Tribes of the Cass Corridor & Forum
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Willis Tribe, Early Period - 1968-82?
( See also, Willis Tribe, Late Period & Avalon Bakery)

Willis Gallery - Bradley Jones, Ellen Phelan, Ron Winokur, Nancy Mitchnick and Douglas James
February, 1972

I chose the name Willis Tribe, based on the Fine Art individuals who exhibited, interacted, or associated with the early manifestation of the Willis Gallery on Willis when it was  a co-op, of which Dan Moriarity was the director. 
I denote the end of this era when Jackie Feigenson - then director of the co-op - dissolves the Willis Co-op, and it is transformed into a private gallery with Jackie as owner. By this time, many of the original individuals have moved out of town or can be considered as being associated with later tribes.

John Egner pouring enamel on masonite, 1972.

During the time John Egner taught painting at Wayne State University, there were not many of his students who could say that he did not have a strong impact on their thought process, their lives or their work. His approach to the World was gentle, yet he could be deceptively insistent when it came to putting across an idea or concept.
Moving to New York, he eventually tired of the continual flights back and forth.
John now lives in Downtown New York with his wife Linda, and they have a place upstate.

Photo by Gary Cooperman

This is an incredibly exciting time and place. Two of my art instructors from Hull Regional College of  Art, England (1971-74) recommended I attempt to get into Wayne State University Fine Art Department for further education, because they were aware of the energy going down in the Corridor at that time, and as I was to learn, what they told me was indeed true. It was very exciting, watching  the energy of Willis Tribe, but even at this time (1975) the demise was already evident. Many of the members were beginning to migrate to other more 'culturally aware' cities, such as New York.
Nonetheless, the force of impact it had on evolving Cass tribes cannot be underestimated.


I remember my first day in Lithography Printmaking back in '76. Aris was on his last term at in the Art department at Wayne, and was moving over to CCS to teach painting there.
His approach to teaching lithography was casual and effective. He stripped away the technical mysteries, where other instructors would steep the process in obfuscation.

Aris was a member of the Printing Co-op and exhibits on a regular basis in New York.

1972, Aris Koutroulis with "Poetic Electricity"

Photo by Gary Cooperman

David Snow says, "I remember the gallery being run by Dan Moriarity who died in NY sometime in the 70's,but There was a selection committee in the early 70's that included for a while at least Jerry Hunt, Dayton Spence, Maybe Bradlee but rotated I think. My first show there was in the fisher bldg with Jackie as the hired director. In the show were Mike Schneider, Keith Aoki, Glenn Booth and David Phillips. When Jackie partnered up with Judy Rosenstein it seems like the Willis moved back down to the original spot and there were a couple of political shows. I was in one there about US intervention in Nicaragua called Artists Call in 1984. I'm in Portland Me. at"

Many of the Artists worked in Common Ground, corner of Cass and Willis, which used to be a Purple Gang garage in the '30's

Photo by Gary Cooperman

Gilda Snowden offers a list of Artists who were exhibiting while she was Art Director if the Willis. (1983-84)

Known tribe members:
  • Herron, Theresa
  • Sestok , Bob
  • John Piet
  • Christine Piet
  • John Egner
  • Michael Schneider
  • Betsy Meyers Green
  • Kathryn Bracket Luchs
  • Gorden Newton
  • Gary Grimshaw
  • Michael Luchs
  • John Hegarty
  • Glen Mannisto
  • Deb King
  • Dave Chambers
  • Dayton Spence
  • Jerry Hunt
  • Tommy Ford
  • Barnie Surowitz
  • David Snow
  • Frank Izola
  • Cynthia Laverty
  • George Rupert
  • Roy Castleberry
  • Colin Fraser
  • Bill Antonow
  • Sally Chambers
  • Mary Ann Cameron
  • Suzy Raisig
  • Bob Benedict
  • Patty Benedict
  • Bill Waters
  • Diane Livingston
  • Cathy Hardy
  • Aris Koutroulis
  • Barbara Greene
  • Peg Filiatrault
  • David Weiss
  • Gregory Boerner
  • Gary Andrews
  • Dave Oullette
  • Peter Werbe
  • Marilyn Werbe
  • Aurthur Wenk
  • Sandy Wenk
  • Alden Smith
  • Robert Cobb
  • Keith Schiller
  • John Slick
  • Karen Sepanski
  • Bob Hanamura
  • Joel Landy
  • Bill McLain
  • Gregory Grenon
  • Lynn 'Bones' Bonner
  • Tom Mieczkowski
  • Bob Sherba
  • Doug Larkins
  • MacArthur Binion
  • Jim Chatlain
  • John Bruno
  • Mary Beth Tupper
  • Pam Haliday
  • Doug Haliday
  • Brent Spoelstra
  • Ruth Goldfaden
  • Lynne Resch
  • Gilda Snowden
  • David & Roslyn
  • More?


Known to be Deceased


Willis Gallery Posters on Matthew Hanna's website