A closer look at Cass Corridor artist Robert Sestok

This month, Essay'd, a writing project I'm part of that publishes short, illustrated essays about contemporary Detroit artists, takes a look at the work of Robert Sestok, the longtime Cass Corridor artist whose one-year-old sculpture park is located just a stone's throw from the El Moore. The author of the essay is Dennis Nawrocki, a seasoned professor of art history at both Wayne State and the College for Creative Studies, as well as an old friend of Sestok's and a deeply-rooted participant in the Detroit art scene. (He's been writing about Cass Corridor art, in particular, since the early '80s.) "Rarely," his new essay begins, "does one get to see a full bore display of an artist’s oeuvre, all at once and all in one place." He continues: Robert Sestok counts as the standout … [Read more...]

The “Hidden Children” of the Cass Corridor: The Cultural Roots Art Camp

The El Moore, a sustainably restored apartment building and lodge originally built in 1898, is located in the Midtown Detroit Neighborhood, which is also still very fondly called the “Cass Corridor” District. Midtown Detroit also includes another one of Detroit’s “Jewels,” the Detroit Cultural Center, which is a nationally designated historic district that contains several museums, libraries, Wayne State University, art galleries, and other historic residential districts. All of the venues, attractions, and developments in the Detroit Cultural Center are within walking and biking distance of the El Moore. Keeping in the theme of the Detroit Cultural Center, an arts activist and teacher, Ms. Makini Ahket, has for the past several years run a “Cultural Roots Art Camp” in the large yard of … [Read more...]

Dalgleish Water Tank Reaches Its Final Resting Place

The historic Dalgleish Cadillac water tower tank has finally been installed in its final resting place at the corner of West Alexandrine and Second Avenue. With the help of metal artisans, it will become the entrance to our public gardens. People will actually walk through the tank to enter the gardens. It was more than four years ago that the tank and its metal legs were reclaimed from above the Dalgleish Cadillac building as Wayne State made way for its new Bioscience building, which is now completed and open on Woodward north of Warren. The tank itself made its way down Cass on a flatbed truck, with the street lights being lifted with a pole to get the tank under them. Many of the Wayne State students came out to witness the move...it was quite a scene. Two weeks ago, the … [Read more...]

Ralph Rinaldi remembers a Cass Corridor in full dimensions Part 2

  If you closed your eyes and listened to Ralph Rinaldi reminisce about the Cass Corridor that surrounds the El Moore, the way it used to be before Midtown was barely an idea, you would see it at first, then you would hear it and smell it. Then suddenly you’re there, looking around at a very different place in time. It is a counter-cultural neighborhood, but also exceptionally tolerant. A diverse neighborhood of artists, students and professors as well as junkies, pimps and prostitutes. But there was room for them all, and somehow they made it work… Because that's what neighborhoods do. This is Part 2 of a fascinating discussion with longtime Cass Corridor resident/activist Ralph Rinaldi. (Read Part 1 here.) The following is a slightly edited transcription. Mr. Rinaldi … [Read more...]

Ralph Rinaldi remembers a Cass Corridor in full dimensions – Part 1

If you closed your eyes and listened to Ralph Rinaldi reminisce about the Cass Corridor that surrounds the El Moore, the way it used to be before Midtown was barely an idea, you would see it at first, then you would hear it and smell it. Then suddenly you’re there, looking around at a very different place in time. It is a countercultural neighborhood, but also exceptionally tolerant. A diverse neighborhood of artists, students and professors as well as junkies, pimps and prostitutes. But there was room for them all, and somehow they made it work… Because that's what neighborhoods do. An Education for the People “I used to go there in the mid '60s and everything was rip snorting around then. The anti war movement was the most popular thing going around, if you wanna call it … [Read more...]

Robert Sestok’s City Sculpture park opens this weekend

Big news out of the Cass Corridor this week: noted artist and longtime resident Robert Sestok is opening City Sculpture, his new sculpture park, on Friday night -- and it's located just a stone's throw from the El Moore. Bob knows a thing or two about the Cass Corridor (as Keith Owens discovered when he profiled him in this blog last winter). The 68 year old Detroit artist has lived and worked in the neighborhood since 1967, when he moved into the old convention hall that once stretched from Woodward to Cass between Canfield and Prentis. He moved all around the neighborhood after that, living and working with a number of the artists retrospectively associated with the Cass Corridor art movement, until he bought and renovated a house near 4th and Alexandrine in 1982. He has lived … [Read more...]

My time living in the El Moore Part 2

This is the second of a two-part series. Read part 1 here. Things started to go downhill at the El Moore for Lynne when the new manager moved in. Described as someone who looked like a Hell's Angel, he took over the managerial duties after Steve Bauer had left.  She had even tried to convince the previous owner to give her a chance to be the new manager even though, by her own admission, she wasn't the best equipped to handle the job. Still, she figured it was worth a try. This was, after all, one of her favorite places in the world. "I don't know where I got the nerve, but the owner of the building was an attorney named Bruce Miller. And I called Bruce and asked if I could be the manager, which, at that point...I mean, this skinny, 100-pound person who looked more like 19 than … [Read more...]

My time living in the El Moore. Part 1

  Dr. Lynne Twining may be the only person alive to favorably compare the Cass Corridor of yesteryear to certain enclaves in Paris, France, which she also loves. Almost as much as Detroit. But when Twining makes that comparison, fondly remembering what it was like to live at the El Moore in the mid 1970s as part of an eclectic and multicultural community of residents, she emphasizes that she does not make this comparison frivolously, nor simply to make a point. She also makes clear that she is fully aware of the difference between Paris and Detroit's Cass Corridor, not wanting anyone to think she has 'lost it' in any way. Twining loved her neighborhood, she loved living at the El Moore, and to her it was a magical sort of place full of all variety of folk who each made the … [Read more...]