Everyone has something good to say about Bruce Weber. Look at the long list of Condé Nast editors and publishers, creative luminaries, and style stalwarts who decamped to Detroit yesterday in his name. The occasion was the opening of a new Condé-sponsored exhibition of the lensman’s images of the Motor City at the Detroit Institute of Arts. “I just kept hearing music in my head for a long time,” said Weber of why he first turned up in town back in 2006. “I’m a big Marvin Gaye fan, and I thought, Well, I have a musical going on! That’s what brought me here.” The resulting images are a long way off from the ruin porn that has come to make up much of the city’s photographic legacy. Instead of decaying buildings, Weber gravitated toward locals.
Many of those he shot were on hand last night, including Jeremy Marek, a young man whose arresting scowl from under a fedora has become one of the show’s most iconic shots. “He’s very gentle, and easy to work with,” said Marek of why Weber has become so beloved of the city’s population. Also singing Weber’s praises (and later simply singing) was former Detroit resident and Weber compatriot Patti Smith. Scarcely an iPhone camera went unraised during her performance, for which her children Jesse and Jackson joined her on piano and guitar, respectively. It all made for a heady sight against the backdrop of the Institute’s titanic Diego Rivera mural depicting the Ford factory. After the cocktails, guests took their finery to a downtown diner, where the main attraction was “Coney Islands,” a Detroit take on the chili dog. An after-after-bash headed to The Raven Lounge, Michigan’s oldest blues bar, for live music and carousing into the night. It’s good to go local.
Patti Smith, Musician and Writer, New York City, 1996
The Jackson Five and a Cousin, New York City, 1975