Monday, October 25, 2010

Announcing: In the Michigan Studio


I'm announcing a new occasional feature here - In the Michigan Studio - focusing on Michigan artists and where they live and create.  Why? Couple of reasons. First, I would like to do my part to help give some exposure to the artists right here in my backyard.  Second, with all that has happened with the economy and other headline news the last few years, Michigan has suffered the brunt of a lot of bad press. Yes, we have the same problems here as the rest of the country, but they are magnified here because so much of our economy in the metropolitan Detroit area is directly or indirectly related to the auto industry. So I want to counteract some of that.

Michigan is an incredibly beautiful state with so much to offer and that's what I want to focus on.  Besides, in what other state can you hold up your right hand and point to where you live??

There's lots to know about Michigan, and hopefully we'll cover a lot of it in my upcoming interviews. Here's just a taste of some Michigan trivia:
  • In 1939, the Packard Motor Car Company in Detroit manufactured the first air-conditioned car.  
  • Michigan has the only floating post office in the world.  The J.W. Westcott II delivers mail to ships still underway.
  • Spanning five miles between the upper and lower peninsulas of Michigan, The Mackinac Bridge is one of the longest suspension bridges in the world.
  • The first people in the nation to receive assigned phone numbers lived in Detroit in 1879.
  • Singing sand can be found on the beaches of Grand Haven.  The sand particles make a whistling sound as you walk upon them.
  • Michigan has 116 lighthouses and navigational lights.
  • The first soda pop made in the U.S., Vernor’s ginger ale, was created by accident in 1866 in Detroit.     
  • In 1862 the current Michigan State University became the first land grant college in the United States.
  • Henry Ford, who produced his first experimental car in 1893, founded the Ford Motor Company in 1903.
  • Michigan is a leading state in the ownership of recreational boats and in the sale of hunting and fishing licenses.
  • The Great Lakes account for one-fifth of the world's surface freshwater supply.
  • Michigan has approximately 40 ski resorts.
  • Michigan has more than 4,000 miles of snowmobile trails.
  • Mackinac Bridge: Completed in 1957, the five-mile-long suspension bridge (WORLD'S LONGEST SUSPENSION BRIDGE) connects Michigan's peninsulas across the Straits of Mackinac.
Geography Facts:
  • State Size: 57,022 square miles of land
  • 38,575 square miles of Great Lakes water
  • 11,037 inland lakes
  • 3,200 miles of shoreline
  • 36,000 miles of rivers and streams 
  • Lake Superior is the largest freshwater lake in the world, 31,820 square miles. 
  • More than 90 percent of the Upper Peninsula's land is forested. Maples, aspen, oak, evergreen, and elms are cut and shipped throughout the nation in all seasons.
  • More than 150 waterfalls
  • There are 3.9 million acres of state forest land with about 150 campgrounds and 2.7 million acres of national forest with some 80 campgrounds. 
Want more? Go to www.michigan.org, and view some of the gorgeous award-winning Pure Michigan tourist ads narrated by Tim Allen (a Michigan native).



I'm kicking off the feature with a little bit about where I live: Bloomfield Township (mail address: Bloomfield Hills), about 20 miles northwest of Detroit.  It's a small community, basically residential, with beautiful homes and wooded areas.  There's a few famous residents - Aretha Franklin lives here, and Robin Williams grew up just a few short blocks away from where I live now. Many of Detroit's sports stars also live around here.  Sometimes I'm a little embarrassed to tell people where I live, because Bloomfield Hills is one of the wealthiest communities per capita in the country and sometimes people who don't know better assume I'm wealthy. And I am so NOT!  In fact, I don't know if it's really true, but I was told my small condo complex used to be called the "slums of Bloomfield" before a new wave of buyers came in and refurbished the 1960s era units one by one.  I bought my unit in 1993 and it was a mess - the previous owner supposedly once said, "I vacuum once a year whether it needs it or not." Trust me, it looked like it. Maybe someday I'll do a feature on how much remodeling I did in the the first few years after I moved in. 

Not far away from me is the Cranbrook Educational Community, a national historic landmark.  Its sprawling campus houses PK-12 schools, the Academy of Art, Art Museum, Institute of Science, and House and Gardens. Cranbrook is renowned for its architecture in the Arts and Crafts movement style, the chief architects being Albert Kahn and Eliel Saarinen.  Since I love all things Arts and Crafts, Cranbrook is close to my heart!  It's THE most beautiful campus - I take a drive through the area occasionally just to drink in how pretty it is and I visit as often as I can for exhibits and garden events.  One of my good friends, Mary (a.k.a. sleepymama), has children in Cranbrook schools and used to work there so she tells me lovely stories about the Community's history and activities. This sculpture on the grounds is called "Aim High," Cranbrook's motto.


Okay, enough about Michigan and my neighborhood.  Very soon I'll be posting the first Michigan artist interview.  Til then, "if you seek a beautiful peninsula, look about you." (Michigan state motto)

NOTE: Are you an etsy artist who lives in Michigan? Send me an email if you are interested in being featured to a-b-i@comcast.net. 


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