JJ Curis has reinvented the way public spaces and places intersect with art.
She and her husband Anthony are the driving force behind the The Belt, a public alley turned home to murals and installations by local, national, and international artists.
From Library Street Collective to their newest venture Deluxx Fluxx, a Faile & Bäst immersive art installation turned glow-in-the-dark arcade nightclub, JJ and Anthony continue to combine their creative efforts transforming this great American city by way of art.
EXP: How did the idea of opening Library Street Collective come about?
JJ: My family raised me around art and I grew interested in it quickly. Anthony’s real estate background and entrepreneurial spirit was the driving force behind purchasing the Library Street Collective gallery space in The Belt. During the recession the city had already been wiped of its art galleries. At that time we knew we had to bring art back.
EXP: Was the gallery your first business together?
JJ: Our first business endeavor together was actually a food truck! We started El Guapo around 2009. Our inspiration came from an experience I had while in Texas and I had to bring the concept to Detroit. What’s really neat is that Anthony was part of the movement that helped pass city ordinances to allow food trucks! Although we don’t own El Guapo anymore, we are glad it’s still around and that there is a market for food trucks.
EXP: Tell us a little bit about your newest concept, Deluxx Fluxx.
JJ: We are really excited to bring this concept to life. We were doing shows with Faile at Art Basel in Miami and then went to the Brooklyn Museum. It started as a pop-up art installation. Faile’s immersive installations are what inspired Deluxx Fluxx. We decided a more permanent install made more sense. The best way to utilize the space would be to make it multifunctional with music, drinks and art all under one roof.
EXP: Who are some of your favorite artists?
JJ: There are so many! I really like Jason Revok, Tiff Massey, Kelsey Brookes, Sam Friedman and Shepard Fairey. I just love their unique style.
EXP: How do you find new artists to work with?
JJ: The art community is super small, and everyone is well connected. Cranbrook graduates are a great local resource. There is also an influx of artists moving to Detroit and we have been taping into that network, too.
EXP: What are your go-to orders in the Belt?
JJ: At Standby I’ll order a cheeseburger and a Manhattan. Simple but so delicious. I could sit at the Skip all day on my computer and drink the Irish coffee, it’s one of my all-time favorites.