Art & Music

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.

Photo ©2021 by Bennie White

FOR TIFFANY PUGMIRE, HER ARTWORK IS HER MEDIATION, her cathartic release. For others, Pugmire’s artwork invokes joy, cheer, inspiration and more.

“WHEN CREATING,I AM CONSISTENTLY sifting my way through transitions and emotion; thus the extra play time with this medium lends to the remedy or healing process,” Pugmire said of her work. “For me, there is a magnetic sensation when looking at the reflection of light, and the contrast of the hidden colors in shadows. It keeps me interested in a subject as I attempt to capture this quality in my efforts.”

Pugmire gained local fame last Spring when she put her talent to work through sidewalk art. In exchange for chalk to perform her skills, Pugmire would take requests of what individuals wanted displayed on their sidewalk. Mayor Marian McClellan requested Vincent Van Gogh’sSunflowers,” and others requested birthday messages, recreations of other well-known art pieces and more.

While, the rain has since washed away the sidewalk art that brought smiles to Oak Park residents in the height of the COVID pandemic, Pugmire’s artwork can now be viewed in City Hall. This artwork won’t be found on the floors of City Hall, though; rather her oil paintings are displayed on canvas throughout the art gallery near the main entrance.

PUGMIRE’S ARTWORK DISPLAY IN CITY HALL IS PART OF Oak Park’s Public Art Exhibition Program, which is administered through the City’s Arts & Cultural Diversity Committee. Her artwork can be viewed now through the end of December.

The use of light and shadow in Pugmire’s paintings is quick to catch a viewer’s eye. The way in which she brings life to a simple bowl of eggs or a cabbage on a string is something only someone with true, raw talent can accomplish. Pair Pugmire’s inherent artistry with her training and still life art becomes anything but.

WHEN PUGMIRE IS NOT DELVING IN HER ARTISTIC SIDE she can also be found teaching yoga, practicing Reiki and working for the Oak Park Public Safety Department’s Records Bureau. She is a woman of many talents, and the City of Oak Park is thrilled to serve as a conduit between her artwork and the public.

For the Park’s Public Art Exhibition Program administered by the Arts & Cultural Diversity Program, local artists are encouraged to apply on a rolling basis. The Committee regularly seeks two-dimensional artwork for the lobby of City Hall for the duration of a quarterly exhibition period, and seeks art that represents the diversity of our community. Varied artistic styles and mediums are welcomed. All artists are encouraged to apply; however priority is given to Oak Park resident artists. Artwork should reflect positively on our community and must be suitable for public display.

By Lisa Howard

WHILE YOU WON’T FIND AN ARMADILLO IN THE WILD in Michigan, Berkley has its own version in the form of Armadillo Printwear, a screenprinting shop that has been serving residents of SouthEastern Michigan for nearly 30 years.

Owner Dave Lakatos initially started out producing custom tie-dye garments in 1992. Over the years, he and his staff have transitioned into a fulltime screen-printing shop, creating spiritwear, uniforms for sports teams, shirts for community events, and even gear for yacht clubs. “We do a lot for the School District, the Public Safety Department, the Parks & Recreation Department and the Chamber of Commerce,” says Jon Murrell, store manager. “We try to cater to everybody who comes through and we’re very community-focused.”

With four presses running in their tidy 2,000 square foot shop, the Armadillo team can print on anything that lies flat. They can also provide custom embroidery, which comes in particularly handy for restaurants and dispensaries and any business looking for employee uniforms. Occasionally, they print single-color posters, but 99.9 percent of their business is in clothing.

If you’ve attended Berkley annual events like the Berkley Street Art Fest or the Cruise Fest, you’ve seen T-shirts that were printed and designed by Armadillo – in addition to managing the store, Jon is also an artist, and is thrilled to work with the Berkley Area Chamber of Commerce to create the shirts. “Seeing as we’re the ones who print the shirts for these events, I want to make sure the design looks as good as it possibly can,” Jon says. He designed the logo for the first Street Art Fest in 2017 as well as the 25th anniversary Cruise Fest shirt in 2021. (He also painted murals for the 2017 and 2018 Street Fest events.)

IN THE 16 YEARS JON HAS SPENT WORKING AT ARMADILLO, he says they’re busier than ever, surprising given the past two years. “We’re trying to keep on truckin’! It’d be great to get to the point where we can take a break, but for now we need to keep our heads down and keep printing shirts,” he says.

That uptick in orders has meant that Jon does less design work than usual, focusing more on production, although he’s still happy to create artwork. “A customer can give me a simple sketch on a restaurant napkin, and I can turn that into something,” he says. With a degree in fine art from Wayne State University and specializations in photo-realistic charcoal art and pen-and-ink-drawings, designing images and logos is second nature for Jon. Although he’s worked on a variety of interesting design projects during his time at Armadillo, his favorite was the Port Huron-to-Mackinac Island Sailboat Race – one year, Armadillo created both the event’s merchandising gear and poster designs.

“We just try to have really good-quality prints and we make sure that everybody who sees it knows where it comes from – we put our stickers on every box of shirts we send out,” says Jon.

So if you’re hankering for the sight of an armadillo in the neighborhood, keep your eyes open! You just might catch a (two-dimensional) glimpse of the adorable long-snouted, armored critter around town.

Armadillo Printwear | 3861 12 Mile Rd., Berkley, MI 48072
(248) 547-0490 | |

By Sara E. Teller
Photos by Ashley Poirer

THE BERKLEY AREA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE (BACC) IS DEDICATED TO CREATING A SPACE for business owners to come together to serve Berkley and our surrounding communities. The Chamber has organized many events and activities over the years, with this year being no exception despite the ongoing Covid pandemic.

Many great things have been happening around town in general, even as the world is faced with a ‘new normal.’ There are businesses continuing to come into Berkley, and the close-knit community has witnessed a growing number of people settling in, especially younger singles and families. Drawn to the area because of the ‘everyone-knows-everyone’ ambiance, free parking and many fun things to do, Berkley continues to be a go-to spot for newcomers.

BACC primarily supports small businesses by engaging in local events, organizing affordable marketing options, offering a high-volume social media presence, and initiating networking activities. In 2021, BACC was instrumental in supporting businesses through a grant from Oakland County. The Chamber offered PPE items for its members, as well as propane for outdoor heaters, hand sanitizer, wipes, and other items that weren’t in the budget before the pandemic hit. The Chamber ensured members were given as much online attention as possible, particularly regarding adjustments made to days and hours they were open, and the innovative ways owners came up with to continue serving residents.

“We organized very successful 2021 summer events that brought thousands of people to Berkley, in a strategic, safely-spaced manner,” explained BACC’s Executive Director, Darlene Rothman, adding, “We had beautiful days for these events, and everyone enjoyed being outside. You could feel the excitement in the air!”

BERKLEY ART BASH & STREET ART FEST: While the Berkley Art Bash is traditionally held annually during the second weekend in June, the event was postponed to September 11 this year to allow for more people to receive the Covid-19 vaccination. Pinspiration Berkley and Vibe Credit Union sponsored the Kids Zone. Nearly 100 vendors offered a diverse assortment of photographs, garden art, jewelry, pottery, wearables, paintings, and gourmet offerings.

“We expanded the footprint by a few more blocks to ensure more space between vendors and to allow for safer shopping,” said RoseAnn Nicolai, BACC Events & Operations Manager and owner of Nicolai Events & Communications. “A lot of the success of the event was due to April McCrumb, owner of Catching Fireflies and Yellow Door Art Market. She did such a great job curating the show and finding such talented artists to be vendors.”

The County Oakland Irish Fest group hosted the entertainment which included Doug Thompson, the Flanagan-O’Hare Irish Dancers and Michael O’Brian & the Distractions. Children who attended could either make a craft there or take a kit home. Pinspiration Berkley also had a splatter-paint tent where children could fling paint onto a small canvas, creating their own piece of artwork.

The Berkley Street Art Fest date was also postponed to August 7 this year due to the pandemic. Downtown Berkley was transformed with art as professional and aspiring chalk artists created colorful street art with chances to win prizes. Shop for Good Village, a newly-added component coordinated by VITRINE owner Susan Rogal, was a curated collection of handmade products made by sellers with a primary focus on ‘doing good’ on a local or global scale. A commissioned artist, Ed Irmen, created a mural at Folio Offices. People throughout Metro Detroit watched these artists as their masterpieces came to life. The event was presented by the MSU Federal Credit Union.

“We are looking forward to Berkley Art Bash returning back to its usual time of year in 2022, Nicolai said. “Mark your calendar for June 11, 2022. Berkley Street Art Fest date will be announced in 2022, and County Oakland Irish Fest, which the Chamber is a sponsor, will return on September 10, 2022.”

CRUISEFEST: The 2021 CruiseFest shirt, designed by Jon Murrell of Armadillo (owned by Dave Lakatos), was such a big hit that it sold out prior to the event for the first time in the CruiseFest’s history. The Chamber responded by adding a limited timeframe for residents to purchase them online.

The shirt was created to promote the 25th anniversary of the CruiseFest, which was held on August 20, 2021. The event draws car lovers from all over and includes a parade of classic vehicles for attendees to enjoy. Darron Moore & the 14th Floor provided the event’s entertainment. New for 2021, the Berkley Parks & Recreation hosted an outdoor movie experience in front of the Neighbor’s Shoppe. The film Grease was screened immediately following the parade.

RESTAURANT WEEKEND & NIGHT MARKET: BACC partnered with the Berkley DDA to bring, for the first time, a Restaurant Weekend to downtown Berkley the first weekend of October. Katie Kutscher and Christine Gross, sister owners of Berkley Common, also helped pulled together this amazing event.

“Berkley Common was the driving force behind this,” Rothman said. “Katie initiated the conversation, encouraging us to do something to help the restaurants.” The owners wanted everyone (BACC, DDA, and the participants) to join together as a team to bring extra attention to the restaurant community during an especially difficult time.

Those who participated included Berkley Common, 24 Seconds, Amici’s Kitchen & Living Room, Casa Amado Tacqueria, Coco Fairfield’s, Crispelli’s, Dog & Pony Show Brewing, Fresh Collective Kitchen & Market, Green Lantern, Oak Park Social and Republica. Each eatery had food and drink specials local foodies could retrieve online by scanning a QR code or simply take note of signs placed around town.

The same weekend, the DDA Night Market was held on October 2nd, giving residents the opportunity to visit their regular go-tos after hours and explore new businesses along the way. Retailers stayed open late to give visitors a magical night-time shopping experience. A complimentary downtown trolley sponsored by the Berkley DDA ran throughout the event and dozens of storefronts transformed with spooky décor.

The retailers who participated included Articipate, The Artsy Umbrella, Fresh Collective Market, GateKeeper Games, …Have You Any Wool?, June & December, Peninsulas, Pinspiration Berkley, PUCK HCKY, Red Arrow Tattoo Collective, Reware Vintage, Toadvine Books, Tootie & Tallulah’s, The Twisted Shamrock, Ullman’s Health & Beauty and VITRINE.

Rothman said, “The restaurants and retail stores were thrilled that the community supported them by eating and shopping locally, for as many items as possible and being gracious to their staff as many are understaffed. The holidays are approaching soon, so please consider buying local to support these businesses.”

STATE OF THE CITIES: The State of the Cities event, produced by CMNTv and sponsored by Beaumont Health, was held virtually on October 28, 2021. The purpose of the event is to provide an opportunity for local government entities including the City of Berkley, City of Huntington Woods, the Berkley School District, the Berkley Downtown Development Authority (DDA) and the BACC, to report out to the community about the accomplishments and issues faced over the past year as well as talk about what is up-and-coming.

The Chamber honored local businesspeople and organizations during the State of the Cities that had been especially supportive of the Berkley community. Its Best of Berkley awards are traditionally given to Chamber members who exemplify leadership, have passion for the area, and go out of their way to support businesses with a commitment to making the community shine.

Rothman added, “This past year, with the pandemic, they had to be especially creative and think outside of the box.” The 2021 recipients focused largely on ensuring that the community flourished despite the Coronavirus.

THE 2021 CHAMBER HONOREES INCLUDED VITRINE, owned by Susan Rogal, as Business of the Year, and Robyn Cohen, owner of Sum Girls Boutique, as Businessperson of the Year.

VITRINE and Rogal have been instrumental in bringing attention to downtown Berkley businesses, especially along the Coolidge Corridor, where VITRINE is located.

“VITRINE is always coming up with new ways to promote Berkley, and Susan personally recruits businesses to participate in the downtown shopping events,” Nicolai said. “Susan is so willing to help new businesses on Coolidge succeed by offering them advice and connecting them with people who can help.”

“In particular, they were instrumental in growing this year’s Berkley Street Art Fest, using their summer marketing dollars usually allocated to promoting their business,” Nicolai said. “And their staff personally, on their own, promoted the event.”

The second honoree, Robyn Coden, “is a champion for downtown Berkley and its businesses,” Nicolai said. “At least once a month, she has an event that brings different vendors and businesses to town to promote at her store. She also consistently donates, both monetarily and of her time, to the community, civic groups, and Berkley Schools.”

Coden regularly employs students from Berkley High School and Anderson Middle School to work in the store and creates cross-promotional opportunities with other businesses. She has recruited new businesses to open their storefronts in Berkley, and through her social media presence, she is always drawing attention to these businesses.

Nicolai explained, “Both honorees are passionate about making sure everyone in downtown Berkley succeeds.”

Rothman and Nicolai are especially grateful to the “wonderful writers of this annual City Guide who all do a fantastic job.”

For more information on BACC activities and events, or to become a member, visit the Chamber’s newly launched site:

By Ryan R. Ennis

WHETHER YOU’RE AN aspiring actor or director, or just seeking entertainment, the non-profit organization Michigan Stage has something for you. With its goal “to produce theatre in enriching, refreshing new ways directly within the community of Ferndale and greater Oakland County,” opportunities abound for escaping from the monotony of the daily grind by indulging the imagination.

At Michigan Stage studio locations this summer, instructor/ artists with strong creative drives conducted summer youth playlabs for students ages 7 to 13. During the sessions, the instructors helped students develop themes and dramatic moods for designing skits and short sketches centered around D.I.A. (Detroit Institute of Art) works on display in the community. Under the artists’ tutelage, the students learned how to breathe life into their ideas through performances at small local venues. The classes have served as meaningful ways for children and adults to express their creativity.

The playlabs fall under the wings of the organization’s Performing Arts Academy, whose vision is a commitment to “upholding the professionalism of the performing arts community.” To execute that vision, the academy provides resources such as intensive tenweek theater workshops scheduled in the evenings for students ages 13 to 22. Also available are individual voice and dance lessons along with workshops on contemporary pop-rock Broadway composers. A youth ensemble assists with the academy’s artistic and administrative direction.

Another opportunity offered through Michigan Stage is its play-reading group – Michigan Page – in which group members analyze and critique theatrical works via Zoom. Selections include both contemporary and classical drama. Guest speakers help to facilitate the meetings by providing discussion points and background on the texts. Most recently, in April, participants read and interpreted Sarah Ruhl’s Orlando, based on Virginia Wolf’s popular genderfluid character who lives for centuries and re-examines history through encounters with key figures of English literature. Michigan Page’s bimonthly meetings plan to resume in January 2022, at a local library. Says a Michigan Page participant about the club, “(It’s) an environment where the love of theatre is nurtured . . . and impactful discussions are fostered in a relevant way.”

Leading the cast at Michigan Stage is founding Artistic Director Tim Paré, a Michigan State University graduate with an impressive résumé. Previously, he held the titles of Educational Director for two stage companies where he developed theater arts programs for youths and young adults. By directing and choreographing his students in musicals and other performances, he annually reached 7,500 community members. College students have also enrolled in his workshops and courses on how to audition performers, dance professionally, and manage stage productions.

In forming his company, Paré has striven “to expose audiences both new and old to the performing arts in new ways – to nurture a curiosity to explore the world around us through…community theater productions.”

As part of fulfilling his mission, Paré directed three free concerts entitled Broadway in the ‘Burbs, all performed on August 7 at The dot (Development on Troy) in downtown Ferndale. The shows featured Broadway cast members singing tunes from Beautiful: The Carol King Musical, Dear Evan Hansen, and other hits. Before and after each performance, gatherers were able to meet the singers, as well as chat with the fire and police department workers who were on hand with activities and information on city services.

Up next for Paré and Michigan Stage is Looking Back Through Stained Glass, a family-friendly musical that explores the styles of punk rock and heartbeat pop music in addition to the themes of rebellion and selfacceptance. Starring in the production will be Drag superstar Nancy Nogood and recording artist Ugochi Nriaka. Performed at the Ant Hall in Hamtramck, the musical will run from September 30th through October 9th.

For more information on Looking Back Through Stained Glass, autumn playlabs, and other Michigan Stage events and programs, visit You can also keep up to date by joining the mailing list. To contact Tim Paré directly, email him at

By Kevin Alan Lamb

SUMMERS WERE SPENT PLAYING BASEBALL in the front yard by day, and running through neighborhood streets, playing Capture-The-Flag by night. In those brief moments we took respite inside my childhood home for PBJ’s and hydration, we could always depend on my mom busy at work painting in the kitchen (her studio), listening to Julio Iglesias. Our home was decorated with her water-color and mixed media creations, while her positive energy and creativity still tell a story today.

All those years ago, she was a member of the Lawrence Street Gallery, which first made its home in Pontiac, before finding its way to Ferndale. Little did I know then, but some 25 years later I would call Ferndale home, and be given the opportunity to write about Lawrence Street Gallery, connecting with Laura Host, its Director and my mom’s old friend.

“Your mom, Kris, was always a very enthusiastic member. She was a great artist and was willing to attempt anything!” Host says.

“Our first location was on Lawrence Street in the old Salvation Army building in Pontiac. The space had been an art gallery but a new owner bought the building and wanted to have it continue as a gallery. So she decided to turn it into an artist cooperative gallery. The original members set it up legally as a cooperative and Lawrence St. Gallery started in 1987.”

Despite being closed from mid-March until July, Host was quick to identify a silver lining in the pandemic; citing increased foot traffic downtown as a result of people having less to do, and receiving the Oakland Together Small Business Recovery Grant.

“We received the grant in October 2020,” thanks to Treasurer Dennis Montville, who is also a wood turner and wood sculptor. “We’ve been able to purchase air-purifying machines and hand-sanitizer machines to help our members and visitors feel safer,” Host says.

Closing also prompted a needed shift in emphasis toward the Gallery’s online presence. “Cindy Parsons (painter) spearheaded the project of making the Gallery capable of having virtual exhibits online.”

WHILE SHE WASN’T LOOKING FORWARD TO COMING BACK, HOST QUICKLY REALIZED how much she missed it. “What could be better than sipping coffee while looking at art?”

Open the first Friday of every month, ten people are allowed in the gallery at a time. Even after being in Ferndale for 18 years, they are exploring ways to better let neighbors know they are there.

“We joined the Chamber of Commerce and have tried to create events that get people into the gallery, like Meet-the-Artist Sundays. We stress that we have a brand-new exhibit at the gallery every month.”

Grateful for this serendipitous entanglement of past and present, I asked Host to paint us a picture of the gallery’s early days.

“The space had high ceilings, beautiful tall windows and wood floors. Downtown Pontiac was waking up after a time of empty buildings and the City offered buildings for very little, hoping to have the new owners refurbish the buildings and downtown. We were the first gallery in the 1987 version of downtown Pontiac, and the last one to leave in 2003.

Finding a spot on Woodward Ave. in Ferndale seemed like a great idea. We kept the name Lawrence Street Gallery as we had been known as a place for artists to display their work, and we wanted to keep a connection to all the history of the gallery.”

Artists are their best customers, and Host is grateful that people are learning more about the community, that they might not have had time for in the past.

“We have affordable, original, all-media art by area artists. Those who love buying art can always find something at the gallery, and those who are just starting out buying artwork for their homes can find amazing art, at affordable prices. We even donated a percentage of sales for a couple of months when we reopened last July to the Renaissance Vineyard Food Pantry in Ferndale.”

KAISER SUIDAN NEXT STEP STUDIO & GALLERY: 530 Hilton, check web site for shows and hours. Indoor and outdoor galleries and event space. An emphasis on functional art.

LAWRENCE STREET GALLERY: 22620 Woodward, Weds.-Sat. 12:00-5:00 P.M. (Friday till 9:00 P.M.), Sunday 1:00-5:00 P.M. A member-owned gallery that also includes other artists in juried displays.

LEVEL ONE BANK COMMUNITY ARTS GALLERY: 22635 Woodward, Mon.-Fri. 9:00-5:00 P.M. (Friday till 6:00 P.M.). Curated by gallerist and framing guru Mark Burton. Specializes in solo and themed shows.

M CONTEMPORARY GALLERY: 205 East Nine Mile, Weds.–Sat. 1:00-6:00 P.M. (5:00 on Saturday). Special services for collectors both individual and corporate. National presence.

PAUL KOTULA: 23255 Woodward (second floor), Check website for hours. Focused on emerging and mid-career artists.

RUST BELT GALLERY: 22801 Woodward, Hours vary seasonally. A group of creative small businesses, many in arts and design.

SPACE CAT V-STRO: 255 W 9 Mile Rd, 248-268-3211.

STATE OF THE ART: 918 W. Nine Mile, Tues.- Fri. 11:00-7:00 P.M., Sat. 11:00-5:00 P.M. Gallery with full service design, printing and framing services.

THE STRATFORD: 138 Stratford, Check Facebook for hours. Gallery and event space near Eight Mile. Facebook: The Stratford Studios Ferndale.

THE WHITEBRICK GALLERY: 150 Livernois, Hours vary. A group of artists providing an opportunity for creative exhibits.

OAK PARK IS ALWAYS EAGER TO CELEBRATE ARTISTIC EXCELLENCE, and you’ll find some of that excellence on display at the City Hall now through October.

It is the work of Markham, a Detroit-based artist who loves and excels in everything from pop art to graffiti, but, that’s not even the tip of the iceberg. Markham’s work is an embodiment of the independent artistic spirit spanning from music to his extensive exhibition history. However, the latter is merely one aspect of what Markham reveals to us. Whether doing freelance work or making art in his free time to express his relentless creative energy, Markham puts his own unique stamp on everything he does.

His works currently featured in the City Hall exhibit include surreal and fantasy landscapes, as well as a pop-art Beatles montage (the last available in a sold-out series.) The selection of Markham’s work is a step away from what he most commonly shows his viewers. “I paint the visions in my head that intuitively express dark overtones of monsters and uncertainty through a mostly surrealist view,” Markham states. Mostly, his intention is to make us step back and look at how we’ve been dismissive of humanities undesirable qualities. Sometimes he holds the mirror up in a repulsive way, but that is what a lot of Markham’s work does, by reflecting some of the things many of us shy away from.

HOWEVER, HIS INTENTION IN PORTRAYING DISQUIETING THEMES IS NOT TO UPSET THE VIEWER. Part of his vision as an artist is to present topics that are often ignored or shunned by the popular media. By exploring and artistically depicting his feelings on abuse and the media’s exploitation of certain groups of people, for example, he hopes to give voice to the victims whose suffering is often overlooked. This represents the true spirit of using art as a healing force, for the creator, and hopefully for the viewer as well.

It is this fluidity in creative expression that makes Markham’s work what it is. He does not think, “This is a graphic design job so I must follow these rules,” or, “This is a painting so I must do things this certain way.” This disregard for convention is what makes his work unique, as following norms is a surefire way to stay in a safe zone and ensure that artistic output will never approach what it could be if the creative spirit were truly allowed to be free.

His exhibits in Detroit, New York, Venice, and L.A., along with his published works in multiple national publications including The Finger Mag, Propulsion Magazine, Studio Visit Magazine, and Ink and Voices have met with good acceptance.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO CONTACT MARKHAM FOR YOUR artistic business needs, murals, and more, he can be reached at 586-246-4028 or at You can also find him on Facebook and Instagram at MarkhamArtist, YouTube at Markham|Artist, and, where his work is also available for purchase.



FOUNDED IN MAY 2015, THE HIGHLY RESPECTED FERNDALE COMMUNITY CONCERT BAND (FCCB) completed its fifth season this year, and has become one of Ferndale’s most successful non-profit non-profits and largest volunteer organization in the community, boasting more than 70 volunteer musicians.

The FCCB does not hold auditions, but does consider the experience and accomplishments of a musician when accepting a new member. All concerts are free, with donations gratefully accepted at the door. There are a broad range of volunteer musicians involved, ages 16 to 84, with various levels of skill and experience. FCCB members are music educators, amateurs, professionals and students. A few members have played in the Detroit Symphony Orchestra on an as needed basis. Over 200 musicians have been a part of FCCB over the years, with each concert involving 70 or more musicians. The FCCB performs five concerts per season. When invited, the FCCB has added special performances, such as the NAACP 2019 National Convention performance, and other public events to their concert schedule.

In order to establish and manage this pivotal cultural band, two residents were selected to become members of the Ferndale Arts & Cultural Commission in 2014. Both were chosen for their outstanding skills and experience: Tim Brennan (a Hamtramck High School music teacher and veteran of the U.S. Army Band) and Sharon Chess (a well-known community organizer).

Information received from the Ferndale Arts & Cultural Commission’s public survey led Chess and Brennan, to organize the Ferndale Community Concert Band. They created a promotional Facebook page, as a call to action, listing a time and date for the first band rehearsal. They also consulted with retired Cass Tech Orchestra Director, Marc Haas, on how best to form a community band. In all, 105 people responded to the request for volunteer musicians.

ON MAY 5, 2015, THE FIRST REHEARSAL WAS HELD at Ferndale High School (FHS). Both FHS Principal Roger Smith and FHS Band Director Elon Jamison were very helpful, and allowed the band to use their expansive facility for rehearsals and concerts. Additionally, Ed Quick stepped up as the Artistic Director and Conductor of the FCCB. Chess recalls the evening of the first rehearsal very clearly: “Quick wasn’t confident there would be a good turn-out. We were expecting maybe 15-20 people to show up. But people kept coming through the door, and coming and coming!” It was an incredible ensemble of every instrument and player we needed.” Hope ensued.

Even though the concerts are free, the attendees are very generous with their donations. The cost to produce each concert is over $1,800 (which includes printing, recording, sound/lighting technician and conductor fees). To help further with fundraising, a bake sale is held at each concert. “We have some really good bakers in the band!” Chess added with a smile. Members of the local Senior Group, and the Memorial Foundation, Dick and JoAnn Wilcock, and David Chess, help with the bake sale and door donations.

Another source of donation comes from the FCCB Board members, who have purchased equipment, music, recording and sound equipment, and other needs for the band. A friend of a Board member donated an expensive Yamaha concert drum kit, then, after few years, decided to donate the set to the FCCB. Another example of generosity was by a philanthropic donor, Jeffrey Chess, who purchased over $12,000 worth of equipment for the band. Chess added that sometimes Ed Quick donates the cost of music, if the total is over the $550 music budget, allowed per concert or it is a special piece he does not want the expense to fall on the Band.

The Band has played and is invited to return to the Music on Belle Isle Group (MoBIG) River Blast! Concert series. MoBIG is a non- profit dedicated to returning summer band concerts to Belle Isle. MoBIG features community bands and orchestras from Southeast Michigan throughout their season. Part of MoBIG’s overall mission includes providing free concerts on Belle Isle (Sunset Point) during the summer months, at 6:30P.M. MoBIG is also involved with fundraising efforts to restore Belle Isle’s historic Remick Bandshell. Please visit their web site at for updated information.

Another project which has recently developed from the original FCCB is the M-1 Jazz Collective, led by Brennan. There are 18 members and a vocalist rehearsing regularly, with the goal of playing for smaller public or private events such as festivals, fairs, and weddings. Currently, they perform in the commons area of FHS, directly preceding the full concert.

CHESS REMARKED, “WHEN I WAS FIRST HELPING TO FORM THE BAND, I figured in five years’ time either we will be broken down or a great success. Every year we become more and more memorable. We continually improve our sound, and the cohesiveness of our ensemble. Other community bands want to play with us, or they want us to play events with
them, and we never miss an opportunity.” Many musicians, in fact, have come from other bands, and the FCCB’s warm and welcoming attitude helps.

I asked if they had encountered any major hurdles or disappointments over the years? Chess mentioned they asked the City to support the FCCB: “Not financially but to post our concert schedule on their website and in their city
newsletters. We continue to hope they will recognize the FCCB as an asset to the city. Ferndale should be proud of us!”

The FCCB is setting a strong, positive example to our community as a whole and providing us with excellent musical entertainment. We wish them many more years of great success!

Euchre fundraising tournaments are held on the fourth Friday of every month at The Ferndale Elks Lodge #1588: 22856 Woodward Ave, Ferndale.
Tournaments and band events are currently on hold due to health crisis.*

YES, YOUR FURNITURE MAKES YOUR HOME DISTINCTIVE, whether you shop at Ikea or the Art Van going out of business sale. Painting in just the right color furthers the statement. Now it’s time for the cherry on the top: The right art.

The Ferndale Arts & Cultural Commission (FACC) reminds you that there are many places in the city to select beautiful art. Long time favorites like the Lawrence Street Gallery shares Woodward with Level One Bank’s Community Arts Gallery. A more comprehensive list follows. Then, of course, there is the Funky Ferndale Art Fair and the DIY Street Fair (the DIY is canceled this year due to the health crisis).

What’s the difference between shopping at a gallery and at an art fair? Many art lovers do both as they each have an advantage. Galleries give you an ever-changing, carefully curated selection. You have one or two people that can learn your taste and preferences and help you find exactly what you are looking for. Many can even advise on the framing and matting, which can make a huge difference on how the piece appears.

Art Fairs are also curated, but don’t include the expert advice. Mark Loeb of the Funky Ferndale Art Fair suggests that there are some other advantages. “At art fairs you will meet the artist and have time for a conversation. I feel that a big reason people go to the fair is to get the full story of the art they plan to display. For example, when your friend comes by and admires your new sculpture, you can share the story of the artist. The experience of the art fair becomes a memory for you and your loved ones.”

Why not just buy art at those aforementioned furniture stores or even Walmart? You certainly could, and it likely will be simpler. You will have something that tens of thousands of others will also display. While not all art appreciates in value, no department store pictures ever will. And don’t forget that if you love art, supporting the artists becomes an important mission. Going to the shows is not demonstrating your love of art nearly as much as buying art. Only when you buy something do you actually support the artist, and allow them to continue creating.

What happens when your walls are full and there’s no space left on the floor? Many collectors rotate their art. Every month or season they replace a few items with another favorite. Others start buying smaller items that fit in between the cracks. Loeb suggests that the next step is to “replace your mugs, flower pots, dishes and more with items created by favorite artists. Why not have a table as individual as you are?”