Library Street Collective opens a new gallery in Detroit


Snarkitecture is designing a new art gallery in Detroit

The new gallery space of Library Street Collective in the former clothing district of Detroit was designed by Snarkitecture and has a unique portal on the facade

Library Street Collective is the driving force behind the redevelopment of The Belt in downtown Detroit. The area was once a deserted alley and has grown into a thriving center for public art over the past six years. Pop-up galleries, murals, and installations by local and international artists have revived the former clothing district location, which is now a shining light in Motor City’s artistic renaissance.

Library Street Collective’s new permanent gallery space on The Belt opens this week. Located on the ground floor of the former LB King and Company Building, the gallery was designed by New York-based collaborative design practice Snarkitecture, founded by Daniel Arsham and Alex Mustonen.

View of Jammie Holmes’ 2020 artwork, Everything Hurts, through the portal on the facade of Library Street Collective’s new gallery in The Belt, Detroit.

The brick facade of the original building is a striking example of the city’s early 20th century architecture and has been redesigned around a unique portal.

“We’d like to invite the public to experience something undiscovered through this strange, anomalous opening,” says Mustonen, whose studio practice often focuses on taking everyday materials and transforming them in unexpected ways. “We worked with the original bricks for the facade and redesigned it to give visitors to The Belt and Library Street Collective a moment of amazement and surprise.”

The portal complements the existing murals and artistic interventions for The Belt, functions as a permanent art installation and at the same time offers a window into the gallery. “The portal gives an indication that something might be behind the heavy brick, but it is only when you walk past that you discover the light, open volume of the interior.”

Interior view of Library Street Collective’s new gallery space on The Belt in Detroit

The gallery itself is anchored at the northern end of the belt and designed as a hidden moment in the architecture of the building. Inside, Snarkitecture has created a flexible environment to accommodate the diverse programs of Library Street Collective. An exhibition wall in the back of the gallery also serves as a partition, behind which built-in bookshelves, a custom-made desk and a sliding ladder can use the room as a library and office.

Interior view of Library Street Collective’s new gallery space on The Belt in Detroit

The project is the second collaboration between Library Street Collective and Snarkitecture after the public art installation The Beach Detroit in 2019.

“Detroit is a truly unique city with a rich history and culture. As part of our mission to bring artists into contact with the city, much of our programs take place in the public areas,” said Anthony Curis, co-founder of Library Street Collective. “We hope that by breaking down literal barriers between The Belt and the gallery, our new space feels accessible and welcoming to pedestrians.”

For the opening exhibition of the room entitled “Light”, the artist Sam Friedman is presenting a new series of works, with KAWS acting as curator. The exhibition opens on February 27 and shows paintings that distill natural phenomena such as sunrise and sunset down to the most important elements. “The works are large-format with vivid colors and look incredible in the new room with the natural light falling through the portal,” says Curis.

Installation views of Sam Friedman’s ‘Light’ exhibition at the Library Street Collective Gallery in Detroit

Building on Library Street Collective’s mission to make art accessible to all, the 2021 schedule for The Belt gallery will include a group exhibition with Paul Pfeiffer, Julia Wachtel and Wendy White. and a solo show by Dallas-based artist Jammie Holmes.

Last summer, the collective worked with MacArthur employee Carrie Mae Weems on their public awareness campaign, Resist Covid / Take 6 !, and installed Unity on Grand River Avenue in 2017, a 118 x 50 foot mural of the iconic Detroit artist Charles McGee who passed away earlier this year. “These works are available to everyone in the city, and with Detroit rebuilding after the pandemic, we are determined to do our part to ensure the arts aid in this recovery,” says Curis. § §


Dusty Kennedy