Nintendo Art Show will be Phoenix Café’s final art opening

 The Phoenix Café — located at 24918 John R Road, just south of 10 Mile Road, in Hazel Park — will be closing permanently Dec. 23. The venue will host a few more events, including the Nintendo Art Show Dec. 2, and the Art and Craft Holiday Market each Saturday in December.

The Phoenix Café — located at 24918 John R Road, just south of 10 Mile Road, in Hazel Park — will be closing permanently Dec. 23. The venue will host a few more events, including the Nintendo Art Show Dec. 2, and the Art and Craft Holiday Market each Saturday in December.

Photo by Deb Jacques


By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison - Park News | Published November 27, 2017

 The Phoenix Café’s Nintendo Art Show will feature a variety of different works in the gallery, as well as a “Super Smash Bros. Melee” tournament for prizes, vintage toys, vendors, a DJ and more. 

The Phoenix Café’s Nintendo Art Show will feature a variety of different works in the gallery, as well as a “Super Smash Bros. Melee” tournament for prizes, vintage toys, vendors, a DJ and more. 

Art picture provided by Steven Gamburd

HAZEL PARK — Many works have adorned the gallery walls of the Phoenix Café over the last eight years. Now the Hazel Park venue is preparing for its final art opener before it permanently closes at the end of 2017. 

The Nintendo Art Show opening event will start at 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 2, and go until 1 a.m. Sunday, Dec. 3, at the Phoenix, 24918 John R Road, just south of 10 Mile Road. The all-ages gathering will feature a full gallery of Nintendo-themed art, as well as a costume contest, a “Super Smash Bros. Melee” tournament with a cash prize, gaming stations, vintage toys, a DJ, vendors and more. There is a $10 cover charge.

The event will pay tribute to the imaginative worlds of Japanese video game maker Nintendo, the company behind such long-running series as “Super Mario Bros,” “The Legend of Zelda,” “Pokémon,” “Metroid,” “Donkey Kong,” “Fire Emblem” and more. 

There will be more than 30 works of Nintendo-themed art, by nearly two dozen artists. The exhibit will be open from Dec. 2 through Dec. 16. 

Jamie Crystal Taperek, of Roseville, does marker art, blending comic book style and realism.

“My favorite Nintendo game is ‘Super Mario Bros.,’ for sure,” Taperek said. “I remember being a kid and having to go to school, leaving my system on all day because I hadn’t hit a save point. The characters, colors and creativity that these games gave me is still inspiration to this day.”

Terence Cover, of Waterford, does action figure photography, which is exactly as it sounds.

“I let my style be dictated by what I feel works best for the action figures I’m working with,” Cover explained. 

He said his favorite games are “A Boy and His Blob” and “River City Ransom” on the original Nintendo Entertainment System.

“Both are fun games with an almost cartoon feel, where things are mostly like our normal world but have a small amount of supernatural thrown in, yet it’s treated like it’s perfectly natural,” he said. “Who wouldn’t want to live in a world like that?”

Justin O’Leary, of Shelby Township, has a mixed media style — inks with whiteout for effects, and digitally added colors and graphic designs. His favorite games include the Nintendo 64 shooter “Perfect Dark” and the Super Nintendo role-playing game “Chrono Trigger.”

“The word ‘Nintendo,’ in itself, brings nostalgic feelings,” O’Leary said. 

Viktor Moon, of Hazel Park, conceived the event and drafted up the show’s poster. 

“There’s an abundance of artists around Detroit that are diehard Nintendo fans that have very few venues to display their ‘nerd’ passions. I wanted to provide the outlet and have the opportunity to bring us together. And frankly, a Nintendo-themed art show and party with gaming, cosplay and music sounded like a great adventure,” Moon said. 

“I was always a huge Samus fan — hence the piece I did for the show poster,” Moon added, referring to the heroine of the sci-fi “Metroid” series. “‘The Legend of Zelda’ and the ‘Metroid’ series have always been my staples. Samus and (‘Zelda’ protagonist) Link are the heroes of my childhood.” 

The Nintendo Art Show will be the venue’s last art show. There will also be an Art and Craft Holiday Market from noon to 5 p.m. each Saturday in December, featuring handmade holiday items by Michigan artists and crafters. 

The venue will then close for good on Dec. 23. 

 

End of the Phoenix

Steven Gamburd, manager of the Phoenix Café, said one reason for the venue’s closure is he wants to focus on his art sales, commissioned work and professional house painting.

“I needed a relief from the general manager, booking, curating and promoting duties that have been centered around this art gallery and concert venue,” Gamburd said. “Keeping up the business has become a huge sacrifice in my personal career. It’s clear what needs to be done.”

Gamburd said he’s already planning a solo art show in 2018, where he’ll exhibit his surreal watercolor illustrations and paintings. He’s also a drummer in multiple bands, and with the café closed he’ll be able to play weekend gigs.

Gamburd said he’s not sure what will become of the property at 24918 John R Road. But he and his business partners, Been Frank and Hans Barbe, are thinking about other ventures. 

The three men are interested in starting an events company that helps organize music lineups for festivals and other local events. They also want to continue the concert series they started, such as Acousticapalooza and Maybash.

The Phoenix Café was originally opened by Barbe as a live theater in June 2009 — an attempt to form a community hub for local creatives and activists. Gamburd then opened the art gallery. He said the café quickly became a hit with the pagan community. It also hosted steampunk-themed dance parties in the early days. 

Michael Wiggins joined as co-owner and co-manager in September 2009. Brian Lewandowski began assisting Gamburd with art shows in 2011. 

In 2013, the café underwent major renovations. Gamburd and Barbe, now co-owners, began recruiting artists and musicians, working with Frank on music festivals such as Maybash. 

Lewandowski started the “See What Stacey Started” live figure drawing classes in honor of a college friend who had died due to complications from multiple sclerosis. The café has also done fundraising for such groups as FernCare, Fireweed and the Hazel Park Arts Council. 

In addition to the upcoming Nintendo Art Show, the venue has hosted other themed events, including zombie art, a pinup and burlesque show, a Godzilla tribute, graffiti art, steampunk art, a Batman-themed event and more. 

Gamburd said the café has been a great way for talented new artists and musicians to start developing their fan base. The venue also made a point to book touring bands — about five to 10 touring bands each month.  

“Personally, the Phoenix was a major part of my life because it was centered around my passions — art and music,” Gamburd said. “The Phoenix was a very special place. It gave eyes and ears to the artists and musicians.” 

For more information about the costume contest and “Super Smash Bros. Melee” tournament, contact Viktor Moon at (586) 801-3302. For more information about the Phoenix Café, call (248) 376-7658.