The Zeitgeist Finishes Up: 2007 and 2008

June 30, 2019

Part 2 of 4

In Summer of 2007, the Zeitgeist Collective had reached its ten-year anniversary.  We’d worked hard and were glad that we’d made it.  We didn’t know then that we’d end up closing a year later.

There were are lot of fine events in 2007 including the usual plays, art exhibits and visual jam sessions.  The anniversary events themselves were also a lot of fun and extravagant, in their way.

Notes, written at the time:


ONGOING: The Art Extravaganza and Fun Razor:  This is a A large display of paintings, pottery, sculptures, sketches, and other work for sale by over 30 of the Detroit area’s best artists, including Patrick Dodd, Shaqe Kalaj, Bob Sestok, Gilda Snowden, Maugre, Diana Alva, Vito Valdez, Mary Herbeck Laredo, Ibn Pori Pitts, and many more. Said work will be for sale and priced for both the collector and the fanatic.

July 6, Friday, 7pm to 12am, The 6th Annual Visual Jam Sessions: On an Angle: All Artists and the General Public are invited to paint and draw with us in this one of a kind event where we work together to create new and exciting art.  No solo work will be permitted. Artists! Come out of your caves and your studios and come together to create in attempted cooperative  collaboration! Refreshments served.

July 7, Saturday, 12pm to 5pm Impeachment Trial and Bar-B-Que: Collaborations continue as we expand the mosaic on our back wall.  Food and drinks will be served.

July 13, Friday 7pm to 12am The Improbable Movie Parade: Naked Eye Cinema, Maurice Greenia, Jr. and others dig into their celluloid collections for tonight’s fare, including “Un chien andalou”.  The soundtrack for this event will be provided by an augmented Space Band Collective and plenty of “Special Guests.”

July 14, Saturday 12pm to 5pm Trial Impeachment and Bar-B-Que: The back wall mosaic project meanders, and artists continue to visually jam as long as the paint lasts. Food and drinks will be served.

July 20, Friday 7pm to 12am The Broken Clock Jam Sessions return to the Zeitgeist. Audra Kubat will host this 5-hour cavalcade of musical mayhem. Special guests include (from Atlanta, GA), Gondwanaland, and the Don’t Look Now Jug Band.


July 27, Friday 7pm to 12am The Post-Industrial Comic Jamboree and Pig Roast: Stand up comics, insane puppets, improvisation teams and more compete for the coveted “Bronze Hoof of Hilarity”.  Mike McGettigan and The Fevered Egos host.  Refreshments will be served.

July 28, 12pm to 12am The Zeitgeist Official 10th Anniversary Freak Out  A joyous blend of music, theater, dance, poetry, and art of all stripes, beginning at 12 noon with music and going all day.  Guests include Mick Vranich and K-9, Shoe, Mesko Rants, Donald Baker, The Space Band, Dan Dimaggio, and members of The Abreact Theater Troupe.  Food and drinks served all day long.



The performing and auction stage.

The Zeitgeist had it’s own website but it was lost or removed.  In writing posts about this space, I try to recreate content that was on the original website.  I also try to add things which would have been added had it stayed up.  This post is a description of each day’s scheduled events for our 2007 extravaganza and for our 2008 endings and wrap-ups.  There are also a few photos.  Perhaps anecdotes and more detailed memories of these days will appear here eventually.

Old exhibition signs, getting ready to be auctioned off

The actual closing events took place in October and November of 2008.  I got word that the space was going to close on October 9th.  Most of us knew that this was a possibility, still it was a shock.  We were hoping that we could pull things together and give it another go.  We started to plan and publicize special closing events for November 8 through November 15.

From John Jakary:

It’s time for the current exhibit to come to its foregone conclusion, so come on down on Saturday, November 8th, 2008, 7:00pm – Midnight, for our “Celebration/Commiseration Party” for “The Last Days of 1984”, as well as the “Zeitgeist’s Last Grasps, Endgames, Grand Finale and Soiree”.

We will laugh and dance with joy, or weep unreservedly over the results of the previous Tuesday’s Presidential election, as well as celebrate the Zeitgeist’s 11 year run as Detroit’s premiere Experimentally Avant-Weird Gallery and Artistic Collective as we prepare for our final exeunt from this here gray-green earth. Yes, ladies and gentle men, Zeitgeist is closing next month.

PERFORMANCES for Nov. 8th include, beginning at 8pm, with Eric Mesko, the curator  for “The Last Days of 1984”, who will regale us with one of his signature “rants”, to be followed by puppet mania from Maugrè (who’s exhibit “The 10 Year Anniversary of the Hudson’s Building Demolition” also closes this night), and music from the “Don’t Look Now Jug Band”, “The Space Band”, and Greg Sumner, and plenty of other special surprise guests.

We invite all of the public to come on down and check out, for the very last time, Detroit’s artistic underbelly and give it a nice long rub for good luck. For those of you who truly supported and encouraged us through the years: we thank you whole-heartedly! You know who you are, and we do too. We’re sure we’ll leave a lovely hole in the Detroit Arts Community, and, if we’re all lucky enough, someone will come along and just as lovingly fill it right in.

Also, on Nov. 15, we’ll be holding an “Everything Must Go” auction for any of the art that’s still hanging on our walls.  Come on down, eat, drink, and BUY ART!!  Almost no reasonable offer will be refused.  That’ll be Saturday, Nov. 15, beginning at 7pm.


The audience, November 2008


Michael Dion, helping with the auction


John Jakary and Michael Dion, helping with the auction


Another piece sold, being taken off of the wall


Another piece sold, Ralph Koziarski and James Dozier

Total Sensory Freakout: Detroit’s Zeitgeist Collective, 1997 to 2008

My history of the Zeitgeist Gallery and Performance Venue opened at the library of the University of Detroit Mercy on Monday May 20th. The display will continue through August. Materials include photographs, posters, postcards, original artwork and press clippings. This is my 6th year of exploring Detroit’s creative arts history at the library.

There are five display cases on the wall by the first floor entrance.  The last two, nearer the stairs will be focused largely on the theatre side of the Zeitgeist space.  Also on the first floor, original art will be displayed in the windows of the librarian’s offices.  On the second floor, in the Bargman room, there’s one more case.  It’s a large flat case.

The exhibit includes original artwork by Jacques Karamanoukian, John Elkerr, Roger Hayes, Jim Puntigam, Diana Alva, Gerard Sendrey, Claudine Goux, Sam Mackey, Robert Hyde, Maugré, Jaber, Pascal Hecker, Jean-Joseph Sanfourche, Arnold Dreifuss, Jack Johnson, Michael Loverich, Murray Carter and others.



Detroit’s Zeitgeist Gallery and Performance Venue: 1997 to 2008

May 31, 2019

Hanging a work of art at the Zeitgeist

Total Sensory Freakout: Detroit’s Zeitgeist Collective, 1997 to 2008

My history of the Zeitgeist Gallery and Performance Venue opened at the library of the University of Detroit Mercy on Monday May 20th. The display will continue through August. Materials include photographs, posters, postcards, original artwork and press clippings. This is my 6th year of exploring Detroit’s creative arts history at the library.

There are five display cases on the wall by the first floor entrance.  The last two, nearer the stairs will be focused largely on the theatre side of the Zeitgeist space.  Also on the first floor, original art will be displayed in the windows of the librarian’s offices.  On the second floor, in the Bargman room, there’s one more case.  It’s a large flat case.

The exhibit includes original artwork by Jacques Karamanoukian, John Elkerr, Roger Hayes, Jim Puntigam, Diana Alva, Gerard Sendrey, Claudine Goux, Sam Mackey, Robert Hyde, Maugré, Jaber, Pascal Hecker, Jean-Joseph Sanfourche, Arnold Dreifuss, Jack Johnson, Michael Loverich, Murray Carter and others.




Part of a huge collaborative mosaic on the building’s wall in the backyard.

More from the mosaic on the space’s wall in the backyard.

Part 1 of 4

This is the first in a series of blog posts that I’ll write in connection with my current exhibition.

The Zeitgeist Gallery and Performance Venue was an eclectic and expansive project.  We did amazing things on a shoestring budget.  We first started doing collaborations with an ongoing mosaic in the backyard.  That was likely an inspiration for the 7-year long Visual Jam Sessions series.  Artists arrived and created work together.  This was done mostly on-site.  Sometimes people created things elsewhere and brought them in.  No solo work was allowed.  Each work was made by at least two artists.  Some paintings were done by as many as 6 or 7 people.

The theatre put on many interesting plays.  We even won a play of the year award for our production of Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot.  Sometimes the artists got involved with the theatre.  This was mostly in the form of doing art for the promotional material or for the programs.  They used one of my paintings as part of the set for The Ubu Variations.  I tried to see every play.  There was often a good sense of solidarity and mutual respect between the theatre side and the visual arts side.

The Zeitgeist kept reaching out to and connecting with the larger Detroit Arts scene.  People would walk in off of the street and end up being a part of the space.  The exhibits held there were selected and curated carefully.  We tried to show work that fit in with our outsider art/ art brut aesthetic.  Yet there were always exceptions to this.  Quality speaks for itself.  If we thought someone was doing solid work, we’d often give them a chance. The large group exhibitions and the Visual Jam Sessions were more inclusive.

In 11 years, the Zeitgeist staged some 30 or 40 plays.  Most of these were house productions, often with input or direction by Troy Richard and John Jakary.  Toward the end, some of the plays were productions of the Abreact theatre group.  We showcased a wide variety of experimental playwrights.  One of the most notable of the local writers was the late Ron Allen.  His plays were special events.

In the same time, the gallery held over 70 art exhibits.  Most of these were by Detroit area artists.  Through our friendship with the late Jacques Karamanoukian, we ended up showing quite a few artists from overseas.  The two gallery directors merit special mention, first Karl Schneider and later on,  Jim Puntigam.

We always worked very hard, took chances and pushed the envelope.  On one of the beams in the theatre’s dressing room, someone wrote “Suffered Much, Learned Much.”  That could be one of the unofficial mottos for the entire enterprise.  There is nothing even remotely similar on the Detroit art scene today.

One of the paintings created at one of the last of the visual jam sessions. By Jack Johnson, Maugre and others.

Previous exhibits in this Summer series:

2014, A  History of Detroit’s Visual Arts scene.

2015, The Poetic Express in Context: 1985 to 2015.

2016, Lost Cultural Venues of Detroit: Social Spaces and Playgrounds.

2017, The Life and Times of the Heidelberg Project

2018, Clues and Cultural Artifacts

Information on the art and artists connected with the Zeitgeist Gallery and Performance Venue:

EPSON DSC picture

By Jacques Karamanoukian


Forgotten Languages/ Fugitive Alphabets

April 30, 2019


Words which no longer exist will live in mystery.

Sometimes I invent my own private words and my own personal alphabet.  Yet words, phrases, sentences, paragraphs and books are social as well as intellectual or poetic.

It’s always a challenge to translate one’s deepest inner reality into a language and a substance which can be grasped, even appreciated by people-at-large.

It’s possible to create your secret set of hieroglyphics.  What do they mean and what can they mean?  Can they be exposed or rotated in ways which speak to others?

There’s nothing wrong with the fugitive or the arcane.  Yet most people have enough trouble trying to express themselves in one language or with one alphabet.  For the poet or artist, being multi-lingual includes being versed in realm of the mysterious, even of the indecipherable.

On the Bullet Train in France (September 1996) and 6 by 6 inches

On the Train in France, 1996

Sounds Heard, Sights Seen

March 31, 2019

I listen very carefully.  Sounds are everywhere.  Sometimes I can’t quite believe just what I’m hearing.  The leaves in the trees rustle in the wind.  The sound of human voices, sweet and lovely or in harsh cacophony.  Then there’s music, so many different sorts of music.

I also look very carefully.  Things are not what they seem.  I try to observe the wide picture and too, zoom in and observe the details.  Form, color, weight and shape are all important.  I have the eyes and ears of an artist and a poet.

A Look at the Visual Arts Scene in Detroit

February 28, 2019
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At the MOCAD, October 2018.

Part Two of Two

I don’t get to as many art openings as I used to.  I’m very busy and I’m still working a full time job.  I ride the bus to work so that adds on another 12 to 16 hours a week travel time.  Detroit one of the very worst mass transit systems in the country.  If I do find a ride and hope to attend an art opening, it usually doesn’t work.  This is because much of “central Detroit” is often parked out.  One can’t always be ready to walk 5 to 10 blocks to your destination, especially in a harsh Winter.

I’ve lost touch with most of the downtown area galleries.  The main ones that I’ve made it to are the Trinosophes, Swords into Plowshares Collected Detroit, Signal Return and Salt and Cedar.  There are a few others that I went to, but I believe that they’ve closed.  There are also others that I’ve wanted to get to but haven’t attended as yet.  I’ll try to write a follow-up to these two posts once i get out to a few more places.

The cultural center neighborhood is where I live.  I’ve been to most or all of the art spaces there.

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Sculpture at Wayne State’s Elaine K.  Jacob Gallery, October 2017.

Gone but not forgotten: the Willis Gallery, the Zeitgeist Gallery and Performance Venue, the Cement Space, C-Pop, The Marygrove Art Department Gallery,  the Russell Industrial Center, Greg’s Gallery down the stairs on Cass and many more.

Closed, but they very well may return:  the Ellen Kayrod Gallery, Alley Culture, the 4731 Gallery (on Grand River), the Spiral Collective and Detroit Contemporary.

One of the ceiling wood-beam paintings at the Scarab Club.

Downtown Detroit area

Signal Return:

Library Street Collective:

Swords into Plowshares:

Detroit Cultural Center area:

The Scarab Club:

Detroit Artist’s Market:

The N’Namdi Center for Contemporary Ar:

Galerie Camille

Good art spaces, but without a website:

My essay, from 2014:

What’s Going on With the Visual Arts Scene in Detroit?

January 31, 2019

The Annex Gallery at 333 Midland, in Highland Park.  April 2017.

Part One of Two

I’ve been showing my work at Detroit Galleries since 1980.  That’s nearly 40 years that I’ve spent “in the trenches” so to speak.  For those of us who lived through the rough times and kept on swinging and kept on getting hits, it’s nice to see things picking up.

Yet some of those who’ve persevered have been left out of this new Detroit art scene.  I’m not doing all that bad myself.  I usually end up showing my work once a year at least.  Yet I can think of a lot of artists who’ve been working for years, doing good work, but who seem to be lost in the shuffle.

I’ve done a special study into Detroit’s arts scene, both during my time and before my time.  Connected with that, I have a History of Detroit’s Visual Arts Scene facebook page and have written several blog posts.  I also did a physical exhibition at the University of Detroit Mercy in the Summer of 2014.

Also, I’ve long been a sort of booster or cheerleader for the idea of a vigorous, magical and lively Detroit art scene.  We’ve always been interesting.  Many dedicated artists truly try to help their fellows.  They network, offer encouragement or help run galleries.  Some of us are not just boosting our own work or a few of our friend’s work.  We keep trying to spark or ignite a larger scene.  We want places like Chicago and New York to be aware that there’s something special going on in Detroit.  Now that this seems so close at hand, I’d hate to see us blow it.

I’m all for looking for good artists wherever I can find them.  I want to see strong images.  I love work that moves me, puzzles me, delights me or make me think.  I believe that we need to have a sense of the totality: the young people coming up, maybe going to art school and then too, the long timers, the grizzled veterans.  Yes we need to pay attention the younger and the older and everyone in between.  Art is everywhere.

The Kresge Foundation and the Essay’d project both play an important part in recognizing and rewarding artists.  The Kresge goes beyond the visual arts into literature, poetry, performance art, dance, music and various forms of community support.

Essay’d features a series of essays profiling a wide variety of Detroit area visual artists.  I was profiled there a year ago and am currently part of an exhibit sponsored by Essay’d and the Detroit Orchestra Hall.  It’s at the Orchestra Hall, from January through April.  Three books of these essays have been published, with a fourth expected next year.

Many great spaces have come and have gone.  One place that I’m concerned about now is the Ellen Kayrod Gallery.  It’s been a major venue for showing work by artists who are over 65 years old.  They feature both well-known and lesser-known Detroit artists.  These included seniors who started to make art late in their lives.  Sometimes younger artists were included in intergenerational exhibits.  Currently, they’re closed for renovations.  Hopefully they’ll get back to their good work soon.  No one else is doing anything similar.

I’ve been researching the art spaces which are currently in Detroit, Hamtramck and Highland Park.  Besides galleries, art is on display at cafes, restaurants, hospitals and libraries.  There are many public sculptures and murals out on the streets.  Next month, I’ll compile a list and do some sort of preliminary report.  I’ll explore a number of venues, both the ones I’ve been to and the ones I haven’t been to.

The Kresge Foundation:

The Essay’d project:

Art Detroit Now:

The Ellen Kayrod Gallery:

Some of my related blog posts:

December 31, 2018

December 31, 2018

It’s been another strange sad year.  Some survive and others are lost.  The times seem to be increasingly stupid, mean, hateful and toxic.  There are those who are trying to do everything in their power to murder the earth itself, or at least the human, animal and plant life upon it.  Money and making money has its place, I suppose.  Yet money can become a demonic deity.  Its connected rituals of worship often devour or damage wisdom and clarity.

Stakes are high!   We artists are usually very aware, even hyper-aware or hyper-sensitive.  I feel like the old canary in the coal mine (over and over, again and again).  We try to make the best art that we can.  We try to connect with and support our fellow artists.  I’m more discouraged and disillusioned than usual.  Even if we could have a true and explosive artistic/ cultural renaissance all over the world, it might not be enough anymore.  It couldn’t hurt though.

We need to laugh and laugh hard,  We need to laugh at the proper targets and subjects, then get other people to laugh at them as well. Ha! Ha! Ha!  What kind of revolution will we have?  What manner of protest will break through the walls of distraction, apathy and confusion??



PS I’ve reached ten years of blogging this month.  I first started in December 2008.  I now have three regular blogs, that being I try to add at least one post a month.  My cinema blog and my music blog are only added to occasionally or “now and then.”  That could change though.  Onward!

It’s Not Early yet It’s Not Too Late

November 29, 2018

Time itself sometimes behaves like some strange sort of animal, part lamb and part shark.  We get better as we age, yet sometimes we also erode or start to disintegrate.  If we’re paying attention, the older we get, the more that we know.  This is true both in knowledge and in wisdom.  The smart aleck can sometimes be extremely intelligent.

Some people live in quiet times.  The days are calm and bright and they even glisten.  Every morning is touched with dew.  The quieter birds sings their lovely songs.    This helps to awake the humans more gently.  The days go by like stardust, like candy, like a first kiss that never fades.  The nights fall like a great cloak, so warming and calming.  Such lovely nights usually spark beautiful and intense dreams.

As for us, alas, we seem to be swept into ugly times.  These are noisy times.  Greed, cruelty and stupidity seem to think that they’re doing things the “right way” and that they have all the power.  They believe that anything that you can do to win and to stay in control is fair and just.  The rest of us search for ways to bring them down, to give them a proper kick in their pants.  This isn’t easy by any means.  It may be difficult, yet we must make the attempt.  We must succeed.



Changing Minds

October 30, 2018

Many people are stubborn and set in their ways.  Others are totally brainwashed by such channels as television and the internet.   We  need to find ways to wake people up, to make them see.

If they’ve already “drank the kool-aid” maybe we can find an antidote for it.  The powers of persuasion are at a premium.  Strategy!  Lucidity!

Vote, Protest, Make Art, Protest


September 29, 2018

Mock-up (from August 10, 2005 at 8 and a half by eleven inches)

Those who assault Mother Nature do so at their own peril.

Artists know that extremes (as regards melting ice) lead to nothing but trouble and woe.  If you try to arm wrestle with the elements, you’ll lose in the end.  The Earth itself was never conceived of as a mere money-making machine for the humans.  It’s our home and our source of water and air.

Artists love the forests, the mountains, the plants and animals.

Those who think that it’s impossible to destroy the world are dead wrong.  Earth, wind, lakes, rivers and oceans are strong and solid yet they have their fragile side.   When the bull in the china shop seizes power, he needs to be diluted or subdued.   Wake up and smell the morning fog.  Breathe deep in the cool moonlit and starlit air.