When local artist Adam Dumper learned that fellow painter Jules Demetrius had been diagnosed with colon cancer, he didn't waste much time being bummed out about his longtime friend's misfortune. Instead, he and other mutual friends immediately got busy planning a benefit in Demetrius' honor.
"Since the first week we found out what was happening we knew we had to help him out right away, so we started putting something together," Dumper says.
The result is the "Save Jules" benefit Thursday, April 4, at Tempe's Yucca Tap Room during next week's edition of hip-hop night The Blunt Club, which Dumper hopes will raise a several thousand dollars to help cover in excess of $180,000 in medical expenses that Demetrius' has incurred over the past few months.
The 43-year-old painter and graphic designer, who learned he had cancer late last year, recently went through a three-week stay at St. Luke's Hospital in Tempe and underwent several surgeries to remove malignant tumors from his large intestine. He was released yesterday and is scheduled to begin intensive chemotherapy treatments sometime next week.
"I just hope he gets to go home for a little bit and get some normality back into his life, at least for the moment," Dumper says. "Now it's all about getting the heavy-duty chemo and killing whatever [cancer cells] are left in there, and then we'll know where he's at."
In the meantime, Dumper and Demetrius' other friends have accrued a wealth of art, prizes, gift certificates, and other primo swag to raffle off at the benefit. Art will be displayed throughout the two-room Yucca Tap, including a number of epic pieces by prominent local artists like Koleszar, Disposable Hero, Angela Schmidt, Mark Matlock, and longtime Demetrius cohort Baron Gordon in the Tempe venue's craft beer bar. L.A. hip-hop selector DJ Wise and locals Djentrification and DJ Organic will perform throughout the evening.
"We've done raffles at Blunt Club before and people have gotten pretty huge chunks of money. It all depends on what I get for donations and how many people buy raffle tickets," Dumper says. "We're hoping to raise a total more in the thousands, like a few thousand [dollars] maybe."
Naturally, Demetrius will also have many of his prints and paintings available for sale at the event. Also up for grabs are a cache of records, CDs, and gear from alternative hip-hop group Jurrasic 5 that's been autographed by the act's resident mixmaster Cut Chemist.
"Jules is an old friend of Cut Chemist and he wanted to help out with the benefit," Dumper says.
Other longtime cohorts of Demetrius, including Dumper and Jess Jordan, owner of bygone art supply store Wet Paint, offered up a rare framed movie poster for the 2001 DJ documentary Scratch by Shepard Fairey.
"Whoever gets that is gonna be stoked," Dumper says.
Jordan and Dumper have known Demetrius since he first brought his art into Wet Paint's original location on Forest Avenue in 2003, after he move to the Valley from the East Coast. He quickly became a regular at the store's B-Side Gallery events.
"He came in one night and brought along all this really crazy artwork that I've always thought was pretty mad shit. Somebody we knew introduced him to me, and we hit it off right away. I think we went out to a bunch of bars afterwards," Dumper says. "I put him on a gallery show right away since we were doing Final Fridays then [at Wet Paint/B-Side] and he's been showing his work locally ever since."
Demetrius also became a regular visitor to the then-embryonic Blunt Club, which Dumper has run since 2002.
"He was there pretty much from the first day I started," Dumper says. "And then he started showing and doing art over there. I just used to hang out with him all the time. I've known his kids since they were little tiny babies."
Dumper says that though he and Demetrius have kept in touch and "seen each other here and there at shows, we haven't hung out too much this past year because we've both been running around busy with our own shit."
That changed, however, when Demetrius learned he had colon cancer.
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"I've been through many years with that dude, so I definitely wanted to help this guy out any way I could," Dumper says, adding that -- like the artist's countless other friends -- he's been trying to keep Demetrius' spirits up by visiting him in the hospital and planning the benefit.
"It's been a real roller coaster ride," Dumper says. "I think seeing how some of our friends around town have been dying lately has been keeping him wanting to live, to struggle to keep alive. If we can keep him going and keep him focused on a positive note, then he'll be good."
The Blunt Club's "Save Jules" Benefit takes place at 9 p.m. on Thursday, April 4, at Yucca Tap Room in Tempe. Admission is free.