An Artist’s Fieldtrip – Eli and Edythe Broad, Arthur Secunda, and Frida and Diego

A couple of weeks ago I went on a little fieldtrip and gathered up a dose of inspiration. The destination was a short jaunt north to Michigan, starting on the campus of Michigan State University in East Lansing. The Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum is there in all of its modern glory. A stark contrast to the typical college bricks and mortar that fills the rest of MSU.


The building itself is a work of art with its angles and sharp edges. Let’s just say it took me a bit to find the front door.


The inside angles provide their own unique lighting to the space and the work inside. So interesting.


Several exhibitions were in place, however the main artist was one featured as an emerging voice in contemporary art. Trevor Paglen hit me with his images of military surveillance tools including satellites, most barely visible. This in contrast to the purpose of those tools – to watch us and others very closely and see clearly. A juxtaposition that haunted me for the rest of the day and even now.

Next stop was Howell, Michigan where one campus of Cleary University resides. Cleary is a business school that believes art is a catalyst for all learning. Couple that with two collectors who have adored, followed, and purchased many of the works of Arthur Secunda and you have The Arthur Secunda Museum at Cleary University.


As luck would have it, our daughter worked for Arthur’s son, David, at his Avid4Adventure camp in Boulder, Colorado. When Arthur moved to Boulder to be near David, Alex visited him and ultimately ended up helping him catalog his life’s work and assist with the ins and outs of being a successful artist. Thus, we got to meet Arthur on a couple of visits to Boulder.

We knew Arthur was amazing. We had seen much of his work online and in person, read about him, knew he was world renowned and all that jazz. We also knew he was grounded and engaging and just a joy to be around. What we didn’t quite put together was the enormity of his body of art, the genius in his methods, the beauty in the many series when seen in person all together. All of this was so evident being in the midst of his art because there’s so much of it. Hallway after hallway, room after room.


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It’s powerful when someone devotes their life to their art, to creating beauty and speaking their thoughts via images. When you stand in the middle of it, you have no choice but to be overwhelmed by its impact. I’m still buzzing.

In another building on campus hangs a large piece created by Arthur and Joseph Breton. These two have collaborated over the years. Metamorphosis: From Darkness to Light is the most recent. You can click on the panoramic image below to see it larger in another window.


If you’re inclined to be moved to your core, stop in at Cleary and see Arthur’s museum. Next best thing, scope out the variety of links and videos on the museum website or Arthur’s personal site at the links already provided above.

So we were pretty full after that experience, but the day wasn’t over yet. Onward to the Detroit Institute of Arts!


DIA has been on my short list for quite some time as I’ve wanted to see the murals painted by Mexican artist Diego Rivera. The 26 murals were commissioned by the museum’s director, Wilhelm Valentiner, in the early 1930’s and funded in part by Edsel Ford. The murals fill the four walls of what is now called Rivera Court. The panoramic below is of the top section of all four walls. Click on it to see it larger.


That photo and others I took do not do it justice, but the museum has a fantastic, interactive site that explains the whole shebang and offers much better views. You won’t believe the amount of symbolism in each and every square foot. Thankfully docents were on hand to point it all out.

Diego and Frida spent nearly two years in Detroit so he could create the murals. It was monumental for both of them as well as for the city! He was a well-known artist and she had barely started her art career. That whole story and how it influenced their futures is depicted in a separate, temporary exhibit – Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo in Detroit. Two Frida/Diego bangs for my buck. My cup runneth over!

No photos allowed so you’ll have to trust me that the presentation of this era in their lives is fabulous. Well done, DIA, well done. I highly recommend a little excursion of your own to the Detroit Institute right in the heart of rebounding downtown Detroit. The exhibit runs through July 12, 2015.

Three stops of inspiration in one afternoon filled me up and sent me on my creative way for quite some time.


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Regina Leffers McCaleb, Ph.D.

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