We’re just back from the Print
Fair at the Flint Institute of Arts. Our thanks to all who made it a success,
especially curator Tracee Glab, director John B. Henry, and registrar and
resident problem-solver Peter Ott, and including museum guards, front desk,
gift shop, and café staff as well.
Flint Institute of Arts
Flint is a fascinating and
charming city on the nineteenth century Saginaw Trail, on the Flint River,
about 65 miles northwest of Detroit. Beginning with fur trading in 1819, then
lumber production, Flint became “Vehicle City” through the making of carriages.
In 1908 General Motors was formed in here; the town was the site of an
important sit-down strike in 1936-37, leading to the organization of the United
Auto Workers. GM’s Buick and Chevrolet divisions were begun in Flint. The jobs
provided by these car and truck industries helped make Flint a beneficiary of
the Great Migration and a racially diverse city.
The auto industry
re-organized, closed, and even demolished some plants, or re-tooled in the late
1980s. There is still substantial automotive production, but at a fraction of
the 1950s and 60s. Meanwhile, a thriving arts corridor, the five universities
and colleges, and medical facilities have helped fill some of these employer
The housing dates mostly
from the 1920s with additions in the 1950s and 60s. We visited several
different neighborhoods and found a mix of housing styles and sizes, in what
seem like over-sized lots, that is enormously attractive. Further there are
frequent parkways in wide streets, mature trees and plantings, and particularly
impressive in many areas, extremely large verges between the sidewalks and
curbs. There is a sense of light and space that, to me at least, is special to
the mid-West and definitely something to be appreciated. The loss of jobs and
population in the 1980s and 90s, caused home prices to fall making for some
fantastic opportunities to acquire substantial houses at bargain rates. Those
days may be over however as recently both the prices and the population have
stabilized and even started to rebound.
Downtown Flint, primarily
Saginaw Street, has some fabulous buildings, especially the lovingly maintained
Paterson Building named for automotive pioneer William A. Paterson. The Capitol
Theatre, a 1928 extravaganza on East 2nd Street, is undergoing
Paterson Building, Flint, MI
The Flint Institute of Art
is the second largest art museum in Michigan with an ambitious exhibition,
film, and program schedule. It’s on Kearsley Street, a cultural boulevard
anchored at the north end by Applewood (historic mansion and farm of the Mott
Family), the Flint Institute of Music (home to the Flint Symphony Orchestra and
School of Performing Arts), the Flint Youth Theatre, the Longway Planetarium
(largest in the state and especially beautiful at night), the Sloan Museum featuring history and
technology, the Whiting -- a 2000 seat professional performing arts venue, and
the Flint Public Library.
Library, Flint Institute of Arts
During the Print Fair, with
enviable timing, the Institute’s exhibitions included Tracee Glab’s elegant
Drawn to the Figure in the Graphics Gallery (just outside the world’s most
picturesque art library) and Pressed for Time: History of Printmaking, in the Hodge
Exhibitions Galleries. Not only did this show include masterpieces ranging from
Durer to Lautrec to Hayter, but even me -- director John Henry kindly pointed
out that the video documentary “About Prints” was technically part of the
From the Bray Renaissance
Gallery with the Rinaldo and Armida seventeenth century French tapestries, to
the Art of Jade exhibition featuring both ancient Mesoamerican artifacts as
well as Neolithic and Qing Dynasty Chinese pieces, to the excitement of
visiting school children and Dale Chihuly’s stunning Persian chandelier at the
entrance, the Flint Institute is a wonder. It was a privilege to be there.
The Susan Teller Gallery began in 1988. In March, 2015, we made the move to private dealership.
The focus of the gallery is American paintings, prints, and unique works on paper, of the 1930s, 40s, and 50s, including the New Deal-WPA Era, Urban and Industrial Realism, Modernism, and Surrealism.