Chris Jaszczak, veteran of Detroit’s arts and culture scene, dies

Chris Jaszczak, a music, art and theater promotor who was long involved in Detroit’s arts scene, died Tuesday at Detroit Receiving Hospital after a battle with cancer. He was 74.

He was born in Detroit and raised in Roseville, where he graduated from Sacred Heart High School before serving two tours of duty during the Vietnam War. After returning from Vietnam, Jaszczak attended Wayne State University and earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master’s degree in urban planning. He was one class away from completing law school when he dropped out to take a chance on the entertainment industry.

Jaszczak then partnered with friends to open Eastown Theatre on Harper in Detroit, according to Jaszczak’s ex-wife, Sandy Jurek, to whom he was married for 10 years.

The front of 1515 Broadway

“That was his first foray into cultural expression,” she said. “He got a taste of that and continued to produce shows at Eastown, and at some point, he moved to renting out the Punch and Judy (Theatre) in Grosse Pointe. ”

A career highlight for Jaszczak was bringing “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” to Detroit, Jurek said.

“He helped so many artists whether in music, visual film, comic or poetry,” she recalled, “and his passion became expressions of arts in every way, shape and form.”

Chris Jaszczak

Jaszczak later partnered with members of an architectural group to buy 1515 Broadway in downtown Detroit. The venue offered plays and included a café.

“1515 Broadway was a flexible black-box theater styled after theaters in New York,” Jurek said. “He loved the art scene and music in New York and wanted to create a space in Detroit to have an underground scene like New York.”

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