The Adventures of an Art Collector: Susie Farbman’s New Book Takes Readers to the Cass Corridor and Beyond

Abstract Rabbit by Michael Luchs. (Courtesy of Susie Farbman)

The new book, part art and part memoir, stayed within the realm of Farbman’s happy experiences as a collector.

During the isolation imposed in response to COVID, writer Susie Farbman found a way to shake off feelings of exhaustion and lethargy and share her perspective with others. She embarked on a new project, which enthusiastically turned into her third book.

Detroit’s Cass Corridor and Beyond: The Adventures of an Art Collector was released in June and was unlike Farbman’s two earlier books. The new book, part art and part memoir, stayed within the realm of her happy experiences as a collector.

The book is a coffee table project that mostly shows what she collected and the people she learned from as she put together the collection. The intensity started with an abstract rabbit she chose for her husband Burton to celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary.

Susie Farbman
Susie Farbman

“This is the story of the art world that I knew,” said Farbman, whose own career includes writing for Detroit news, Casual women’s clothing and Better Homes and Gardens. Her new book is full of photos of her home in Franklin with many photos taken by Beth Singer.

“An art world less stabilized by politics and political correctness … A world where people feel comfortable in crowded galleries and museums … This is the story of the Detroit I knew and wrote about, mostly in the 1970s and The 80s, the art world I experienced, the joy I had in collecting.”

Farbman, who currently writes for the web magazine Read the Spirit, tells about the spiritual inspirations that lead people away from difficult circumstances. Farbman’s new book aims to leave behind the feelings expressed in her previous accounts of the most traumatic moments of her life.

The first book Back from Betrayal: Saving a Marriage, a Family, a Life (2004), recalls a struggle to rekindle relationships after discovering infidelity. the second book, God’s Signs: Health, Hope, and Miracles, My Journey to Recovery (2012), recalls the battle to save her life from cancer.

While each of the earlier books took five years to write, the latest was completed in a year with the help of friends who could manipulate the technical side of photo reproduction. It was self-published like the others.

“I love the cover photo and the cover graphic,” Farbman said. “I like the ease with which the story is told.”

Susie Farbman book cover

Looking at the photos in the book, seeing the art and the people behind the art, helps connect the professional contacts Farbman met and befriended while exploring the art culture of the Cass Corridor, near Wayne State University. Both design specialists and sales representatives were substantial, and an index at the back of the book helps locate the images shown.

Always a collector

A cousin, Lydia Winston Malbin, introduced Farbman to art when Farbman was 16. Their impressions made Italian works covering the walls in Malbin’s home. Later, early in his career after graduating from the University of Michigan, Farbman met Gertrude Castle, who had a gallery near the Detroit building where Farbman worked early in his career.

This author has many happy memories of creating a collection and the friendships that go along with the art samples. Brenda Goodman, for example, is a friend who has moved outside of Michigan but has pieces of her work shown by local presenters.

“Brenda’s work just keeps getting better and better,” Farbman said. “It’s exciting to be on the ground floor with her. I have admired her work for so long.”

Another outstanding artistic memory is related to a trip to Japan that the author made in 2018 with her sister. Farbman describes this as the most impressive experience of all the works of art she has observed.

Abstract Rabbit by Michael Luchs
Abstract Rabbit by Michael Luchs. Susie Farbman

The Farbmans, members of Temple Beth El, have two sons and seven grandchildren who attend Hillel Day School. Although Farbman is not specifically looking for art by Jewish artists, there are some in the collection.

Farbman, 78, has stopped buying new items, but hasn’t started the reduction she promised. A daughter-in-law will likely be the recipient and with this book will be a brief description of the contents of the collection.

“I want readers to derive joy from my book, and I hope they walk away feeling that they, too, can enjoy art,” Farbman said. “It doesn’t have to be this serious or embarrassing.

“They can enjoy the ability to mix old antiques with modern objects and just derive joy and pleasure from their surroundings and what collecting can do in terms of enriching their lives.”

“I hope the book gives a little more credence to a remarkable group of artists and incredible art dealers who deserve respect.”

Details

Detroit’s Cass Corridor and Beyond: The Adventures of an Art Collector available on Amazon in hardcover and paperback.

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