Train of Thoughts
Collaboration of ideas and passions leads to remarkable railroad display
When Grosse Pointe Woods resident Bill Rennolds, right, bought his first Lionel train set at the age of 26, he had no idea that, 25 years later, he’d be transforming his home to accommodate a lavish, permanent train setup.
“About six years ago,” Rennolds says, “I was out to dinner and realized I wanted to unbox my collected trains and enjoy them in a new way. On a paper napkin, I sketched my idea — and the journey began.”
A chance meeting with a couple of other collectors led to a design collaboration — and wife-approved construction project — that included adding a third story to Rennolds’ home. The additional space now houses the train and its accessories in an elegant, inviting room that’s chock-full of amenities.
The layout attractions include a town with shops and a movie theater, as well as a fully operational carnival with a backdrop of fiber-optic stars twinkling from a glowing (created with ultraviolet paint) sky.
“It takes a couple of nights to decorate for Christmas,” Rennolds says, and with his Dept. 56 Snow Village — and a dizzying array of other decorations — the transformation magically happens.
Family and friends are totally entranced, transported to a place of warmly-lit trackside stores and cozy second-story apartments, eggnog delivery men (Twin Pines!), and bright marquees (with The Grinch, of course, as the headliner). — Honey Murray
All Through the House(s)
Historic Michigan homes appear in Christmas books
Two holiday coffee table books (Schiffer Publishing) mention a couple of treasured Michigan sites: the 1869 Italianate-style Crocker House in Mount Clemens, and the Tudor Revival-style Edsel & Eleanor Ford House in Grosse Pointe Shores. Christmas at Historic Houses (right, by Patricia Hart McMillan and Katharine Kaye McMillan) takes readers on a colorful and elegant tour of some of the nation’s prettiest homes, decked in all things holiday. One of the homes the book mentions is the Crocker House. Meanwhile, Christmas at America’s Landmark Houses (by Patricia Hart McMillan and David Strahan) brims with holiday decorating and interior design tips, and provides information about the history and architecture of the homes that are showcased in the book (including the Ford House). The foreword is by Christopher Radko, famed re-creator of vintage Christmas ornaments. schifferbooks.com, amazon.com, Barnes & Noble area stores, barnesandnoble.com
Tour Time: The Crocker House Museum (crockerhousemuseum.com) is open for tours through December; hours are 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. For information on holiday tours and events at the Edsel & Eleanor Ford House, see this issue’s Datebook section.
The Kidd’s Legacy
Birmingham gallery owner/resident follows a unique path to art
Gerard Marti, the new co-owner of the Robert Kidd Gallery in Birmingham, grew up on the French Riviera and moved to Paris at the age of 20 with the intention of studying art at the École des Beaux-Arts. Instead, he ended up in the music industry.
In 1991, Marti moved to the island of Maui in Hawaii, where his passion for art inspired him to open an art gallery called Celebrites. And because of his love of music and his personal relationships with some of the world’s top entertainers in the music industry, both the Maui and Birmingham galleries today specialize in artwork created by such celebrity artists as John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Leonard Cohen, Jerry Garcia, Tony Bennett, Mick Fleetwood, and Ringo Starr, as well as Rock ‘n’ Roll photography by several iconic photographers.
Here, the charming gallery owner, who lives in an art-filled condominium in Birmingham, shares his gallery inspirations, favorite artwork insights, and more.
Q: Why Birmingham?
A: “In July 2014 I was supposed to fly from Los Angeles to Maui, but I delayed my trip because of hurricane warnings and visited a friend in Birmingham. I went to the Kidd Gallery and loved the space and the art. The woman who was there told me the gallery was going to be closing because the owner had passed away. So my partner (Jennifer Vinklarek) and I purchased it.”
Q: How do you select non-celebrity-created artwork?
A: “Before I choose a new artist to represent, I live with his or her art at home for two or three weeks and see it in different kinds of light — because, after all, art is meant to be in people’s houses, not in a gallery.”
Q: Will the gallery name change?
A: “I kept the name because the gallery, which was founded in 1976, had a good reputation, and I kept most of its artists. I wanted to respect its legacy.”
Q: How do you like living in the Detroit area?
A: “I love the energy in the air. The people of Michigan are full-on committed to bringing Detroit back to what it used to be.”
Q: Any leisure time for fun?
A: “Yes! I go to concerts, restaurants, plays. I have been deprived because I lived on a small island for years!”
Q: What’s your favorite artwork from your own collection?
A: “A painting by my daughter, Tatiana, which she created when she was 12. It’s abstract and really cute. Now she’s 22; she went to art school and is really talented.”
— Judith Harris Solomon
Local entrepreneur presents Signature Santa
You could say that Curtis Posuniak is as excited about the holidays as Santa Claus himself. Each year, the Bloomfield Township resident showcases a new holiday ornament, which rolls out of Posuniak’s great big “bag” of merriment. He’s been orchestrating the creation of old-fashioned, European-style ornaments since 1996 (he started with classic musicians). Today, his Klassics by Kurtis company creates everything from glass-blown ornaments (mouth-blown and hand-painted in Poland by some of the world’s top artisans) to commissioned designs for such facilities as the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island and the Detroit Athletic Club. “I’m very excited about a postcard-style ornament we just created for Original Murdick’s Fudge on Mackinac Island,” he says. Its design captures a quaint Main Street holiday scene from a painting created by island artist Noel Skiba. (That ornament will be for sale on the candy company’s website — originalmurdicksfudge.com.) The nutcracker-toting Santa at right and other ornaments are available for purchase at klassicsbykurtis.com.
PBS Puts Pewabic in Spotlight
The stuff of earth, the press of hands, a fire’s heat. With these — and a deeply rooted love for their crafting tradition — artisans continue to transform Pewabic’s signature stoneware clay into tiles, dinnerware, vases, vessels, and ornaments. On Dec. 14 at 8 p.m. the PBS series Craft in America will showcase the Detroit art studio in its Celebration episode (WTVS Detroit Public TV). Celebration is a seventh-season episode of the Peabody Award-winning series that tells the stories of American artists and the origins and meanings of their crafts and techniques — the stories of people who make things by hand. It explores and celebrates the role that crafting plays in our holiday customs and winter observances. As viewers of Craft in America watch Pewabic artists create Twelve Days of Christmas ornaments, area residents/viewers will likely be proud that this national historic landmark and its creations are part of our local heritage. pewabic.org — Honey Murray
Kurtis Kitchen & Bath Celebrates Royal Oak Showroom Grand Opening
Kurtis Kitchen & Bath now has a Royal Oak showroom to highlight new concepts and materials for kitchens and baths. Check out 13 working and display kitchens, 10 working and display bathrooms, and five other displays featuring various materials, styles, and products. The showroom, at 32722 Woodward Ave., sells brands ranging from KraftMaid and Wellborn to UltraCraft, Delta, and Kohler.
Sarah Reep, right, director of designer relations and education for Masco Cabinetry, spoke at the showroom’s grand opening and discussed what’s new, now, and next in kitchen design. She’ll be a keynote speaker at the upcoming 2016 Great Lakes Builders Show (see this issue’s Datebook for more on thebuilders show). Kurtis also has locations in Clarkston, Livonia, Warren, and Woodhaven. kurtiskitchen.com