Artist Frederick Klass Jr. provides colorful highlight of the Michigan Modernism Expo

The Michigan Modernism Exposition. Photo credit: Kelly Zatkoff.

If you are looking to ogle mid-century merchandise with fellow enthusiasts, look no further than the Michigan
Modernism Exposition
, going on April 27 and 28 at the Southfield Municipal Complex. The Detroit Area Art Deco Society will also host a preview party on April 26 from 7 to 10 p.m.

The Michigan Modernism Exposition started in 1993 when a group of enthusiasts recognized an emerging market and a growing appreciation for Modernism and the art and objects produced during the period.

Over the years the exposition has become increasingly popular, with 50 of the nation’s leading Modernism dealers showcasing and selling their merchandise.

One of the expo’s fifty dealers is Frederick Klass Jr. He makes furniture and lighting from salvaged materials. Recently he began making bright, colorful mobiles from repurposed materials.

The mobiles came about when Klass Jr. came across a pair of old croquet balls from the 1920’s. Klass Jr. originally left them in a bowl for decoration, but he soon found that they had more potential than a just a coffee table accessory. Using strong gage wire, he fashioned his first mobile by hand and brought them to sell at last year’s Michigan Modernism Expo. He sold out of all of his mobiles almost instantly.

Klass’s mobiles are a result of years of tinkering with found objects. He was 14 when he started restoring pieces. Over the years he turned his hobby into his career. Klass describes his process of creating his custom pieces as a “Combination of finding cool components and finding the best uses for them.”

When Klass creates, he finds inspiration in the five senses. Klass explains, “[My art] has to employ the tactile senses.”

He goes on to describe how his mobiles appeal to his tactile senses.

“It’s smooth. It speaks to the five senses, motion and balance. There are a lot of pieces working together and there is an architectural form into the base. There is a sense of wonder from the balance.”

You can see Klass’s work and other Modernism dealers at the Michigan Modernism Exposition. For dates, hours and ticket information, visit