Whether it’s a glorious piece of pastry or a hand-sewn piece of clothing, Anita Sudakin says she is “intensely creative and has a passion for making beautiful things.”
A creation she is particularly proud of is the cape she created for a 1992 show which took place in the lobby of the Fisher Building to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the opening of the building. The show’s items were designed by members of the Needlework and Textile Guild of Michigan, who were asked to use needles and thread to create items that would complement the architectural features of the building.
“Because 'Phantom of the Opera' was showing at the Fisher Theatre at that time, I decided to use luxurious fabrics like velvets and silks, including my husband’s old silk neckties as well as leather scraps to depict the vaulted arches in the Fisher Building’s main lobby, the art deco shapes of the mosaics, the Pewabic tiles throughout the building and the bronze sculptures found on the elevators,” Sudakin recalled. “The fabrics were applied to a black brocade base using free motion embroidery.”
Starting the second week of September, that cape will once again be on display in the main concourse of the Fisher Building as part of a display that will showcase historic photos of the building and its founders. And also, sometime in September, Sudakin will be asked to be part of a discussion group assembled by MKR Underground, a Fisher Building brick and mortar retail store where select artisans will be invited to sell their goods.
Sudakin says she is most proud of her past association with the prestigious Julie: Artisans’ Gallery, a renowned Madison Avenue showcase for artists which created clothing and jewelry as an art form, now defunct.
“It was the premier art-to-wear gallery in the United States, if not the world,” Sudakin said. “And several famous people purchased pieces I had there, including a jacket which was designated to be a birthday gift for Elizabeth Taylor, as well as an elaborate jacket purchased by the government of South Korea for a biennial exhibit at the Gwangju Museum in South Korea.”
Over the years, the Detroit native has attended workshops all over the country to study beading, sewing machine embroidery, clothing and textile design, and as a result ended up creating garments for the American Quilt Guild which ended up touring all over the world. She has also traveled to Japan six times to study textiles and to attend textile dyeing workshops there.
Sudakin noted, “In my head, I’m always thinking of new projects. I’m currently thinking about making small purses using denims and velvet because right now I want to work small and say what I have to say artistically in small ways.”
The longtime Birmingham resident is also an accomplished chef who graduated from Oakland Community College’s Culinary Arts Hospitality Program in 1988. But after brief stints working as a pastry chef at Magasin, Appeteaser and the Ocean Grille in Birmingham, she decided she was “a little too old to be lifting 50-pound bags of sugar and flour,” so she decided to throw in the proverbial towel, but continues to employ her professional cooking experience while beautifully entertaining at home.
Photo: Laurie Tennent