Ten years ago, in a crowded east-side cafe, a young man named Aubrey Smyth spotted a young woman pushing her way through the crowd. “The place was shoulder-to-shoulder packed,” Aubrey recalls. “Eventually, the young lady nudged her way across the floor, sat down in front of me, and said ‘I hear you’re an artist.’ That’s how it all started.”
The young woman’s name is Elena Adams, now Smyth, as the couple married. “From that moment on on, we discovered countles idiosyncrasies between us. For instance, we’re both east-siders. Aubrey lived a block and a half away from my childhood home. It wasn’t until the night at the cafe that we met,” Elena explains with exclamation.
The physical space for Armageddon Beachparty opened four months ago, although Aubrey and Elena quit their day jobs years ago, became self-employed to create art, and haven’t looked back since. “Shortly after becoming self-employed, we talked about our shared dream of opening a brick-and-mortar to serve as our creative headquarters. In addition to being a gallery and retail space, Armageddon Beachparty is a space that represents the good we want to effect in Detroit.”
Together, the creative duo is inspired by dreams, music, worldly cultures, and belief systems. The ethos of Armageddon Beachparty features a variety of original characters. “Nearly a decade after meeting, we’ve put together enough concepts and storylines to develop and release a canon of collaborative work,” says Aubrey.
When asked why Aubrey and Elena chose Woodbridge to serve as the location for their brick-and-mortar, Elena explains, “We believe in order to combat gentrification, inclusion is key. Woodbridge means a lot to both of us. My grandparents still live here, and when I was young, my friends and I used to call Woodbridge the ‘fancy hood.’ Within the past 15 years, the neighborhood has transformed into a safe place for creatives and entrepreneurs alike.”
Armageddon Beachparty causes a lot of excitement in the community. It’s unlike anything anyone has seen before. “People love it! In addition to local support, we’ve received support from the psychedelic poster community. We’ve been a part of the Detroit counterculture for years, so it feels great to be respected by the elders,” Elena says with gratitude.
“Together, we work fully collaboratively,” says Elena. “From concept to creation. We work with a lot of salvaged materials sourced around the city—canvases include wood or metal found inside of a building or on the street. A lot of what we do is done with the intention to help clean the streets. Our mission is to reduce, reuse, and recycle. As Detroiters, and as artists, we have a mindset of seeing the beauty in decay, a concept that very much embodies Detroit.”
Armageddon Beachparty is open at 1517 Putnam Street Wednesday-Saturday, and often holds special events.