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Jazz, blues, art deco and the rise of Hollywood: The arts and architecture of the 1920s

– Thursday, March 6, 2014 12:00AM

Lorenzo Cultural Center events show how an explosion of creativity impacted metro Detroit and the nation

The 1920s was a confident time, and it showed. A real estate boom sparked a surge in the building of skyscrapers, including Art Deco masterpieces like Detroit’s Guardian, Fisher and Penobscot buildings. The Art Deco movement also transformed decorative arts, painting and sculpture. At the same time, jazz and blues were becoming the music of America, and writers such as F. Scott Fitzgerald were creating modern literary masterpieces.

A series of free presentations and performances at the Lorenzo Cultural Center in Clinton Township will examine and celebrate the creativity of the 1920s with music, pictures, stories and historical information that will bring the era alive:

  • Art Deco in Detroit, March 8, 1 p.m.: Rebecca Binno Savage, writer, preservationist and board member of the Detroit Area Art Deco Society, surveys examples of Art Deco in Detroit, including famous landmarks, smaller commercial buildings, theaters, homes and churches.
  • Big Band Beginnings: Popular Dance Music of the 1920s, March 15, 1 p.m.: The 10-piece Hotel Savarine Society Orchestra will recreate the sounds, songs and appearance of the 1920s, showcasing well-known and less-familiar pop and blues songs of the era.
  • Art Deco: Art and Architecture, March 19, 11 a.m.: Professor Michael Farrell of Art House Lectures and Tours highlights significant examples of Art Deco, or “Le Style Moderne,” which swept Europe and the U.S. during the 1920s.
  • F. Scott Fitzgerald: His Life and Craft, March 26, 11 a.m.: F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote of the times in which he lived, The Jazz Age, a term he both coined and personified. Robert Carlson, founder of Eclectic Lectures and member of the F. Scott Fitzgerald Society, presents the story of the author’s life.
  • From the 1600s, to the 1920s, to Today: An Artistic Collaboration, March 28, 11 a.m.: Salvador Salort-Pons, head of European art at the Detroit Institute of Arts and Madelyn Rzadkowolski, curator at Meadow Brook Hall, will discuss a special painting acquired by Alfred and Matilda Wilson in 1926,”Saint John the Baptist and Lamb,” by Bartolome Esteban Murillo. They will also discuss the restoration collaboration between the DIA, Meadow Brook Hall and Oakland University.
  • Music of the Jazz Age, March 29, 1 p.m.: John Bowditch, director emeritus of exhibits at the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum, will explore the rich legacy of popular music in America during the 1920s by sharing original recordings made during the decade.
  • Puttin’ on the Ritz: Fashion in the Jazz Age, March 30, 2 p.m.: The curators of touring exhibit “Fashion and the Automobile,” Lynn Anderson, Victoria Mobley and Elaine Vermeersch, describe how fashion in the Roaring Twenties was influenced by function, environment, lifestyle and world events. The show will include fashions from the past and present.
  • Albert Kahn’s Architectural Legacy: The Ubiquitous Mr. Kahn, April 5, 1 p.m.: In the first half of the 20th century, Detroit architect Albert Kahn revolutionized the design of industrial buildings around the world. Joel Stone, senior curator for the Detroit Historical Society, examines Kahn’s career and the vast legacy of architectural treasures he created.
  • Splish, Splash, Boom: The Early History of Radio Theatre, April 25, 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.: Donald Ramlow, founder, director and performer with the classic radio All Ears Theatre in Kalamazoo, describes the radio of the 1920s and demonstrates the sounds, styles and effects of the early days of radio.
  • Jazz and Blues in Detroit in the 1920s, April 27, 2 p.m.: Just as the city was booming in the 1920s, so was its nightlife. Jazz and blues were a major part of it. Lars Bjorn and Jim Gallert, authors of the book, “Before Motown: A History of Jazz in Detroit,” discuss the major artists and venues found in Detroit during the 1920s.
  • Idols of Modernity: Movie Stars of the 1920s, May 4, 2 p.m.: Patrice Petro, professor of English and film studies at University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, and author of the book “Idols of Modernity,” will explore cinema and stardom in the U.S. during the 1920s and look at the careers of both well-known and now-forgotten stars of the silent and early sound eras.

The presentations are part of the Lorenzo Cultural Center’s program series, The Roaring Twenties: From Riches to Rags, which continues through May 4. The program series offers nearly 40 free events, including presentations from local and national experts and authors, as well as exhibits and video showings. Among the exhibits is “The Power of Refined Beauty: Photographing Society Women for Pond’s, 1920s–1950s,” which features examples from J. Walter Thompson Co.’s distinctive ad campaign for the cold cream. A complete schedule of events is available here.

All presentations are free, but require preregistration at or by calling 586.445.7348. The Lorenzo Cultural Center is open 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Wednesday -Saturday and 1- 4 p.m. Sundays. School and group tours are available.

About The Lorenzo Cultural Center

The Lorenzo Cultural Center ( explores the influences and experiences that shape our community's heritage, examining topics from a variety of perspectives and creating interactive opportunities for learning, celebration and entertainment. Located on Macomb Community College's Center Campus, Hall and Garfield roads in Clinton Township, the cultural center is adjacent to the Macomb Center for Performing Arts.

About Macomb Community College

Macomb Community College ( is one of the nation’s leading community colleges, providing learning experiences to nearly 48,000 students annually. Macomb nationally ranks in the top two percent in the number of associate degrees awarded by community colleges and as the largest grantor of associate degrees in Michigan. The college’s comprehensive educational programming includes pre-collegiate experiences, university transfer and career preparation programs, bachelor degree completion and graduate degree programs, workforce training, professional education and certification, and continuing education and enrichment opportunities.

Media Contact: James Melton, 586.445.7271;