“If we knew how the gallery world worked, I don’t know that we would have jumped into it,” said JJ Curis, who, with her husband, Anthony Curis, founded an art gallery, the Library Street Collective, in 2012, in a once-derelict alleyway. But she feels their naïveté going into that first venture may have allowed them to conduct future business with an unconventional mind-set.
Now, hoping to contribute to the city’s artistic renaissance, the Curises have bought and restored the Good Shepherd Catholic Church and rectory from 1912 and are self-funding the redevelopment of the structures and surrounding land into a new cultural arts complex. Expected to open in spring 2023, the Shepherd, as it is now called, is conceived as a hybrid of a commercial gallery space, institution and community center.
While the rapid redevelopment of downtown Detroit over the last decade has led to real estate speculation and displacement of lower income residents and artists, “everything is not negative gentrification,” said Rochelle Riley, director of arts and culture for the city of Detroit, who has backed the project and helped steer the Curises through the complicated approval process.
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