Hipster Valhalah

Local readers may have heard tell –perhaps through annarbor.com or markmaynard.com, though not The Ypsilanti Citizen, bizarrely enough– of a new artist-related endeavor in Ypsi called SPUR Studios, which is “a collection of private work spaces for artists, musicians, and other creative people” made possible by Ypsilanti institution (Ynstitution™) and screen-printing extraordinaire, VGKids.  The goal of the studios is to become a sort of creative nexus for the area while offering exceptionally affordable and highly customizable studios.  And by exceptionally affordable I mean close to $1/square foot per month.  And by highly customizable I mean that SPUR actively encourages renters to take considerable liberties in modifying their spaces.  Carpet, drywall, and even windows are safe from neither whim nor lease agreement.  I’ve already witnessed the installation of a hardwood floor in a 10’x12′ unit upstairs, which contrasted nicely with one of the larger basement areas that in a couple short weeks has transformed itself from a white carpeted room with 5 large windows to a boarded up dungeon with black and red insides.  Says Steve Emschwiller, one of the building managers, “We are trying to make a great place for artists by providing them with a building they can make into their own, drawing inspiration from that, and [from] each other’s ideas … We want the building to come together by each tenant’s own personality.”

Not surprisingly, I found the whole thing irresistible and signed up for one of the smaller spaces (SPUR 27) at the first given opportunity.  For a hundred dollars a month I get 24-7 access to a 9’x9′ studio and the opportunity to immerse myself a little further in the Ypsilanti creative community.  SPUR 27 is located on the upper floor, which has been designated for use by visual artists.  Bands dominate the basement level, though I haven’t really heard much from them yet, and the only guy I know that’s well on his way to being set up down there is actually in leather work (Marty Flint, he of the aforementioned blacked-out dungeon).  I don’t have any such grandiose plans for little old #27, although eventually I’d like to get it set up such that I can tinker and build things and paint and perhaps house a modest assortment of tools and materials and whatnot.  Below is the view in and the view back out, as documented at the open house last month before signing.



Frankly, it doesn’t look a whole lot different right now.  It harbors a very large and functional (and holy crap, heavy) corner desk and a book shelf and not much else, though it’s certainly enough for me to use to work on drawing, writing, and anything computer-based.  Anyway, I look forward to posting a follow up once the thing is fully fleshed out and operational, along with pics of other folks’ spaces to illustrate how comparatively unambitious I am in my accomodations.

1 day. 40 artists. 9,000 gallons of beer.

You may remember a post from a while back about my acceptance to the 7th installment of the Shadow Art Fair, in which I probably promised updates regarding product lineups and other such improbable silliness.  Well, tSAF came and went.  As might be assumed from a tagline like “1 day. 40 artists. 9,000 gallons of beer” it was loads of fun, as always.  I displayed a few new shirts and a few new posters and made a few new dollars, not to mention a few new friends.

Folks proved excitable when confronted with the Ypsi-Ynvaders poster of our infamous water tower (above) and the Scyptsy shirt (below)


But one of the best things to come out of this summer’s Shadow Art fair was this wicked sweet video by Mike Ambs.  Make sure to keep an eye out for me and Heather (0:49), the Hide-a-Turtle (1:23) and the Ynvaders poster (3:08):

1 day. 40 artists. 9,000 gallons of beer. from mike ambs ☂ on Vimeo.

(I apologize if this thing isn’t embedding properly.  WordPress seems to hate Vimeo, which is a shame.  But seriously, you really should follow the link to the vimeo page because this is a truly charming little recap of a great event!)

Shadow Cats! Part III

Found out last night that I’ve been accepted to this summer’s Shadow Art Fair, which makes me happy.  I’ve participated in the summer installment of this fine event for the past two years and I know that they (The Michigan Design Militia, and yes, you read that correctly) like to shake things up when they can and that they’d received over 150 applications for roughly 40 spots, and so I had a feeling I was going miss the cut on this one.  But hey, GIGGITTY.  I’m in.

The Shadow Art Fair has many charms, but perhaps none so alluring as its venue, The Corner Brewery, which aside from being roomy enough to accommodate throngs of art vendors and enthusiasts alike, still has room for live music in its ample beer garden and, perhaps most importantly, the constant availability of quality brews.  Nothing to loosen up folks pocket books and broaden their appreciation of the arts like a few (or a few too many) fine tasting fermentations.

And here, my friends, are some of the slides I sent as part of my application, outlining some of the shtuffs that shall be made and sold at The Booth of Wonders — Yes, Wonders:

brian walline

ann arbor ypsi

ann arbor


michigan hand map

walline posters

michigan posters


And in other news, Ypsi gets Fallon’d

Jimmy Fallon used my city in his Local News segment for Late Night or whatever it’s called these days.  Coulda been worse, though it certainly could have been more funny as well.  I get the feeling that’s the opinion of his show in general.

Of course, the FIRST time Ypsi got Fallon’d was last summer when he was here with Drew Barrymore for the roller derby movie she was filming around here.  Michigan’s new Hollywood tax breaks have created some interesting times in the past year or so.  Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti have been host to several large projects, the most recent being a Hillary Swank / Sam Rockwell / Minnie Driver film called Betty Ann Waters, which closed down my favorite bar for 2 or 3 days a little while back.  I’m sorry, but around here that sort of thing is just plain weird.

Serendipitous Contact

So a couple winters ago my buddy in Madison gives me a ring and says I have to check out this band he found.  He says they’re called the Great Lakes Myth Society.  I figure with a name like that they certainly deserve a shot, so I look ’em up and discover that what they are, in essence, is everything I ever hoped Michigan/Great Lakes themed music could or should be;  A rich warm pub lodged like an ice-pick in the heart of boozey geographies and northern folk lore.

Anyway, over the summer I got a booth at the Shadow Art Fair in Ypsilanti with a bunch of shirts and posters for sale.  Later on in the show a vaguely familiar looking guy* comes up and begins to inquire about my freelance availability.  He says he needs some shirts for his band.  His band is called The Great Lakes Myth Society.

* Timothy Monger.  I had been to a couple shows, but it was dark and he hadn’t been wearing a hat.