East Village cultural center to be home to two arts-based nonprofits

Southgate — In a nondescript strip mall about 14 miles south of Detroit, a small group of budding artists gather in a large, brightly lit studio on a rainy weekday morning to paint and draw.

Spread out at several tables with their heads bent to their work, some work on watercolor paintings. Others use watercolor markers. One draws a black and white flag by hand with a pen. Brightly colored, vibrant paintings and mixed media pieces cover the white walls.

“I like that you get to make your own art and express yourself and how you’re feeling,” said Jaylin Thomas, 21, of Southgate, holding up a pencil drawing of a medieval-looking building he drew.

Two years ago, this studio didn’t exist. Specifically for adults with developmental disabilities and mental illness to create art and find a larger marketplace for their work, artists such as Thomas had to work at home or wherever they could.

But today, Progressive Art Studio Collective runs three studios in Wayne County, all part of an agency that works with those with disabilities on job training and other skills called Services to Enhance Potential. And late next year, they’ll open their most visible space yet as part of a burgeoning cultural district for the arts on Detroit’s east side.

The studio, plans for which were officially announced this week, will be located on the first floor of a 21,000-square-foot mixed use building that’s part of an ambitious project spearheaded by Detroit’s Library Street Collective. It aims to transform a city block in Detroit’s East Village neighborhood and make it a destination for the arts.

Marquise Rucker works on his painting project at the Southgate Progressive Art Studio Collective on Tuesday, May 3, 2022.

At the center of it all is a former church now in the midst of extensive renovations to become a gallery space and library. Its attached rectory is being converted into a bed and breakfast.

For Progressive Art Studio Collective, which just launched in 2021, their new 4,500-square-foot Detroit studio on Kercheval at McClellan will be bigger than what they have in the city now in a warehouse, giving artists more space to not just work but display and sell their art. They’ve worked with roughly 130 people across Wayne County.

Leave a Comment