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Riopelle Collective turns Gratiot Avenue block into art gallery district

Ellen Rutt shows some of her work in progress at Riopelle Collective.
Ellen Rutt shows some of her work in progress at Riopelle Collective.
Alonso del Arte

The city block with the greatest density of art galleries in Detroit is now the 1400 Gratiot block near Eastern Market. With the opening of Riopelle Collective on the corner of Gratiot and Riopelle, the block now has three art galleries (the other two are Trinosophes and Inner State). The Red Bull House of Art is within walking distance, and, as a matter of fact, one of the artists, Ellen Rutt, was a resident artist at the House a little more than a year ago.

"This is becoming a very creative community," Rutt said at the opening reception last night. Dylan Box, another member of the collective, and Rutt had been eying the building for some time, and when it became available late last year, they set up a meeting with the owner of the building. "We've been here since January, renovating," Rutt recalled. So far there have been no plans to coordinate Riopelle events with events at Trinosophes or Inner State, but Rutt does not rule out the possibility. "I would love to do something with them," she said.

Much of Rutt's artwork consists of brightly colored geometric patterns painted directly on wood, which she buys at Brooks Lumber. She also gets "spray paint, painter's tape, varnish" and other items from Brooks, though she sometimes prefers spray paint from Utrecht Art Supplies. Fellow Red Bull artist Mark Moreno dropped by to wish Rutt luck with the gallery. "It's more of a studio space, I think it's a good peek into a working artist's mind," Moreno said.

The other artists in the collective are Matthew Jenkins, Jessica Krcmarik, Lyz Luidens and James Reich. "Riopelle is a bit different from other studio collectives because we have such a great variety of equipment and creative talents," explained Lyz Luidens in a press release posted on the gallery's website. "Everybody does something different, but we have a lot of specialized skills that combine well with each other and I’m excited for the collaborations that will come out of this."