Detroit and Environs

IAC’s 25th Annual Arts & Crafts Conference


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Kevin Adkisson, Curator, Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research. Adkisson assists in the preservation, interpretation, and programming across the many buildings and treasures of Cranbrook. Previously, Adkisson worked for Robert A.M. Stern Architects in New York City as a research and writing associate and at Kent Bloomer Studio in New Haven, CT where he designed and fabricated architectural ornament. Adkisson served as the Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research’s Collections Fellow (2016 – 2019) and Associate Curator (2019 – 2021). A native of north Georgia, Adkisson has his BA in Architecture from Yale where he worked in the Yale University Art Gallery’s American Decorative Arts Furniture Study, and an MA from the University of Delaware’s Winterthur Program in American Material Culture where he wrote his thesis on the role of postmodernism in shopping mall architecture. Member, Advisory Board for the Friends of Kebyar, which is focused on the work of architect Bruce Alonzo Goff.

Lana Aledort, Director of Merchandising, Bulova. Aledort’s interest in design started at an early age. After receiving a bachelor’s degree from New York University where she took courses in art and architecture while exploring and studying the City’s tremendous cultural resources, she then honed her skills at various global corporations, always returning to her passion for merchandising and product development. As Director of Merchandising at Bulova, a capacity in which she is proud to serve, she is dedicated to researching Bulova’s extensive history and to the constant pursuit of new ways to ensure that this history is presented in ways that are relevant and meaningful to contemporary consumers.

Nina Blomfield, Decorative Arts Trust Marie Zimmermann Collections Fellow, Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research (2021 – 2023). Blomfield assists with the care and interpretation of Cranbrook’s Cultural Properties and is researching the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Smith House and its collection of 20th-century decorative arts. Blomfield received her BA from Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, and earned her MA in History of Art at Bryn Mawr College, Pennsylvania with a thesis on the use of Japanese decorative arts by middle-class American women. She is completing a PhD at Bryn Mawr; her dissertation examines the material culture of domestic space and the global origins of Victorian home decorating. Blomfield has worked at the National Library of New Zealand’s Alexander Turnbull Library and has held graduate internships in the American Wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and in Bryn Mawr College’s Special Collections where she curated the exhibition “‘All-Over Design: Lockwood de Forest between Ahmedabad and Bryn Mawr.”

Margaret B. Caldwell, historian, consultant, appraiser, and private dealer in the field of 19th-century American and European decorative arts. Caldwell is the great-granddaughter of Edward F. Caldwell, the founder of the New York-based lighting firm E.F. Caldwell & Company (1895 – 1959), the first American company to custom design and manufacture electrical fixtures and decorative metalwork. The firm’s work can be found in private and commercial buildings throughout the United States, Canada, Cuba, and South America. A historian, consultant, appraiser, and private dealer in the field of 19th-century American and European decorative arts, Caldwell also serves on the board of the Decorative Arts Society, an organization for collectors, curators, and professionals with interest in the decorative arts.

Michael Crane, Curator of Collections, Detroit Athletic Club (DAC). He oversees the Club’s fine arts collection including paintings, sculpture, works on paper, furniture, and decorative arts. Crane collaborates with the Arts & Architecture committee on exhibitions, other activities, and collection management in the 1915 Albert Kahn-designed clubhouse. In 2012, he briefly served as Interim Director, Scarab Club, Detroit, MI. Since 2007 he has also served as a private art curator and consultant working with several key art collectors to develop and refine their collections with a focus on paintings, works on paper, sculpture, furniture, and decorative arts. From 1998 – 2007 he served as assistant curator in the Department of American Art at the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA), a tenure that culminated in his working with the department head and associate curator on the comprehensive reinstallation of the American Wing and serving on the scientific committee and exhibition team for “Life’s Pleasures: The Ashcan Artists’ Brush with Leisure, 1895 – 1925.” From 2004 – 2008 Crane served as an adjunct professor for the humanities at Wayne State University, Detroit, MI. Among his publications are “‘Recognition of Modernity’: Detroit Collects Contemporary American Art in the Early Twentieth Century” for the Bulletin of the Detroit Institute of Arts, essays for the exhibition catalog Life’s Pleasures: The Ashcan Artists’ Brush with Leisure, 1895 – 1925, “Joseph Gies, A Final Gift” for the Scarab Club, and an essay for the DIA entitled “Detroit’s Annual Exhibition of American Art: The Foundation of a Collection.” He is co-author (with C. Renner and P. Reed) of The Scarab Club: Images of America, a publication in celebration of the Scarab Club’s 2007 centennial. Crane holds a BA in Anthropology, and an MA in Art History, both from Wayne State University, Detroit, MI.

John Gallagher, journalist and author. Gallagher covered architecture and urban affairs for the Detroit Free Press for 32 years. He is the author of multiple books including Reimagining Detroit: Opportunities for Redefining an American City, which the Huffington Post listed among the best social and political books of 2010, and Yamasaki in Detroit: A Search for Serenity. Born in New York City, he attended DePaul University in Chicago and Columbia University in New York. He is a 2017 inductee into the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame. Gallagher and his wife, Sheu-Jane Gallagher, live along Detroit’s east riverfront.

Benjamin Grobe, AIA, Architect, SmithGroup. Grobe brings 17 years of experience on a diverse range of projects to SmithGroup where his work has encompassed projects such as the new Edsel and Eleanor Ford House Visitor Center & Administration Building and updates and renovations to the original 1915 building for the DAC including the gymnasium and natatorium renovation. Grobe is a registered architect in Illinois, LEED Accredited Professional for Building Design + Construction, and NCARB Certified. He holds an M Arch from the University of Michigan and a BS in Architecture from the University of Minnesota. 

Mark J. Heppner, President & CEO, Ford House, the historic estate of Edsel and Eleanor Ford, a National Historic Landmark in Grosse Pointe Shores. Before assuming his current role, Heppner was the Executive Director of Salisbury House & Gardens, an historic estate in Des Moines, Iowa. Prior to that he was the Vice President of the Museum Services Division at Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens, an AAM-accredited historic house museum in Akron, Ohio. He received his BA from Miami University, Oxford, Ohio with a major in history and minors in political science and anthropology. He received his MA in American history from Cleveland State University. Heppner is a 2004 graduate of the Seminar for Historical Administration program and in 2006 he spent a month in Thailand as a participant in an AAM-sponsored program focused on cultural exchange and appreciation. A member of Rotary who has served in several community leadership roles, Heppner is a board member and chair of MotorCities National Heritage Area and is president of the board of directors of the Grosse Pointe Chamber of Commerce. Dedicated to local and state history and assisting museums and heritage organizations with various administrative and strategic museum/community-related issues, Heppner is a former board member of the Michigan Museums Association and was recently honored with the group’s 2022 President’s Award. He resides on a historic farm in Hartland, Michigan with his wife and three children.

Michael H. Hodges, fine arts writer. Hodges was the longtime art critic at The Detroit News. Building the Modern World: Albert Kahn in Detroit is his second book on local architecture which, like his first, Michigan’s Historic Railroad Stations, was named a Notable Book by the Library of Michigan. In addition, the Michigan chapter of the American Institute of Architects honored Building the Modern World with their 2019 Balthazar Korab Prize. Hodges blames his architectural obsessions on the picturesque dairy farm north of Detroit where he grew up, and the years he spent as a student at the Cranbrook School for Boys.

Donell Hutson, Design Director, Bulova, Accutron, and Caravelle brands, Citizen Watch America. An industrial designer and artist specializing in watch design and development, he has been instrumental in the design and development of some of the company’s most successful watches, among them the Series X, Frank Sinatra, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Latin Grammy collections. Hutson holds a master’s degree in industrial design from Pratt Institute and a bachelor’s degree in fine art and Hispanic studies from Hamilton College. A strong proponent of storytelling, believing it plays a key role in the design process and in our everyday lives, he also draws inspiration from interests ranging from fine art, fashion, and music to science fiction and comics, and his native city, New York.

Lisa Koenigsberg, President, IAC. Lisa Koenigsberg is President and Founder of Initiatives in Art and Culture (IAC). An internationally recognized thought leader in visual culture, Koenigsberg’s work is characterized by a commitment to authenticity, artisanry, materials, sustainability, and responsible practice. Almost 30 years ago she established IAC’s multi-disciplinary conference series on visual culture, notably those that focus on the Arts & Crafts movement, maintaining that it is less particularities of style than the Movement’s ethos, principles, and ideals that define it. She has held leadership positions at NYU where she also served on the faculty, at several major museums, and at the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. Her publications include chapters in Auspicious Vision: Edward Wales Root and American Modernism, The Gilded Edge: The Art of the Frame, and Architecture: A Place for Women, as well as journal and magazine articles and designation reports. She has organized symposia and special sessions and given talks at universities, museums, and professional organizations throughout the US and abroad. She is board president of the Morris––Jumel Mansion and a trustee of Glessner House. She holds graduate degrees from Johns Hopkins University and from Yale University from which she received her PhD.

Rodrigo Manriquez, Head, MidWest Cultural Studio, SmithGroup. Manriquez draws on 25 years of experience gained as Lighting Design Studio Leader and in long-time collaboration with the firm’s Cultural Practice to deliver technically complex and exquisitely beautiful projects such as the Museum of the Bible, the Edsel and Eleanor Ford House Visitor Center and Administration Building, the North Carolina Museum of History, and the General Motors Design Dome, a renovation of the original 1956 Eero Saarinen structure. As an integrator of many specialties, he guides clients toward the intersection of design and engineering, the platform for maximizing visitor experience, sustainable practices, and historical relevance. Tightly woven into the firm’s national practice, Manriquez levers a vast knowledge of collections care, performing arts venues, exhibits, and museum planning, design, and construction within a multidisciplinary integrated design approach. A member of the Illuminating Engineers Society of North America (IESNA), Manriquez is a Certified Lighting Design (CLD) and is registered with the International Association of Lighting Designers (IALD). He holds a BS in Architectural Engineering, Lighting Design from the University of Kansas.

Steve McBride, Executive Director, Pewabic Pottery. A former studio potter, McBride brings more than 25 years of nonprofit management experience to his role leading Pewabic, one of the oldest continuously operating potteries in the nation and a National Historic Landmark, as well as an architectural tile studio and a ceramic arts education center. McBride joined Pewabic in 2015 after a decade with the Interlochen Center for the Arts; there, he served as Marketing Manager and Director of Annual Giving. Prior to Interlochen, McBride was Executive Director of the Beverly Arts Center of Chicago, during which time he also served on Chicago’s Cultural Facilities Task Force.

Alivia Stalnaker, AIA, is Design Architect, SmithGroup Detroit office. Stalnaker has collaborated for over a decade with large teams to deliver a variety of cultural, workplace, and higher education projects, including work at the Edsel and Eleanor Ford House, the University of Michigan, and Ally Financial. Her creativity, attention to detail, and commitment to designing unique, high-performing office environments have established her as a leader within the firm’s office. Dedicated to environmental stewardship and occupant wellbeing and certified by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards, Stalnaker is also a LEED Building Design and Construction Accredited Professional and Fitwel Ambassador. She holds an MArch from the University of Michigan and a BS in Architecture from Lawrence Technological University.

James W. Tottis, museum consultant. Tottis spent much of his career at the DIA as a curator in the Department of American Art. While there, he was responsible for 18 exhibitions, organizing six including “Life’s Pleasures: The Ashcan Artists’ Brush with Leisure, 1895 – 1925,” “American Beauty: Paintings and Sculpture from The Detroit Institute of Arts 1770 – 1920” (which traveled to three European venues), “Building Detroit: 150 Years of Architecture and Innovation,” and “From Hudson River to Impressionism: American Paintings from the Manoogian Collection” (which traveled to six venues in Japan). During his tenure, he made numerous significant acquisitions, some of which were included in a special edition of the Bulletin of the Detroit Institute of Arts entitled “Twenty Years of Collecting American Furniture and Decorative Arts 1984 – 2004 at The Detroit Institute of Arts.” He has authored and co-authored numerous publications including The Guardian Building: Cathedral of Finance and Forging a Modern Identity: American Paintings in The Detroit Institute of Arts: Artists born after 1847, volume lll. Most recently, he was Vice President of Museum Affairs, Cheekwood, and Director of Collections, Museum of the City of New York. For nearly 20 years he served as Adjunct Professor of Humanities at Wayne State University. He has and continues to serve on boards of arts organizations throughout the United States.

Richard Guy Wilson, Commonwealth Professor Emeritus in Architectural History at the University of Virginia. His many books, articles, and exhibits consider different aspects of American and modern architecture including Thomas Jefferson and the Arts & Crafts movement.

Gregory Wittkopp, Founding Director, Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research. For over three decades Wittkopp has been shaping and stewarding Cranbrook’s collections, first as a curator, then as the Director of Cranbrook Art Museum, and now as the Founding Director of the Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research. Major projects at the Museum include restoring Saarinen House, overseeing the restoration of the Eliel Saarinen-designed galleries and the creation of the state-of-the-art Collections Wing (a $22 million project completed in 2011), and the acquisition for Cranbrook of the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Smith House. His research and publications have focused on Cranbrook and its artists and include Saarinen House and Garden: A Total Work of Art and an essay in the exhibition catalog Paul Evans: Crossing Boundaries and Crafting Modernism. Wittkopp holds an MA in Art History from Wayne State University and a BS in Architecture from the University of Michigan and serves on the board of DoCoMoMo – US/MI.

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