555 Art Gallery: Making Art, Work

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    The Detroit art scene is alive and well, but to many, it’s virtually invisible. With the exception of institutions such as the DIA and the Museum of Contemporary Arts, the visual arts medium isn’t quite as prominent as some of the other venues in the city, namely music, film and dance.

    The 555 Art Gallery, 5716 Michigan Ave., gives art its proper place – back in the hands of the people.

    On Thursday, Oct. 8, they will present “The Art of Fashion,” from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. It will feature work by Sheila Palmer, Kristina Sinutko, Sherry Gershon, Kimberly Demick and Mini Marta.

    Author Chris Ringler will sign his new book, “The Beautiful Darkness.” And if that wasn’t enough, artist in residence Ben Obstfeld- Bunk is scheduled to present his “Bike Ride Through Detroit Illustration.”

    There’s also what they call a “F*d-up movie night,” which will showcase “Stunt Rock” and “The Yin and Yang of Mr. Go.”

    This wild assortment of sensory visual output is representative of what executive director and founder Carl W. Goines views as part of the mission statement of the 555: to provide formal art studio space, exhibition gallery space and educational arts programs. It also serves as an artist in residency program, where they accept proposals for artists interested in developing their projects within a two- to three-month period. Studio space is provided at no cost.

    Established in 2002 in Ann Arbor, Goines, a Michigan native and a sculptor in his own right, saw the immediate cracks in the system for artists just coming out of school in search of making their mark. He knows the struggle all too well.

    “We’re all artists ourselves that are running the organization,” Goines said. “We got this established because we needed these things. We’re out of school now, and we’ve got these crazy ideas, how do we put those to work? I know there are other options, but it’s also very satisfying to be a part of that community space. We’re all volunteers, even after seven years.”

    Goines’ assessment of the city’s art scene is that it is vibrant and relevant.

    “I think there’s a lot happening, and it’s mostly under the radar in little pockets,” Goines said. “There’s so many different folks putting projects together and we’ve only been in Southwest Detroit for a few months. For the most part they’re not getting enough attention. I think (the art scene) is very active and dynamic.”

    Nor is the 555 Art Gallery simply a vanity project for the artists involved, they have several projects in the community, including workshops.

    The most recent project for the community is being created by visiting artists Jane Orr and Krysta Kearney, who are building cement cakes that will be installed in an abandoned storefront on Chene Blvd.

    “The project is to institute some interest in what’s happening in the community there,” Goines said. “They’ve done some workshops, teaching kids and community cake decorating skills.

    They’ve turned it into an art – cake decorating into an art piece.”

    Volunteers from teens to those in their sixties have helped to make the 555 Art Gallery what it is today. The goal is to bring more workshops and classes, and to have these resources available so that people can learn how to use the woodhouse shop, as well as giving access to a dark room and media lab.

    “That’s something we feel will be an asset to the community once we’re settled in,” Goines said. Their artists have even teamed up with Marygrove College to help develop art projects.
    An example of which is a ballet class which uses dance to teach fractions.

    They will soon move locations to expand what they can offer the community.

    “We want it to be a resource to the community, the artists in the community, and a platform for educating the community in an appreciation for the arts,” Goines said. “What we would like it to be is a sustainable arts organization that provides those resources. That model of sustainability is hard to nail down, whether it’s for a profit or non-profit trying to balance the challenge. We would like to be a place where people can have a dialogue about the arts and the community – the two together.”

    For more information on the 555 Art Gallery, visit www.555arts.org or call (888) 495-ARTS.

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