The Detroit Artists Workshop: a 50th Anniversary

Events Celebrating the Artists’ Workshop

For Immediate Release

The Detroit Artists Workshop: Roots and Branches
a 50th Anniversary Celebration

                     All Events are Free and Open to the Public: Sponsored by MOCAD, Mike Kelley’s Mobile Homestead, the DAW, The Scarab Club,

College for Creative Studies and Wayne State University.

The Detroit Artists Workshop was founded at 1252 West Forest in Detroit on November 1, 1964 and moved after fire destroyed the original premises in May 1965 to a storefront at 4865 John C. Lodge where the Artists Workshop Press was established next door at 4867 John C. Lodge.

Fifty years later the surviving members of the Detroit ArtistsWorkshop are gathering at disparate venues in Detroit over a two-week period centered on November 1st to offer a series of free concerts, poetry readings, art exhibitions, film screenings, seminars and workshops in celebration of the 50th anniversary.

We aim to honor the founders and members of the Detroit Artists Workshop and their work of the past 50 years, with a salute to members who have passed on and a spotlight on the surviving artists: the poets, musicians, writers, playwrights, painters, photographers, film-makers, graphic artists and other members who have continued to grow and develop from their roots in the DAW.

This effort is being organized by the Detroit Artists Workshop steering committee chaired by Cary Loren and including John Sinclair, Leni Sinclair, Laura Grimshaw, Becky Derminer (recording secretary), Emma Velasco (fiscal officer), M.L. Liebler (poetry coordinator) and RJ Spangler (music coordinator).


MOCAD and Mike Kelley’s Mobile Homestead present “The Detroit Artists Workshop: Roots and Branches” an exhibition featuring art, photography and productions by members of the Detroit Artists Workshop. An opening reception will be held Sunday, October 26th at the Mobile Homestead from 2-5 PM. Work will be on view through December, 2014.

Workshop musicians John Dana and Ron English will be performing at the reception along with poets and writers from the Workshop including Robin Eichele, Bill Harris, George Tysh, Ken Mikolowski and John Sinclair. This event is free and open to the public.

In conjunction with this exhibit, MOCAD, the Mobile Homestead & the DAW will publish The Work Box, a limited edition anthology in a boxed format. The Work Box will include reprints of several Artist Workshop Society books from the ’60s including; The Fugs Songbook (by members of the Fugs, edited by Ed Sanders), Revolutionary Letters by Diane DiPrima, The Book of Humors by James Semark, Sit Up Straight by George Tysh, Meditations by John Sinclair, and The Book of Runes by Robin Eichele. Flyers, posters, ephemera, music, Gary Grimshaw elements, two poems by Bill Harris, postcard portfolios by Leni Sinclair and Carl Schurer, an interview with Charles Moore and a DVD of the 40th anniversary event at the DIA will also be included in this 50th anniversary keepsake. A display of the Work Box including the originals will be featured in the Homestead display.

Featured artists at the 50th Anniversary include; Emil Bacilla; photographer/filmmaker, Robin Eichele; poet, Gary Grimshaw; graphic artist, Stephen Ligosky; artist, Eizo Nishura; artist, Leni Sinclair; photographer, filmmaker, Carl Schurer ; photographer, Ken and Ann Mikolowski; Alternative Press, Howard Weingarden; artist, Jerry Younkins; collagist/poet. Original books, flyers, experimental & documentary films will also be on view.

Read MOCAD press release

Please note: Roots & Branches (part one) is on display from October 4th -November 1st at the CCS Center Alumnae galleries.This show of purely visual art stretches from the early ’60s to the mid-1970s. Featured artists include; Stanley Mouse, Leni Sinclair, Barbara Barefield, Gary Grimshaw, Nancy Mitchnick, Barry Roth, Stephen Ligosky, Howard Weingarden, Gordon Newton and Cay Bahnmiller. More information and photos of the exhibition are located HERE.

Thursday, October 30th from 7-9 PM join us in honoring the art of Gary Grimshaw as his work opens in a year long display at the Detroit Historical Museum. A screening of the Grande Ballroom documentary Louder than Love will take place that night. More details at The Detroit Historical Museum.

SC_LOGO_3On Sunday, November 2nd, from 2-4 PM The DAW will present an afternoon of music and poetry at the Scarab Club of Detroit, 217 Farnsworth in Detroit.

At 2 PM the Ron English trio with John Dana will perform followed by poets and writers; Robin Eichele, Ken Mikolowski, Bill Harris and George Tysh. John Sinclair and his band the Blues Scholars will perform Sinclair’s “Detroit Life” suite to wind up the afternoon. This 50th anniversary event is sponsored by MOCAD, the Mobile Homestead and the Scarab Club. This event is free and open to the public.

Sunday, November 9—Scarab Club 2-4 pm of Detroit Closing Reception & Artists Workshop gathering to honor Bud Spangler with RJ Spangler, Ron English, John Dana and friends, poetry by John Sinclair and others and open music session in memoriam of others of our number who have passed on, including Charles Moore, Lyman Woodard, Larry Nozero, James Semark, Bill Hutton, Howard Weingarden, Ronnie Johnson and George Garnett. Master of Ceremonies: RJ Spangler

Monday, November 10th from 11:30 am -1:30 pm The Detroit Artists Workshop will meet in the Community Room at the The David Adamany Undergraduate Library at Wayne State University. The Community Room is located on the third floor of the Undergraduate Library. John Sinclair, Leni Sinclair, Robin Eichele, George Tysh, Ron English, Bill Harris and Stephen Ligosky will be on hand to discuss the origins of the DAW and read from their works. On display will be a selection of Artist Workshop press books from the UGL collection, Gary Grimshaw artworks, and important beat era works that helped influence the Workshop. Cass Corridor artworks from the James Duffy gift is on permanent display throughout the library. This DAW gathering is sponsored by ML Liebler and the English Department of Wayne State University.

On Friday, November 21st, from 6-8 PM there will be an opening reception for Leni Sinclair’s photography exhibition at the Susanne Hilberry Gallery.

George Tysh, Robin Eichele and Martina Algire in front of the Red Door Gallery, 1964

George Tysh, Robin Eichele and Martina Algire in front of the Red Door Gallery, 1964

The short-lived Red Door Gallery (1963) and Artists’ Workshop Society, were the first serious alternative, avant-garde collectives and co-operative galleries to exist in the city of Detroit.

This small, fiercely independent and interracial group of poets, artists and musicians were the first artists and seed spaces that inspired a cultural revolution in Detroit and beyond. The threads of this influence stretch from jazz to rock, psychedelia to heavy metal, noise and other experimental music, as well as poetry, politics, the Cass Corridor movement and the growth of Detroit’s alternative presses.

It is now critical and relevant at this point in Detroit’s recent revival of the arts to shed light upon these roots and celebrate its artistic beginnings—clearly found within the Artists Workshop collective, Detroit’s first avant-garde. To understand the arts of Detroit, there’s no better place to start.

The Artists Workshop Society was an artist-run collective founded on November 1st, 1964 by John Sinclair, Magdalene Arndt (a.k.a. Leni Sinclair), Charles Moore, Robin Eichele, George Tysh and ten others, who rented a house at 1252 West Forest for use as a gallery and performance space near the campus of Wayne State University.

Free poetry and jazz performances were featured every Sunday afternoon. They also produced their own books, journals and workshops introducing avant-garde poets, artists and musicians to Detroit, many for the first time.

To learn more about the Workshop, visit the DAW website at

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