Ballroom of the Lee Plaza Hotel circa 1930
Rows and rows of empty, Diego.
Stunted trees too poor to leave.
The germ and jelly of miscarriage
plated and plattered.
Even before our trip to this so-called paradise,
the motley were marching -
the women swinging their cotton dresses,
men raising their voices in "L'Internationale."
But, no one could tell you, Diego.
You wouldn't hear.
Now, I fear it's too late
to catch and cure the cancer
you misdiagnosed and celebrated in the murals.
The machines do not free the worker,
feed the worker,
or even need the worker anymore, Diego.
The machines bake bread no one can afford to eat,
and art is just an echo.
Ballroom of the Lee Plaza Hotel, present day
Notes: When it was built in 1929, Detroit's Lee Plaza Hotel was an opulent hotel / apartment building for the city's wealthiest residents. The hotel changed hands several times, was at one time a senior living complex, and has been abandoned since the 1990s.
In 1932, Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo arrived in Detroit for a 10 month stay. Diego had been commissioned to paint a mural depicting the Ford Factory for the Detroit Institute of Art. The resulting controversial work celebrated the working classes and reflected Diego's belief than automation would improve working conditions.
I have no reason to believe that Diego and Frida stayed at Lee Plaza during their time in Detroit. But, it would make a hell of a story, wouldn't it?