Step inside the home of a young family in Detroit, home to a museum-worthy collection of works by black artists


Melanca Clark and her husband, Moddie Turay, favor a mid-century modernist design aesthetic paired with neutral color palettes. And when it comes to architecture, she defers to him. (“I trust his eye for all these things,” Clark says.) But Clark’s cachet can be seen throughout their Detroit home in the form of an impressive collection of artwork by mostly artists. black. As the daughter of abstract expressionist painter Ed Clark, one of the most notable African-American artists of the 20th century, who died in 2019, she takes great pride in showing off her “never for sale” pieces. There’s also an impressive array of work from Clark’s senior artist friends Beauford Delaney, Herbert Gentry, Sam Gilliam, James VanDerZee, and more. “Art for us is what makes our home,” she notes.

When the couple moved to Detroit from Washington, D.C., they bought a house in the city’s Indian Village neighborhood, whose history dates back to the heyday of the auto industry. Edsel Ford and Henry Leland, the latter of whom founded the Cadillac and Lincoln companies, lived there. The blocks, with names like “Seminole” and “Iroquois”, are shaded by large houses of various styles set back from the sidewalk. Still, it’s the neighborhood’s strong sense of community that has most touched Clark, who is president and CEO of the Hudson Webber Foundation, which promotes economic development in Detroit.

Melanca Clark, in a Duro Olowu dress, poses with her husband, Moddie Turay. The first table on the left is Chart, by Ed Clark. Larry Potter did the middle painting and Allie McGhee created the 2014 mixed media canvas Burst cloud.

“My current job is to invest in the dynamic people who drive the city forward,” she says. “I find out about the wonderful things they do. Detroit is an iconic American city. It’s also a black city, a proudly black city. For a long time Detroit’s history has been [of the] many residents are leaving. There is a real feeling of people who loved [Indian Village] and invest in making it a beautiful and welcoming place,” she says. “There is the Indian Village Association. Someone drops a newsletter on our doorstep every month about events within three blocks of our neighborhood, which is nice.

Prior to the 2016 move, Clark worked in the Obama administration as chief of staff for the Office of Community-Oriented Policing, a division of the Department of Justice. Turay, founder and CEO of City Growth Partners, a Detroit-based real estate development firm, had been living in the city for a year when he found the couple’s Colonial Revival home. One of the reasons the 1916 seven-bedroom structure met their needs was that it did not require renovations. “We both had busy jobs,” she says. “There are a lot of wonderful places in Detroit that haven’t had love lately. A lot of people are doing these great rehab jobs [on them]. And we decided early on that we absolutely didn’t have the bandwidth to do it.

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Plus, Clark loved what was already there: the stately chandelier in the dining room, the long cabinets in the butler’s pantry, the Pewabic tiles in the kitchen, and especially the gas fireplace in the living room. “This is actually my second gas fireplace,” she says. “I grew up in [the New York neighborhood of] Chelsea. I was very lucky to have a similar fireplace. Some people are fans of the real deal, but we like to hit the “easy” button, and it’s a gas fireplace, very easy. »


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