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Creative & Contemporary

Reimagining Detroit through the eyes of artists
Author: Kimberly Love
5 years ago
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“Everyone has a story to tell.” We hear the words often enough, and who doesn’t love a good story? The art industry has given us many ways in which to tell a story, whether it’s through the written word, the silver screen, or on a piece of canvas. Those stories are told straight from the minds of people who spend their lives creating for the sole purpose of awakening another’s soul. Art can awaken us in many ways, disturb the way we think, and make us wonder if there is a whole world out there that we knew nothing about.

These stories of awakening are being told at the Library Street Collective—in the form of contemporary fine art—and they are something to behold. As you walk from piece to piece, absorbing the stories of each one, you can’t help but be taken into the story they are yearning to tell. Some are beautiful and breathtaking, while others teach you something and make you think about the world that you live in. Some will shake you to your core because of their beauty, while others will remind you of old lessons that were long forgotten.

Sam Friedman: Love Songs presented by Library Street Collective (February 2017)
Photo by Sal Rodiguez
Courtesy of Library Street Collective

The wonderful thing about art is that it is meant to move you and possibly change the way you think. The artist wants you to see things through their eyes if only for a minute, and in that minute, if they have changed you in some way, then their work has served its purpose.

There is something really special about the gallery that was started by JJ and Anthony Curtis, a couple with a background in hospitality and real estate. With a passion for contemporary art, they were collectors themselves before they opened the gallery in 2015. Located in the heart of Detroit, the gallery was named such because it sits right on Library Street. They are at the forefront of contemporary fine art and they showcase work from emerging and established artists who they believe have “pushed the boundaries of traditional medium and exhibition space.” They are always on the lookout for new artists to showcase, paying attention to fairs, museums, and the works of graduating students. Their goal is to not only present great works but to present amazing work to collectors.

Crowd at the opening of Futura: Public Matter in the Belt (June 2016)
Photo by Sal Rodriguez
Courtesy of Library Street Collective

Opening up a gallery in Detroit was important to the owners because they believe the city to be a special place. Detroit has a deep history and the renewal of the city has intrigued not only locals born and raised in the city but people from all over the world. The gallery has given a home to incredible local artists, as well as some from abroad, to showcase their pieces and to find them a home with collectors.

Library Street Collective owners JJ and Anthony Curis with artist Nina Chanel Abney and her freshly painted mural in the Belt Alley, titled I Left Three Days Ago (September 2016)
Photo by Sal Rodriguez
Courtesy of Library Street Collective

“The contemporary art world is changing dramatically, and there was an inkling that Detroit might respond to something new and visual,” says Tara, who works at the Library Street Collective. “Art has become a huge part of showing what Detroit has to offer.”

Library Street Collective first started off as a space on Library Street but was eventually expanded into a converted garage that led into the back alley. This became known as a drive-in art gallery where they showcase murals from all around the world. The alleyway known as the Belt is a magical place to visit. You’re not sure what you are going to find down the alley and that’s all a part of the magic of taking that walk.

It becomes pretty obvious right away as you get into the alley that it is a favourite among photographers. They are seeing the art in a different light as the camera clicks and the model changes her pose. Women are perched along the murals as photographers seek to present their art among the artists on the wall. There are also the spectators who drink their coffee and peacefully walk from mural to mural, sometimes taking a glimpse at the models posing for the camera. It’s clear that this is a place where people of all ages will come to take a look at what’s new in the gallery. Families get their pictures taken among the art while others choose to just stand still and get lost in another world presented by the mural.

It’s hard to decide what area is better—the murals in the alleyway or the canvases on display inside. Whichever you chose, it’s a wonderful way to enjoy a cup of coffee as you stroll through the gallery and make your way out into the Belt to see what has been painted on the walls.

Library Street Collective is a breath of fresh air that is trying to carve out an interesting place to experience art and Detroit has welcomed them with open arms.

Courtesy of Kimberly Love

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