Metro Detroit Galleries Look for Unexpected Ways to Present Local Artists

By: Karen Dybis | March 10, 2021

Photo Credit: Library Street

Seeing an innovative piece of artwork can not only fascinate the eye but it also can light up the viewers’ minds with new ideas and possibilities. That is why the addition of a new gallery space and its one-of-a-kind façade is a noteworthy addition.

Library Street Collective recently opened this new gallery space at its location in The Belt in downtown Detroit, and local art aficionados as well as visitors alike are buzzing to see it. Snarkitecture, a New York-based collaborative design practice, is presenting this new gallery along with Library Street with what it is calling “The Portal.” 

Taking inspiration from the original brick, the new façade recedes into the gallery space to flood the interior with natural light. Not to be too literal, but it truly looks like the brick is peeling away to allow the viewer to enter the gallery from the alleyway and see inside. The portal offers visitors to The Belt and Library Street a view into not only the gallery that is a must-see but it also helps introduce the Snarkitecture point of view into Detroit in a fresh way.

“What once was a desolate alley in downtown Detroit was reimagined as a new cultural space for artists and the public to interact. We are thrilled to collaborate with Snarkitecture once more and open our flagship gallery in the Belt, connecting our program with public art and the city at large through this portal,’ said Anthony Curis, co-founder of Library Street Collective.

The project is the second collaboration between Library Street Collective and Snarkitecture. The first was “The Beach Detroit” in 2019, which reimagined the familiar natural and cultural elements of a day at the beach to create what officials describe as “a whimsical and interactive art experience.”

What’s special about the Portal and this project is that it is the first time Snarkitecture is working on a historical building, especially fitting given this Detroit landmark. Located on the ground floor of the iconic L.B King and Company Building, from the early 20th century, this new intervention marks the first time that Snarkitecture is working on a historic building. 

Snarkitecture’s founders Daniel Arsham and Alex Mustonen with Breanna Urquhart as project lead created a flexible environment to accommodate Library Street Collective’s varied programming. A display wall at the back of the gallery doubles as a partition, behind which built-in bookshelves, a customized desk and a sliding ladder allow the space to function as a library and office.

The Belt’s existing program of murals and artistic interventions conceptualized and curated by Library Street Collective, The Belt is a culturally redefined alley, currently home to artworks by Nina Chanel Abney, Jammie Holmes and Conrad Egyir, as well as Library Street Collective’s sister gallery, Louis Buhl & Co.

For the inaugural exhibition in the new Library Street Collective space, Sam Friedman will present a new series of works, with KAWS as the show’s curator. The pair has collaborated in the past; Friedman worked for KAWS early in his career and the two have remained close friends over the years. 

Here are a few other Metro Detroit galleries that are known for their integrity, fantastical work and creative approaches to art. 

Detroit Artists Market

Detroit Artists Market is a non-profit gallery committed to contemporary art and to connecting artists, collectors and communities. DAM produces a full schedule of exhibitions featuring new and established artists from Detroit and the Metro region. Juried shows, curated exhibitions and market-style shows provide a wide variety of opportunities for artists to show and sell their work.

N’Namdi Center for Contemporary Art

The N’Namdi Center is located in the Sugar Hill Arts District, home to many of Detroit’s leading arts and cultural institutions. The facility includes four exhibition spaces, indoor and outdoor performance areas and a movement center as well as a gift and bookstore.

Scarab Club

The Scarab Club is an enduring home for “the cultivation and celebration of the visual, literary and performing arts in Detroit,” officials said. It is known for its artist-signed ceiling beams, art studios and galleries. But the Scarab Club also should be recognized for its ability to draw in artists and creatives of all ages and kinds into Detroit’s vibrant arts community.

Lincoln Street Art Park

The Lincoln Street sculpture garden is a public-art space that serves as a destination and as a discovery of the wild artists that call the city home. Located next to Recycle Here, the art gallery is outdoors and features a rotating display of sculpture, paintings and a lot of the unexpected – especially when it comes to flaming dragons or moving political statements.

Norwest Gallery of Art

Based in the Historic Detroit Neighborhood of Rosedale Park, the Norwest Gallery of Art is dedicated to Contemporary Art specializing in African and African-American works. As Detroit’s newest art gallery and museum, it seeks to promote artistic work that provides an engaging and explosive voice that otherwise might not find a space in the city.