Have camera, will travel

Have camera, will travel

By Don Rush
Special to the Clarkston News

So what do you do after a 30-year career as a graphic artist in Metro Detroit?
If you’re Oxford resident Jeff Morrison, 62, you start another career which would lead you to publish first a 322-paged book, and follow that up with a 466-paged, hardcover book.
“Guardians of Michigan: Architectural Sculpture of the Pleasant Peninsulas,” just published by the University of Michigan Press features over 1,200 photos of sculpture found on over 360 structures from more than 100 towns throughout Michigan – including architectural sculptures from Oxford, Orion and Clarkston.
“Photography has been my hobby since I was nine or 10 years old,” Morrison said. “About 10 or 15 years ago, I started going through all my old photos of Detroit and I thought I’d like to put together a book that could be sold at gift shops, maybe like 100 pages.”
He had enough photos to start the project, of three or four buildings, and then went back and took hundreds more photographs of architectural sculpture.
That led him to contacting Wayne State University.
“I knew they published a lot of architectural books. I put together a proposal and a sample booklet and they decided to publish it,” he said.
That book, “The Guardians of Detroit,” is 322 pages and was released in the spring of 2019. It sold out its first two printings and is on its third print run.
“We’ve sold something like 5,000 or 6,000 books,” said Morrison. “It’s done pretty well and it’s funny to me because I looked online to see if anyone had done a book like this on Detroit, and they hadn’t. There are a lot of books on architecture and architects, but nothing on architectural sculpture. So I was able to find an unoccupied niche that I could fill.”
As he finished up “The Guardians of Detroit,” he started to work on “The Guardians of Michigan” project.
The Michigan book has 95 feature buildings from 45 cities and another section in the rear of the book called “Other Structures” with 264 buildings.
“One of the fun parts of doing these books is finding new sculptures in places I never knew of,” Morrison said. “It started because I would look at these buildings and wonder what the meaning was behind the sculpture.”
The farthest away Morrison has traveled for the project was to the town of Wakefield, in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula – the closest featured sculptures are of the old Oxford Savings Bank, at the Scripps monastery in Orion and from the Columbiere Center in Clarkston.
“It’s become a full-time job,” he said.
On Feb. 8, Morrison will give a presentation at the Oxford Public Library on the influence of Native American culture on Michigan architectural sculpture.

PHOTO: Oxford resident Jeff Morrison beams with pride over his two books, plus an adult coloring book based on his first book, “The Guardians of Detroit.” Photo: D. Rush

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.