Way out there 

A neon shamrock pointing skyward above its entrance, Corktown Tavern readies itself for Saturday's Alien Art Show, featuring art, music and fashion spanning decades of Detroit talent.

Co-producers Jeff Richards and Tim Caldwell have corralled 24 Detroit artists on the alien tip, though, says Tim, "not strictly the Ridley Scott, 'outer space' kind of alien." Bizarro, prog, retro-futurism and multiculturalism will all have their place.

A DJ will be followed by Halon, a synthesizer-infused video projection outfit, and Spic of it All, providing comic punk Mexican lyrics from the other requisite aliens.

Of those involved, Caldwell enthuses, "They're all from Detroit, and I can't say how much they're a product of their environment or influenced by it, but I would say they're all true Detroiters."

And if the show seems a little impromptu, its roots go back as far as the artists: "You'd see those old books in the '50s, they'd be like Detroit, the City of the Future, and they'd have all these hovercrafts flying around, all these monorail systems, just the idea of messing around with the alien perspective of things, which I guess is the essence of a lot of artists."

Sightings will include the glitter glam, early Eno fashions of Kristi Burgett, the metallic spray paint installations of Ian Ammons, illustrations by graphic artist William Gibson, a painting by Ghostly International's Michael Segal, and Detroit's original beat Herman Weems.

"He was telling me all the stuff he does; he's a really interesting guy," says Caldwell. "He was doing a painting with the school of availabilism: If you've got shoe polish and you don't have paint, make a painting with shoe polish, you know, or, uh, Kool-Aid for watercolor substitution. You know — it's very inventive, and he's got definitely his own style. He's best known, probably, for that Psychedelic Shack Motown album he did the cover for."

So what's he doing for this one?

"I'm not really sure what he's doing. I'm gonna call him right now, find out for sure he's still on, coming through."

Herman Weems phone home.


At 8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 22, at Corktown Tavern, 1716 Michigan Ave., Detroit; 313-964-5103; $5 at the door.

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