Jennifer Russo

When Chris Michelotti came to Worcester with his wife in 2019, he hadn’t known that he would fall in love with the city and plant roots. He didn’t think that COVID would throw a wrench in and have them in lockdown for months with all of the fun cultural experiences closed for a time. He didn’t plan on being a catalyst for building a community here…but sometimes life surprises us in unexpected ways.

Since then, he started Panduh Productions and has had a number of successful monthly shows at Electric Haze, where he highlights local artists, but also creates truly immersive experiences that ensnare all of the senses at once. The art is always the main focus, but Panduh pairs it with music that compliments it, live painting, tattoo artists, and more – all in a venue that boasts great lighting and acoustics, specialty cocktails, a huge beer selection and hookah for those interested.

The next show, happening on May 3rd at 7 PM, will feature artist Emma Burke (@iriises.jpg) in her first art show. Emma’s art can be described as mixed-media, collage style with a punk aesthetic – and for this show, it centers around the theme of rebirth and the idea that “growth thrives in the soil of discomfort.”

As insects go through multiple stages of rebirth, that will be a big part of the showcase and the community will be involved as well if they’d like to be.

“We came up with the idea of having some of her art at the tables, and people can write down secrets or innermost thoughts on the back of them. They can then stick those up on provided cork boards with their secrets facing the inside, and at the end of the night we will take all of those and tear them up. The artist will then make paper out of these and use that in an art piece later on,” shares Chris. 

There will be live painting by SON (@savy.thegreat) with The Drop Out Boys (@the.drop.out.boys), Jesse Golliher (@geskle), and NewPunkOrder (@new.punk.order)  setting the backdrop of sound. Deejays Dash Beats (@dash_beats) and Black Rabbits (@blackrabbits22) will spin out the night and invite people to get their dance on.

On June 7th, the featured artist will be Catherine Bulikowski (@cbulikowski), who has a very different kind of collage art style, with some political and societal messaging. There will be music by Mark Little (@marklittle.wav) and more to be announced. 

By day, Catherine works as a social worker, but she has made art her side-hustle – something that Chris loves to make accessible to others. 

“We all have access to a creative spirit, and even though many artists have different jobs outside of the art world, I love being able to give them the opportunity to share their message by offering the space to do that,” says Chris.

Raised as an “army brat” and a self-professed former rave kid who would help promote shows when living in Seattle, Chris shares that Pandah Productions now has several people on staff to be able to make things happen. Chris believes all money generated from the shows should be given out as a pirate share, evenly distributed between the team and the company so that they can continue to keep delivering meaningful events.

“More than anything I want people to enjoy and celebrate the art – building up the community and having people leave the shows with new connections. We are an island of misfit toys, with representation across the different facets of life,” Chris shares. “I want everyone to feel welcome and feel like they can approach anyone because of that commonality of wanting to simply be themselves.” 

Chris was recently accepted into the Worcester Arts Council, where he is hoping to lend his expertise and experience, and looking forward to being a part of the decision for how grants can be best used to support artists and art appreciation in the city.

Worcester residents and those who are from surrounding towns are fortunate enough to have access to the cultural nirvana that is this rapidly evolving city. For only $5, less than the cost of a latte at your favorite cafe, you can go to Electric Haze and be pulled into a world of phenomenal local art and music, be completely welcomed for who you are, meet new people that may be lifelong friends, take home a one-of-a-kind piece, and invest in your community all at the same time. It’s a value with a longevity that far exceeds the door charge.

Check out these and other upcoming events at Electric Haze – @ElectricHazeWorcester

You can learn more about Panduh Productions at @productions_by_panduh or reach out for more information to Chris at @ChrisMichelotti or his colleague Emma at @emma.bean.13