Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Motor City

Douglass Projects
Detroit, MI
copyright Will Steacy

I grew up less than three hours away from Detroit, and the only reason I ever went to Detroit was for the Detroit Tigers. My dad and I were baseball fans, and the sounds of Tiger's games hung over our backyard in the summertime, mingling with the fire flies and crickets and humidity. I collected baseball cards and spent hours in my bedroom carefully organizing pictures of grown up men in plastic sleeves and Trapper Keepers. I was especially proud of my collection of Tigers - Lou Whitaker, Alan Trammell, Kirk Gibson - sly and slick and rough-around-the-edges, in that order. My neighbor, a sports memorabilia collector, was endeared by my tomboyish adulation and took me into his dark, wood-paneled, shrine-like basement to give me an autographed baseball signed by every Tiger along with Alan Trammell's sweat-stained cap from when Detroit won the 1984 World Series.

Believe me, in later years, I wished I still had some of those baseball cards and souvenirs. I could have paid some rents with those rookie-turned-superstars and Motor City heroes. But I blew it in the summer of 1992 when I advertised my collection in the classifieds of the Kalamazoo Gazette and sold my cards for a mere $200 to a collector who played dumb - like he had no clue how great these cards were - he was just buying them for his son. I knew he was ripping me off but I needed that cold hard cash to get on a train with my cover boyfriend from high school and ride across the country to visit my girlfriends from college.

Except for the Tigers, Detroit was a wasteland. It was like Gary, Indiana - where you rolled up the windows and locked the doors and wondered how people lived there and breathed the air and how so many blocks of houses and storefronts could be vacant and boarded-up. It was apocalyptic, sad, scary. Some of the drug trade and gang activity that passed between Chicago and Detroit stuck around in Kalamazoo as well. Sure, it was a quaint college town, but we had our share of drugs and poverty and shootings now and then. One of my pastimes in high school was driving the family car through the saddest neighborhoods in town and up a curvy road that I called The Crazy Street near the abandoned insane asylum even before I fancied myself a photographer.

Photographer, Will Steacy, has been making some trips to The Real Midwest this year to walk the streets of Detroit. And not just Detroit, but Philly and Atlantic City and Los Angeles as well. Like the tough and tender-hearted private investigator in the books my dad read when he needed a break from Emile Durkheim and Max Weber, Will is taking a hard look at American cities, and it's not a pretty picture.

See for yourself in Will's exhibition opening tomorrow night, Down These Mean Streets, at Gulf & Western Gallery.

And congratulations to my recently retired dad who will be honored the same evening for his three and a half decades of devotion to teaching at Kalamazoo College - yes, my parents read my blog from time to time!

And last but not least, Daniel Cooney is hosting an exhibition of emerging photographers, Some Place Like Home, with a reception on Thursday. Participating photographers include Jun Ahn, Jordan Colbert, Eva Fazzari, Jessica Hendrix, Lali Khalid, Sang-Min Kwak, Rachel Langosch, Sean Park, and Alice Rodriguez.

Will Steacy

Gulf & Western Gallery
New York University
721 Broadway

opening reception Thursday June 4th, 6-8pm

Some Place Like Home
Exhibition of Photography

Daniel Cooney Fine Art Gallery
511 West 25th Street, Suite 506

opening reception Thursday June 4th, 6-9pm

1 comment:

ruben said...

I love the way you wrote that Tema!