Public Pool turns five Saturday, with space shuttle Challenger exploding over Hamtramck

Mar 5, 2015 at 4:49 pm

It's hard to believe, but Public Pool, the scrappy little gallery in Hamtramck, has been around for five years. That's, like, eons in little gallery time. It has hosted some of the most consistently interesting, and often whimsical, shows in metro Detroit's art scene, as well as the Good-Tyme Writer's Buffet, avant-opera, and a robot battle staged by Apetechnology, among other spectacles. 

And it all started five years ago with an inaugural show by Tim Hailey called "Take a Chance on Rock and Roll," which featured wall-sized illustrations of 1970s rock iconography, such as "arena rock-approved spaceships."

Hailey tells us, "I had an actual artist's statement for that show five years ago. I had kind of a manifesto about how the power of rock and roll was going to take us away on the party ship to a better world. Back in the 1970s, it seemed like a lot of cool stuff was going to happen, and personal freedoms would continue to expand."

This year's show is much different. It's called I Only Want to See You Underneath, a Prince lyric. One image takes up an entire wall and features the young girl on the cover of that Blind Faith album, with some sort fighter jet behind her. He's also laboring of the work he hopes to preview in a few days.

He tells us, "I'm working on another mural. It has Prince on the Purple Rain bike, sitting on Belmont Street here in Hamtramck, with the space shuttle Challenger exploding overhead."

Any special reason? "Well, yes and no. I've been wanting to use Prince and the space shuttle Challenger explosion together for a while, for no reason I can really discern. … You could say it's about loss. Whatever. Whatever works for you."

"[Public Pool co-organizer] Steve Hughes finds the pieces a lot more depressing this time around," Hailey says. "He said, 'Oh that's so funny! Five years ago the show was so optimistic! And now it's just all turned to shit!'"

Hailey is hard at work, finishing his work on the walls, and he hopes that by the time the show opens to the public, he'll be able to create and finish a hanging sculpture of the Challenger explosion made entirely out of cauliflower. "I haven't worked out the engineering of it," he says, "I'm hoping to get a large amount of cauliflower from Al-Haramine market across the street and make it and suspend it from the ceiling as a sort of a mistletoe, for people to embrace and greet each other with a kiss beneath." 

Hailey pauses before adding, "I'm hoping."