Nikki Roberts | April 2017
On April 1st, I attended the Ramones: What is this, punk rock? Nope. It is a photo show at the Co-Prosperity Sphere in Bridgeport. Nearly thirty-seven years ago, photographer Frank Jackowiak not only saw the Ramones play at College of Dupage in Glen Ellyn, IL during the band's college tour in 1980, but he also photographed the then up-and-coming punk group.
Ramones: What is this punk rock? // April 1st, 2017
"They put on a performance, like a heart and soul performance. Every ounce of energy was in that. Like I said-musical perfection," said Jackowiak while reminiscing about the concert.
The show came into existence when Jackowiak decided to take his set of 3.5 x 5.5 prints from the Ramones show out of a manilla envelope and show them to his curator and friend, Leilani Arguello. Thus, the idea for a punk rock photo show was born.
"What we wanted to do when we talked about doing a show was have an experience that was more than visual. We wanted it to be auditory; that's why the band is here," explained Jackowiak. "We wanted it to be tactile; that's why you got swag and there's food so you can socialize and it's like eating off the band's deli tray."
The photo show certainly accomplished its goal of creating a backstage vibe for its viewers. From the moment I entered the community center, I was greeted with VIP treatment. Along with the other guests in attendance at the free event, I was handed a lanyard with an all access pass that read "VIP RAMONES WHAT IS THIS PUNK ROCK ALL ACCESS" and directed towards the open bar and snack table.
Jackowiak's blown up photos of Joey, Johnny, Dee Dee, and Marky adorned the walls of the community center, along with text, chalk art, and collages that all held relevance to the College of DuPage show.
Ramones photo collage
In addition to the visual art, The Ungrateful Punks preformed an energy packed 43 minute set of Ramones songs while the crowd sang along and contributed a few "Gabba Gabba Hey!"s. The group even invited Jackowiak up to take over vocals during a handful of songs.
The Ungrateful Punks
The photo show was much more than just an opportunity to showcase long forgotten photos, however. Jackowiak expressed that his goals for the event included challenging viewers to pursue their art, encouraging viewers to meet new people, and to spread positivity within the artistic community. Inspired by the effort put into the photo show, Professor Moptop of WXRT hosted similar Beatles themed events at the College of DuPage. It seems that Jackowiak's dream to influence others to create is already in motion.
"We're hoping that people walk out of here, and they get a positive feeling. Maybe they walk out and say 'well I should get my band back together,' or 'maybe I should finish that pottery project,' or 'I should write that book'; something positive. Especially today, I think anything that can be done as a positive thing for someone else is what every body needs...we're hoping people come out this door and go 'what the fuck just happened here?'"
After this weekend, the photo show will continue to run by appointment only. However, you can see Jackowick's photos this Friday and Saturday from 6-9pm at the Bridgeport Prosperity Sphere at 3219 S. Morgan. On Saturday night, the community space will also be hosting Zine Fest, so swing by to check out the latest work from a variety of local artists!