For collectors Anthony and JJ Curis, art is an integral part of family life

Elizabeth Fazare: How did you start building your own collection?

Anthony Healthcare: JJ and I really started collecting together around the time we opened Library Street Collective. Our collection is very personal and driven mainly by our relationships. We are so fortunate that almost all of the works in our collection are by artists we admire and consider friends. This was especially instructive for our nine-year-old son, who is fortunate to be around such creative people all the time.

EF: What was the first piece you purchased?

air conditioner: The first piece we bought together was 8748 Linwood by Detroit-based artist Jason Revok. The work is from a series of intricate assemblages that Jason has created, made up of scraps and materials found throughout the city. Jason was also the first artist we exhibited at Library Street Collective when we opened in 2012. He has an exciting year ahead, including a solo show at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit this fall.

Sound suit (2012) by Nick Cave, installed in Grosse Pointe Shores, Michigan home. Photo by Jim Haefner, courtesy of Library Street Collective.

EF: Do you have a defining theme for your collection?

air conditioning: We have always described our collection as based on personal experience. Some of the works in our collection are from past gallery exhibitions, while others may be from artists we have collaborated with on public projects or community programs in Detroit. In many ways, the works have come to represent our shared memories.

EF: Which designers/artists are currently inspiring you?

air conditioning: We have a great relationship with Cranbrook Academy of Art and their MA program continues to develop important artists. There are honestly too many to list, but some of the current students and graduates we’ve worked with recently include Natalie Wadlington, Qualeasha Wood, GE Liu, Konrad Egiir and Sidney Camp, as well as past graduates such as McArthur Binion, Nick Cave and Chris Shank .

EF: What current collecting trends are on your radar, if any?

air conditioner: Again, collecting for us is extremely personal, so we try to avoid trends. Of course, it’s important to be aware of the fluctuating trends in the art world, but our approach to collecting is really rooted in a deeper connection with the artists. Even before JJ and I opened Library Street Collective, it was always important to us to support our friends; this same ambition motivates us to collect art and as gallerists. We have found that this makes for a truly timeless and diverse collection as it continues to grow with the ever-changing world and communities around us. Our goal is to impact the artists we admire in the most meaningful way, and it’s special to be reminded of these precious relationships every day as we look at the art on the walls of our home.

a couple on the sofa
JJ and Anthony Curris at their home.

EF: Does the market help your discovery?

air conditioner: As gallery owners, I guess it’s only natural that the market drives some of our discoveries. We are constantly reaching out to artists from all over the world, but we maintain a primary focus on artists right here in Detroit.

EF: As a gallerist, how do your exhibitions influence your collection at home and vice versa?

air conditioner: We are passionate about supporting the artists we work with at Library Street Collective. There is an obvious connection between our programming and the works in our personal collection. A good example would be the large-scale painting Love U by Paul Kremer. The piece was created for a collaborative exhibition we organized at our home in 2017 that benefited one of our local museums. Paul spent a lot of time in Detroit and came up with the concept for the painting while kayaking in the lake behind the house. There was so much intention, specificity and joy in the work – we couldn’t let it leave the house.

EF: In terms of discovering new artists/designers, what are your go-to methods?

air conditioner: We’ve found that one of the best tools for discovering artists is listening to other artists.

EF: What’s the next piece on your radar?

air conditioner: We would really love to receive a piece by Philip K. Smith III, who recently exhibited at the Library Street Collective. The highly meditative three-dimensional works in the exhibition seamlessly bend light and space through a sequential color choreography. We also worked with Philip on a large community project a few years ago that still lights up the downtown Detroit skyline every night. The Detroit Skybridge is a light sculpture created inside a decommissioned sky bridge connecting two of Detroit’s most iconic historic buildings.

EF: What is the last piece you purchased?

air conditioner: A few recent acquisitions include I’m still trying to figure it out by Jamie Holmes, Shelter by Kennedy Janko and Right flank turn by Derek Fordjour.

EF: What’s the one piece that got away?

air conditioning: The picture Fade Away by Tyrell Winston. It was a major work from his recent exhibition at the Library Street Collective. As gallery owners, we often have to put our personal interests second to those of great collectors and friends. Tyrrell and his family recently moved to Detroit, and he will be opening an exhibit this summer at the Cranbrook Museum of Art.

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