"Follow the Art" to Ann Arbor, MI

“Follow the Art” hit the road from June 20-24th to Ann Arbor, Michigan- my dad's hometown! We interviewed 8 people during this time whom all had a great part in my dad's life.

We embarked on our passage early on Monday, June 20th. All of our production gear was stuffed in the back. The heat was high and it was a long drive without air conditioning- but a fun one!

Our first stop was at Mike and Lisa Monahan’s place where they prepared a seafood feast for us. Mike and my dad go way back to their Grand Valley State College days and have hosted my dad for years when he visits Ann Arbor schools. The evening was filled with laughter, stories, seafood, and some amazing documentary moments. ( Monahan's Seafood)

The next day we explored Ann Arbor, then met with my dad’s friend Paul Schwimmer. We linked up at his cabin and set up our gear for an interview. They spoke with great fondness about their time as teens aboard the 12-meter racing yacht, Mitena. They also shared exciting adventures, and a life-saving rescue on the lake- but will save those details for the documentary!

Afterward, we went over to my brother Pat and his girlfriend Bri’s new home on a nearby lake. We spent the night watching old cheesy Michael Jackson music videos and walking about the beaches nearby to prime us for the next day.

Early the next morning we met with Al Slote. Al held my father in his arms when he was 2 days old. Can you imagine that? It was tough to track him down for this interview, but somehow we got in touch. Al worked at the University of Michigan TV Center with my grandpa. They both wrote and produced films for educational television and were great buddies. Al went on to write multiple books, and is well known and celebrated for his works. I have never met my grandpa, but I walked out of this experience feeling like I knew my grandpa and gained another.

Next, we met with Travis Stephen Childs. Travis participated in many of my father's school programs at Unity High School in Lowell Michigan. My dad and the students created a book about the history of Lowell including on-site illustrations and interviews. My dad and the staff always saw a lot of promise in Travis and knew he would go on to do great things. They were thrilled to reconnect and not only is he excelling in agriculture but his artwork is wonderful too!

Takeshi Takahara was our next interview. He and my father had not seen each other for 50+ years. Takeshi is a renowned printmaker and developed a course at GVSC for printmaking. My dad had the pleasure of working with Takeshi, where he learned the art of etching and engraving which heavily influenced his art. We set up our gear in Takeshi's printmaking studio for the interview. In the building, the walls were lined with prints, the tables with brushes, dried paint, and papers, all artfully placed. I grew up looking at this artwork on our walls my whole life, and now I finally got to meet the humble, and gracious Takeshi.

Afterward, we went to interview George Griffith Dick AKA Griff. He is a wonderful soul and a long-time friend of my father's. He was accompanied by friends and family as we asked him questions about my dad and their time in Key West and on the Schooner Western Union. Griff spoke of how they first met- when Griff helped a mutual friend deliver a boat to Key West, Florida which nearly sank along the way. The crew showed up at my dad's door and they became welcomed roommates until everybody found their place on the island. They have been friends ever since.

In the evening we linked up with Wendy and Dean Van Zegeren. Wendy is one of my dad's favorite school teachers who became a principal at multiple school districts, bringing my dad to teach in all of them over the years. She and her husband have been my dad's dearest friends for years.

The next day we toured around getting extra shots of locations in Ann Arbor. We visited the cemetery where my grandpa's memorial stone is. We toured my dad's old neighborhood visiting his elementary school and one of his childhood homes on the way to Nichols Arboretum (his favorite playground). We walked the campus and visited the arcade, the State Theater, the location of the old Television Center, and the Ann Arbor Art Museum- a favorite place of ours. We ended our trip at the WSG Gallery to see some of Takeshi's prints on display.

To see my dad reconnect with his friends after all this time was such a beautiful experience to share in. Thank you so much to our hosts and sponsors for making this trip possible! This is just the beginning of something so much bigger than ourselves. Just wait till you see the footage, and meet these people!

As of right now we are filming locally, planning our next round to the Grand Rapids area, and are raising funds to get there! If you are interested in donating or becoming a sponsor for this film check out the information below or message at info@newheropictures.com

Follow the Art Info: Official Documentary Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tg1ofhDfcko

Official Website: https://www.newheropictures.com/followtheart

GoFundMe: https://www.gofundme.com/followtheart

Follow the Art: The Creative Journey of Tom Woodruff

Production Life!