The new book, part art, part memoir, stayed within the realm of Farbman’s fortunate experiences as a collector.
During the isolation imposed in response to COVID, writer Suzy Farbman found a way to break away from feelings of listlessness and lethargy and share her perspective with others. She embarked on a new project that has enthusiastically become her third book.
Detroit’s Cass Corridor & Beyond: An Art Collector’s Adventures was published in June and was different from Farbman’s two previous books. The new book, part art and part memoir, stayed within the realm of her fortunate experiences as a collector.
The book is a coffee-table project, mostly showing what she has collected and the people she has learned from in assembling the collection. The intensity began with an abstract rabbit she chose for her husband Burton to celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary.
“This is the history of the art world that I knew,” said Farbman, who has written for, among others, in his own career Detroit News, women’s clothing daily and Better houses and gardens. Her new book is full of pictures of her home in Franklin, including many photos of Beth Singer.
“An art world less stabilized by politics and political correctness… A world where people thrived in crowded galleries and museums… This is the story of the Detroit I knew and wrote about, mostly in the 1970s and 1980s, the art world I experienced, the joy I got from collecting.”
Farbman, who currently writes for the web magazine read the mind tells of the spiritual inspirations that lead people out of difficult situations. Farbman’s new book aims to move beyond the feelings expressed in her earlier accounts of the most traumatic times of her life.
the first book, Back from Betrayal: Save a Marriage, a Family, a Life (2004), recalls a struggle to resume relationships after discovering infidelity. the second book, Signs of God: Health, Hope and Miracles, My Journey to Recovery (2012), recalls a struggle to save her life from cancer.
While each of the previous books took five years to create, the latest was completed in a year with the help of friends who could manipulate the technical side of reproducing images. Like the others, it was self-published.
“I love the cover art and the cover art,” Farbman said. “I like the ease with which the story is told.”
Looking through the images in the book, seeing the art and the people behind the art, helps to understand the professional contacts Farbman met and befriended as she explored the art culture of the Cass Corridor near Wayne State University. Both the design specialists and the representative sellers were relevant and an index at the end of the book helps to locate the images shown.
Always a collector
A cousin, Lydia Winston Malbin, introduced Farbman to the art when Farbman was 16 years old. Their impressions were left by Italian works that covered the walls in Malbin’s home. Later, early in her career after graduating from the University of Michigan, Farbman met Gertrude Kasle, who had a gallery near the Detroit building where Farbman worked early in her career.
The author has many happy memories of building a collection and friendships that come with the artistic examples. Brenda Goodman, for example, is a friend who has relocated outside of Michigan but has had local presenters show parts of her work.
“Brenda’s work just keeps getting better,” Farbman said. “It’s exciting to have been downstairs with her. I have admired their work for so long.”
Another outstanding artistic memory has to do with a trip to Japan the author took with her sister in 2018. Farbman describes this as the most awe-inspiring experience of any artwork she has observed.
The Farbmans, members of Temple Beth El, have two sons and seven grandchildren who attend Hillel Day School. Although Farbman doesn’t specifically look for art by Jewish artists, there are some in the collection.
Farbman, 78, has stopped buying new pieces, but she hasn’t started her promised downsizing. A daughter-in-law will probably be the recipient and with this book she will have an overview of the contents of the collection.
“I want readers to enjoy my book, and I hope they feel like they can enjoy art, too,” Farbman said. “It doesn’t have to be so serious or intimidating.
“They can enjoy the opportunity to mix old antiques with contemporary pieces and just take joy and delight in their surroundings and what collecting can do to enrich their lives.
“I hope the book gives a little more credibility to a remarkable group of artists and amazing art dealers who deserve respect.”
Detroit’s Cass Corridor & Beyond: An Art Collector’s Adventures is available from Amazon in both hard and soft covers.