Sunday, May 29, 2005

Spotlight on: Detroit's Scarab Club

Sign above the Entryway Door

Historically-designated properties are prominent throughout Detroit, from the land of Historic Fort Wayne, to the old mansions of Indian Village, to the many churches, buildings, and sites that helped Detroit make it what it is today.

One historic property - the Scarab Club - often goes undetected, mainly because of its off-the-avenue location east of Woodward. Its rich history in Detroit's Midtown area, as well as its continued membership in the city's cultural community, make it a gem worth seeking out.

The Scarab Club is listed on the Registry of National Historic places

Founded in 1907 as the Hopkins Club, after Detroit marine painter Robert Hopkins, the Scarab Club is one of Michigan's oldest art institutions. After expanding from a social club to an organization focused on the continual renewal of the arts in Detroit, the club changed its name in 1913 to Scarab, an Egyptian word meaning rebirth.

A large sculpture of a scarab is visible on the building's west wall

The current building - created by architect Lancelot Sukert in 1928 - sits on the corner of John R. and Farnsworth, just east of Woodward avenue. Exemplary of the romantic Arts and Crafts style of the time, Sukert's building presently houses a main gallery, art studios, classrooms, and a lounge, which features high beams and a fireplace. The beams, although beautiful by themselves, have taken on a significance beyond their original purpose; over the years, they have become a literal signing board for many local and international artists, as well as significant contributors to Detroit arts programs. The signatures of Diego Rivera, Norman Rockwell, and Marcel Duchamp are a few of the names the beams display.

Always displaying the works of Detroit and Michigan artists, the Scarab Club also plays host to a photography exhibition every year. Other annual events include its Chamber Music at the Scarab Club series, and the Gold and Silver Medal exhibitions of painting and sculpture.

Open to the public from noon - 5 pm every Wednesday through Sunday, the club offers a wide variety of art classes, from beginning drawing to more advanced sculpture and design courses. Aside from its normal operating hours, it also opens its doors during special events, such as its upcoming Garden Party on June 12 and the Detroit Festival of the Arts, which runs from June 11 - 13. Other special events and weekly classes can be viewed at the club's