TRUE ROCK AND ROLL STORIES: Ann Arbor And The Endless Art Summer

Remembering Artist David Rickerby

Ann Arbor Art Fair| David RIckerby Artist Painter| Ted Cantu Ann Arbor Artists Co-op| Ann Arbor 1990 | Art Gallery Art Parties| The Revolting Cocks| Artists| Hot Metro Finds Detroit New YorkANN ARBOR - When I think about my wild art days one summer in particular stands out. It was the Summer of 1989 and I was part of The Art Co-Op in the city of Ann Arbor. It was the co-creation of an art gallery idea I had picked up during my days in SOHO, New York. A friend of mine had wanted to create a jewelry store of sorts and rent out some space in the Galleria on South University Street. It seemed like a great idea at the time and a lot of people got in on the bandwaggon very quickly. I had opted for a traditional art gallery space like the ones in New York City instead of a storefront.

The art gallery concept eventually won out and we rented out space on South Main Street instead away from the University of Michigan campus. It was away from the college insanity and housed in an old photography studio near the train station. This would end up being my first art studio. The money came from different sources and The Ann Arbor Artist Co-Op ended up taking two buildings. One area was used as a gallery space and the rest of the real estate was rented out as art studios. There was a photography studio, a pottery area, and people would come and go whenever they pleased.

Those were some wild days and there were many eccentric characters. I personally knew each and every one of them. This is why I sort of get defensive about anyone who claims the common phrase "Oh yeah, I remember those days I was there." and I hear that more times than I care to admit. The artists that hung out at the first Ann Arbor Art Gallery at the time came from a wide range of backgrounds and were friends of mine. We all would go to art parties, loft parties, theater happenings, and poetry readings. It was a wild time and we lived in a bubble. We had protection there and the comradery of one another. In short, we would support each other's shows.

Ann Arbor Art Fair| David RIckerby Artist Painter| Ted Cantu Ann Arbor Artists Co-op| Ann Arbor 1990 | Art Gallery Art Parties| The Revolting Cocks| Artists| Hot Metro Finds Detroit New York

Needless to say, we had enormous egos and we were young. The establishment at the time wasn't too friendly with us because we didn't bow down to anyone. We bounced around from the University of Michigan art events, The Performance Network, The Nectarine Ballroom, The Blind Pig, and the fringes of the Ann Arbor established art community. We were encouraged by Gallery Jacques and the local press for being the young new fauves. We were brash and outlandish and certainly weren't afraid of anything. Being young, talented, and reckless was a great place to be. Ann Arbor at the time served as the perfect backdrop for our wild and outrageous antics.

1990 - A Typical Wild Night On The Town

I had a wild painter friend from the U.K., David Rickerby and he would bounce into the gallery fashionably late but made a great impression. David was a fine arts painter and he had a surrealist style with his work and he was very detailed. His paintings had a dreamlike quality to them and he got along with everybody. He was bombastic, loud, and wore a leather bomber jacket. David was like a thunderbolt of lightning and the room would erupt in applause and cheer whenever he would arrive. The door would blow open from the cold outside and the snow and wind would pour in and David came with it. His girlfriend would be on his heels and carrying bottles of wine and I don't remember him ever coming to an event empty-handed. Mr. Rickerby brought the party with him and this is the way I remember it.

The Ann Arbor Art Fair was happening one hot summer night in July. The fair is enormous and takes up pretty much the entire downtown area from South University Street, up Liberty and State Street, and down Main Street. The art fair would attract thousands of people from all over the country and feature many different types of artists from painters to glass blowers and pottery. There were food booths and stages for live music and this festival would carry on for a total of four days. The activity on the street would settle down around 7 Pm but then that's when the real fun would start. There would be after-parties, concerts, and all-around mayhem, and the real party beasts would come out.

Ann Arbor Art Fair| David RIckerby Artist Painter| Ted Cantu Ann Arbor Artists Co-op| Ann Arbor 1990 | Art Gallery Art Parties| The Revolting Cocks| Artists| Hot Metro Finds Detroit New York

I was invited by David Rickerby to the art party of the summer. It was to be held in a hair salon on South University Street and Church. My buddies insisted on coming along even though they weren't too artsy. They had gotten stoned and were giggling like little girls and getting lots of attention. We got there early and the party was starting to get loud and wild David was running late. I was greeted by Dan Godston who was the master of the written word and stand up poetry. We would quickly spin our tales of the week of what books we had found, beat poetry, and the latest in independent rock bands and film. My buddies meanwhile were getting odd looks and in their own little world.

Finally, I had enough of them giggling and I offered to fix one of them a plate of food from the buffet. I remember asking "Hey do you like cheese? Oh yeah.... how about these sausages... good stuff eh? You like broccoli? How about some dip to go with that?" and I grabbed a piece of broccoli and dunked it into some ranch dressing and then plunged it into my buddy's forehead right between the eyes. "Hey people are starting to notice you so act right!". This was a page ripped out of the Three Stooges playbook and this ruffled their feathers. There was some shoving around at that point and I kicked them all out of the party. I remember walking them to the hallway and then closing the door. They were yelling back at me through the glass and that was the end of that. Eventually they all left and it was just me and Godston and the art people.

David Rickerby finally showed up and he had this tape in his pocket that was made for him in London. He greeted me 'Cantu man, you have to hear this fucking tape it's absolutely brilliant!". It was The Revolting Cocks with "Beers Steers and Queers". David had somehow gotten a hold of the 12" inch remix and we cranked it up loud. The big salon chairs were all pushed back off the floor and it was now standing room only. The mood was chaotic, loud and dangerous which was just how I liked it. We had kegs of beer being rolled in and we knocked them back one by one. The noise was deafening and all the serious art people started to pour in. These were the non-conformists, the rebels, the square pegs who didn't give a shit about the round holes. These are the people you read about in a Kerouac novel and hope to never meet. These weren't the nice fanciful street artists down below in tents selling nice prints of sandy beaches and lighthouses.

Ann Arbor Art Fair| David RIckerby Artist Painter| Ted Cantu Ann Arbor Artists Co-op| Ann Arbor 1990 | Art Gallery Art Parties| The Revolting Cocks| Artists| Hot Metro Finds Detroit New York

David was talking about real art and real artists. The conversation got heated and intense and very animated. It was decided that night that there were only three real artists in Ann Arbor namely myself, Ted Cantu, David Rickerby, and Dan Godston. Eveyrone can "Fuck Off!". Now, David was throwing his arms around and getting boisterous and ran over to the window. He yelled down below to the poor artists who were sleeping in their tents guarding their work. He informed them that we were the real artists of the town and yelled some incoherent babble. He lost his balance and slipped and I remember grabbing him and pulling him back away from the window so he wouldn't fall out three stories. We were getting a good laugh out of it all and it was a very reckless night.

David had just gotten back from Europe and he told me something I will never forget. "Those Europeans are something else man. In the future, you will have access to anything you want with the push of a button. You will have music, video, film, art and it will all be delivered right in front of you." This sounded so absurd at the time but looking back on it now he was talking about the web. In 1990 everything was still very analog, crude, and unpolished. Rickerby was talking about a futuristic artistic scenario that had no limits.

Looking back on those days brings about a certain fondness. Anything was possible, and anything was capable and there were no limitations. Nothing could be considered too outrageous enough and everything seemed wide open. We weren't bogged down with politics and if we were we certainly didn't notice it like today. David Rickerby died a few years ago I learned. He remained a high energy person his whole life and would even partake in sky diving. The details of his life are unclear to me and I have nothing but the best of memories. David taught me that you can never dream big enough and that life was unlimited and beautiful.




Ann Arbor Art Fair| David RIckerby Artist Painter| Ted Cantu Ann Arbor Artists Co-op| Ann Arbor 1990 | Art Gallery Art Parties| The Revolting Cocks| Artists| Hot Metro Finds Detroit New York

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