Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Public Pool's Punk Rock Roots ~ (Fundraiser Concert Saturday ft. John Doe & Exene)

L.A. punk icons John Doe and Exene Cervenka (famous for valiant tenures in the band X) recently fell in love with the character/vibe of Detroit, flourishing with their performance at El Club last August and crescendoing, now, with their swift return to our town, this Saturday, at Jam Handy. More info

This rare acoustic performance from members of X is a show of support for a unique and authentic art gallery. This month marks seven years that the Public Pool Art Space has been operating on Caniff, just past Gallagher, curating engaging exhibitions and community-building events like potlucks, dance parties, picnics and "Writers Buffets."

photo courtesy of Public Pool

Partnering with Jam Handy and being endorsed by Doe/Exene only seems fitting to me, because I've always thought of this gallery as having the energy of a rock 'n' roll venue. "Right...," said Public Pool co-founder Steve Hughes, "but we're not a rock 'n' roll venue; still, I like to think of us as kind of having punk rock roots. I mean more so in the idea of what punk meant, in terms of individuality, doing shit on your own terms, and forging your own way in the world, but also in terms of: community! I think punk was about being part of a community, and I think (Public Pool) serves that function. It's a place where people can hang out and be with people who have similar interests and who are creative and thoughtful about the world."

A Wild Gift for Detroit: John Doe & Exene (acoustic set)
at Jam Handy ~ A Benefit for Public Pool
featuring DJ James Insight, Yada Yada, Supercoolwicked, the Vitas, DJ Ryan Spencer
2900 E. Grand Blvd
More info

The community-centered motivation of Public Pool is demonstrated in the way it opens its doors and invites the neighbors of Hamtramck to enter and acquaint themselves not just with local artists, but with artists from around the world, such as John Doe and Exene, while also giving them a chance to discover the dynamic DIY spirit that thrives in the hearts/minds of the artists and wonderful weirdos living, creating, and showcasing just across the street from Al-Haramine.

Public Pool "has something for (visual/performing) artists and for writers," Hughes said. Hughes wears several hats, along with co-managing an art gallery with Public Pool's board, he is likely best known as founder/editor of Detroit's longest running zine Stupor, for which he became a Kresge Fellow back in 2010.

A talented and sharply imaginative writer, Hughes began collaborating with a different artist on each of Stupor's issues back in 2006, which led to the institution of the Good Tyme Writers Buffet, which invites local writers/poets to prepare a piece that springs from the themes presented by each successive exhibition featured on the walls of the gallery. The Buffet was awarded a Knights Art grant in late 2013.

photo courtesy of Knight Foundation
So, Public Pool, with Good Tyme Writers Buffet, is able "to create a hub for both of those communities (artists & writers)," Hughes said.

But just like Hughes said earlier in this interview, this isn't a rock 'n' roll venue, even if it might feel like it, when you're there... It isn't a bar or a venue or a nightclub. So that means the money isn't exactly rolling in... Keeping a gallery open is always an uphill battle, dependent not entirely on the whims of the economy, but more so on the support of said gallery's surrounding community.

That's where you come in...

Saturday's Public Pool fundraiser at Jam Handy, which, as we've said, features John Doe and Exene, is a way to ensure that Public Pool can continue curating cutting-edge/thought-provoking shows and filling that void of a writer's society... (perhaps something like the Motor City's answer to the Algonquin Round Table, or some other fitting equivalent).

The Public Pool cooperative was paying rent out of their own pockets for the first 5+ years, but the grant money they received could only carry them so far. "Paying money into a space is noble, but you can't do it forever," said Hughes. "Especially if you really don't have any money..."

"I always say that the philosophy of (the Public Pool art) space is: if we're not having fun doing it, then it's just not worth doing. I've been doing it for seven years and it hasn't quit being a good time, yet."

One big help, as the Metro Times noted earlier this week, is that musician Chris Peters recently joined Public Pool's board. Peters is a member of Racehorses Are Resources, and also started flourishing Hughes own "noisy/jazz/chaos" project, the Stupor Sound Experience. Anyhow, Peters happens to be well acquainted with John Doe, as well as, recently, Exene, and thus, Hughes noted, "(Peters) has been able to bring a lot to the table... We've got some great headliners, now. I think they can pull (the fundraising) off, just the two of them... We'll see."

More info

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