Public Pool is definitely making a splash in city’s cultural life

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

By Walter Wasacz

After we attended the late March opening of Public Pool, an art gallery that took over the same space that once contained Design 99 (and before that was a physical therapy practice; and before that, a tiny jazz joint called the Rhythm Room), there was no doubt that Hamtramck’s cultural life had claimed another winner.

That show was called “Take a Chance on Rock ‘n’ Roll Live” and included three huge murals (on Tyvek) painted by artist Tim Hailey. The opening was jam packed. So was a special performance a few weeks later called “Detroit Rocker Chicks Take on Arena Rock,” which featured members of the Swamp Sisters and Sirens (including Hamtramckan and Small’s co-owner Melody Baetens), the Come Ons, Gore Gore Girls and the Hard Lessons performing songs by Electric Light Orchestra, Bad Company and Mettalica; plus readings by Metro Times Associate Editor Michael Jackman (also a Hamtramck guy), Public Pool co-founder Steve Hughes (yup, he lives in town, too), New York transplant and adman/author Toby Barlow (another PP member who lives in Lafayette Park) and Blanche/Goober & the Peas funny frontman Dan Miller.

Better yet, selfishly speaking, Hughes invited a bunch of us to do a couple of gallery sittings on subsequent weekends that broke out into all ages dance parties. Yes, that was me playing air guitar to Devo’s “Mongoloid” while jumping around the room with Steve’s kids — all under 10 years old. Other rockin’ ravers were a bit older. Sandy, Jim, Tia, Sarah and Jennifer were all feeling the force of tunes by AC/DC, Black Sabbath and tributes to recently deceased pop provocateur Malcolm McLaren.

Public Pool’s second exhibition, opening this Friday, is about the interpretation of dreams. Eight writers, thinkers and entrepreneurs were asked to journal their own unconscious experiences. Another eight artists were then asked to respond to these dreams, using them as a springboard for their own visual translation. The resulting show called “Nocturnal Translations” details the dreamers, their dreams and the artists who have worked hard to render them.

The artists and their dream interpreters are: Glenn Barr/Muffy Kroha; Nina Bianchi/Toby Barlow; Faina Lerman/Sarah Peters; Clinton Snider/Mitch Cope; Andy Krieger/Steve Cherry; Elliot Earls/Steve Hughes; Anne Harrington Hughes/Torya Blanchard; and Nicola Kuperus/Phillip Cooley.

Food and finely brewed beer provided by Midtown Detroit’s Traffic Jam. Opening night is Friday, May 14, at 6:30 p.m. Public Pool is at 3309 Caniff St., Hamtramck.
Save some dark energy for another Hamtramck-based event next Tuesday (May 18) at the Belmont, where Detroit-area musicians pay homage to British post-punk icon Ian Curtis on the 30th anniversary of his death.
DJ sets by Deastro (Ghostly International), Jennifer Rohde (Dorkwave), Grand Dad Crunk (Elek/Trik) and BSG (The Mental Machine). Dance to “Love Will Tear Us Apart” one more time. Feel your heart and soul move to the skeletal death disco rhythms of “She’s Lost Control.”

Curtis was one of the most compelling songwriters and performers of his time. He committed suicide on the eve of his band Joy Division’s first North American tour in May 1980. He was lauded for his haunting lyrics and spazzy stage presence (he was epileptic, and was plagued by seizures to boot) during a tragically short career. He was just short of 24 when he died. The bandmates he left behind — who re-grouped as New Order — became one of the most commercially successful groups of the 1980s.

The party is called Isolation: A tribute to the life of Ian Curtis. It starts at 10 p.m. and includes streaming videos of 24 Hour Party People and Control, two films about the Manchester scene that Curtis and Joy Division helped spawn. Cover is $5 and party people 18 and over are welcome. The Belmont is at 10215 Jos. Campau.

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