The one man arts community of Ann Arbor

It seems that all the talk last week in Ann Arbor about how the city might be losing its cultural edge, may have been a bit premature. According to an article just published at, the city does still have a thriving arts community. Of course, it is just one man.

Sorry, but when I read the headline “Forest Juziuk is a one-man arts community in Ann Arbor,” I just couldn’t resist.

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  1. Posted February 6, 2010 at 11:45 pm | Permalink

    I didn’t want to mention it up on the front page, but I do think it’s weird that the folks in Ann Arbor are just now starting to wonder if they’re losing their cultural edge. What has it been now, about 8 years since the Tech Center was shut down, sending artists streaming out of the city in all directions? It’s something that we’ve been talking about here on the site since the beginning, in 2002. Artists were being squeezed out of Ann Arbor, both due to the cost of rent and the increasingly conservative culture, and we knew that there was an opportunity for Ypsilanti. But apparently it didn’t register when with the city fathers when the Tech Center closed, Gallery 555 moved to Ypsi, and Spur opened. Now, though, it’s on their radar. I think I heard they were going to take a year to study it.

    And it’s also worth noting that, until somewhat recently, Forest – the one man arts community of Ann Arbor – lived here in Ypsi.

    And maybe one day we’ll get him back.

  2. Posted February 6, 2010 at 11:46 pm | Permalink

    And you can see me interview Forest in the Corner Brewery bathroom here.

  3. Jesus 48197
    Posted February 7, 2010 at 9:09 am | Permalink

    Can you put up some of those other “bathroom interview” videos?

  4. Michael Niemi
    Posted February 7, 2010 at 11:38 am | Permalink

    Does the one man arts community have a website? Should be easy to keep up with the goings-on, now that I know everything has been boiled down to this one dude.

  5. Posted February 7, 2010 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

    I found it interesting that in the span of a couple of days, Ann Arbor first wondered where all the artists went (Like they just woke up from a drunken orgy and found their wallet missing) and then had an article pointing out that Ypsi now has artists space and it’s full to the brim with working artists. Neither article made the connection as to why, or even tried to explain how, this happened. Then there are the comments, especially for the first article:
    Well, this is one reason why I left Ann Arbor…

  6. Cramdon
    Posted February 7, 2010 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

    I enjoy the Mr. Judziuk, and hope he handles the pressure with grace.

  7. Kristin
    Posted February 7, 2010 at 8:05 pm | Permalink

    Thank goodness Ypsilanti is here to save the arts in SE Michigan! And thank goodness we have another opportunity to complain about Ann Arbor. That whole reputation as an arts center? Literally one guy.

  8. Lacy
    Posted February 7, 2010 at 11:02 pm | Permalink

    Can’t really blame Mr. Juziuk for leaving us. Ypsi’s market is a bit oversaturated with artists and drippy wet creative types. Smart move to go someplace where he could really fill a cultural void and have a virtual monopoly. He’s like a missionary or something. In Ann Arbor, he can be the only fish in a big pond as opposed to being just another pilchard packed into our sardine can. I hope he knows that if he gets lonely out of school, he’s always welcome to come home to feed.

  9. Mr. Swetty Ballz
    Posted February 8, 2010 at 2:24 am | Permalink

    Lacy wrote “Ypsi’s market is a bit oversaturated with artists and drippy wet creative types.”

    Ooh, ooooh.
    Guys, I am going to need a moment to myself.

  10. Elf
    Posted February 8, 2010 at 8:27 am | Permalink

    I don’t know how many of those Ypsi artists actually support themselves with their art. Then again, Forest doesn’t really either. The point to me isn’t so much who has the bigger population of self-supporting artists, but which location is more arts friendly. I spend time in both towns, and feel as though the ground in Ypsi is more fertile for artistic exploration.

  11. Mrs. Swetty Ballz
    Posted February 8, 2010 at 8:34 am | Permalink

    Sweetheart, you’re going to give us Swetty Ballz a bad name in the community, if you continue to post such things here, in this open forum.

  12. Kelty
    Posted February 8, 2010 at 10:30 am | Permalink

    According to this article, the young man in question has a full time job. Given that, would it be fair to say that Ann Arbor had half-a-person arts community?

  13. TeacherPatti
    Posted February 8, 2010 at 10:33 am | Permalink

    I agree with eDWEIRd (hope I spelled that right…I checked like 3 times but my brain isn’t on yet this morning)…I’d like to see an indepth article on why this happened. I do think that one of the commenters (commentators?) on the article said it well–A2 has become a NIMBY place for doctors, lawyers* and “west side elitists”. I’m not really sure what the latter means exactly but it sounded interesting. If the market wasn’t so awful right now, I would seriously consider leaving and as someone who wanted to live in A2 since I was 5, this very much pains me to say.
    *Yes I used to practice law…don’t hate me for it. Hate me for something else, it’s easy enough :)

  14. Bob Needham
    Posted February 8, 2010 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    Hi all,

    Though I’m a longtime lurker, I don’t think I’ve commented here before. Anyway, I’m in charge of entertainment content at (and incidentally, wrote the headline you’re having such fun with — you’re welcome!).

    I would love for us to do a more in-depth look at how communities can encourage creativity. We did occasionally try to address that issue at The Ann Arbor News, but there’s definitely a bigger picture we’ve never really wrapped our arms around. (Although this issue may have hit the city council table only recently, believe me, people have been worried about it for years, including many in the cultural “establishment.”)

    So, while I’ll try to remember to check back on this thread as well, I just wanted to invite anybody with some thoughts on how we could go about writing about this to contact me directly, And we also welcome suggestions for other creative folks like Forest Juziuk to profile, even if they’re not a one-man arts community. ; )

  15. Posted February 8, 2010 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

    It is really good to see all of the things happening in Ypsi. If you look from a strictly music perspective, we have The Elbow, Screaming Eagle, Keystone Underground, Savoy (soon to be a full venue taking the place of Divine), The Dreamland Theatre, Pease, Convocation Center, Tap Room, Formally TCs- I hear it was sold and there is still potential to keep a venue there, and The Jamboree (our music festival in riverside park)- It is soon rivaling anything in Ann Arbor. Ypsilanti has always been a place where you can be yourself and not make excuses.

    We have such a mass of phenominal talent in this area. This is why I have worked hard to promote and to highlight music locally. Lets all continue to embrace what makes this area great, support local business, music and making Ypsilanti even better.

    The Jamboree is slated to happen August 6th and 7th this year. I have near completed the lineup, some really nice surprises, and hope to see you all there. In addition, I created and have been running a “Roots” music night at Keystone Underground every Friday called Undergroud Roots. We have been averaging well over 100 people through every week. The music has been great, the open mic between sets has been a blast and the $1.25 PBRs have been fair to the budget.

    I dont think there will ever be a “1 Man Arts Community” The idea of community is a group of like minded people coming together for a cause. I say, the cause is the rich culture of Arts and Music in Michigan. Get out of the house and see what you have been missing! Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti and all of South Eastern Michigan have plenty to offer. Feel free to say hi at Keystone any Friday.


  16. Sally TR
    Posted February 8, 2010 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    The Tech Center closing didn’t make it happen. It was just symbolic, the way it demonstrated local priorities. Artists are expendable. What we as a community needed was a big, new Y, were we could take spinning classes. And there was the added bonus that we could tear down the old Y, where all the poor men lived. They, of course, ended up gravitating toward Ypsilanti as well.

  17. Как обычно
    Posted February 8, 2010 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

    Как обычно просто супер обьёмная Hall of Owls статья и как всегда дочитал до конца

    English: this man you call forest is a god among men

    Как обычно
    Uzbekistan embassy

  18. Posted February 8, 2010 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

    Of course the art’s better in Ypsi—my ma’s show just opened there Saturday.

    No, seriously, this was something that I remember bitching about all the time in Current and ArborUpdate, both of which at least nominally had city council readership.

    Ypsi’s problem is that it’s rare to get an act that’s going to draw two or three hundred people out there, or more. You do get great bands, and great festivals (which draw large numbers of folks from all over), but they tend to be either local or niche taste or both—all stuff I like, but I also understand that you can’t just hang around talking about how great your local acts are and expect that to be a fully-functional scene, at least without deep support from a wealthy local government.

    And Ann Arbor forgot that you need more than just students to make an art scene, and that cities need to evolve or die. More than forgot, ignored that when it was being shouted at them by every working artist in the region.

  19. Discipline Punish
    Posted February 8, 2010 at 8:27 pm | Permalink

    Why, little fella, I don’t believe we’re interested in having acts that bring in two or three hundred people. We love the intensely DIY, committed, communal aspect of our town’s art scene.

    “Niche taste” is great. You must be a Strokes fan?

    The rest of your comment is unintelligible – give it another shot?

  20. Posted February 8, 2010 at 9:05 pm | Permalink

    I’d rather have a few more 150 person venues than a big, 400 person place, but I appreciate what you’re saying, JS. If we had a venue of that size, we could bring in interesting acts, like the folks who play the Magic Stick and the Crowfoot. And, I think that would be a good thing. We need to bring regional and international acts to play with our hometown folks. That’s how thriving scenes evolve.

  21. Posted February 8, 2010 at 10:11 pm | Permalink

    I’ve been in the presence of those “west side elitists” Patti and they kind of creeped me out. They were appalled that I would buy a house in Ypsi and move from the house I was renting on the far west side of A2. “Don’t they have (in a whispered tone) hookers there?”, said a doe eyed little west side homeowner to me.

  22. Mr.SwettyBallz
    Posted February 9, 2010 at 1:58 am | Permalink

    Mrs. Swetty Ballz wrote, “Sweetheart, you’re going to give us Swetty Ballz a bad name in the community, if you continue to post such things here, in this open forum.”

    Whew. For a moment there I thought I was being aggressively moderated.

    Like Momma SwettyBallz always said,
    “in Italy, for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, they had five hundred years of democracy and peace – and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.”

  23. Michael Niemi
    Posted February 9, 2010 at 4:48 am | Permalink

    Ypsilanti is our Brooklyn to Ann Arbor’s Manhattan?

  24. Discipline Punish
    Posted February 9, 2010 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

    Ypsilanti is Cannes to Ann Arbor’s Des Moines

  25. Posted February 9, 2010 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

    Having lived in Ann Arbor for a minute now, it’s wild how active Ypsi is these days; without a doubt there’s more going on now than when I owned a house there. In AA, there’s nothing comparable to Shadow Art Fair or VGKids & SPUR, and the ridiculous cost of residential & retail property will continue to prohibit an independent venture like that. That four young guys can open a theatre in Detroit for well under $10,000 in Detroit is just about the most inspiring thing I’ve ever heard.

    Living in Ypsi (2000-2006) was backbreaking. I was a damn fool for buying a house at the time & lost it in foreclosure. Luckily, my best gal & I found a deal on an apartment in walking distance from our jobs in Ann Arbor not long after both our cars died (the car thing isn’t really a “backbreaking” complaint, btw — it *was* a lot of fun driving my station wagon 11 blocks in reverse when my transmission went out). We aren’t exactly happy living here but are able to stay busy and, we think, improve our quality of life even though putting on events the way we do doesn’t really generate any money for us.

    The hope is that more people will start putting on concerts or weird art shows — I’ve got no interest in being an “only fish in a big pond” (awkward, Lacy, and I really like sardines, soyouknow). There are so few house shows & few real venues, and places like Buffalo Wild Wings & Bar Louie are more successful than bookstores. It’s enough to make a person hurl. Only recently did I hear the saying “Ann Arbor: 28 square miles surrounded by reality,” and it couldn’t be more apt/horrifying. But it’s where we live right now. And it’s not like we stopped putting on or participating in events in Ypsi.

    If’n you’re interested, a lot of these points came up when I “debated” the mayor of Ann Arbor on WDET’s Craig Fahle show this morning. Methinks the podcast should be up in a couple days. Unfortunately, it was a really short discussion but some comments about Ann Arbor’s “cultural vitality” were pretty choice.

    By the way, Mark: what you did was maybe just a wee bit manipulative, changing “a one-man arts community” into “THE one-man arts community.” You’re a crack-’em-up.

  26. Posted February 9, 2010 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

    “Why, little fella, I don’t believe we’re interested in having acts that bring in two or three hundred people. We love the intensely DIY, committed, communal aspect of our town’s art scene.”

    Hey, if you’re happy with provincial bullshit, that’s fine. But why the hell would anyone ever go to Ypsi if they’re not already there? Don’t you think that other cities have DIY scenes? Why should anyone care about yours except that it’s yours?

    And can’t you see that limiting things to small sizes is an exclusionary philosophy? I’d love to see Ypsi bands filling huge venues, even medium-sized venues, because that would mean that they could do art full time, and they would be bringing money back to Ypsilanti.

    Even more than that, events bring people in who don’t live in Ypsi. It’s great to talk about DIY and buying local, but in order to make things prosper, you can’t simply rely on local money, especially with entertainment and arts. You need to have stuff that’s big enough to be mainstream popular so that enough folks come in from out of town and spend money on not just a festival or a concert, but also restaurants, also boutiques, also record stores and coffee shops.

    So if you’re not interested in having acts that bring in two to three hundred people, you’re pretty much saying that you don’t want to have a successful art scene—two to three hundred people is pretty small. The Blind Pig pulls in that many. The bands that play the Pig are too big for you? Because plenty of Ypsi bands have to go out there to get decent support gigs. You don’t want Ypsi bands to be able to open for Yo La Tengo or Mission of Burma right in Ypsi?

    Ann Arbor is parochial enough, you don’t have to try to one-up them on small town idiocy.

  27. Ed
    Posted February 10, 2010 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    Listen to the educated Ann Arbor elite telling us the distinction between “the” and “a”.

  28. BillW
    Posted February 10, 2010 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

    Look, this isn’t actually a “Ann Arbor loses, Ypsi wins” game.

    Ann Arbor has a vibrant art community of independent, professional artists, some of which are well known in the region and even nationally. It also has the Ann Arbor Art Center, WSG gallery, various performing arts collectives such as the Performance Network and it is an active member of the Arts Alliance ( – a group working to promote the arts it Washtenaw County as a whole.

    That said, it is expensive to own studio space in Ann Arbor, because real estate in Ann Arbor is expensive, period. This is not a knock on Ann Arbor, it’s a fact. Nor is it the case that artists that have studios in Ypsi are somehow “slumming” or that galleries in Ypsi such as the What Is That Gallary are somehow low quality because the are not in Ann Arbor.

    What’s happening in Ypsi is a perfect example of how art helps to revitalize a community. This is well documented and has gotten the attention of many cities such as Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Detroit as a path to helping rebuilding their inner cores. See for example the From Rust Belt To Artist Belt conference ( organized by CPAC (

    In times like these, where the economy is desperately in need of all the help it can get, we should be supporting the arts wherever and however it happens!

  29. Posted February 10, 2010 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    Ypsilanti is Italy to Ann Arbor’s Switzerland?

  30. Posted February 10, 2010 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

    From the article…the City Council voted unanimously in favor of a resolution calling for the “creation of an innovative process of community collaboration” to explore those options.


  31. Posted February 10, 2010 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

    The city council jargon is so hilarious. And essentially meaningless.

  32. Posted February 10, 2010 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

    Forest, when you have a link to your “debate” with the mayor of Ann Arbor, please do leave it here. I’d like to check it out.

    And thanks for calling me out on my switching “the” for “a”. People should call me on my bullshit more often.

    Putting all the jokes aside for a moment, I should probably reiterate that I like Ann Arbor, and fully recognize that cultural life in Ypsi would likely not exist without it. It’s hugely important to have the University Musical Society, the Michigan Theater, the Ann Arbor Film Festival, and all the rest of it. But there’s more to a thriving arts community than well-funded infrastructure, and that’s where Ypsi comes in. If we don’t fuck it up, we’ve got a huge opportunity here. That’s all I’m saying. And I’ll keep saying it.

  33. Posted February 11, 2010 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

    Mark – The last 10 minutes of the 2-9-10 Craig Fahle Show:

    The best moment might be when the mayor suggests Rick’s American Cafe as one of AA’s great rock venues. Like I said, it’s a short one so not much came out of it & I kinda’ wish I’d been able to bring up city spending (those garish, ridiculous directional signs around town – $700,000) as opposed to talking about venues.

    Still, real estate is my biggest beef & the cultural crusher, IMHO. You nailed it when you wrote “It’s hugely important to have the University Musical Society, the Michigan Theater, the Ann Arbor Film Festival, and all the rest of it. But there’s more to a thriving arts community than well-funded infrastructure, and that’s where Ypsi comes in.” The truly interesting movement is coming from Ypsi and Detroit – places where much can be done & created on a little budget.

3 Trackbacks

  1. By Dreamland Tonight, the next episode on April 13, 2010 at 8:35 pm

    […] local professional wrestling coach Bash Boulder, the folks behind the Ann Arbor Skatepark, the one-man arts community of Ann Arbor known as Forest Juziuk, performing as Skate Laws, a special appearance by Ypsilanti’s Manhole, and a whole bunch […]

  2. By HOTT LAVA on Friday night at the Yellow Barn on June 10, 2010 at 10:51 pm

    […] less than 24 hours, my friend Forest “the one man art’s community of Ann Arbor” Juziuk, whom you might remember from the Corner Brewery’s men’s bathroom, will […]

  3. By Ypsi/Arbor exit interview: Forest Juziuk on August 31, 2011 at 10:17 pm

    […] I know that I’ve pissed you off in the past by referring to you as Ann Arbor’s “one man arts community,” which was kind of a purposeful misinterpretation of something once written on […]

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