Bob Sestok creates powerful mural for Third Man Records

Rocker Jack White commissioned Detroit artist Bob Sestok to create a punchy mural for his record-pressing facility

Michael H. Hodges
Detroit News Fine Arts Writer

Call it a marriage of Detroit art and music history.

When rocker Jack White was a young man, and not yet world-famous as one-half of the White Stripes, he visited the piping warehouse of the Edward W. Duffy Co. in Detroit.

And there the Cass Tech grad fell in love with the dramatic pop-art mural that adorned the walls.

Twenty-odd years later, when White wanted a mural with real punch for his high-tech record production facility behind his retail store at Third Man Records in Midtown, he remembered that mural and sought out Bob Sestok, the Detroit artist who created it in 1970.

“I’m really honored that Jack remembered me,” said Sestok, 70, a veteran of the Cass Corridor artistic movement.

The result is a powerful geometric mural that runs along the long back wall of the 14,000-square-foot production studio, a work that sports White’s trademark colors — yellow and black.

“It wasn’t my intention to paint this,” said an amused Sestok, gesturing at the mural. “I was going to paint Jack playing the guitar with records floating in space behind him, but he wasn’t into that.”

White liked the abstract pipe design Sestok worked up for the Duffy warehouse. So the artist began playing with piping and repetitive circles.

He presented White with 10 possibilities. Once they’d settled on a design, the project took about six weeks, Sestok said.

“It’s done with geometric association,” Sestok said of the vast mural.

“It’s all about the power and energy involved in producing a record,” an appropriate counterweight to the eight gleaming-new German pressing machines in front of the mural.

Those who know Sestok principally as the artist who created a sculpture park of his work at Alexandrine and the John C. Lodge Freeway in Detroit might be surprised. But he points out he’s always bridged several media.

“I started out in ceramics at the old School of the Detroit Society of Arts & Crafts,” Sestok said. He admits he doesn’t generally paint this way anymore.

“I don’t like to live in the past, but Jack is a special individual, so I pulled out all the stops,” he said.

Tours being held Saturday of the new facility near Shinola are all booked, but Third Man spokesman Roe Peterhans said they’re considering occasional tours in the future.

Grand opening of Third Man Pressing

Third Man Records, 441 W. Canfield, Detroit

10 a.m. - 6 p.m. Saturday

(313) 209-5205