Sue Marx’s photos titled “Walk to Freedom” from a June 23, 1963, Detroit civil rights demonstration, are among many on display now at the Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center.

Sue Marx’s photos titled “Walk to Freedom” from a June 23, 1963, Detroit civil rights demonstration, are among many on display now at the Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center.

Photo from the Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center website

Vintage Detroit photographs part of BBAC reopening

By: Tiffany Esshaki | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published September 21, 2020


BIRMINGHAM — On Sept. 11, while most schools were wrapping up their first week of virtual classes, the Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center was taking its first steps to open its doors again for in-person adult class, workshops, and — in true BBAC style — not-to-be-missed exhibitions from talented local artists.

In fact, four new in-person exhibits opened to guests earlier this month.

“Madelaine Corbin: Mass + Measure” features the work of the Detroit-based multidisciplinary artist and Cranbrook Academy of Art alumna who moves between sculpture, installation, drawing and bookmaking.

“Madelaine Corbin in the Ramp Gallery with her exhibition ‘Mass + Measure,’ a recent Cranbrook MFA graduate whose works are her interpretation of landscapes — inspired by her home in Oregon and again more relevant now that many of these landscapes have disappeared with the fires,” said BBAC President and CEO Annie VanGelderen in an email.

BBAC instructor Timothy Widener, who has taught painting at the center for more than 25 years, has exhibited his work several times internationally, including in Japan and China. But this month, he’ll pass the torch to his advanced students with an exhibit that will feature their paintings.

“The Birmingham Society of Women Painters: Flying Colors” exhibition is a sampling of the works of 30-40 accomplished and award-winning artists, juried by artist Ken Hershenson. The multimedia show includes oils, watercolors, acrylics, and pen and ink, ranging from small accent pieces to large-scale works.

The BSWP, founded in 1944, provides mutual support and encouragement for its members and opportunities for exhibitions such as this one at the BBAC.

But the highlight of the lot might be the exhibition of photographs by Sue Marx, the acclaimed Detroit-based photographer, producer, writer and director. She founded Sue Marx Films in Detroit in 1980 and has since collected Emmys and an Academy Award for her work in television and film.

The collection of photos in the exhibit illustrate the turbulent and interesting times of the 1960s, organizers said, from celebrities to politicians to ordinary Detroiters, glimpsed from the lens of Marx, a Wayne State University graduate.

“With this being our first on-site exhibition since our closing, it brings even more joy and accomplishment.  Sue’s exhibition was over a year in the making, and now that it is unveiled, we couldn’t be happier,” VanGelderen said. “It takes us back to a different time, but yet so relevant to today. Through her lens, she captured poignant yet historical images that illustrates a narrative of the ’60s while being a trailblazer as a woman in her field.  However modest Sue Marx is, we are fortunate to have this ‘Detroiter’ with us and share her work at the Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center for visitors and collectors to view her art.”

Asked whether Marx has a favorite photograph in the exhibit, she said she doesn’t, though each image holds a special place in her heart, not to mention history.

“This show captures a time in place … memories,” Marx said in an email. “I so enjoyed photography, but my favorite times were when I was photographing people. I was always excited to meet and know these people, and most became my friends and still are.”

Not all memories are heartwarming, of course, but they are nonetheless profound.

“Black lives matter as much then as they do now,” Marx said of her image titled “The Walk to Freedom March,” shot on June 23, 1963. “There is still no equality.”

In-person exhibitions are open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays, and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Fridays. Check for Saturday hours, as they may change. For more information, call (248) 644-0866 or visit

The Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center is located at 1516 S. Cranbrook Road in Birmingham.