survival kit, a new gallery, debuts in detroit shoreway

Alex Tapie has always wanted to open an art gallery, the kind of space that provides young, emerging artists with an opportunity to show their work to an audience.

"I wanted to create a space that was interactive and that would demystify the art experience," says Tapie, a graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Art. "A collective gallery, studio and venue space."

She mentioned the idea to fellow artists Brian Straw, Dan Price and Suzanne Cofer. "We all clicked creatively," Tapie says. Survival Kit art gallery was born.

The gallery opened with a bang in December, attracting over 200 people to its first show. Rotating exhibits and events, including music and craft fairs, are planned for 2011. On Friday and Saturday, Jan. 21-22, Survival Kit will host the 4th Coast Pop Up Market, an exhibit by local artists, designers and vendors that features art, vintage clothing and music.

Getting to this point wasn't easy, say the owners. To turn vision into reality, Tapie and her cohorts first had to find a space. They stumbled upon the perfect location, a 4,500-square-foot space in the 78th Street Studios, a hub for arts-related businesses in the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood, which Tapie labels "a great arts community."

The problem was that the space was "trashed." Tapie talked the landlord into letting her fix it up in exchange for cheap -- even free -- rent. The artists spent five months cleaning trash and debris, scraping tile, painting floors and building walls.

As for the name, Tapie says it's fitting because the gallery is a creative lifeline for young artists seeking community here. "We started joking around that this project was our survival kit -- that we could survive collectively," Tapie says. "The name just fit." And stuck.

Source: Alex Tapie
Writer: Lee Chilcote