Today we went over to Grand on River to hang with our buddy Bruno, check out his space, and smash some stuff.
Bruno is a fellow city of Detroit person who is deep into giving new life to a building that’s got a long history and was ultimately being underutilized. His spot is now known as Grand on River, originally came into being in either 1909, or 1928 as a bank building. (historical documents are sometimes unclear) He’s owned the building for almost 2 years now, and at this point many of the spaces are utilized and he’s living in his dream space, even as it’s still being created and perfected.
Downstairs, in the main bank space, is utilized as a community meeting space and event location. though not a full fledged gallery, it’s frequently hosting art happenings. installation, light, video and sound art works etc. The original bank vault is very cool and often utilized for custom installation art pieces.
Today we went over to Grand to Smash. Bruno’s friend Hannah is involved in a multi-artist work that starts with a cathartic smash of items. The idea being, the Art starts with destruction and catharsis. Public participants are encouraged to bring items or adopt them from items provided at the space, assign thoughts or meanings to the items, and release the tension that those thoughts come from by smashing the items by trowing them against a metal wall. Sometimes simply breaking shit is a good way to release a thought or feeling and let go of it. The work doesn’t stop there. The pieces and shards are gathered and given to a variety of artists who use these bits as the starting point, and raw materials, for new artworks. The idea being akin a phoenix rising from ashes. New work, new life, and new meaning, coming from an object that became obsolete, broken (with purpose) and recreated into something more. We gladly smashed some mugs and contributed to the project.
Bruno’s living space is upstairs. Being located on the Northwest corner of Grand River and Warren, means his parcel and ultimately his building is build with an acute angle in the front. His somewhat wedge shaped space has windows along both sides that just flood the place with natural light. It’s gorgeous. One of the coolest spaces, likely because it’s most complete, is his bathroom. Originally the terrazzo floored bathrooms upstairs were two, a mens and a ladies. He’s removed the wall that separated them and created a beautiful space. The Mens toilet is now THE toilet and it’s original to the building’s first construction. Very cool. The shower is a modern stand up job with glass walls and some subway tile. The double basin sink was custom made by a local Detroit concrete artist. It looks awesome.
Seeing the space and all the work he’s put in was awesome. We had lots of questions for him since, while our buildings are super different, our projects have many similarities. It’s heartening going forward, because Bruno and Grand are proof that it can infact be done.