Hamtramck Neighborhood Arts Festival returns with art (and bloody marys) galore 

Good in the neighborhood

Hamtramck's art community is steadily growing — witness the growth of the Hamtramck Neighborhood Arts Festival. Now in its sixth year, the fest is bigger than ever: a mix of open studios, off-the-cuff music performances, and other DIY happenings that highlight Hamtramck's makers, musicians, and other creative types.

"It started out really small. I don't even remember the first year, actually!" festival organizer Steve Hughes tells us over drinks at Hamtramck's Baker's Streetcar Bar. What started as a handful of open studios grew exponentially.

By Hughes' reckoning, the influx of artists beginning in 2008, when artists Gina Reichert and Mitch Cope founded the Power House as part of their their Design 99 project. The trend has only increased in recent years. "A lot of folks from Cranbrook are moving in here. A lot of people who went to CCS are moving in. There's a big move right now from Midtown to Hamtramck because the prices in Midtown are getting so high," he says, and adds wryly: "I've seen a lot of joggers in Hamtramck over the past year."

Hughes moved to the city from New Orleans 20 years ago, when he started creating his zine, Stupor. "It's a pretty good spot to live," he says, indicating the other nearby bars. "When you're living here, there's this community that develops. Well, mine started in the bar."

On that note, Hughes says potent potables will very much be a part of this year's fest. A pre-festival kickoff begins at 7 p.m. Friday at Popps Packing, featuring artist Jessica Frelinghuysen's "Jessercise!" workout. "She's into getting fit, Hamtramck-style," Hughes says. (The Facebook page notes that a $5 dollar donation "covers champagne-bottle hydration weights.") Maps and official schedules will also be available at the event.

The festival kicks off in earnest with a noon brunch at Bumbo's on Saturday. "We're trying to get people in for something different than just seeing artists," Hughes says. "I figure food and drinks is a good way to do it. It has a broader appeal when you have bloody marys involved."

The studio crawl starts one 1 p.m., dividing Hamtramck into three sections, with events starting in the south end of town. Other happenings to look out for is the Folk & Blues night at Lo & Behold, featuring a biergarten. And Mayor Karen Majewski will even give Hungarian dance lessons in her shop, Tekla.

"There's possibility here that I don't necessarily see in other places," Hughes says. "The festival is sort of about that, but it's also about the neighborhood coming together to build it their own particular way."

The Hamtramck Neighborhood Arts Festival starts at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 10. Maps, schedule, and other information is available on the event's Facebook page or at the Public Pool gallery; 3309 Caniff Ave., Hamtramck; 313-405-7665; apublicpool.com.

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