Detroit Performs


Fashion, Redemption and Dance

On this weeks episode of Detroit Performs as we see Fashion Illustrator Nicole Jarecz; the survival of Orchestra Hall; and University of Michigan Professor Emeritus of Dance, Peter Sparling.

AIRED: June 01, 2020 | 0:26:16

- [DJ] In this episode of "Detroit Performs,"

a fashion illustrator,

the survival of Detroit's Orchestra Hall,

and a professor of dance.

It's all ahead on this edition of "Detroit Performs"!

(upbeat music)

- [Announcer] Funding for "Detroit Performs" is provided

by the Fred A. And Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation,

The Kresge Foundation,

the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan,

the A. Paul and Carol C. Schaap Foundation,

the Michigan Council for Arts & Cultural Affairs,

the National Endowment for the Arts,

the DeRoy Testamentary Foundation,

and by contributions to your PBS station

from viewers like you; thank you.

(lively jazz music)

- Hello, and welcome to "Detroit Performs."

I'm your host, DJ Oliver,

continuing to social distance at home.

Now, I know we can't experience art

in its full capacity right now,

but I'm excited to bring you Detroit's art

and culture scene through your screen.

Let's get to our first artist.

Nicole Jarecz is a fashion illustrator

who finds a balance between being playful

and precise in her sketches; take a look!

(contemplative music)

- I think it was really the fashion industry

that inspired me to do this.

It's all about the clothes for me.

Fashion illustration, it's like a different

form of expression than photography.

You have a lot of fashion photography out there,

but not a lot of fashion illustration.

So it's just a different expression of the figure,

a different expression of the wardrobe,

the way the wardrobe moves.

It's different than design; I'm not designing the clothes,

I'm just taking the photo or taking the person

and transforming it into something new.

Before photography, there was only illustrators

illustrating these ideas for magazines,

and then helping designers out as well,

illustrating the figure, which was a very important part

of seeing the dress before the design was made.

And then, yeah, you had the illustrators

who were working for Vogue or WWD.

There was a guy named Rene Gruau,

and he was one of my favorite illustrators,

and he kinda dominated that field.

But unfortunately, once photography came,

it was a quick way to seize the moment,

and it kinda took over illustration at the time.

I think an illustration

is more special than a photograph.

I know a lot of talented photographers,

but it's very straightforward, this is the image.

With an illustration, you're taking an idea

and recreating it into something new,

something more magical.

I really wanna express a gesture

with my fashion illustrations.

It's more mesmerizing.

It captures color and light and movement.

That's really what I wanna capture with my illustrations.

So sometimes I'll take a photo and I'll stylize it more.

Everything is always changed up.

It's never exactly the same as a photograph.

I focus more on the clothing when I do the illustration.

I really like couture gowns.

Couture is like a high design,

a way of sewing in intricate patterns.

I like that it's telling a story in a way,

and I just like the whole movement of the couture,

compared to a street style that you might see.

For the mediums that I use,

I play around with a lot of different things.

I use colored pencil, ink, watercolor,

gouache, acrylic, anything that I can find.

I really like to mix it up and try different techniques.

The type of clothing definitely makes a big

impact on what I use for the medium.

If I see a flowy dress, I might wanna use watercolor,

because watercolor is very graceful and elegant.

So I combine a lot of digital

and traditional methods together,

especially when I'm working for a client for a magazine.

So I'll start the illustration off traditionally.

I'll do a pencil drawing, and I'll do my watercolor and ink.

Then I scan it in, and I finish it up in Photoshop.

And I might do this several times,

to get the exact essence of what I'm trying to represent.

I've worked for a lot of different companies in fashion.

I've worked for Roger Vivier,

a couture shoe company in Paris.

I've worked for "ELLE" magazine

and "Glamour" magazine, a lot of fashion magazines.

My favorite project that I worked on was for Roger Vivier.

I designed a bunch of greeting cards

for him and his company, and that was a lot of fun.

It was a very luxurious brand to work for,

and I'd really like to work for different brands like that.

The daily struggle that I have is to be playful

and precise at the same time.

In my personal pieces,

those are always the most fun for me,

so I just try to be a little bit more free.

I try to be a little bit more fluid in what I'm doing.

I think people really respond well to my personal pieces,

maybe because (chuckles) I'm not overthinking them as much.

I think that they really like the gesture

that I put into my personal pieces, and the color,

and just the overall feeling is just more,

creating something that's beautiful

for someone to put in their home

or to show to their friends and family.

I just wanna share my work with people.

Interacting with the community here

is really important to me.

I started seeing illustrators doing these

sketching events a few years ago in bigger cities

like New York and Paris, and I thought,

I really wanna bring that to Detroit.

I wanna do the same thing, and nobody else is doing it!

So I contacted Neiman Marcus and Saks,

and they were both on board,

and they started having me regularly, sketching.

I bring all of my supplies with me, some paper,

and then people just start coming up to my booth,

and they see me sketching.

I usually take a photo of them,

or they'll stand in front of me and pose,

and I'll do my sketch, and it's kinda like

a takeaway gift for them for the evening.

I sketch a little bit of everything.

I sketch people dressed to the nines in gowns,

and then I dress people in streetwear.

My favorite is when people are really dressed up.

It makes it a lot of fun.

I like when people are dressed bold, and in lots of color.

It really gives me an opportunity to get out there,

talk to people, interact with them,

and just see what they respond to.

It helps me to improve upon myself,

when I see if they react to one sketch

compared to another sketch.

Well, when I started doing these events,

I realized that I had to be very quick.

I only have a certain amount of time to sketch somebody.

And I realized that I don't need to spend

hours and hours and hours on one single illustration.

People really like it when it's simple and fluid,

and I try to bring that into my work at home,

to remember to keep it simple, keep it playful,

and don't overthink it too much.

The community loves it, they're excited about it.

I've had a ton of support from people here in Detroit,

so it's been really great.

I think that the illustration just brings

a different outlook on fashion.

I think people sometimes respond more to the fashion

illustration than if they were to see it in person

or even on their computer screen with photography.

It just brings more of a special feeling.

I don't think fashion illustration ever gets boring.

I think it's something that evolves over time.

I think my style could change again,

like it has in the past.

It just depends on the trends, what's going on,

and what I think people are responding to at that time.

(upbeat music)

- You can learn more about Nicole Jarecz,

as well as all the artists that we feature


Now, just as we're experiencing uneasy times

out the in the world today,

Orchestra Hall has experienced uneasy times

throughout its years on Woodward.

But as things looked beyond repair for the acoustic great,

the community came together to save it!

Here's the story.

(gentle music)

- Detroit's story is, I think,

the story of someone being down on the mat

and coming back up off the mat

and putting up his fists

and saying, "Let's go at it."

- Orchestra Hall has always been very important.

And then when it fell into disrepair during

the late '50s, '60s, even early '70s,

I became a member of the one of the committees

that was established to try to help save Orchestra Hall.

- There are times when you can't

allow yourself to be thrown about

by countervailing winds and trends.

There's a point at which you just

have to say, "We stand for this.

"This is important, this needs to be here."

- And so, I love the history of saving the hall,

because that was a moment in time

when the community came together and said,

"This hall must be saved!"

(contemplative music)

- [Narrator] While the Orchestra Hall stage was in darkness

for much of the 1950s and '60s,

at times, there were still glimpses of light.

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra had only briefly closed,

and was revived during the war.

And by 1952, its new musical director

saw the value in a perfect acoustical space.

- It's interesting because while there

was nothing here on a regular basis,

things still did happen here!

In terms of the orchestra, most notably is that

the DSO makes a number of really extraordinary recordings

here for the Mercury label, in the 1950s

and early '60s, conducted by Paul Paray.

There's a photograph of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra

with Paul Paray, on the stage of old Orchestra Hall,

with one microphone hanging down.

The DSO came here, made distinguished recordings,

because the technology couldn't replace

the impact and the feel

of what it's like to be in the hall.

(lively orchestral music)

- [Narrator] In spite of its occasional

use as a recording studio,

the fact that Orchestra Hall still had

no permanent resident began to wear on the building.

In 1970, plans were announced to tear down Orchestra Hall

and build a new fast-food restaurant on its lot,

far from the fate that those who predicted

a center of Detroit's musical life

had suggested decades before.

- Orchestra Hall was not the prettiest

flower in any bouquet at that time.

It had been totally abandoned for the previous 10 years.

Holes in the roof, water in the basement,

this has more the appearance of a piece

of Swiss cheese than it does a concert hall!

And people had it easy.

They could say, "Well, the building is old,

"it's got these problems, it should be torn down."

Well, no, it's not!

The building was really in remarkable condition,

because it was overly designed and overbuilt,

so there was no reason to say

that Orchestra Hall was crying out to be demolished.

- There's a lot of lore about this hall,

and some of it is true and some of it's not true,

and some of it might be true,

but the idea that we almost lost this hall,

that it was almost demolished, that's 100% true,

but not for the actions of Paul Ganson,

the bassoonist in the orchestra,

who helped create Save Orchestra Hall,

and the group of supporters around him.

- We were looking for people with connections

with Gino's, Incorporated,

the firm that bought Orchestra Hall,

and were going to tear it down within two weeks.

We didn't have much money at all,

but we had the offer of a mortgage,

and they came to us and said,

"Okay, we'll give you the time,

"and we'll sell it to you for what we paid for it."

So we ended up paying $100,200.

(gentle music)

- [Narrator] But even though quick action

had saved Orchestra Hall from the wrecking ball,

restoring it to its former glory

would be another labor of love entirely,

one that would last another two decades!

- I think in the history of this hall,

you can see that the philanthropic community

has stepped up when it was really needed.

- You had some major donors but you also had lots

of little donors and I think what's really relevant here

is that this hall had such a rich history that spoke

to so many different parts of the community,

that it could draw upon a kind of broad-based support.

- The key was, from what happened in this office,

was to raise the money, period.

So these were members of our community

who were committed to rebuilding the hall,

and they made phone calls and made assignments,

and they stood up to the line, as well.

- That photograph of me on the roof of Orchestra Hall

was actually from 1976, some six years later,

when we were just beginning the real restoration,

and because it was a matter not now

of just saving and sealing the building,

but actually to restore it to a state

where there could be events in the hall,

which began in the 1976-77 season.

- So many musicians tell me about playing chamber music here

when there was water dripping and birds flying,

and what knows what else.

But the most amazing chamber music performances,

and people from all over the world

came here to play chamber music

because of the properties of acoustics.

- 1976, I believe,

is when the Chamber Music Society of Detroit

began regularly presenting concerts in this space.

But you also had jazz concerts and recreations

of some of the stage shows

that happened during the Paradise Theatre years.

- That's because that's how strong the name meant,

the history of it, people were still around

who knew about the Paradise Theatre.

So it was only natural when they tried

to save this building, to bring that.

The idea was that a bunch of people got together

and said, "Let's do a Back to Paradise series."

- [Mark] So even through the renovation,

you had a hall that was speaking to many different

kinds of communities and all building support

for the idea of saving this beautiful, historic building.

- Even when the orchestra was performing at Ford Auditorium,

the musicians in the orchestra knew

that this great space existed,

and they wanted to really help gather a lot of support

to bring the orchestra back on stage here at Orchestra Hall.

And that was a big challenge,

because obviously there was a lot of money

that was needed to fix the hall, to repair the hall.

- We've got pictures all around the building,

all around the offices; you can see all

of the storied supporters of this venture,

standing there pointing to the hole in the roof

where you could see the sky, and bird nests in here,

and it was just in bad shape.

So whenever I tell that to people,

as they're standing here, looking at this space,

which just looks ornate and beautiful and perfect,

honestly, they don't believe it!

- I think that this love of the space,

the tenacity that people showed

in embracing the space in spite of its condition,

speaks to the identity that Orchestra Hall has,

and that's what I love about the history,

is that the hall itself has its own voice,

its own life, maybe like its own heartbeat.

And no one has been able to deny it,

who's come in and experienced it.

- That's what saved us, when we were trying

to save Orchestra Hall, that there was enough here,

that it was of course a given that it was going

to be saved, it was going to survive.

- We were just so pleased that we finally

had reconstructed something that was so important,

had such integrity, and that as a city

we had felt the value, cause after all,

we had torn down the old City Hall,

and torn down so many other places,

but this, we had taken the time

and the interest to reconstruct, so it was important.

- I think it was a turning point

in the sound of the orchestra,

because the sound of the orchestra

in Ford Auditorium was stifled, and when we moved here,

the orchestra came alive, everyone came alive!

- [Narrator] In 1989, the DSO returned

to the hall stage and a sold-out crowd.

But in spite of the triumph of that night,

the orchestra's financial situation remained grim,

and it was clear they would need more

than just a restored building to lead the organization

and its hall into a new golden age.

(lively jazz music)

- Now let's check out some upcoming events

coming to you virtually from around The D!

(lively jazz music)

Next up, the University of Michigan's

Peter Sparling joins WRCJ's Peter Whorf

to talk about his latest creations,

and to find out what he's been up to

during this COVID-19 situation.

(bright piano music)

- [Peter Whorf] Peter Sparling is distinguished

Professor Emeritus of Dance at the University of Michigan,

and he was principal dancer

with the Martha Graham Dance Company.

(quirky music)

"Man in the Moon" is a video that I watched of yours,

which also suggests this idea

that we're experienced now about kind of being alone

or being somewhere, isolated, away from people.

Can you tell our viewers about "Man in the Moon,"

what we're seeing there?

- Many of my works come about

because I want to experiment or explore

certain aspects of video technology.

In this case, I knew that green screen

chroma key technology would allow me to create

all sorts of illusions on the screen.

So at the Duderstadt Video Studio

at the University of Michigan,

I asked Jacques and Jeff, the technicians,

to train a hot spotlight down on a green floor,

thinking that I could then insert a film

of an eclipse over that area of the green,

and give the illusion that I was actually treading

the surface of a planet during an eclipse.

And I was very fortunate in that I went online

and I found beautiful footage by a fellow,

William Castleman, who had actually

filmed an eclipse in high resolution.

So the piece came together quickly.

I was fortunate to have

permission from a colleague

in the composition program at U of M, Erik Santos,

to use a score that he had written, a percussion score,

and it fit together wonderfully.

(eerie music)

I see a man, almost, kind of like

a grown-up, lost Little Prince,

who's cast away on some island in the cosmos.

It's a time warp!

Not only is there an eclipse going on,

but he's kind of going in and out of memories,

of different psychological states.

So in most of my works, I try to leave it open enough

so that the viewer can interpret as he or she wishes,

but to make it evocative enough and dynamic enough

so that it keeps the viewer riveted.

(suspenseful music)

(playful music)

This obsession with video really came about

through my teaching at the university,

and that 20-odd years ago, a colleague and I decided

that we needed to offer students the ability

to make work on video, to make art on video,

because we knew that video was gonna become

more and more important, and it was gonna proliferate media.

Something about this pandemic that has just

been staring me right in the face

is this fact that video and media,

social media, have become so important.

Every arts organization now

is bridging this pandemic and finding

modes of communication online!

How does one concertize online?

What happens to a group of musicians

who are all playing together on Zoom?

How can dancers interact on Zoom?

I mean, these are questions I've been asking for years,

but suddenly, it seems so important.

And we don't know how long this pandemic's gonna last.

I'm on an advisory committee

for the University Musical Society,

and we spent most of our last meeting talking

about the use of media,

of online programming.

So, long story short, I'm finding that

all of my work in video is suddenly becoming

extremely relevant to a lot of people.

(drums booming)

- And that wraps it up for this edition

of "Detroit Performs."

As always, for more arts and culture,

head to,

where you'll find featured videos, blogs,

and information on upcoming arts events.

Also, check us out on Facebook and Twitter.

Make sure you guys are staying safe out there,

and we'll continue to do our part to bring you

the best of Detroit's art scene.

Until next time, get out there and show the world

how Detroit performs, y'all!

I'm DJ Oliver; thanks for watching, guys!

- [Announcer] Funding for "Detroit Performs" is provided

by the Fred A. And Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation,

The Kresge Foundation,

the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan,

the A. Paul and Carol C. Schaap Foundation,

the Michigan Council for Arts & Cultural Affairs,

the National Endowment for the Arts,

the DeRoy Testamentary Foundation,

and by contributions to your PBS station

from viewers like you; thank you.

(light jazz music)

(bright music)


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