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The Calder mobile at the Central branch. photo by Renee Landuyt.

August 07, 2014
A black tie gala at Central Library tops off a series of free events meant to bring awareness to more than $1.5 million pieces of art in Grosse Pointe Public Library's Central branch, the Marcel Breuer-designed building and support the newly-formed Breuer Preservation Fund.

Slated for 7 to 10 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 20, the gala raises funds to restore the library's art including the Kandinsky tapestry, the Matters mural, Calder mobile and Kipp sculpture and improve the main reading room and youth area, according to a Grosse Pointe Library Foundation press release.

"We are establishing the fund so there will be money available if (art) pieces need maintenance in the future," said Jennifer Bingaman, Grosse Pointe Library Foundation's executive director.

"Central Library is a gem in our community," said library board member Liz Vogel, "(It's) home to priceless works of art and the time is now to take the proper steps to enhance and preserve all of its unique attributes for generations to come."

Leading up to the September gala are four free children's craft events for children 5 years and older inspired by the four Central Library art pieces. The first is from 2 to 3 p.m. Monday, Aug. 11, centering on the Matters mural, "The History of Writing" by Herbert Matters. The 25-by-9-foot mural was installed in 1955 and features symbols and writing of various eras.

The Kipp sculpture is what children will be inspired by to create a craft from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 13. The sculpture, given to the library in 1981, was repainted in 2013 with a donation from the Grosse Pointe Questers No. 147.

The hand-woven 6-by-8 1/2 foot Kandinsky tapestry provides the theme for the 2 to 3 p.m. Monday, Aug. 18, event.

Of the tapestry Kandinsky said it was "a modern design depicting a bird, crescent and oval free-form design," Kandinsky said, "Whatever I might say about myself or my pictures can touch the pure artistic meaning only superficially. The observer must learn to look at the picture as a graphic representation of a mood and not as a representation of objects."

Recreating a mobile based on the Calder mobile hanging in the library can be completed from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 19.

To register for these activities, call (313) 343-2074, ext. 220 or visit gp.lib.mi.us.

For adults who wish to learn about the Breuer-designed library building, textile designer Ruth Adler Schnee speaks from 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 21, at Central Library. During her talk on "Legendary Mid-Century Modern Design," she shares stories of Bauhaus students, of which Breuer was one. Bauhaus was a German school in which crafts and fine arts were combined, influencing modernist architecture and design, as can be seen in the Central library's structure. Reservations must be made by Sunday, Aug. 10, by calling (313) 640-4683.

The Breuer Preservation Fund has been established by the Grosse Pointe Library Foundation to preserve and maintain the library's art and architectural integrity of the Central Library building. Breuer's post-World War II design followed the shift in American architecture from traditional styles to modernism.

Library director Vickey Bloom addressed the preservation fund saying, "Establishing this fund pays tribute to the historical significance of this building and the artwork within these walls, as well as to the role our Central Library has played in the lives of the patrons who have loved and supported this branch."

As funds are raised with a goal of $50,000, the immediate concern is the Kandinsky tapestry restoration. It needs to be cleaned, backed and encased in a light and heat sensitive box, Bingaman said. The Calder piece needs to be cleaned and repainted. Restoration of the Matters mural has been completed.

"There is a sense of urgency with the Kandinsky," Bingaman said in an e-mail.

Experts are hesitant to give an estimate on the Kandinsky restoration project, she said, because once taken down, damage could be found affecting the final price.

"We've arrived at this number by talking to several of the experts and feel this will be enough to cover those two projects at the minimum," Bingaman said.

Tickets to the black tie event cost $125 and can be purchased, beginning Aug. 18, by visiting breuer.gplf.org or calling (313) 640-4683.

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