On a Monday at a Coney Island grill in Detroit, an artist in a camouflage print jacket and a Detroit ball cap stood up and spoke into a tiny microphone to the people in the restaurant. He gestured to a chalk and pencil portrait of a shirtless man with a slightly pained expression.
“This is Joe Louis the boxer,” he said as the drawing was carried around the restaurant. “It’s $60.”
“Sold,” called out a woman with curly dreads and long eyelashes.
This is the Detroit Fine Arts Breakfast Club. It’s a weekly event where Detroit amateur and professional artists showcase their work to peers and collectors.
It started with two collectors, Harold Braggs and Henry Harper, getting together Monday mornings to talk about art.
“Henry always called it Breakfast Club. He said, ‘Let’s have Breakfast Club,” recalls Harold Braggs.
But as the gathering grew to incorporate artists as well as collectors, it was moved to different venues and eventually to a different time of day. The owner at the Noni’s Sherwood Grille where the meet up currently calls home suggested getting together in the evening when the restaurant wasn’t as crowded. But by that time, the event had been solidly christened “The Breakfast Club,” so the name stuck.
Watch an audio slideshow of the event:
Artist Judy Bowman said she didn’t actually know any artists before she started coming to the Breakfast Club.
“I found that it was so nurturing and supportive,” she said. Bowman is a collage artist who also works with pastels.
“If anybody wants to get into arts, this is the place to come. You will find advocates for you, you will find supporters, you will find collectors who are interested in your art and your style.”
Nancy Tellem is one of those collectors. Tellem, a former executive at CBS and Xbox, moved out to Detroit a couple years ago from Los Angeles. She came to the event because she recently started collecting African-American art.
“I want to learn more about it and learn more about Detroit,” said Tellem.
Co-founder Henry Harper said getting artists and collectors in the same room is a win-win situation.
“A lot of artists are talented but they don’t know anything about the business of art, and being minorities, they’re not acclimated to it. So, this is an opportunity across the board,” said Harper.
The Detroit Fine Arts Breakfast Club meets from 5 to 8 p.m., every Monday at Noni’s Sherwood Grille, 19700 Livernois Ave., Detroit except holidays when the restaurant is closed.
Click on the player at the top of this page to hear an audio postcard from a December meeting.