The duo behind Detroit’s trendy Library Street collective are building a new cultural complex in the city


Detroit is becoming an ambitious new arts destination, thanks to the founders of one of the city’s rising taste galleries.

Library Street Collective founders – and life partners – JJ and Anthony Curis have announced that they are working on the creation of a new cultural complex in the East Village neighborhood of Detroit. At the center of the project is the Shepherd, a 110-year-old Romanesque-style church that the Curises are transformed into a hybrid exhibition space that they said “[blur] the boundaries between the commercial gallery, the institution and the community arts center.

“We want to break down some of the traditional barriers that have separated and defined the for-profit and non-profit sectors in the art world,” Anthony Curis told Artnet News.

The Shepherd – so named for the building’s former life as the Church of the Good Shepherd – will have an in-house curatorial and support staff, but there will be no list of represented artists attached to the space; instead, galleries and non-profit organizations will be invited to organize exhibitions and other projects. “Programming at the Shepherd,” he added, “will be defined by collaboration. ”

The complex, slated to open in 2023, will also house an archive dedicated to Michigan artists of color, curated by Black Art Library founder Asmaa Walton; a charming guest room; a skate park designed by McArthur Binion and Tony Hawk; and a sculpture garden in honor of the late Detroit artist Charles McGee. With the exception of an unspecified amount of support given by Detroit philanthropists Dan and Jennifer Gilbert for Charles McGee Legacy Park, the complex is fully funded by the Curises.

Anthony and JJ Curis.

Anthony, a former real estate executive, and JJ, who previously worked in public accounting, launched Library Street in 2012. Since then, the gallery has gained a reputation as a conduit for emerging talent in the Detroit area. Artists like Jammie Holmes and Jason Revok, for example, have put on well-reviewed exhibitions in recent years.

The seeds of their latest project date back to 2019, when the Library Street Collective teamed up with Detroit Sessions, a local nonprofit, to put on an immersive musical and artistic performance at the church, abandoned since 2016. They Fell lover of the structure, and as Anthony, a native of Motown, explained, “When we thought about our next steps – and considered other cities, like New York or Los Angeles – we realized we didn’t want to be anywhere other than Detroit. ”

A rendering of the interior of the shepherd.  Courtesy of Conica Studio.

A rendering of the interior of the shepherd. Courtesy of Conica Studio.

Faithfulness to the city’s formidable cultural history is clearly a priority for the couple, who consulted with city figures, museum workers and residents of East Village to design the project. They selected local architects Peterson Rich Office to adapt, modernize and add ADA accessibility to the existing church structure.

“Creating something both with and for the local community has been at the heart of our plans with the Shepherd,” added Anthony. “We want to honor Detroit’s rich artistic past while celebrating its living artists and flourishing culture.”

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