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The Fascinating History of Ann Arbor’s Iconic Bookstore Mural

The Fascinating History of Ann Arbor's Iconic Bookstore Mural

Ann Arbor’s The Bookstore Mural is a famous outdoor mural by artist Richard Wolk located on the corner of Liberty Street and State Street in downtown. The mural is an Ann Arbor emblem and one of the city’s most prominent pieces of public art.

The work, sometime ago known as the Bookstore Mural, was painted in 1984 when David’s Books occupied the corner of Liberty Street and State Street. A Potbelly Sandwich store presently is housed in the building.

Bloomfield Hills-based Richard Wolk, who graduated from the University of Michigan, contacted the management at David’s Books (which closed in 2011) in early 1984 on the subject of replacing a preceding bookstore-related mural with something a bit more fun: actual authors. He started work in March 1984 and completed it in June 1984.

According to a feature in the July 8, 1984 issue of the Ann Arbor News,

The mural certainly rebels against bare cement, but whether it’s an artisitic rebellion is, well, unclear.

Larger than life, the giants of literature beckon passersby into David’s Books, the owner of which commissioned the mural.

Is the mural a billboard, a clever advertisement for the books and ideas behind the wall? Perhaps partly, but to Ed Koster, the owner of the bookshop, who hired the artist, the mural is “aesthetic.”

“I like the portraits themselves,” he said, “but I would have preferred a different background.” The background is in two parts: a starry night sky above a field a flowers.

The Fascinating History of Ann Arbor's Iconic Bookstore Mural

Measuring about 60 feet by 20 feet, the mural portrays the headshots of five cultural icons, whose work was familiar to the artist Richard Wolk.

  • Woody Allen: the American film director, scriptwriter, and actor. Allen has starred in most of his own films, many of which have won Oscars and which hilariously survey themes of psychosis and sexual shortcomings. Artist Wolk chose Woody Allen because of the proximity of the mural to Ann Arbor’s historic Michigan Theater and State Theater.
  • Edgar Allan Poe: the American short-story writer, poet, and critic whose fiction and poetry are Gothic and characterized by their examination of the gruesome and the bizarre.
  • Hermann Hesse: the German-born Swiss novelist and poet whose written works reflect his concern in spiritual Eastern values and his enthusiasm for Jungian psychoanalysis.
  • Franz Kafka: the Prague-born Czech German-language novelist, who wrote in German whose written works portray of an mysterious and terrifying realism where the individual is apparent as lonesome, confused, and defenseless.
  • Anais Nin: the French-American writer whose first novel House of Incest (1936) evokes haunting images of love, lust, desire, emotion, and pain. Wolk selected Anais Nin because his 1984 girlfriend liked Nin’s writing.

The Bookstore Mural has also been called The Poet Mural, Liberty Street Mural, and East Liberty Street Wall Mural.

In 2010, the mural gained significant media attention as the original painter was hired to touch it up, 26 years after he originally painted it.

The Bookstore Mural was represented in the official movie posters for the 2011 film, Answer This, which was mainly filmed in various locations around Ann Arbor—the setting is the University of Michigan.

The famous mural is also one of the most prominent public places for the setting of wedding pictures.

Posted in Music, Arts, and Culture

The Michigan Flute Orchestra

The Michigan Flute Orchestra is an ensemble of dedicated and accomplished flutists from the southeastern Michigan area. The instrumentation of the orchestra comprises the entire spectrum of the flute family: bass flute, alto flute, the conventional C flute, and piccolo. This unique orchestra performs a varied repertoire of music which displays the tonal richness and cohesiveness of the flute family.

The Michigan Flute Orchestra has performed with world-renowned flutists Jean-Pierre Rampal and Claudi Arimany and has been the guest artists at the Michigan Flute Festival and the Western Michigan Flute Festival. They have also performed on the stages of Detroit’s Orchestra Hall, the Midland Center of the Performing Arts, Calvin College, and other sites throughout the state of Michigan.

Shaul Ben-Meir of the Michigan Flute Orchestra

Shaul Ben-Meir of the Michigan Flute Orchestra Shaul Ben-Meir, the founder and music director of the Michigan Flute Orchestra, is a former flutist with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. In 1962 he was awarded the Silver Medal at the International Wind Competition in Helsinki, Finland. He is the former principal flutist of the Haifa Symphony, under Sergiu Comissiona from 1961 until he was invited to the United States as Visiting Professor of Music at Ithaca College in 1965. Subsequently, he was appointed Artist-in-Residence at the University of Buffalo, participating in modern music research and performance under Lucas Foss.

Mr. Ben-Meir studied both in his native Israel and in England. His teachers included Geoffrey Gilbert, Joseph Mariano, and Jean-Pierre Rampal. He has appeared frequently in solo recitals and master classes around the country, and as a member of the Renaissance Woodwind Quintet. Currently, Mr. Ben-Meir is widely recognized for his transcriptions and arrangements of symphonic repertoire for the flute orchestra medium. He has recorded solo albums and CDs with Golden Crest, Coronet, and Megido Records.

The Michigan Flute Orchestra at the Detroit Institute of Arts

On 26-Oct-2014, Sunday, at the Sunday Music Bar at the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Michigan Flute Orchestra played,

Posted in Hobbies and Pursuits

Melt Away the Stress of Chicago Life at Indiana Dunes National Lakes Shore

Indiana Dunes National Lakes Shore

Chicago’s urban beaches that overlook Lake Michigan get excessively packed in the Windy City’s limited warm months. Keep away from the masses and journey 45 miles southeast to the 15,000-acre Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, homeland to 180-foot-high sand dunes and birds, for example the great blue heron and the American wigeon.

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, called Nature’s Masterpiece, hugs 15 miles of the southern shore of Lake Michigan and has much to offer. There is superb diving—survey a shipwreck from 1911—and plenty of superb sand beaches and marshes.

Indiana Dunes Overlooking Lake Michigan

Hike West Beach Trail, a 1-mile trail ringed with pine trees that leads from the lake and goes across inlets, over dunes, and back through the woods. The park categories seventh among national parks in plant diversity.

Tryon Farm Guest House in La Porte, Indiana Drive-in camping opportunities are abundant in the summer. If you are not a camper, go for Tryon Farm Guest House, a bed-and-breakfast transformed from a Victorian farmhouse in proximate La Porte, Indiana. It’s just a ten-minute drive from the dunes. Tryon Farm Guest House offers tranquil meadows, ponds, and chickens that lay eggs for the restaurant. From $145 per night, including breakfast.

Posted in Travels and Journeys

Save Ann Arbor’s Historic State Theater

Save Ann Arbor's Historic State Theater

The future of Ann Arbor’s historic State Theater as a place to see great cinema in Ann Arbor is in jeopardy. The State Theater is renowned for playing new independent films and midnight showings of older classics.

The State Theater LLC, the ownership group that owns the State Theater and the rest of the building, has proposed to ask the Ann Arbor Historic District Commission to review plans to transition the second floor into office space. Their proposal is to be voted on by the Ann Arbor Historic District Commission at their next meeting on December 12 at 7pm. The ground first floor of the building already consists of an Urban Outfitters store.

Ann Arbor’s characteristic art-loving community fears that this is part of an ever-increasing need for downtown living and office space. Ann Arbor has a wide-reaching reputation as a great city for movies, performing arts, and cultural events. That cultural profile will be diminished by the loss of the State Theater and its two screens.

The management of the historic non-profit Michigan Theater, which already manages the programming of the State Theater, has proposed to lead a community effort to save and preserve the State Theater for present and future moviegoers. The Michigan Theater’s proposal involves purchasing the second floor of the building and enhancing the interiors of the State Theater cinemas to satisfy present day audiences while remaining committed to preserving the theater’s historic use and architectural significance.

Ann Arbor's Historic State Theater Art Deco Cinema Style Theater

Facts about Ann Arbor’s State Theater

  • The State Theater is an historic and important Art Deco Cinema Style theater designed by the renowned architect C. Howard Crane (who also designed Detroit’s Fox Theatre).
  • The State Theater opened in 1942 and has shown movies continuously for 71 years.
  • The current use of the State Theater for both commercial retail and movies is viable and maintains the historic use and architectural significance of the building.
  • The Michigan Theater has programmed and marketed the films at the State since 1997.
  • The State Theater attracts over 50,000 movie goers annually, which is above average among Art House theaters world-wide. If renovated in a way sensitive to its historic origins and upgraded to meet modern movie image, sound and audience comfort standards, that attendance would double.

Impact on Movie and Live Event Programming in Ann Arbor

State Theater, Ann Arbor One of the key reasons that the Michigan Theater has been able to bring high quality films to the Ann Arbor community is the flexibility that comes with the presence of four screens. If the current proposal by the State Theater owners is approved, the Michigan Theater’s ability to provide access to those films will be substantially diminished. With film programming cut in half, this is especially significant. Ann Arbor’s movie-loving community stands to lose a large number of films that require a commitment of six or more weeks. With the loss of the two screens at State Theater, Michigan Theater will be left with its own two screens for programming—this would force fewer days available for concerts, plays, author events, business meetings and other community events currently hosted by Michigan Theater.

Impact on the Ann Arbor Downtown Neighborhood

If the State Theater is converted to office space, foot traffic in the State Street area district will diminish and surrounding retail businesses will suffer.

The proposal submitted by the State Theater makes no reference to the Marquee which, in and of itself, is historically and architecturally significant and is an icon in the Ann Arbor community. If the proposal is approved, there is n o guarantee that the Marquee will be maintained, used in an appropriate manner, or lit into the late evening.

Posted in Music, Arts, and Culture

List of Hospitals in the 13 Counties of Southeast Michigan

Hospitals in Eaton County, Michigan

Hospitals in Genesee County, Michigan

Hospitals in Hillsdale County, Michigan

Hospitals in Ingham County, Michigan

Hospitals in Jackson County, Michigan

Borgess Medical Center, Kalamazoo, MI

Hospitals in Kalamazoo County, Michigan

Hospitals in Lenawee County, Michigan

Hospitals in Livingston County, Michigan

Hospitals in Macomb County, Michigan

Hospitals in Oakland County, Michigan

Hospitals in St. Clair County, Michigan

University of Michigan Health System, Ann Arbor

Hospitals in Washtenaw County, Michigan

Henry Ford Hospital, Detroit

Hospitals in Wayne County, Michigan

Posted in Health and Fitness