Art & Music

By Ryan E. Ennis


The free events occur on the first and middle Sunday of the month, from 2:00 until 4:30 P.M. These occasions treat the patrons to light refreshments, and sometimes are accompanied by live music
and poetry readings.

Coordinating the exhibitions are 30 members of a cooperative of art lovers and the art-minded who all pitch in to run the gallery. They are all shareholders and pay dues. Ensuring the space is adequately staffed, each member works two days per month. During their work shifts, they welcome visitors and guide them on tours around the space. They also offer information about the displays between the bi-monthly shows, when the exhibiting artists are not available.

The gallery embraces a variety of artistic forms — such as drawings, paintings, printmaking, ceramics, pastel artistry, and wood sculptures. The variations in the forms attract visitors from many surrounding communities who have an array of artistic interests.

ON EXHIBITION IN MAY WERE THE SOME OF THE WORKS of the artist Suzanne Allen, who is also a member of the Lawrence Street Gallery cooperative and a Ferndale resident. For over 30 years, Allen taught college English courses. When she retired, she became inspired to create works of art. Her pieces encompass acrylics, water media paintings, monoprints, collagraphs, and assemblages. In creating her pieces, she employs materials from nature and history, such as newsprints, maps, seashells, textiles, and seeds. To contact Allen or learn more about her works, visit the website

In June, the gallery will showcase the works of local artist Glenn “Fuzzy” Corey. His productions follow the belief that most drawings and paintings are in keeping with the trends of “expression” and “reference” in the past and present century. Not only do his drawings contain expressive elements, they are often crafted purposefully to jog the beholders’ memories to periods in history and to traditions or scenes depicted in mythology. As he plans and sketches, he goes about his work in a way that honors the past artistic movements by producing fresh approaches to drawings while maintaining a high level of detail in them. In that manner, his pieces aim to elicit a sense of amazement with new renditions for the modern eye. To learn more about Corey and see some of his works, check out the website

When Corey’s show wraps up, the next in July will be the gallery’s annual Summer Invitational. In planning this event, the gallery members ask their favorite artists and artist friends to enter some of their best pieces. Typically, there are as many as 50 artists who eagerly take part. For the public, it provides a regular occasion to see the vast amount of creativity available in the Metro Detroit area and beyond. With July often being Michigan’s hottest month, visitors can enjoy an air-conditioned break from the outside heat when they step inside the gallery and spend the afternoon perusing the artwork.

FOLLOWING THE ANNUAL SUMMER INVITATIONAL EVENT IS THE SHOWING of Jeri Magid’s paintings in August. A resident of Huntington Woods, she studied art at Michigan State University, where she earned her bachelor’s degree. She is a member of the Birmingham-Bloomfield Art Center and the Birmingham Society of Women Painters. With both experimental and deliberate color mixtures, she makes her abstract art using brushstrokes that range from spontaneous to intentional. Her end results, she hopes, will stir her audience’s imagination and lead the individuals to personal interpretations of what they observe on the canvases.

In September, the gallery will promote the works of Sherry Adams Foster, a painter and printmaker. At the age of 34, she attended her first art class at Dondero High School in Royal Oak. Finding a new niche, she branched out by enrolling in additional art courses and workshops throughout the state. She is a Signature member of the Michigan Watercolor Society. While many artists seek to represent human challenges and high levels of emotions through their works, Foster’s paintings and printmaking strive to elicit feelings of happiness by capturing peaceful lights, colors, and other delightful details in our world. More information about Foster and her art can be found at

After Sherry Adams Foster’s exhibition, the gallery will host an artist competition in October with the theme of “animals.” All local artists are welcome to apply to enter their works related to the theme, and all forms of media are accepted.

IN NOVEMBER, THE MUSICIAN AND VISUAL ARTIST CHRIS MOORE will present his unique creations. While still a teenager, he began his music career as the original drummer for the punk band Negative Approach. Around the same time, he design- ed flyers for the band and wrote lyrics. In recent years, he has been incorporating his lyrics into the experimental artworks he creates, and thus furnishing a visual and literary feast for his patrons’ senses.

The final event of 2023, in December, is called “Think Small.” To be approved for the showing, the artists’ media types intended for submission must be 12 inches or smaller.

Selected art pieces for the upcoming shows will be available to view online and purchase by visiting Updates about the forth- coming events will also be posted on the same site.

If you are a local artist and interested in joining the cooperative to help with the exhibits, you can check out the Membership Information section on the web site, and then download an application and send a completed one to the email address

As a gallery member, in addition to receiving a guarantee of eight linear feet of wall space to display your own artistic achievements for sale, you are able to “participate in the decision-making and experience the running of the gallery, and learn more of the business side of being an artist,” as stated on the establishment’s home page.

22620 Woodward Avenue || 248-544-0394
Open Weds.-Sat. from Noon until 5:00 P.M. and Sun. from 1:00 P.M. until 5:00 P.M.

By Sara E Teller


Before settling into her current space located at 395 W. Marshall St., she owned a studio in Hamtramck, as well as a storefront off of Main St. in downtown Royal Oak for 25 years. Then, after relocating out of state for a short time, she eventually came back to Michigan and settled into Ferndale.

“I was driving by my current space on Marshall one day and spotted the studio for rent,” she said, adding that she just knew it would be a perfect fit. She had been looking at a location in Oak Park, too, but Marshall instantly drew her in.

Cameron considers herself to be a serious artist, but she’s scaled back quite a bit in recent years. At one time she was doing many large, socially driven installations. These days, she prefers to work on smaller, more modest pieces. The last installation Cameron created was for the Flint water crisis.

Before shifting her artistic direction more towards “happy, carefree” pieces, Cameron also spent many years focusing on what she calls “not somber art, but art focused on the state of the world, current times and head space.” She coined this era, “Paradise Lost.” It became difficult, however, to continually be immersed in societal issues, especially after the onset of the pandemic, so she decided to put out positive pieces instead. “It’s still there, of course,” Cameron explained. “I’m just not going there myself all the time.”

WORKING NOW ON COLLAGE, ASSEMBLAGE, AND PAINTINGS, Cameron enjoys being in the heart of Ferndale, where she lives nearby and is able to make friends with store patrons.

“The young people of Ferndale have been totally amazing,” she said, warmly. “They come into the store often and have bought quite a few of my paintings. There are many apartments close by, and I get a lot of walk-ins as a result.” Pausing briefly, Cameron added, “I also put out biscuits on the windowsills and have made many dog friends along the way. And, right now, I’m giving away Cracker Jack boxes with purchases.”

During the past year and a half that she’s been at Marshall, Cameron has done little in the way of advertising due largely to Ferndale’s tight-knit, welcoming community. “It’s been absolutely delicious,” she said of the traction she’s gotten, adding, “It’s about two miles from my home, which is perfect.”

Another important shift in focus for Cameron and her work has been on connection. “COVID created a sense of isolation,” she said. “Life was forever changed. But the decision to open this space has been wonderful – it’s worked out tremendously.” She often enjoys the company of visiting artist friends in addition to her customers.

WHEN ASKED FROM WHERE SHE DRAWS HER CREATIVE INSPIRATION, CAMERON EXPLAINED, “I’ve been a painter, and an artist in general, for so long, but I still search for inspiration everywhere. I have about 35 illustrated journals, and sometimes I’ll take a look at past entries and be inspired by ideas that never came to fruition.”

She has also long been collecting various odds and ends for her collage work and will sort through these periodically, seeing what she can create from her finds. Cameron said, “I like to pick up unusual, handmade stuff, and I search all over. I don’t order anything from catalogues.”

Cameron paints the most during the winter months and has recently sold some of her latest creations. She said, “My price point reflects my age. I don’t want to hold onto pieces; I want to share them.”

When she isn’t in the studio or greeting guests at her store, Cameron’s creativity comes out in her other passions and pastimes. She especially enjoys gardening and has a canvas of perennials lining her front yard. She also likes to travel, and recently took her first trip since the pandemic with a friend. “Just yesterday, I also looked up the film theater schedule in Detroit,” she shared, and is hoping to delve back into her love of movies.

For more information on Lulu Cameron and her art, call 573-535-9370 or stop by 395 W. Marshall St.
Store hours are Wednesday through Sunday, 11:00 A.M. TO 5:00 P.M.

By Jeff Milosevich


On Saturday, June 17, we’ll be kicking off our annual Summer Reading Challenge at Martin Road Park: kids, teens, and adults can all be signed up to participate in our reading challenge and be connected to the Beanstack app, which can be used to log everyone’s recreational reading throughout the season. Cool prizes are in store for those who log the most reading!

SUMMER READING: IT ALL STARTS ON JUNE 17, from 1:00 P.M. – 3:00 P.M. at Martin Road Park: Library staff will be providing onsite Summer Reading signup assistance at the park’s pavilion. There will be lawn games and a new book on the Story Trail for kids, food trucks, including tacos for lunch and ice cream for dessert, plus live music featuring a rousing singalong of Beatles covers! This year’s Summer Reading theme is “All Together Now,” emphasizing a sense of community as we all participate in a fun reading challenge together. If you want to find out more, you can visit the library’s website:

Along with encouraging patrons to log their reading on Beanstack, we’ll also host a variety of engaging events and activities for all age groups.

TINY ART: ON MAY 15, we unveiled another craft kit giveaway, providing “art kits” containing a “tiny” 5”x5” canvas, along with a “tiny” tripod easel and “tiny” assorted paints and paint brushes. These kits were distributed on a first-come/first-serve basis, so we can’t guarantee whether or not they’ll be available by the time you’re reading this. Our goal is to collect all the artwork from the community to curate an exhibition that will be on display through- out the library all summer long. We’ll host a special reception, scheduled for June 29 at 6:00 P.M., where we’ll celebrate everyone’s artistic talents. To find more info about “tiny art” and all upcoming art exhibitions, visit:

SUMMER CONCERT SERIES: Our ever-popular crowd-pleasing Summer Concert Series returns to our Library’s courtyard starting June 13. These free, all-ages concerts are made possible by the Friends of the Ferndale Library, allowing music lovers to catch an early evening outdoor performance by some of Michigan’s most talented songwriters. Attendees are encouraged to bring their own folding chairs, blankets, or any transportable seating apparatus, but you can also just sit on the grass or find a spot at one of our picnic tables. This year’s lineup includes Dani Darling (soul/funk/indie) on June 13, Chris Bathgate (folk/Americana/roots/ ambient) on July 18, and the Theatre Bizarre Orchestra (jazz) on August 22.

UPCOMING YOUTH EVENTS: June 24: Painting Workshop with Living Arts Detroit (ages 7- 12); June 28: Tie-Blankets for Shelter Animals (multigenerational); June 29: Life-Sized Candy Land (ages 2-5); July 10: Sadarri & Company theatre troupe’s Multicultural Storytelling (ages 2- 12); July 24: Acting for Kids with OpenSpot Theatre (ages 5-12); July 27: Make Your Own Animal Masks! (ages 5-8); July 28: Sharpie Tie-Dying Workshop for Teens (ages 13-18+); July 31: Zine-Making Program (ages 7 and up); August 1: Sloan-Longway: City Shapes (ages 4-7). Ongoing: Reading Rainbow, Middle School Board Game Club, Middle Grade Tabletop RPG, and Pokemon Club.

Meanwhile, we’ll continue to host storytimes, but we’re changing it up a little just for the summer-time: Baby Storytimes will be hosted on the first three Fridays of each month at 10:30 A.M. and then our new Family Storytime will be hosted on the first three Wednesdays of each month at 10:30 A.M. Find more info at:

Parents/caregivers can bring kids of all ages into the youth area to enjoy the latest seasonal decor, with lively cardboard cut-outs created by our youth librarians portraying fun new scenes featuring the friendly creatures of “Fern Forest.” We’ll also be planning another scavenger hunt where kids can scour every aisle of the Kids Corner to help retrieve a variety of hidden items that belong to one of the furry citizens of Fern Forest.

UPCOMING SUMMERTIME ADULT EVENTS: June 12: Movie Trivia Night at 215 West; June 22: Costumed Model/Figure Drawing (sketch work-shop); June 25, July 23, August 27: New Adult RPG Group – a new limited series of three monthly meet-ups where adults can play short-duration RPG games together.  July 17: the return of our popular “Chopped Challenge” take-home craft kit containing three “mystery ingredients” for our local foodies to use in creating a dish of their choosing. Ongoing: All of our book clubs will occur at their set times and dates, including the Ferndale Project Book Club, Graphic Novel Book Club, Science Fiction Book Club, and Film Club (find more info on our website).

GAMES & GARDENS: Stop by the Library to enhance your enjoyment of the outdoors this summer: use your Ferndale Library card to check out an array of games and sporting equipment from our Library of Things, including a croquet set, bocce ball set, pickleball set, and a bike repair stand! After that, stop by the Seed Library and check out a variety of herb, flower, or vegetable seed packets to plant in your garden! And speaking of gardening, mark your calendars for August 3, when Rachael Carter from Floraculture gives a presentation on starting your own herbal tea garden!

Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for more information at updates@ferndalelibrary


BLACKSMITHS WORK WITH ARCHITECTS AND DESIGNERS, CUSTOM HOME BUILDERS AND PRIVATE CLIENTS TO BUILD one-of-a-kind functional art and heirloom quality pieces that will likely outlast us all.

Iron gates, grills, railings, light fixtures, furniture, sculpture, tools are among the many items in your house or garden that might be craft- ed or eventually need repair by a blacksmith. Think about custom chandeliers and wine racks, fireplace tools and table bases, home address numbers, cabinet hardware, outdoor lanterns, and ornate backyard trellises.

It’s a pretty intimidating subject to most homeowners! But once you get past your fears, the art of blacksmithing is quite fascinating.

And you might be surprised to learn how much of it is within your own grasp. The basic tools (forge, an anvil, a hammer, tongs and a vice) needed to do your own blacksmithing cost as little as just a few hundred dollars.

OF COURSE, YOU WILL ALSO NEED THE GUIDANCE OF A PROFESSIONAL BLACKSMITH. CJ Forge, in Hazel Park, is a modern day blacksmith shop that focuses on custom ironwork for the home and garden. They actually host classes private welding lessons now and are happy to talk to you about your project or whatever inspires you.

These blacksmiths are true artists and craftsman and ready to help anybody interested in ironwork. They’re hoping to revive a dying art and they are reaching out to the community for your support. The shop is open full time to anyone interested in commission work and getting their hands dirty.

The most recent project, a mix of beauty and ruggedness was a large outdoor, botanical style sculpture for Seven Ponds Nature Center in Dryden, Michigan. It has hundreds of hand-forged chiseled leaves, flowers and vines, small bugs and whimsical birds, all wrapped around the entryway to their naturescape.

A nine-foot-tall tall garden gate was another recent, private commission comprised of life-like steel vines, leaves and brass coated flowers located next to a beautiful lake setting near Waterford.

A handcrafted, copper mailbox now adorns one of the most prominent homes in Palmer Woods and is sure to patina over time, only getting more beautiful with age.

ANOTHER GORGEOUS ESTATE NEARBY IS HOME TO AN ELEGANT FORMAL GARDEN and contains multiple works of art forged by the smiths in hazel park. Striving to create a real sanctuary, an antique gate restoration surrounds their custom fountain and hopefully more is yet to come.

A unique sunflower shepard’s hook was a fun local project for creative clients in Pleasant Ridge. The last custom piece recently shipped off in a solid wood crate destined for North Carolina: A custom made pot rack designed for a custom-made home.

To learn more about blacksmithing or if you need help with a project, contact CJ Forge at

By Lisa Howard

MANY PEOPLE DREAM ABOUT MAKING A LIVING AS AN ARTIST, but Michelle Ouellette and Chad Thompson know exactly what it’s like. They created their animation studio, Yeah Haus, back in 2013 and have been artist-ing ever since.

“We thought, ‘We’ll just do this until we run out of jobs.’ And we still have jobs,” says Michelle. She and Chad were both working at ad agencies but wanted to forge their own path that would allow them to earn income as creatives and pursue their own artistic projects. “I’m most proud of our short films because you can watch them years later and they hold up,” Chad says. “They aren’t based on trends the way commercial work is.” Besides, purely personal projects are a chance to go outside of their usual lanes and learn something new.

Of course, building a successful small business – especially a creative studio takes time and determination. As Michelle and Chad point out, it’s easy to look at a finished product like a film or a book and not see all of the work that went into creating it. And it is work, even when it’s driven by passion and even when you can be choosy about who you work with. “I think a lot of being a creative comes down to how to not talk yourself out of continuing,” Chad says.

FORTUNATELY, HE AND MICHELLE HAVE ESTABLISHED A SOLID ROSTER of clients and also a go-to list of partners they can call whenever they need to work with a collaborator. In many cases, those clients and collaborators go back years. Likewise, Michelle and Chad are not only business partners but have been married for ten years, with two kids under the age of six. They know the nuances of how to best balance their personal and professional lives.

Michelle is the illustrator; in her previous life at the ad agency, she worked as a designer and 3D artist. Chad is the creative director. In BYH times (Before Yeah Haus), he worked in post-production doing motion graphics and editing.

Together, they’ve created mixed media projects, 2D and 3D animations, a swath of commercial works, and their own short films. “I love to draw! That’s all I want to do,” Michelle says. “If I can’t ever draw for myself, then what’s the point?” Chad agrees — every artist, he says, has “back-burner stuff,” the kind of projects that keep the fires of creativity burning bright. That’s why they purposely leave some space in their schedules to accommodate their filmmaking.

ONE OF THEIR SHORTS MADE IT INTO A FILM FESTIVAL IN CANNES! (Yes, they were able to see it screened live.) They count that along with their work for Adult Swim, Disney, and various LA film festivals as some of the highlights of their joint career.

Their tidy studio includes an audio room with all the tools Chad needs to do his sound design and editing while Michelle is busily sketching and illustrating in the adjoining room. They also tackle soundtracks – not only is Chad a musician, his brother was a touring musician and joins in the music-making.

Living in an inherently creative community like Ferndale also helps. “It’s easy to find a wizard guitarist on the other side of Woodward who’ll come over to record,” Chad says. But at the end of the day, what they treasure most is being able to collaborate and create with friendly, talented, and reciprocal partners. “It’s important to us that when we finish something, people are happy,” Michelle says. “We’ve found our little niche and we’re not stopping.” | 248.835.0153 |

By Lisa Howard

THIS ISN’T INKJET OR LASER PRINTING. IT ISN’T EVEN PICKING UP FULL-COLOR PHOTOS FROM CVS. This is meticulously rendered, high-end digital printing, the kind coveted by visual artists who want to fully showcase their work.

“Printing digital media is a high art,” says Karen Sanders. “It’s a combination of science and art, and it’s not easy to find a good printer anymore—somebody who truly knows what they’re doing is very rare. Larry is that person.”

The Larry she’s talking about is Larry Melkus of Fine Art Printing. He attended the Center for Creative Studies back when it was still called the Detroit Society of Arts & Crafts, studying photography with a focus on art.

Upon graduating, he went on to open his own photography studio and worked with commercial advertising clients, creating prints for trade shows, automotive companies, and other commercial entities. But, after about 30 years of commercial work, Larry decided to shift his specialty to the art world; nowadays, he works almost exclusively with visual artists.

“I can digitally scan anything I can get through the door and create a high-definition, color-corrected digital reproduction of that art and then make a print of it, whether the artwork is a sculpture or a 6’x10’ canvas,” says Larry.

HE CAN MAKE PRINTS OF DRAWINGS, PAINTINGS, SCULPTURES, collages, sketches – you name it. He can even transform relatively low-quality digital files into striking images, which is why he encourages anyone with beloved digital photos to let him work with those files. “As far as how the image can be presented and how big it can get, the limitations are more about the skills of the person making the prints rather than the size of the digital file itself,” he says, pointing out that today’s advanced digital tools allow him to capitalize on an image’s best features.

“Making prints sometimes seems to be of a thing of a past, yet it isn’t. When people see a completed print from a digital file, they get pretty excited about it,” Karen adds. She’s also a grad of CCS, although she eventually moved away from Michigan to Texas, where she taught digital media at the University of Texas for 15 years. About six years ago, she moved back to Detroit and reconnected with the art community here.

Then in November of 2021, she heard that Larry was looking for an assistant. As a one-man shop with a sterling reputation among artists, he was slammed with work. She applied for the job and landed her dream opportunity.

“I’ve had more engagement with the artist community in six months of working here than I had during the entire six years I’d been back in Detroit,” she says. “That’s because Larry takes the time to talk to people individually and helps them understand the process of making their art into a print. He educates people about what’s possible.”

That desire to help artists and the art-interested realize the potential of digital media attracts both local talent and artists from other states—Larry regularly works with clients from New York, Boston, and Texas as well as Metro Detroit artists. The materials he uses are durable, heavyweight canvases and art paper, the kind of archival material you see in galleries and museums. But whether he’s collaborating with a painter looking to document their work in the form of a book or a casual photographer who wants to make a cherished photo into a print, his goal remains the same: To create a compelling work of art.

732 Hilton Road, Ferndale | 248.571.0111

By Jenn Goedekke

GEORGE MONTRELLE IS A LOCAL MUSICIAN WHOSE SOULFUL SONGWRITING ENCOMPASSES a broad array of influences, from Allen Stone to Fall Out Boy, and more in between.

With an EP named LOVE UNFOLDING released on May 20th, 2022, Montrelle is expressing his “passion for music and who I am today. It ties everything together!” The EP comprises five songs that were independently recorded and produced. It marks a significant milestone in his musical career, which he describes as “a long journey – but I’m moving at a good pace!”

Montrelle began songwriting around 16 years of age. He comes from a creative, loving, and resourceful single-parent household. Often, he would listen to his siblings’ music collections, including soul, R&B, hip-hop, and gospel music. Since those early days, he has played some unique gigs and has formed a clear vision of his musical path.

Prior gigs have included the Willis Show Bar in Midtown Detroit; Otus Supply in Ferndale (‘Singers in the Round’); and the Axis Lounge within the MGM Grand in downtown Detroit.

Montrelle graduated from the Detroit Institute of Music Education (DIME) in 2020 and was awarded a Bachelor’s in Commercial Songwriting. There, he learned a lot about all aspects of the music industry, including the business culture and networking. He told me, “It felt good to finish the program. I wouldn’t trade it for the world!” He also auditioned for American Idol.

Please tell me more about LOVE UNFOLDING.

LOVE UNFOLDING is the first group of songs I’ve ever released that is self-recorded and self-produced. It represents the adoration and development of my path, my partner, my passion, and myself. It also symbolizes growth, joy, humility, challenges overcome, and the pursuits of my deepest desires in life.

Any collaborations or core influences?

Briefly, Allen Stone, Hiatus Kaiyote, the ‘90s, and 2000s hip-hop, older R&B, oldies, and 2000s alternative rock are some of my influences for LOVE UNFOLDING. I also like Sam Smith and Bruno Mars.

Which of your gigs stand out, and for what reasons?

Willis Show Bar in Midtown was amazing, pre-Covid. Loved the stage and the music we got to play. More recently, MGM Grand has been a great time. Loved being able to perform classics and modern tunes to an appreciative crowd!

Future gigs or perhaps a tour?

I’ll be performing for the Juneteenth Celebration hosted by the Ferndale Library at the Green Acres Park in Hazel Park, with my band. The event is on a Saturday, June 18th, 2022, the day before the official Juneteenth holiday. Also, Sunday, July 31st, 2022, I’ll be playing for Ferndale’s Nine on Nine Series down at Schiffer Park.

Have you got a favorite song?

Allen Stone’s “Brown Eyed Lover” was a long-time favorite for me. Sam Smith’s “Omen” and “Diamonds” are the other latest ones.

Any “shoutouts” to family, friends, or people in the music industry?

My fiance, and partner of nine years, first and foremost. My entire family and friend groups for their support too. You all are amazing. Lastly, the DIME faculty and student body, as a whole, I have to thank. The network and education have been a gift that has kept on giving.

What DIME experiences stood out the most?

DIME was a lot of different things. Albeit, it was a Bachelor’s degree program; it was also networking, experiencing, performing, writing music, collaborating, and being immersed in a very musical environment. I’m glad I saw what I did there. Probably being in the same environment with so much talent and opportunity stood out the most to me.

On a parting note, Montrelle added, “Trust in yourself, as you never know who you might impact. Trust your instincts and intuition, and truly be who you are.”

Visit George Montrelle’s website for more information:

Montrelle’s songs can be found on all streaming sources, including Bandcamp and Spotify.

By Lisa Howard

COMIC BOOKS HAVE COME A LONG WAY SINCE SUPERMAN first flew into the American consciousness in 1938; nowadays, graphic novels and mangas are flying off the shelves, and a large swath of comics are available in digital formats.

Evan Derian

And while the Big Two (DC and Marvel) still publish books galore, many creators are taking the independent route. “I decided to just do it,” says Evan Derian, creator of Miserable Americans. “I wanted to write and draw and do what’s fun about comics, not wait for someone to give me that opportunity.”

As a kid, he was an avid collector, and that love of comics never went away, not during his college years when he was studying graphic design and not during his years of designing mostly corporate projects.

He still does that kind of work (and ongoing graphic design side gigs) in addition to creating his own comics. Initially, he tried to break into the commercial comic industry as an illustrator, but he quickly found himself trapped in a byzantine world of insider connections and inscrutable editorial decisions.

RATHER THAN CONTINUING TO SWIM UPSTREAM, EVAN STARTED CONCEIVING the idea for his first story back in 1999. It turned into a 150-page graphic novel called Insignificant Gods, He self-published it and started taking it to comic book conventions (known by geeks as “Cons”). Ultimately, though, the con scene was a wash; the cost of having a table and how much he made in sales were pretty much even. He decided to move on to the next project.

Miserable Americans

“That was a learning process,” he says of his first year’s foray into creating comics. “I found out that it was harder to put together pages and layouts in certain ways, plus I realized that I needed to write more detailed scripts so that I’d know how much dialogue would be in each panel.” Not only that, but the process of world-building chewed up too much page space.

Hence he decided to center his next title on well-established figures rather than all-original ones. Enter Lincoln and JFK as the protagonists of Miserable Americans. “In the world of comic books, everything is possible, so I decided to clone the two most popular presidents in pop culture and write about them,” Evan explains. “Once I did that, then I was off-and-running. The books just about write themselves because there’s so much to mine when I drop Lincoln and JFK into various situations in modern America.”

UNLIKE THE WAY THE VAST MAJORITY OF COMICS ARE PRODUCED, Evan does everything himself: he’s the writer, penciller, inker, colorist, letterer, interior and cover artist, and marketer. Creating a book entirely on his own is such a labor-intensive process that sometimes it takes him a year to get a title out.

No Sympathy: Mick Jagger Portrait (Digital Illustration)

He loves being his own kit-and-caboodle production team though, and being able to embrace his own cinematically influenced style of art. His books are more realistic and darker than mainstream superhero titles. He says he draws far more inspiration from films than from other comics, with a style that’s reminiscent of Thelma & Louise colliding with a Coen Brothers movie.

While breaking into comics is the polar opposite of easy, Evan loves it. Yes, marketing is a challenge, he admits. It would be nice if a PR professional handled that part. But, at the end of the day, he has a passion for telling stories.

“I love the idea that I can write and draw stories and share them with people,” he says. “I love it when someone picks up my book and wants to read more. That’s when you know your story is working.” |

By Sara Teller

Mike Ross

A WELL-KNOWN MURAL ARTIST, PAINTING BOTH THE INTERIOR AND EXTERIOR WALLS of many Ferndale hotspots, Mike Ross studied art and anthropology at Oakland University, graduating in 2003.

A creative at heart, he originally focused on music. However, over time, he shifted this focus primarily towards painting and has been hard at work inside 333 Midland Studios in Highland Park for nearly a decade.

“I went nearly ten years where I focused mainly on music and only dabbled in visual art occasionally,” Ross said, adding, “I got heavily back into painting about ten years ago now.”

ONCE A WAY TO SIMPLY “DEAL WITH STRESS,” visual artistry became an important part of his life. “The more I painted, the more I wanted to keep painting. And the ideas really just never stopped flowing,” he explained. “I started focusing on painting exclusively full-time about five years ago and painted my first mural in 2018.”

In addition to bringing the walls of local businesses to life during the summer months, Ross said, “I always work on studio art as well, abstract and figurative oil paintings mostly. Now my work feels sort of seasonally divided: In the studio all winter, out painting murals all summer.”

And that’s the way he likes it. His divided endeavors “inform each other.” Ross explained. “Working in the studio I’ll often land on ideas that might be better suited for a mural so I’ll kind of sketch it out and put a pin in it and refer back when mural opportunities arise. And vice versa.”

He lives by the motto ‘go big or go home,’ saying, “I have always enjoyed working large when I paint, and in 2018 I was really wanting to get into murals.

“That’s when, out-of-the-blue, Dustin Leslie of the WAB reached out to me and mentioned they were looking for someone to paint a wall at their new back patio bar, PORT. I knew Dustin from back in the band days. I jumped on it, of course, and in the end I painted four of their walls, inside and out.”

This proved to be a valuable turning point in his career. Ross said, “I learned a lot from those murals. From there things snowballed for me in terms of murals both in Ferndale and beyond. I’ve now painted…all over the area [including in] Detroit, Hamtramck, Lansing, up in Lexington, and all the way down in Santiago, Chile.” He already has more opportunities in the books for this summer.

“I just feel so fortunate to be able to do what I love to do every day,” Ross stated. “Traveling down to Chile to paint a mural luckily, just before the pandemic hit – was a pretty special experience. I owe that one to my good friend Ismael Duran, who passed away earlier this year. A couple years before, I went with him to Cuba where we did another arts and music presentation.

I had worked with Ismael for the previous six years, teaching art and skateboard building to kids in Southwest Detroit at a cultural center called Garage Cultural. It was a fantastic experience, and I learned a whole lot there – not necessarily about art but about people and life in general. I miss that guy.”

ROSS HAS LIVED ON THE OUTSKIRTS OF FERNDALE for more than two decades. He mentioned the work of the Ferndale Arts & Cultural Committee, saying the organization “does great work connecting mural-seeking businesses with artists. I have them to thank for getting me involved in the large mural project at the DOT parking garage, which has really been one of my favorite projects. It was super fun, and everybody involved was a dream to work with.” He has also participated in Ferndale’s DIY Fest and the Backyard Art Fair, which he’ll be taking part of again this year.

Of the Ferndale area, specifically, Ross said, “While it’s changed a lot in that time, one consistent aspect is that it’s always been a community full of people with great, far-out ideas and the wherewithal to enact on them. I think it’s a very freeing state of mind, living here. The people I’ve met here and played music with or talked art with, or whatever, one commonality is that they’re all doers. And I think that way of thinking is contagious.”

Visit to see more or request a rendering of Ross’ work.

STEVE GAMBURD IS AN IMPRESSIVE AND ACCOMPLISHED LOCAL ARTIST/MUSICIAN. His career path and achievements have covered a broad range over the years: Art exhibition; picture framing; landscaping, gardening and beautification; murals; house painting; restoration; art curating; watercolor and drawing instruction; event coordination and design, and venue booking and management.

Gamburd’s popularity and obvious charisma most likely come from a combination of his overall enthusiasm, talent, upbeat energy, and his outgoing nature: “I am very thankful for my experiences, and I also appreciate the work that others put in. I am always looking for inspiration, and I have always figured out a way to integrate my art into my life. It’s part of my spirit!”

In Gamburd’s early days of art, he greatly enjoyed comic books – especially the superhero characters – and particularly those with independent or adult themes. Then he began creating his own comics, which became an ongoing pursuit. In his college days, he found the art of abstraction and expressionists highly influential. Gamburd’s continual inspiration has stemmed from working with life themes over the years, such as the figure, nature, still life, or sketching random people/settings.

Regarding music, he was influenced by quite a few experimental sounds, but, “I did not consider myself to be a musician until I realized that music is also art. I had no idea when I was younger that I would ever play the drums!” At around age 28, Gamburd discovered his new love of the drums. He wrote a number of songs over a period of five years, with a new-wave, indie-rock quartet called The Nerve. From then on, Gamburd has gigged and recorded studio albums with a number of bands, of various genres. These have included: Polar Opposite (folk-rock); Black Lodge (postpunk); Bastion (indie-pop/rock); Steffie & The Dirty Virgins (glam-rock); New Centaur (jazz-rock), Superbomb (grunge & space-rock); Abul On Fire (psych-rock) and 8th Chakra (sludge-punk). His current band, Origami Phase, is shoegaze/dream pop. Gamburd commented, “I’ve had the fortune of playing with great musicians over the years. These bandmates played a major role in my development as a drummer and songwriter.”

BY WAY OF EDUCATION, Gamburd majored in studio art at MSU in 1993, illustration at LCC from ’94-’95, liberal arts at OCC in ’96, and then dropped out of college to focus on art exclusively. In 2011, Gamburd returned to OCC for an Associates in Liberal Arts. In 1994,  Jim Ferguson became a huge influence on Gamburd’s passion for watercolor: “I took his watercolor classes until I could no longer receive credit from them.” Watercolor subsequently became a ‘true love’ for Gamburd, and one that he knew would endure for a lifetime: “This is the most awesome media. Instead of seeing it as the stereotypical ‘watered-down’ medium, I see it as being explosive and bold, with various ways to approach it. There are so many levels that I am still trying to figure out!”

Gamburd mentioned the importance of setting goals and completing them! On this subject, he is busy writing a comprehensive, full-color watercolor manual, where the final goal is a 125-page book. Drawing from some previous teaching experience, he is well on the way into lesson plans which form a ‘step by step’ guide on how a beginner can complete a watercolor painting.

Gamburd has an ongoing exhibition at the Dovetail Cafe in Warren (29200 Hoover Rd.) until the end of February 2022. This show is named “The Poster Show” and it features over 100 event posters created over the last two decades by Gamburd and his friend, Steven Czapiewski. His band Origami Phase performs at Bowlero in Royal Oak on Thursday December 30th, at 9:00 P.M.

I HAD TO ASK: “HOW DO YOU STAY SO ORGANIZED?” Gamburd’s response, “Someone has to make it all happen – make the calls and follow up with contacts. It all starts with a big plan or idea, then people just want to get involved.” The Phoenix Cafe was a classic example of his skills in show-casing diverse talent. “I love providing shows of different kinds, where we are all on the same page, and where a passion for creativity is the driving force. Hosting as a venue really opened up my interests a lot. It opened my mind to other genres of music. I have to look into things as I am not easily pleased!”

Gamburd feels the Phoenix years were like an open canvas of possibilities. Pianist Hans Barbe and the late steampunk creator Michael Wiggins opened a space that was a place for growing, healing and community. Gamburd was gallery coordinator and created special events, including fundraisers and art exhibits from 2009-2012. Then he went on to renovate the space, with the help of the existing Phoenix family, and became co-owner/general manager for the venue from 2013-2017. Gamburd developed music festivals at the Phoenix and abroad with co-owner Ben Frank, plus he curated themed art shows with Czapiewski. He also hosted Lewandowski’s “See What Stacey Started” figure-drawing class. (This non-instructed class and art community continued to gather after the closing of the venue).

Over these years, many good networking relationships formed between bands, which led to a number of collaborations. However, at this point, Gamburd described having less time to be a visual artist as it is a hugely time-consuming venture. Even though it had multiple positive outcomes, and was a powerful way for people to connect, Gamburd added that the Phoenix Cafe was “not profitable.”

Once the venue closed its doors in December of 2017, Gamburd was able to gig with his bands, present a long-awaited solo art show based on his ‘dream’ art, and shift into more gardening/house painting jobs. Now – following a busy season of those pursuits – he is excited to focus on comic book illustration, and more watercolor lessons.