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  • Writer's pictureJOHN OSLER'S UPBEAT Admin



Once an artist has put his final touches on a piece of art he is faced with a choice, to add it to the pile in the basement or offer it up as an important piece of art. Marketing doesn’t always come naturally for a creative artist. It is easier to give it away and let someone else decide the fate of one’s art.

Certainly there are those who can go deep into the creative process completely immersed in their art and emerge transformed into a marketing giant. For these lucky folks the high from their success carries over to the final step of the creative process, that of sharing their work..

For the rest of us who create art, music, poetry, etc., we find our comfort zone is limited to the first stages of the creative process. For us this is where the excitement lies. The process can be tortuous, but the final result can elevate one to satisfying heights. Stepping back and reveling in this grand  moment of success is often short lived. The reality of what you do with your creation is upon an artist much too fast. Fortunately there is often someone to partner with artists to help get them through this potentially ego busting exposure of their newborn creation.

Marketing, promoting, and encouraging art is an art in itself. I have found that those who  bring good art forward have a passion for art and an understanding of the difficult.process. The challenge for the artist is to find that person or organization.

One day I found that I had run out of room for all the canvases that I had accumulated and realized that I sure could use some refunding of my life. I started to look for a gallery to peddle my art. I had reason to be in Washington DC, Chicago, New Orleans, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Taos and Carmel and made a point of visiting as many galleries as I could. I found some really well curated  galleries where the staff knew something about art and marketing. Usually my work didn’t fit the current market as they saw it. I took solace in the fact  that this put me in the same league as Van Gogh and many artists and  jazz pioneers whom I most admire. It sure is nice to get a helping hand at this final stage of the creative process.

Here are a few folks who thankfully have helped to share the work of artists.


In 1537 the young Cosimo de’ Medici (1519–1574) was plucked from relative obscurity in the Tuscan countryside to lead Florence. He elevated himself to absolute ruler of Florence. By 1569, when Cosimo convinced Pope Pius V (1504–1572) to bestow on him the title of Grand Duke of Tuscany, he had expanded his totalitarian rule throughout the Tuscan territories, sometimes violently seizing control of neighboring cities.

Cosima had a lot of power to get things done, but fortunately Cosimo also had a  wide-ranging intellect, including a deeply rooted interest in art and literature and a keen fascination with botany, chemistry, and zoology. He became the prototype of the arts patron. His family’s patronage of the arts rather than their overbearing power has left a glorious legacy.


Lorenzo was the grandson of Cosima de’ Medici who became the most powerful and enthusiastic patron of the Renaissance.

He was a magnate, diplomat and politician but is best known as the  patron of scholars, artists and poets.  The world can thank the de’ Medici family for sponsoring artists such as Botticelli and Michelangelo Because of their support Florence became known for its art, just as Detroit continues to be known for its music thanks to the contributions of Gretchen Valade.

Without Lorenzo’s help Michelangelo probably would have ended up selling  miniature frescoes in a square in Florence. The large hunk of marble that is David would be a large piece of marble in the quarry.

Michelangelo’s works from this period continued to influence sculptors and painters throughout the late Renaissance and Baroque eras, all thanks to the passion that the de’Medici family had for art.

Closer to home is a friend that has given so many artists the help that they needed when they needed it. She is also a lot nicer than the folks the Renaissance artists had to deal with.



Much gentler than the sometimes ruthless de’ Medicis, Gretchen has become Detroit’s angel for jazz and has shared Detroit’s jazz artistry with the world.

Out of her passion for jazz she has successfully promoted our local artists and also offered them her friendship. She has always had an unconditional love for the music and a deep empathy for the artist. She has helped Detroit jazz to maintain its role in the growth of jazz. She has been  the ultimate partner for jazz musicians especially when they needed a lift.

Detroit is a city that prides itself on being resilient. We are the comeback city. We get knocked down, and we get back up.  We need some help sometimes. We look for a champion to appear. Sometimes we get lucky and one of our own steps up. They tell us we count and that we are special. They get strong when the weak walk away.

In 2005 a champion appeared. Gretchen Valade said  “PHOOEY” to the people that thought Detroit was dying. She saw the vibrant talent in the Detroit jazz community and she knew that the people of Detroit have their hopes permanently entangled in the city’s music.  She was all over this task. How lucky that it was someone of Gretchen’s integrity who took charge. She was determined to keep the Detroit Jazz Festival distinctively Detroit’s. Today it remains free for all to enjoy and is celebrated around the world as a symbol of the best side of Detroit’s character.

She made me aware that the festival doesn’t just happen. It takes planning, hard work, attention to details and oversight.  Not just casual oversight but oversight that comes with purpose and a respect for the music and the people of Detroit.

She gets things done with grace and authority. The festival is the result of the right people doing their best to provide Detroit music lovers the best free Jazz festival in the world.

When Gretchen saved the Festival it was just one of her first acts of sharing Detroit’s most important music, jazz. She continues to be one of Detroit. jazz artists best friends.


An example of sharing gifts of art with others was on full display last week when for two nights two of jazz ‘s most visible artists played the  Dirty Dog. Bassist Esperanza Spalding and drummer Terri Lyne Carrington were in town in their roles in the Detroit jazz Festival’s resident ensemble. This is a program that exists because of Gretchen’s generosity. The program is one of Gretchen Valade’s efforts to get today’s most creative artists to bring their magic both to the festival and to Detroit’s larger jazz community.

This story of sharing didn’t stop here. Playing along with Esperanza and Teri Lyne at the sold out events at the Dirty Dog were two local musicians. Ian Finkelstein was scheduled to play the Dirty Dog’s great Steinway piano and play he did. The results showed on the faces in the room, including Esperanza’s.

A bassist, Jonathan Muir-Cotton was introduced to the house when Esperanza vacated the bass to sing. He was good. His story that night is even better. Jonathan was a new face and it was assumed that he traveled with the headliners from New York. It turns out he is from Ann Arbor and a student at Wayne State. The morning of the gig he happened to play in a master class with Esperanza Spalding as part of Gretchen’s program. She liked his playing, took his card and later she called him and asked if his was doing anything that night. This is how it works when those at the top share the stage. It was a magical night and the musicians faces showed us the results. It turned out that there wasn’t one featured player, it was the process of sharing the music that was the star of the show.

It was all in all a great event. It revealed to us what sharing and passion looks like.

John Osler


June 27 – June 30


Randy Napoleon will be in the house starting Wednesday

George Benson said: [Randy Napoleon]. He has an all-fingers approach; he doesn’t use just thumb or pick. He’s spectacular”.

Comparing him to Wes Montgomery, music critic Michael G. Nastos says, “he displays an even balance of swing, soul, and single-line or chord elements that mark an emerging voice dedicated to tradition and universally accessible jazz values.”

Randy has performed on The Tonight Show, Late Night With David Letterman, The View, The Today Show, and The Ellen DeGeneres show as well as TV shows in South America, Europe and Asia. Napoleon has played or arranged on over seventy records.

Randy has returned to Michigan to teach in the important jazz program at MSU after an extended stay in New York. Randy knows how to share his good fortune.

Come out to the Dirty Dog where he will be sharing his music and smile with us.

#Detroit #DirtyDog #EsperanzaSpalding #DetroitJazzFestival #RodneyWhitaker #SeanDobbins #Jazz #Music #DetroitJazz #DirtyDogJazzCafé #JudyAdams #JazzinDetroit #JAZZMUSIC #RalpheArmstrong #TerriLynnCarrington #musicDirtyDogJazzCafe

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