Mercer met veteran dance teacher Harriet Berg during a happy hour at The Whitney. “She had shocking white hair and sucked me in with her talk of a whirlwind trip to Venezuela,” Mercer says. She knew immediately that Berg, 87, probably had a great story, but didn’t learn until later about her influence in Detroit’s modern-dance world. “Aren’t the most interesting people the ones you meet by chance?” Mercer says. Before moving to metro Detroit, Mercer was a staff reporter for the Chattanooga Times Free Press, where she reported on the state and federal courts of Tennessee. Before that, she was a staff features writer for a national newspaper in India. She has a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University.
Edgar, an Oak Park-based freelance writer, came away from her visit to the 2-year-old Henry Ford Academy: School for Creative Studies (HFA: SCS) in Detroit with a newfound appreciation of specialized public education. The charter school, which shares space with the College of Creative Studies, is the subject of her piece. She says HFA: SCS is the kind of place that inspires students, through intense study of art and design, to discover the best in themselves and others. Edgar is a former reporter for the Detroit Free Press.
When he was 16, Vecchio’s parents offered to buy him a camera for a trip to Sweden, but he wasn’t interested. “At that point, I didn’t know what photography could be,” says the resident of Detroit’s Woodbridge neighborhood. A high-school photography class the following year changed his mind, however. “That’s when it clicked, and I realized the potential,” he says. “Photography can be as immersive and hands-on as you want it to be.” Since getting a bachelor of fine arts degree in photography and graphic design from Wayne State University in 2008, Vecchio has done commercial automotive work across the country. This month’s men’s fashion feature is Vecchio’s first contribution to Hour Detroit.
LaRotonda is a Buffalo, N.Y.-based illustrator, painter, and sculptor whose surreal work has won the admiration of actor Johnny Depp. Depp’s description of LaRotonda’s work as “mirrored remnants of a forgotten history,” also could refer to this month’s story about Detroit-born actor William Talman. In illustrating Talman’s powerful final scene, LaRotonda says, “I made him literally emerging from the TV to exaggerate the concept.” LaRotonda’s work has appeared in Time, The Washington Post, and The New York Times, and can be seen in four feature-length films, including the Academy Award-winning Traffic.