Blog: Carl Goines

For Carl Goines its all about the arts. A native Metro Detroiter, he's a founder, Co-Director and board member of Detroit's 555 Nonprofit Gallery and Studios. He'll be writing about what it takes to keep a non-profit arts organization going in Michigan.

Post 4: Big plans, crazy ideas, someday though

Two years ago, I visited the Mattress Factory in Pittsburgh which has been 30 years in the making. I realized then that it is truly possible to create an unconventional, sustainable, nonprofit art space. Our vision of 555 in the future: 

555 owns the buildings it occupies. The roof is repaired and new energy efficient skylights are installed, water no longer leaks in. Solar panels are installed on the southwest side of the skylights, providing enough electricity to power the lighting systems for all of the studios, common space, and galleries. A green roof is installed providing additional insulation and drinking up much of the water collected throughout the year. The ceilings are insulated with shredded blue jeans or some other recycled material. Heating is no longer an issue and the staff is paid, arts programs run year-round.

The studios, exhibitions, artist residency, and educational programs are funded.  Local artists occupy 50% of the studios, local colleges and universities sponsor a shared studio to instill collaboration, Artists in Residence occupy the remaining studios. The studios are provided at no charge allowing the artists to focus on their work. Classes and workshops are held in the wood shop, metal shop, media lab, sound studio, ceramics studio, and photography lab. Instructors range from Detroit artists, to national and international artists participating in the Residency program. Artist Housing is established in the Woodbridge neighborhood, providing a much needed balance for the artists working at 555. The large gallery space is utilized primarily for installations and performances. The first floor gallery continues to be utilized by local artists and students participating in the educational programs.

The large storefront windows formerly bricked in along Grand River Ave and Warren Ave. have been opened allowing the Downtown and Midtown traffic to see the life and creative energy at work. A small cafe is sandwiched in the middle of the building, providing jobs for the local artists as well as attracting additional patrons who want to drink and dine in the heart of a working art space.  The billboard located at the intersection of Grand River Ave and Warren Ave is an LED screen, displaying images of artists at work, art work on display, and videos created in the media lab. Sculptures are installed around the building and throughout the neighborhood. The intersection is a dynamic and inviting entrance point to both downtown Detroit and the Woodbridge neighborhood.

Well, that's some idea of the direction we would like to go. 555 is organic, so it will change and evolve in ways that I can't imagine. For now I hope people will embrace what we are
currently doing and help us work to create what is possible.