In Hamtramck, there is no shortage of activities

(Editor-at-Large Walter Wasacz writes a weekly column on life in Hamtramck.)

By Walter Wasacz

If this column has a mission other than to regale you with tales of Hamtramck life from ground level it’s to make vital connections with doers and makers in our midst. There are plenty of them, doing pretty remarkable things, getting noticed by media near and far.

Last week, we re-printed a feature on Popps Packing, an innovative art space, that I wrote for Model D. I was happy to see that piece flying around the web on Facebook and Twitter, and seeing people reading it in the print edition (in one case spread out on the pool table at Skipper’s, a charming pub on Conant).

The best thing about Hamtramck energy is that it has an extraordinarily long and sustainable battery life. Projects seem to be starting and evolving everywhere, like at another unique art space, 2739 Edwin, which opened a show of called “Swim Lane” last Saturday. More to come about this lovely spot, which already has hosted local and global free and improv jazz players (legendary horn experimentalists Peter Brötzmann and Joe McPhee, to name two).

This Friday, jazz pianist Bill Meyer, a Kresge Arts Grant winner who lives in Hamtramck, presents The Home Suite: Coming to Hamtramck at the Detroit Institute of Arts. The performance is a combination of written and improvised music from around the world, filtered through an American lens, developed in a community built by immigrants.

That’s us.

The ensemble includes Ramsey Hussein (electric bass, acoustic bass), Javier Barrios (percussion, tabla, doumbek, drums), Dave Reinstein (soprano and tenor sax, flute, wood flute, percussion), Cecilia Sharpe (cello, percussion) and Alan Ayoub (acoustic guitar, mandolin, electric guitar, electric sitar). Home Suite also features video interviews of Hamtramck residents from Bangladesh, Bosnia, Poland, Nigeria, England and Yemen.

Good stuff, well worth the price of museum admission ($8 for adults, $6 for seniors, $4 for youth 6-17 years old. Children 5 and under get in free). There are two shows, July 23 at 7 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., as part of the DIA’s Friday Night Live! series. The DIA is at 5200 Woodward Avenue, in Midtown Detroit’s Cultural Center.

And there is another performance next Friday, 7 p.m., July 30 at the Gates of Columbus, 9632 Conant Avenue, Hamtramck. Tickets for that show are $10 at the door only, but free to all Hamtramck residents with proof of ID.

Also this weekend, at Public Pool, Chicago artists Sarah Wagner, Christy Matson and Jon Brumit have teamed to create the large-scale, interactive installation “The Quantum Field,” a piece inspired by, and adapted from, the early LucasArts 1989 fantasy adventure game LOOM.

In the game, the only people surviving the apocalypse are weavers, blacksmiths and carpenters.

This installation consists of a large-scale print and two sheep, made from conductive-fabric, created by Christy Matson and patterned and sewn by Sarah Wagner, in addition to custom electronics and lighting by Brumit (who wired a Hamtramck house on St. Aubin for pirate radio broadcasts that were a part of the “Shrinking Cities” exhibition in 2007 at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit). Through the objects, light and sound, the immersive environment is constructed as a narrative that mirrors the early graphics of a 1980s’ video game to imagine a post-apocalyptic world. Cool, heady content.

“The Quantum Field” was initially installed as the entryway to the 2010 NEXT Chicago Art Fair. It is the first of two large-scale installations by the artists, both of which will be shown in 2011 Patricia Sweetow Gallery in San Francisco. All three artists have exhibited at venues worldwide, including the Whitney Biennial, the Fuller Museum (Boston), In-F (Tokyo), Homie (Berlin) and the San Francisco Museum of Folk Art.

Brumit and Wagner are also founders of DFLUX ( a residency program designed to engage the community with creative actions and workshops. It’s located in the (now famous) “$100 house” in the NoHam/Bangladesh Avenue neighborhood directly north of Hamtramck. Brumit and Wagner will be leaving Chicago and moving to the house early next year.

Saturday’s opening reception is 7 to 11 p.m. Refreshments courtesy of Midtown Detroit’s Traffic Jam & Snug Restaurant. Public Pool is at 3309 Caniff.

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