Down 'n' dirty in Royal Oak

Gallery of Filthy Delights

The Royal Oak morality police were caught napping this past weekend, as the former Orbit mag offices above B&B Collision played host to the second annual “Dirty” art show, ostensibly billed as a display of “skintillating erotica” from more than 35 local artists. Driving down Main south of Lincoln, one could immediately tell that big doings were going on, judging by the number of cars parked on the street. Once inside the place, a gatekeeper at the top of the stairs checked IDs in a rather staged gesture to ensure that no one under 21 was allowed in. (“Oooohh, it must be dirty.”) The jumble of rooms hosted a wide spectrum of artistic styles, from the black-and-white photos by Keith Howarth of Noir Leather (featuring a cheeky combination of male and female genitalia, knife blades and firearms), to the hot-selling items by Glenn Barr (peddling sketches for diaper money while the missus is at home with their 2-and-a-half-week-old baby ... congrats), to the interesting debut works by Blanche bassist Tracee Miller, to what appeared to be several pschotherapy-inspired collages by a chrome-domed erstwhile C Pop Svengali whose name has appeared in this column far too frequently and who shall, for this edition, remain nameless. The crowd at the event, in addition to the various artists, hipsters and their human remoras, also included a strong dose of swarthy, preternaturally tanned males in black tight-fitting shirts and jewelry talking on cell phones. Kind of like the people you see in the wacky photo pages of certain local entertainment weeklies. Perhaps they distributed flyers at JonJons. In any event, the Loose Lips camera crew caught up with the aforementioned Howarth and girlfriend Karen Lackmer, who noted that, based on an informal poll, certain discerning art lovers had deemed their photos the dirtiest of the “Dirty” show. High honors and accolades there. Also ran into former C Pop drink dispenser Meghann Hopkins and boyfriend Adam Moujianis as they made their way past an hors d’oeuvres tray being ably twirled about by the topless Lady Pain. Ms. Pain, who once drew the ire of Royal Oak city attorneys by stripping on the trolley under the pseudonym of Holly Glod, was distributing candy hearts and Swedish fish to the crowd, many of whom attempted to act nonplussed by the naked breasts swinging above the jelly beans. Overheard in the crowd was the malodorous, bouillon-BO-reeking “Dirty” curator Jerry Vile heaping ample praise on the artists, and singling out in particular the work by Tracee Miller. Also overheard was camera-shy (“no photos!”) artist Gary Arnett, reminiscing a bit while in the old offices, and commenting that it was he who came up with the title of “Orbit” for the now obit-deserving rag. “Skintillating” indeed!

Battle of Normandy

The “Dirty” show flew under the radar of local censors and concluded on Sunday afternoon. Good thing, too. As many are aware, the townfolk of Royal Oak were up in arms with pitchforks when the late world-renowned sculptor Marshall Fredericks donated his final piece of work to the city ... a piece which included an unclothed man and woman (horrors!). One can only imagine how they would react to a candy-dishing Lady Pain. Speaking of Royal Oak and Marshall Fredericks, after some protracted wrangling, the late sculptor’s studio and bucolic slice of property at the northwest corner of Normandy and Woodward is apparently slated to be bulldozed for a modest (yet oh so tasteful, I’m sure) office complex. Just what we need on Woodward. Heavens no, we wouldn’t want this historic and very cool-looking atelier preserved in the name of art or anything else for that matter (make it into a chic restaurant, an antique store, anything but an office complex). Very sad … next time you’re driving down Woodward take a look … it will apparently soon be gone.

Budding Buddhas

Following the “Dirty” show, a large entourage of the artists and friends converged at the Buddha Bar, the relatively new little hipster hotspot located in a strip mall on the Detroit side at Eight Mile and Lahser. Arriving before many of the post-art show throngs, I immediately spied Ferndale neighbors (and “Dirty” show refugees) Jill Desandy and Irene O’Nickel occupying a space at the bar. As the crowd began to pour in, I locked in a space at a booth under a Japanese lantern and admired the minuscule 4x4-foot corner stage with flashy Mylar-tinsel background, occupied by a gyrating man overcome by the recorded music. Settling in at the booth, our table was regaled by the wandering ambassador of “Dirty,” the above-noted Vile (whose BO had grown progressively worse), who noted that he may turn the “Dirty” show space into a permanent gallery. Such trifling aside, the Buddha Bar appears to be thriving with just the right mix of off-the-charts cool that cannot be replicated in other similar establishments. And the geography can’t be beat. As someone observed, if this place were in Ferndale or Royal Oak, it just wouldn’t have the same cachet as Eight Mile and Lahser.

Moving MONA

Finally, in a closing note on art and censorship, Museum of New Art creator Jef Bourgeau is moving out of Pontiac and following the trampling herd of galleries relocating to Detroit. Bourgeau, as some will recall, gained momentary fame last year as the enfant terrible of then-incoming DIA director Graham Beale, who pulled the plug on Bourgeau’s show, eliciting calls of censorship in the community. Bourgeau has also had to deal with similar problems with the Pontiac police. The museum will be moving into the second floor of the Book Building on Washington Boulevard. Although this may surprise many who view the vintage skyscraper as a glorified communications tower, there are actual tenants on the inside as well, and Bourgeau will join the Graystone Jazz Museum on the second floor in a vastly expanded space. Look for an opening in May of this year.

Casey Coston writes here every other week. Got gossip, essential factoids or party invites? E-mail [email protected], or call the tip line at 313-962-5281. Press * then dial
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