Detroit’s Eastern Market has been the largest urban center for industrial-scale food distribution in the U.S. since 1891. Of late, the neighborhood is also welcoming another variety of industry: the art and design markets. Galleries and artisanal shops have opened in the neighborhood since the city declared bankruptcy in 2013, creating a groundswell of creative types who share space with the food businesses next door. Gary Wasserman, a Detroit native and local impresario, is chief among them.
The Allied Metals Corporation CEO and art collector opened Wasserman Projects , his first permanent exhibition space adjacent to Eastern Market on September 25, during the fifth annual Detroit Design Festival , with the goal of fostering creative exchange and community dialogue between artists, designers, and residents. Wasserman, his partner, Charlie Kashner, and architect Steven C. Flum designed the gallery inside the Detroit Fire Department’s former engine repair center, keeping an eye to preserving its 1917 brickwork and glass truck door.
The 5,000-square-foot gallery now shows work by an international mix of emerging artists: a red steel sculpture from Canadian Harvey Valentine, two immersive volumes by Miami architect Nick Gelpi and Brooklyn sculptor Markus Linnenbrink , and a grain silo-cum-sound installation by local artist Jon Brumit. The next commission, a specially bred “Cosmopolitan Chicken” from Belgian artist Koen Vanmechelen, will bring the neighborhood’s food-production traditions inside the white cube next fall.