Art & Music

By Adam O’Connor


Well, a few things they love just as much happen to be as good booze, great beer, and outstanding music. Fortunately, the newest Ferndale summer festival provides exactly those things – and more.

Bruise, BBQ & Bourbon – produced by Ferndale’s  own Ultimate Fun Productions and The Social Connection – kicks off it’s inaugural celebration in the summer the weekend of June 16–18. The festival will take place down the main thorough fare of East 9 Mile Road in Downtown Ferndale.

The weekend will feature two stages of continuous music – one acoustic and one main stage – featuring the likes of local and regional acts like George Morris in the Gypsy Chorus, Ryan Delilah and the Miracle Men, the Whiskey Charmers, Dan Tillery, Alise King, Tosha Owens, Tripp N Dixie, AwesomeR, and Flint’s one man band Sweet Willy Tea amongst others.

The event will also feature everyone’s favorite festival foods – definitely focused on BBQ, but also offering up a smattering of other items for those who don’t partake in summertime’s grilled and smoke treats. Local BBQ purveyors Smoke Ring BBQ, Detroit BBQ company, Stonewood Smokehouse and more will be joined by the other great Michigan BBQ slinging champs like Lansing’s The Smoking Pig and Hollands Hogwild BBQ. Some pit masters (such as Smoke Shack) will be coming from so far as Columbus Ohio – and they will undoubtedly be more announced.

An abundance of craft beer will also be present, as well as a varied choice of booze – from smoky bourbons to aged whiskey’s and more. There will even be a Moscow Mule tent featuring every type of Mule variation you’ve heard of – and some you haven’t – such as the Mexican Mule (tequila, ginger beer and lime juice), Gin Gin Mule (gin, ginger beer, lime juice) and Cider Mule (vodka, ginger beer, hard apple cider, and lime juice) and a bunch more! Further, Cocktail Creations is your destination to sample a variety of classic newly-conceived summer cocktails if Moscow Mules aren’t your thing. And finally, if you were hoping for a great selection of bourbons you won’t be disappointed by the offerings on Bourbon Boulevard.

There will be all-ages fun as well, offering games, the kids zone face painting, Michigan’s favorite backyard past time of cornhole and tons of more wholesome and family friendly entertainment for anyone who feels like bringing themselves out to the free event

The event takes place on Friday, June 16 from the hours of 5 pm until Midnight; Saturday, June 17 from Noon until Midnight; and Sunday, June 18 from Noon until 10pm.

Further information and festival updates are available at or by visiting the event’s social media (you can even entered to win a free slab of ribs!).

By David Wesley

SINCE FERNDALE FRIENDS LAST SPOKE TO DAVE PHILLIPS of Ferndale Community Radio (FCR), there has been an outpouring of support for the station, in particular from local businesses. The future is optimistic for FCR. The Rust Belt Market, in downtown Ferndale has been their anchor in keeping them going and providing a base for their work. Dave Phillips spoke to me about the current happenings of FCR and where they are at now with their goals.

DW: Since we last spoke a couple months ago, how much progress has there been in getting Ferndale Community Radio off the ground?
DP: We’ve seen an outpouring of support from the community, local businesses in particular. We’re over the moon about the number of local businesses who have pledged money, and we hope to recruit a few more in the near future. If all goes well, we should be on the air by the end of Summer, but there are still a few hurdles to jump.

DW: What will it take for FCR to finally reach its goal and how can people help make it happen?
DP: There are three main ways people can help:
Donate. Any little bit helps.
Spread the word. There are many more people out there who would support this project but just don’t know about it yet. The more people who know about it, the more donations we get.
Inform local businesses and connect them to us. We offer generous underwriting packages that are perfect for local businesses to spread the word.

We could reach our goal if we get five to ten more businesses to sign on.

DW: What will be the biggest perks to FCR and how will it affect the city and community?
DP: It’s similar to the difference between eating at a Chili’s or Imperial. Commercial radio stations are bland, and designed to appeal to as many people as possible. This station is unique and targeted toward a specific demographic – the Ferndale resident.

Local bands will be played extensively. Local stories will be covered in depth. In the event of an emergency, we’ll be focusing specifically on the Ferndale aspect. We’ll be playing songs that you won’t be able to hear anywhere else on the FM dial.

DW: How will the FCR impact the Rust Belt and vice versa, since the Rust Belt will be the broadcast center?
DP: In short, this project would have been dead in the water without the Rust Belt. We can’t thank them enough for giving us a space and really breathing life back into Ferndale Radio. We’re excited about having an impact on the Rust Belt, too. Shoppers will be able to hear our signal inside and they’ll be able to see us. It probably exists somewhere, but I can’t think of many radio stations where the DJs are as visible as we will be. It should create a unique shopping experience.

DW: We here at Ferndale Friends encourage residents and business owners to support FCR any way they can, preferably with donations. This is a project that will benefit the entire city and add so much more to our lives here. More about Ferndale Community Radio can found at or

Just before going to press, project organizer Michelle Mirowski announced that they are working out the final details with the City. Our fingers are crossed…


By Sara E. Teller

Peter Cooper, who passed away on April 27th at the age of 64, was a local activist and legend in the LGBT community, residing in Oak Park. He was a man of many hats who touched the lives of all who knew him. Peter was the former religious services committee chairperson at Congregation T’chiyah, a former professional fundraiser at the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, a former new and MDOC case manager overseeing intakes and referrals at AIDS Partnership Michigan (APM) and a former cage banker at Motor City Casino. He had also held several positions at City National (a.k.a, First of America or National City Bank). A regular at the Media West convention in Lansing, Peter graduated from Frank Cody High School.

“Peter was most involved in the early formation of AIDS network,” explains long-time friend Tom Zerafa. “He was also the facilitator of Affirmations men’s rap group that met on Saturday evenings and, more recently, he served as a precinct captain for Oak Park elections. Peter also volunteered as a professional clown for parties and other gatherings.” Tom appreciated Peter’s community involvement. “Peter Cooper was one of the first guys I met when I came out in 1973 and we crossed paths numerous times over the past 44 years,” he recalls. “I can honestly say that we had grown in friendship and trust supporting each other in the best and most challenging of times.” Many felt that way about Peter.

“He was active in politics and his Jewish faith and traditions,” according to Rudy Serra, who connected with Peter through Congregation T’Chiyah two decades ago and instantly befriended the man. Congregation T’Chiyah is an inclusive, egalitarian, participatory Reconstructionist synagogue that provides for the expression, observance, study, and enjoyment of Judaism, Jewish culture, and Jewish tradition. Rudy remembers fondly Peter’s dedication to the religious community. “Every year Peter organized a National Coming Out Day services at Congregation T’chyah complete with a pot-luck dinner and group discussions,” he says. “I was honored to be invited to participate in this event for the past few years. Peter skillfully guided those unfamiliar with Jewish tradition through the service so everyone felt included.”

Peter was involved with the congregation’s Holiday Workshop Series, and even constructed a temporary shelter covered in natural materials which is used for meals during the Jewish festival of Succoth. The structure is referred to as a succah or sukkah. One friend recalls, “Through the years we brought our two youngest children to decorate Peter’s backyard sukkah until the kids outgrew it.” Another says, “I will remember Peter as a vibrant presence in Congregation T’chiyah who contributed greatly to our discussions and study sessions, who added joy to our holiday celebrations (especially Purim). I will remember Peter as a friend who always had a smile and always had a hug and always was a joy to be around whether it was a day hanging around his backyard or a day at Belle Isle or a party.”

Peter was a loving person who connected easily with others, especially with his partner of twelve years, Jonathan Quirk. Rudy says, “Peter’s relationship with Jonathan was a fundamental part of both their personalities. Their love and commitment was inspirational.” Tom adds, “Perhaps the greatest treasure Peter leaves with us is his most faithful and beloved partner, Jonathan Quirk, who Peter met through Affirmations. Their ten-year relationship was inspirational, creative and loving to the core. Peter documented that relationship with hundreds of photos as well as [photos with] almost everyone he ever met. His ready lens will be missed by everyone.”

Another friend recalls his humor. “Peter was a punster, a prankster…He was infamous for his costumes at MediaWest con…As a wise-cracking cow, he truly had great legs and that’s no bull. We all will miss him terribly. He brought light and humor to even serious issues and a passionate level of concern.” Rudy seconds these sentiments. “Peter realized the importance of laughter. He never took himself too seriously but always took the concerns of others seriously,” he says. “Peter was willing to be a clown in order to bring laughter to others.”

Peter was also an inspiration to the LGBT community at large. “In earlier years, he supported activities sponsored by MCCD, Dignity, WSU Gay/Lesbian Liberation Front, Triangle Foundation, Motor City Pride, Pridefest, among numerous other organizations,” Tom explains. Rudy recalls his work in the LGBT community as well: “I think Peter’s combination of LGBT activism with a vibrant Jewish faith and tradition was something unforgettable,” he says. “The community will remember him for acting on his realization that we are connected and each of us needs each other.”

In general, Tom says, “Peter was a formidable presence and always spoke his mind respecting cultural differences and bringing people together of various backgrounds. His way of accepting people at face value is an example that I try to emulate in my own experiences. Peter indeed set the bar for making diversity a priority to be lived!”

The Hebrew Memorial Chapel held a tribute for Peter officiated by Rabbi Alana Alpert following his passing. Contributions were accepted in his memory by Congregation T’Chiyah. “I quoted in Between the Lines a few weeks ago that I ‘cannot begin to imagine what life will be like without my closest friend, Peter Cooper’,” Tom says, “Even now the adjustment is difficult in his absence. I anticipate the time when we meet again in the life hereafter.”

Story by Ingrid Sjostrand
Photos by David Mcnair

ONE CHANCE ENCOUNTER WITH A STRANGER IS SOMETIMES ALL IT TAKES TO IGNITE CREATIVITY AND ENCOURAGE YOU TO PURSUE A PASSION. That’s exactly how Alex Denell turned his talent for pencil art and photography into a potential career.

“I was at Great Lakes Coffee in Detroit with my camera on the table, this lady just started talking to me and asked what kind of camera I had. Long story short — I showed her my portfolio and she said, ‘you should draw my granddaughter.’ And a month later I sent it to her,” Denell says. “That was the first profile I did, and it made me realize I might have something here.”

Since that meeting in the Fall of 2016, 28-year-old Denell has drawn about ten pencil portraits for clients ranging from images of babies, pets and –most recently – a wedding. His clientele has been mostly family and friends, but recently he’s gained a following through the Ferndale Forum – a Facebook group for residents and friends of Ferndale.

Denell, a Clawson native, works at Woodward Camera and has always had art in his life. His grandfather was a cartoonist, his father is a graphic designer and Denell grew up sketching still life images and taking advanced placement art classes through high school. In 2007, his interest shifted from drawing to photography when he started taking photos with his cell phone.

“Over the years, I found my place in nature photography; I took some photography classes at Oakland Community College, then at College for Creative Studies,” he says. “I never really had any big dreams of making a lot of money off photography, I just enjoyed doing it, and found it to be very calming.”

In 2008, Denell had a health scare and, since 2014, has since been on medication that limits the amount of time he can be outdoors. While it sounds discouraging, it only motivated him to refocus on drawing and use his previous photographic work as a starting point.

“With my current situation forcing me to be indoors I picked up drawing again,” he says. “Over the last five years of shooting, I’ve accumulated hundreds of pictures so this time around I began drawing my nature photographs. It’s all my original artwork which is cool – it’s my original photograph and my drawing.”
Denell still draws nature scenes from time to time but says he finds more passion and inspiration from portraits.

“Drawing the portraits are probably my favorite to do, although the portraits take longer to complete, they also tend to mean much more to people,” he says. “It’s a personal gift, and that’s important to me. The best part is to see the person’s reaction when I finally hand over the drawing. That’s what makes it all worthwhile.”

A portrait takes, on average, about 20 hours of work to complete but it can depend on the detail and size of the image. He starts by printing a black and white photo of the image, taping it to the back of his page and lightly outlining it using a light board. Once he’s traced everything, he removes the photo and starts freehand shading. Recently he’s started recording the entire creative process and sharing the video with his clients, giving an intimate look at the work that goes into his art.

As his customer base grows, Denell says he is exploring other options for getting his work out there. He is considering displaying his work at Lawrence Street Gallery or maybe even getting space at Rust Belt Market. For now, his work can be seen on his Facebook and Instagram. He is always looking for more clientele and is willing to negotiate on price – depending on the size and subject matter of the image.

“Today I draw a wide range of things from nature, cars, pets, portraits, even wedding photos,” he says. “I still continue to learn something new with every drawing I do and I like to challenge myself, so I’ve been just trying it all, whatever comes my way I go for it.”

AMANDA OSORIO: Class of 2000

WHEN AMANDA OSORIO WAS ATTENDING FERNDALE SCHOOLS, she had no idea what an impact her time spent in the District would have on her later life. As a self-described academic, Amanda excelled in all of her classes and took advantage of every opportunity Ferndale offered to further her academic career. When she graduated in 2000, she left high school with 40 college credits from AP courses, having earned a Gates Millennium Scholarship and acceptance to Smith College. All of these things are outstanding accomplishments, but it was her involvement outside of the classroom that truly shaped the person she has become today.

During her time at Ferndale High School, Amanda truly found her voice in choir under the guidance of longtime chorale teacher Ms. Brown. “Mrs. Brown heard the potential in my voice and arranged for me to have private voice lessons. It was good for the choir to have stronger singers, but it was such a gift to me as it helped fulfill a desire I held but was afraid to articulate. Guess she was right, as I ended up singing at the Metropolitan Opera House!” Longtime Ferndale patron of the arts Lori Christensen coached talented FHS vocalists for years, but Amanda was perhaps her greatest success story. Amanda went on to not only be a singer for the Metropolitan Opera, but she also won a Grammy during her residency at the MET for her work in the live broadcast of The Tempest.

Amanda’s academic excellence led her parents to enroll her at Cranbrook-Kingswood after middle school. While this was an incredible experience, Amanda never felt at home at Cranbrook and constantly felt like something was missing. “I was miserable there. I came back to Ferndale and with the care that came with being in my home community, the freedom to explore who I was and wanted to be, and of course an amazing vocal music and theatre program, I blossomed.”

Now living halfway around the world in South Africa, Amanda is the mother of two and owner of her own arts company, Africa Arts. She says Ferndale will always be home, and Ferndale Schools will hold a special place in her heart: “It is a rare district that spans the socio-economic diversity of Ferndale and yet still manages to cater to the needs of a great majority of its students.” Ferndale gave Amanda the opportunity to explore not only her academic potential but her artistic calling as well. As one of the longstanding staples in the district, every year Ferndale High School puts on a large scale musical production. During her time at FHS Amanda even had the opportunity to be the student director for the musical Carousel.

Looking back now, Amanda attributes much of her positive experiences and success to Ferndale as a community as well as Ferndale Schools and the incredible teachers the district has employed over the years. “Being able to direct a musical, take university classes, meet students from other districts at CASA, experience diverse friendships, find teachers who were advocates, and not be judged for the process of growing up—these are the incredible gifts that Ferndale gave to me. That kind of support is priceless; it allowed me to take risks and it helped me become the successful person I am today.”

All photos, except Joe Louis Walker which is by Jane Cassisi.

The 23rd Detroit Blues Society Anti-Freeze Blues Festival featured:
The Johnny Rhoades Band, Thornetta Davis, Lurrie Bell, Brett Lucas Band, Tosha Owens, Jim McCarty & Mystery Train and Joe Louis Walker.

The 2 day festival took place at the Magic Bag and a portion of the proceeds raised funds for the Detroit Blues Society.

By Sara E. Teller

Ferndale High School is performing its clever musical “Seussical” The Musical in March. A cast and crew entirely made up of high school and middle school students will present the family-friendly Dr. Seuss-based production,scheduled to premiere Saturday, March 18th at 7:00 P.M. and running four additional show dates on Sunday, March 19, 3:00 P.M, Friday, March 24, 7:30 P.M., Saturday, March 25, 7:30 P.M. and Sunday, March 26, 3:00 P.M.

“It takes many hands to put on a musical production and we have five shows, so we do rely on the parents of students that cast in the play as well parents of the crews and pit orchestra,” explains the play’s producer and high school parent volunteer, Judy Donlin. “Our crews are mostly students who are supervised by adult volunteers. The pit orchestra is also students. All told, there will be about 100 Ferndale students involved in the production.” Judy has been busy managing much of the leg work. “I am responsible for all the off-stage activities, such as promotion and publicity, tickets, volunteers, licensing, etc.,” she explains.

“Seussical” weaves together most of Dr. Seuss’ famous characters from at least fifteen of his best known books. Narrated by the infamous Cat in the Hat, Horton the Elephant, Gertrude McFuzz, The Grinch, Thing 1 and Thing 2, Lazy Mayzie La Bird and Little Jojo are just some of the characters set to take the stage. The Cat tells a story of how Horton the Elephant discovers the Whos, and must protect them from the naysayers and dangers, while guarding an egg abandoned by Lazy Mayzie while she is on vacation. The characters take us from the Jungle of Nook to the Circus McGerkus to the invisible world of the Whos. “The powers of friendship, loyalty, family, and community are challenged and emerge triumphant,” Judy says. “This is the first time Seussical is being performed at Ferndale High School.”

Pre-production for the musical was quite involved. “We announced the show over the summer and the students know that auditions are held in December, after the fall play,” Judy explains of the castings process.
“We have a call board and a student thespian group. We held a series of workshops (one for acting, one for singing and one for dancing), then two general auditions. From there, some students were called back for a second audition. The director, Melissa Smith, along with the Music Director, Kim Schroeder, and the Pit Conductor, Ben Moy, spent a lot of time casting the various roles. A cast list was posted and each person was asked to initial their role or roles.”

Each performance will also include a raffle available to those in attendance. “We usually do a raffle at every performance – the prize being a photo with the cast member of your choosing – in costume. Folks really get into that and this show will have some wonderful and colorful costumes. We will have about three winners per show, so lots of opportunity.”

“’Seussical’ is a great family show,” Judy says. “[The students] love the music….wide-ranging in styles, from rock ‘n roll to rap to jazz to calypso. hey are all excited about the show and are looking forward to bringing it to the Ferndale High School stage.”

Designed to be a hit with the whole family, ‘Seussical’ tickets are $10 for adults, $7 for students and seniors and children six and under are free. “It’s an hour and a half of fun and good family entertainment,” Judy says. “And we have plenty of tickets. The auditorium is very large and rarely sells out, so there is no problem getting a ticket for any of the performances. Plus, we do five shows, with two of them being afternoon matinees, and we have room for everyone.”

On opening night, March 18th, there will be an afterglow reception following the show. “Everyone is invited to stay for that,” Judy says. There will also be an on-stage ceremony honoring graduating seniors following the final performance on March 26th. “That’s always a bittersweet moment,” she adds.

For more information about ‘Seussical: The Musical,” please contact the Ferndale High School Performing Arts Department at 360-383-9261. Tickets can be purchased at Ferndale High School’s box office, located at 881 Pinecrest Dr., Ferndale, MI 48220.

Story By: Jaz’min Weaver
Photos by Bernie Laframboise

Creativity runs rampant in Ferndale, a city of art fairs, galleries and specialty shops…and also at the Ferndale Library, where a special book is waiting, just waiting, for you to fill its pages. One of the goals of the Ferndale Public Library Art and Exhibition Committee is to encourage our already lively appreciation of art. In 2013, committee member Linden Godlove came up with an interactive way to do just that. The Two Twenty Two Community Art Project started as a blank book, and evolved into an outlet and archive for diversity of thought and a wide array of media. This collaborative project is a unique method of interaction between members of the community. Its pages include colored pencil drawings, collage, prints, photos, poems and more.

Larger than a usual sketchbook, it evokes the feeling of being small again, when your favorite storybook filled your entire lap. The cover, designed by Patrick Dengate, is a large black and white print, simple, but elegant. A welcoming page with an enumerated list serves as an introduction to the concept of a circulating art book. It takes its name from the address of the Ferndale Public Library, 222 East Nine Mile Road.
A medley of things acted as inspiration for Two Twenty Two. Godlove states, “One: the knowledge that practically anything can be catalogued, added to the library collection, and thus, be able to be checked out – even a blank book. Two: Janice Charach Gallery in West Bloomfield had a 100 Journal Project in 2012, where artists could get a blank sketchbook and have it in their exhibition. One of my friends invited me to fill a page. Three: The PostSecret books, curated by Frank Warren, inspired the idea, as well.”

The last few pages are reserved for information about contributors, so the participating artists can leave a little information about themselves, the media they used, and how they can be contacted. It’s a shared artistic experience for neighbors and strangers, whether you’re contributing or just admiring.

When asked about the noticeable chunk of cropped pages near the center of the book, Linden replied, “The missing pages were blank. Very early on, enthusiastic artists pasted in thick collages and other dimensional art. This is wonderful, but it’s so thick that it caused stress on the binding of the book, which was causing the pages to pull from the cover. In order to make room for some of the thicker pieces of art, reams of blank pages were cut out.” This is followed up with the promise, “No existing art has been removed from the book and never will be.”

Currently, although the remaining blank pages are not sequential, there are still a few waiting to be filled. What will happen when the book is entirely full? “It was intended to be an ongoing project. The challenging element is that we would need to find a book that can be filled expansively, yet hold up to the wear and tear of being checked out repeatedly. I don’t know of what kind of sketchbook could, but I’m open to suggestions,” says the creator.

Checking out Two Twenty Two is worthwhile even if you don’t intend to write on the pages; it’s still a visual adventure, each page holding something new and different. It is a book of juxtaposition that gathers a variety of styles and thoughts, just like the city and residents of Ferndale itself.

Godlove puts it best by saying, “It’s a fantastic project because anyone who wants to can write in a library book, and their contribution becomes a part of that book that anyone can check out, as long as the book lasts. It’s an interesting archive of a brief time in our local creative history, with artists from all levels, from budding artists like my little girl nieces to established ones who have had their art published elsewhere. I’m very proud of it and glad that it continues to be discovered and contributed to over the years.”

Story by Jaz’min Weaver
Photo Of Bradley by David McNair

Bradley Wall is a local wood worker specializing in everything from headboards to cutting boards. “I enjoy working with wood for its innate beauty, and often feel silly about how excited I get about
different types of woods and designs,” Brad admits. That type of enthusiasm for the material is readily apparent in the things that he crafts.

His work is characterized by the use of one of his favorite materials, plaster lath. A lath is a thin strip of wood, usually built into a lattice and then backed with plaster, previously used to finish ceilings and interior walls. Lath in buildings has diminished since the ‘50s, and now drywall is employed in its place.
Brad’s ability to take a hidden, interior piece of architecture and make it the star of a new item is part of what makes his work so compelling. Sometimes, the wood he uses is reclaimed from crumbling buildings in Detroit. In this way, every creation is born with an inherent history connected to the area. The use of wood from Detroit is symbolic in a way; he wants to make a difference and witness the city rise, renascent with new ideas, artists, restaurants, and jobs.

“I get sad when I think of all the waste that goes into the demolition of houses. In reality, much of the wood from the houses is really high quality, and deserves to be reused.”

The benefits of reclaimed wood surpass connecting to the city, and even mere trendiness. It is actually a prime building material because it has had time to cure. The years spent adjusting to the climate have its advantages, according to Brad, “Often times it is much more stable than woods you can buy new…never mind the character you get from sitting in a house for 100+ years. The projects I’m working on aren’t exclusively reclaimed but I always strive to be inspired by the material I’m working with.”

Despite his great skill, Brad comes from a background of retail and desk jobs. He has been woodworking off and on for about five years. It started simple enough, as form of stress relief and a hobby. He started with remodeling and various other home improvement work. “I also grew up with a dad who has been a craftsman my whole life. He’s been a huge inspiration and encouragement to me. I remember him crafting canoes and sails boats by hand when I was very little. It has only been in the past couple years that I have begun to take the art form seriously for myself and allow myself to create fine furniture and art.”

When queried about what he enjoys working on, Brad answered, “Big tables are exciting because so much life happens at them.” That’s another beautiful thing about the work he does; undeniably, even the briefest of glances will reveal that it’s art, but so many of the pieces are also durable and functional. Some pieces are decorative, a pleasing combination of woods and colors in slanting patterns. Whether it is ornamental or serviceable, such solid handiwork is sure to be around for generations to come.

The end of January signified two big changes for Wall Woodworking; more openings for commissions and a move into a shop space inside the Russell Industrial Center. This move is an exciting adjustment, since Brad cites a lack of space for more projects and larger-scale ideas as one of the biggest challenges in his work.
Check out his website: Information can also be found on Wall Wood Working’s Facebook and Instagram pages about upcoming giveaways.

Wall is as kind as he is talented. “Half the reason I do what I do is to meet awesome people and partner with them in creating something beautiful. I look forward to getting to know more people in this awesome community!”