Partners in Art

A mother-and-son duo revive historic Detroit landmark | Photography by Theodore M. Schinkel

ARTISTRY Linda Schinkel Rodney and her son, Theodore M. Schinkel, and their mixed-media artwork.

For Linda Schinkel Rodney and her son, Theodore M. Schinkel, there were similarities between the Greek Revival style of the Moross House they are currently renovating and the visual aspects of their mixed-media Metalagram art, which put them on the map. Both share industrial aspects that are somehow refined, while the transition from the home’s urban interiors to the Secret Garden backyard connects the natural landscape to the organic elements in their work.

Said to be the oldest brick dwelling in Detroit, the historic house, built in 1840, once owned by the city and occupied by the Detroit Historical Society and Detroit Garden Club, was already set up as a live/work space. Schinkel Fine Art’s self-taught duo plans to keep it that way, with an apartment for Theodore and a studio space on the second floor, and a showroom on the main level.

“The Historical Society told me that when the city owned the home they operated it as a museum,” Linda says. “They showed and exhibited Detroit memorabilia including portraits of Moross family members that originally hung in the home. The Historical Society still has those portraits in their storage. We also have artifacts originally dug from the backyard, when the Garden Club renovated the yard in the 1970s. The Historical Society told us they’d loan the portraits to us to exhibit in the home, which we likely will do in the future, perhaps for a special exhibit. We are inspired by the legacy of the home, which already had and will continue to have an ongoing influence on our work.”

As restoration and repairs continue (Grosse Pointe Woods’ Tamara Kessler & Associates is working with the duo), the showroom and studio remain open by appointment. “We bought the house to express who we are and to create a good ecosystem,” Linda says. Adds Theodore: “It had good bones and acts as a canvas for the art; they make an impactful pairing.”

The artist at work.

As Theodore explains, the garden likely has the oldest wisteria in the Midwest, according to the University of Michigan, and he and his mother hope to make it an even more prominent feature. “It’s an evolving art installation in itself,” he says. Outdoor space on the side of the house could house an additional gallery.

We began experimenting, using our strengths, and came up with our 2-D mixed-media sculptures.
— Linda Schinkel Rodney

The mother and son communicate through their creations. “We want to empower, enlighten, and energize,” Linda says. “People feel connected to the home’s history, and art develops critical thinking and awareness. It helped Theodore, who struggled with literacy from dyslexia.” Their new charity, Conceptions Connect, works with schools and communities through art education and more.

SHOWTIME Schinkel Fine Art is located in what is said to be the oldest brick dwelling (the Moross House) in Detroit.

Their 2-D mixed-media sculptures were born after Linda had been creating and exhibiting mixed-media photography and painting work, and Theodore had been working in the film industry. Theodore asked if Linda wanted to create works together. “Then we began experimenting, using our strengths, and came up with our 2-D mixed-media sculptures,” Linda says. During his downtime between gigs, their creative minds collided as they printed on aluminum, which has more dimension than paper or canvas with the potential for a variety of patinas, engraving, and more.

Inspiration comes from theater, music, museums, and human nature as the mother and son meld Old World techniques and 21st century technology for the art they say found them. Perhaps their artistic inclinations come from their familial ancestor, Karl Friedrich Schinkel, a prominent German architect and painter. Now they’ve found the perfect place with a personal connection: Linda was born down the street, and her parents met on Belle Isle. “It’s really a legacy statement for us to be in Detroit,” she says.

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