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Carl Kamulski remembers

Carl painting at WCCC, 2001

The "Mugs" at Michigan Gallery

When we first started to get serious about the gallery; we decided that since we had "the bar" we should use it at receptions. The problem was that we didn't have a beer/wine license nor could we afford one, (much less the insurance.)

We decided to "skirt the law" by making clay mugs and selling them at the openings. When someone bought a mug for $6.00 we promised to keep it filled with beer or wine all night. (Beer and wine was a lot cheaper in 1980!) We felt that by doing this we really weren't selling beer or wine.

Roy Steyskal, Rick Brinn and I threw mugs, embossed them with the Michigan Gallery logo we were using for that edition and glazed them all alike....or almost alike. Usually we made about 200 for each opening. Stephen Goodfellow designed his own mug design Perhaps you might remember the : "I Refuse to Obey!" mug.

In all, we produced six clay editions plus one glass mug with a silkscreened logo for the "No Brand Art Show" that Nick Nagy, Brewster Luttrell and Stephen Goodfellow put together.

So, in all, there were seven different mugs!

After we decided that we couldn't afford the time required to make the mugs, we simply started selling beer and wine at openings and at Tuesday evenings "Drink and Draw" sessions. We ran "the bar" as a "Blind Pig" for more than 20 years and were just plain lucky. Several times we bought 24 hour licenses and insurance but it was too expensive. We only had one alternative! Besides, our crowd was the Art Community and their guests.....our members, artists and friends. We never had any trouble! We were still lucky!

Some thought we made a lot of money at openings.....not so. Our average cost at an opening for beer, wine, a band, bar staff, popcorn, etc. was about $1,500.00! Most of the time I had written at least $700.00-1,000.00 in checks before the openings ever started. Usually there was about $50.00 in the bank. Our income from the opening often just covered our expenses, sometimes we had $200.00-$300.00 extra but more often, I had to tap my personal account for several hundred dollars..... sometimes for a thousand or more if the opening went poorly! On Monday mornings I would race to the bank to beat the bad checks.

One amazing point: About half of the sales were made the night of the opening AFTER the the reception and after a lot of beers! In many ways, the bar helped to keep us alive for more than a quarter century!


Note: You can see Carl Kamulski's website at: