioned by only one of her tapestries draped from the ceiling, across the bench and to the floor. Eliel sat on a stiff ceremonial chair of his own design. He was exceedingly comfortable there, so he always said. We students lounged at their feet.
There, I learned design discipline. I learned the philosophy which governs my entire life. In Eliel’s words, “Art and Design cannot be taught; it must be learned”.
Little did I realize then that the training and thoughts first formed at Cranbrook would make my life so very difficult, but so rewarding. They set standards by which I judge my work. And, to the frequent dismay of my husband and children, they often become the system of rules governing conduct. But they also serve to develop success.
I am a diligent designer. I love my craft and work hard at it, often late into the night. I am meticulous, making hundreds of sketches. I am proud of my design process. Saarinen and Cranbrook taught me so.
As I look back on thirty-five years of great pleasure and great agony in my chosen profession, I know that Saarinen and Cranbrook opened the doors to my lonely world. But it is a world so full of dynamism and exploded color that I hope to spend the rest of my life giving new direction to
Established concepts. Saarinen and Cranbrook taught me so.
Material Detroit is a free performance and public art series that complements the exhibition and publication, Landlord Colors: On Art, Economy, and Materiality. Sited in Detroit and created in partnership with ARTS.BLACK and Sidewalk Detroit, it is the activation of ideas that leap off the pedestal or page and become voices, movements, and experiences.
A fleet of abandoned boats suspended in a warehouse along the Detroit Riverfront; an apartment in the Eastern Market neighborhood reconceived as a sensory-rich environment of black ceramics, charred wood, and molten glass; a hoodie in the North End with twenty-five-foot-long arms attached to flagpoles raised and lowered at dawn and dusk each day; an epic performance of Detroit-area choirs taking form as an expanded infinity sign. This summer, these and many other free public installations and performances will punctuate Material Detroit, taking the art of Landlord Colors beyond the museum and into the city.
ONGOING INSTALLATIONS (June 22-October 6, 2019):
SCOTT HOCKING, BONE BLACK INSTALLATION
1370 Guoin St, Detroit
(entrance on Guoin between Chene and Joseph Campau)
Saturdays and Sundays, June 22–October 6, 1–6pm
Scott Hocking’s monumental installation near Atwater Beach on the Detroit Riverfront utilizes a collection of the metaphorical bones of Detroit’s once-prosperous economy—the many boats abandoned throughout the city. Theatrically presented as a suspended fleet, Hocking applies “Bone Black” paint to the boats, an industrial pigment from animal bones that has been produced in Detroit since the 19th century.
ANDERS RUHWALD, UNIT 1: 3583 DUBOIS
Unit 1, 3583 Dubois St, Detroit
Thursdays 6–8pm and Saturdays 12–4pm June 22–October 5
(limited capacity, see unit1.org for reservations)
Anders Ruhwald’s immersive new ongoing installation, Unit 1: 3583 Dubois occupies an entire apartment in Detroit’s Eastern Market neighborhood. Ruhwald investigates themes of transformation and memory in this installation of black ceramic, charred wood, molten glass, and perceptual environments.
OLAYAMI DABLS, IRON TEACHING ROCKS HOW TO RUST
ELIZABETH YOUNGBLOOD, MAT|TER, N., V.
Dabls’ MBAD African Bead Museum 6559 Grand River Ave, Detroit
Outdoor Installation: Daily, 12–7pm Monday–Saturday Gallery Space: Sundays, 1–5pm
Iron Teaching Rocks How To Rust is a spectacular city-block-sized installation by Olayami Dabls that has been a cultural nexus in Detroit since the late 1990s. Detroit artist Elizabeth Youngblood’s exhibition serves as a momentary companion to this creative pillar. The interdisciplinary and perpetually curious Detroit-based artist Elizabeth Youngblood takes up matter in this exhibition in an effort to make sense of things; to identify and discern importance and order. For mat|ter, n., v., Youngblood continues her practice of employing repetition and deference toward a range of mediums—fiber, mylar, graphite, paper and ceramic—to attend to both the matter(ing) of material and the concerns she has regarding organic environments and our relationships to them.
PERFORMANCES / EVENTS:
SUSANA PILAR, ALMA (SOUL)
8301 Woodward Ave, Detroit
June 22, 3pm
Havana-based Afro-Cuban artist Susana Pilar will draw upon a true story from Detroit’s 1967 Rebellion. Through a collaboration with local musicians, she will create a performance to honor the music of The Dramatics, whose founding member Cleveland Larry Reed survived the 1967 police siege on The Algiers Motel.
BILLY MARK, WIND
858 Blaine St, Detroit
Daily from June 22–July 28 between dawn and dusk
Invested in ritual and monastic practices, Billy Mark creates a site-specific installation in his neighborhood of Detroit’s North End. A handmade hoodie with twenty-five-foot arms is attached to three flag poles. Each morning for forty days, Mark raises the hands of the sweatshirt at dawn and lowers them at dusk. Visitors are invited to put themselves inside the garment.
STERLING TOLES, RESURGET CINERBUS
Gordon Park (Rosa Parks Blvd at Clairmount)
July 24, 2019, 6-9pm
Sterling Toles will enact a performance of a sound work that sources news coverage from the Detroit’s 1967 Rebellion in tandem with Sterling’s distinct instrumental music and narration of his father’s personal history. The project is sited in Gordon Park, the historic location where the uprising began and will be accompanied by a series of discussions led by curator Taylor Renee Aldridge.
FRINGE SOCIETY XYLEM X INTERACTIVE INSTALLATION
Art Alley, The Artist Village 17336 Lahser Rd, Detroit
Presented with Sidewalk Festival, August 1–3
The Fringe Society (Ash Arder & Levon Kafafian) present Xylem X, an immersive installation and portal into the topographic layers of life on a faraway, futuristic planet. How are peace and power negotiated in a society run entirely by plants? Utilizing a colorful alley as its platform, the work will examine fiber, materiality, and the urban built environment as it relates to identity, economic security, and the pursuit of Utopia.
BIG RED WALL DANCE COMPANY
BROWN ON GREEN
Eliza Howell Park
23751 Fenkell Ave, Detroit
September 7, 2019, 6–8pm
Big Red Wall Dance Company, led by choreographer Erika Stowall, will present an original place-based movement work in Detroit’s 250-acre Eliza Howell Park, exploring the Black female body’s relationship to Detroit greenspace and issues of security and safety in public space. The work will feature live music accompaniment and selections from guest choreographers based in Detroit. This event is presented by Sidewalk Detroit as part of the SideTrails Artist Residency Program.
JENNIFER HARGE, FLY | DROWN
September 13 – October 19, 2019
Detroit Artists Market
4719 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI 48201
Jennifer Harge’s Fly | Drown at the Detroit Artists Market recreates African-American interior domestic space through vernacular objects. The installation is accompanied by a series of performances and salon-style talks that will serve as platforms for Black womxn to explore their sovereignty. For schedule and to RSVP, click here.
MICHELANGELO PISTOLETTO, THIRD PARADISE
September 27, 2019, 7pm
The Fisher Building
3011 W Grand Blvd, Detroit, MI 48202
Legendary artist Michelangelo Pistoletto explores the cyclical nature of life through an ongoing manifesto-driven series titled Il Terzo Paradiso (The Third Paradise). The work takes the form of a configured symbol of the mathematical infinity sign into three connected circles that represent nature and artifice being mediated by a generative new humanity. In Detroit, The Third Paradise will be created through an epic performance of Detroit area choir members orchestrated in the shape of the symbol.
LANDLORD COLORS: ON MATERIALITY
September 28, 2019, 1-7pm
Cranbrook Art Museum
The Landlord Colors symposium undertakes the three central thematic components of the exhibition—art, economy, and materiality. Senior Curator Laura Mott and co-curators of Material Detroit will be joined in a series of panels and presentations by visiting artists, designers, and thinkers addressing four prompts: History as Material; Body as Material; City as Material; and Material as Material. The symposium includes a cash bar reception following the talks.
Participants include: Taylor Renee Aldridge, Abel González Fernández, Jennifer Harge, Matthew Angelo Harrison, Scott Hocking, José Manuel Mesías, Laura Mott, Ryan Myers-Johnson, Zoë Paul, Michael Stone-Richards, Julia Tulke, Anna Walker, among others.
The project is generously supported by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the Maxine and Stuart Frankel Foundation, The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, The National Endowment for the Arts, and donors to the Detroit Initiatives Fund for Cranbrook.
For the Record: Artists on Vinyl mines a unique vein of creative expression, the design of the record album cover and the use of phonographic recordings by artists as a vehicle for creative expression. Measuring just twelve by twelve inches, the album became a miniature canvas for some of the twentieth century’s most important artists. This exhibition features more than 50 designs, many of which are paired with artworks, drawn from our permanent collection, by the same artist. For the Record also considers the use of audio recordings by artists interested in the properties and potential of sound and the distribution mechanism of the album, a mainstay of popular culture, both then and now. Drawn extensively from the collection of Frank M. Edwards, featured artists include: Banksy, Harry Bertoia, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Salvador Dalí, Richard Diebenkorn, Keith Haring, Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Motherwell, Claes Oldenburg, Yoko Ono, Robert Rauschenberg, Bridget Riley, Frank Stella, Andy Warhol, among many others.
For the Record: Artists on Vinyl is organized by Cranbrook Art Museum and curated by Ian Gabriel Wilson, the Jeanne and Ralph Graham Collections Fellow, with the assistance of Frank M. Edwards.
In the Vanguard: Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, 1950-1969 is the first museum exhibition to explore the impact of this important artistic community located in rural Maine and its impact on twentieth-century art. Featuring approximately 90 works, including textiles, ceramics, glass, metalwork, paintings, and prints, as well as archival materials, In the Vanguard features works by artists such as Anni Albers, Dale Chihuly, Robert Ebendorf, M.C. Richards, and Cranbrook alumni Olga de Amaral, Jack Lenor Larsen, Harvey Littleton, and Toshiko Takaezu, among others. Formed by a group of craft artists in 1950 with support from philanthropist Mary Beasom Bishop of Flint, Michigan, and led by artists Francis and Priscilla Merritt, who had spent time at Cranbrook, Haystack shares many affinities and connections with Cranbrook Academy of Art. The exhibition foregrounds the innovative and collaborative nature of the Haystack experience and its role in national debates about the boundaries between art, craft, and design. The accompanying 192-page publication provides new insights and revises the narrative about midcentury art and craft in America.
In the Vanguard: Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, 1950-1969 is curated by Rachael Arauz and Diana Greenwold and is organized by the Portland Museum of Art, Maine. The project was supported by a generous grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and a Craft Research Fund Grant from the Center for Craft. The Bloomfield Hills presentation is made possible, in part, with the support of the Maxine and Stuart Frankel Foundation and the Museum Committee and Art Members of Cranbrook Art Museum.
The Beach Detroit is an interactive public art installation in downtown Detroit that creatively reimagines the experience of a day at the beach. Visitors ascend a ramp before entering an all-white enclosure, where the floor descends towards an ocean of over one million recyclable, antimicrobial plastic balls—an unexpected and memorable experience for people of all ages. A pier extends out into the “sea,” allowing people to stand in the center of the space and watch others, while an island invites exploration and discovery. Deck chairs, lifeguard stands, and umbrellas recall other elements of the typical beach-going experience. Initially presented to critical and popular acclaim in Washington, D.C. in 2015, The Beach has since traveled to Tampa, Sydney, Paris, and Bangkok.
Snarkitecture is a New York-based collaborative design practice that creates work that includes large-scale projects, public art installations, and discrete objects. Focusing on the inventive reinterpretation of everyday materials, structures, and programs to new and imaginative effect, the studio creates unexpected and memorable moments that invite people to explore and engage with their surroundings.
The Beach Detroit is presented and supported by Library Street Collective and organized with the assistance of Cranbrook Art Museum, and is generously supported by Bedrock and the Quicken Loans Community Fund.
1001 Woodward Avenue
Detroit, MI 48226
The most innovative work from the next generation of architects, artists, and designers will be on display at the 2019 Graduate Degree Exhibition of Cranbrook Academy of Art. The Degree Exhibition showcases pieces that are the culmination of two years of studio work from a diverse group of 65 graduates as they launch their careers. A special ArtMembers Opening Reception will be held on April 13 from 6-9pm. Memberships may be purchased here or at the door that evening. Non-members can purchase a ticket at the door for $20.
In The Source: A Catalog of Late-20th-Century American Relics, artist Daniel Arsham continues his fictional archaeology of the future through the creation of iconic objects and products of late-twentieth-century American life. Devoid of their natural coloration and in a seemingly petrified state, these newly produced works are exhibited as relics from the not-too-distant past—the unearthed remains, perhaps, of some unknown cataclysmic event. For the first time, such objects will be displayed as archaeological artifacts inside the gallery, heightening the illusion of veracity and sense of authenticity.
In his Future Archaeology series, Arsham chooses iconic objects dating from the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries—a time of technological acceleration and obsolescence that witnessed increasing virtualization and dematerialization of the physical world. The objects are eroded casts that are expertly fashioned from materials such as sand, selenite crystal, or volcanic ash. The choice of objects for this presentation—from the worlds of sports and music—resonate with the artist’s early life, “all of these things that influenced me, particularly as a child and many of my peers.”
Daniel Arsham is a New York-based artist who works across the fields of art, architecture, film, and performance. His work has been presented at High Museum of Art, Atlanta; MoMA PS1, New York; and The New Museum, New York, among others; and is in the collections of the Pérez Art Museum, Miami; the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; and the Centre Pompidou, Paris. In 2008, along with Alex Mustonen, Arsham co-founded Snarkitecture, a collaborative practice known for using everyday materials in unexpected ways to create captivating public installations.
Their latest project, The Beach Detroit, consists of an ocean of over one million recyclable, antimicrobial plastic balls, and will open to the public in the Campus Martius area of downtown Detroit on March 1, the same day the exhibition opens at Cranbrook Art Museum. For more information about The Beach Detroit, please visit thebeachdetroit.com.
Daniel Arsham, The Source: A Catalog of Late-20th-Century American Relics is organized by Cranbrook Art Museum with the generous support of Library Street Collective.
Landlord Colors: On Art, Economy, and Materiality reconsiders periods of economic and social collapse through the lens of artistic innovations and material-driven narratives. It examines five art scenes generated during heightened periods of upheaval: America’s Detroit from the 1967 rebellion to the present; the cultural climate of the Italian avant-garde during the 1960s-1980s; authoritarian-ruled South Korea of the 1970s; Cuba since the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990s to the present; and contemporary Greece since the financial crisis of 2009. Featuring more than sixty artists, Landlord Colors is a landmark exhibition, publication, and public art and performance series. While the project unearths microhistories and vernaculars specific to place, it also examines a powerful global dialogue communicated through materiality. Landlord Colors discovers textured and unexpected relationships between these artists whose investigations share themes of ingenuity, resourcefulness, and resistance.
Material Detroit is a series of public programs around Detroit that complement the themes and artists of the Landlord Colors exhibition. This robust public art and performance series is a collaboration between three Detroit curators and institutions: Laura Mott, Senior Curator at Cranbrook Art Museum; Taylor Renee Aldridge, Founder of ARTS.BLACK; and Ryan Myers-Johnson, Director of Sidewalk Festival. Material Detroit will engage residents as it connects art to vortexes of history and contemporary life across Detroit during summer 2019.
Artists in the exhibition:
(Italy)Giovanni Anselmo, Pier Paolo Calzolari, Riccardo Dalisi, Lucio Fontana, Jannis Kounellis, Maria Lai, Mario Merz, Marisa Merz, Giulio Paolini, Michelangelo Pistoletto (Korea) Ha Chong-Hyun, Kwon Young-Woo, Lee Ufan, Park Hyun-Ki, Park Seo-Bo, Yun Hyong-Keun (Cuba) Belkis Ayón, Tania Bruguera, Yoan Capote, Elizabet Cerviño, Julio Llópiz-Casal, Reynier Leyva Novo, Eduardo Ponjuán, Wilfredo Prieto, Diana Fonseca Quiñones, Ezequiel O. Suárez; (Greece) Andreas Angelidakis, Dora Economou, Andreas Lolis, Panos Papadopoulos, Zoë Paul, Socratis Socratous, Kostis Velonis; (Detroit, USA) Cay Bahnmiller, Kevin Beasley, James Lee Byars, Olayami Dabls, Brenda Goodman, Tyree Guyton, Carole Harris, Matthew Angelo Harrison, Patrick Hill, Scott Hocking, Addie Langford, Kylie Lockwood, Alvin Loving, Michael Luchs, Tiff Massey, Charles McGee, Allie McGhee, Jason Murphy, Gordon Newton, Chris Schanck, and Gilda Snowden.
Artists in Material Detroit:
(Installations) Dabls’ MBAD African Bead Museum, Jennifer Harge, Scott Hocking, Billy Mark, Anders Ruhwald, The Fringe Society, Elizabeth Youngblood. (Performances/Events) Big Red Wall Dance Company, Susana Pilar, Michelangelo Pistoletto (Third Paradise performance and a Detroit Rebirth Forum), Sterling Toles. The project culminates with the Landlord Colors Symposium at Cranbrook Art Museum in the fall.
Landlord Colors: On Art, Economy, and Materiality is organized by Cranbrook Art Museum and curated by Laura Mott, Senior Curator of Contemporary Art and Design. The project is generously supported by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the Maxine and Stuart Frankel Foundation, The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, The National Endowment for the Arts, and donors to the Detroit Initiatives Fund for Cranbrook.
In No Particular Order features new work made within Ian McDonald’s first year as Artist-in-Residence and Head of the Ceramics department at Cranbrook Academy of Art. The exhibition continues Ian’s interest in displacing the hierarchy within the objects created in his studio. Ranging in scale and built through multiple processes, forms balance between sculpture and design, coexisting in a state of equilibrium. An accomplished ceramicist, McDonald’s work has been exhibited throughout the United States, Europe and Japan. His work has appeared in numerous publications including Art Forum, Metropolis, Wallpaper magazine, Ceramics Monthly, Dwell and The New York Times.
In No Particular Order: New Work by Ian McDonald is organized by Cranbrook Art Museum and curated by Jon P. Geiger. The exhibition is supported by members of the Museum Committee and ArtMembers at Cranbrook. Generous support for exhibitions and programs at Cranbrook Art Museum is provided by the Maxine and Stuart Frankel Foundation.
A creative outlet for many street artists, illustrators, and graphic designers, art toys emerged in the late 1990s in Asia before becoming a collecting phenomenon in the United States in the early 2000s. Produced in limited editions, designer art toys take the form of a child’s plaything, but are collected by adults, who value these objects for their expressive and formal qualities. Although they can be made from a variety of materials, the most common toys are made of hard and soft plastics, such as vinyl and resin. The genre is known for the range of its figures, from darkly comic cartoon-like characters and fun yet strange anthropomorphic animals to urban vinyl that draws upon hip-hop, rap, and graffiti culture.
Wild Vinyl: Designer Art Toys showcases a variety of designer toys from individual sculptural figures to outlandish monsters, and will focus on limited edition artist creations and serial productions. Like prints and other forms of art produced in multiples, seriality and variation on a theme dominate the art toy genre.
Wild Vinyl: Designer Art Toys is curated by Corey Gross and organized by Cranbrook Art Museum.
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