Cope is director of The Tangent
Gallery. A large open space devoted to exhibiting experimental contemporary
art that is experimental . The gallery promotes one-person exhibits,
collaborative projects and an annual emerging artists group show. By
showing work on a grand scale, as it was intended, The Tangent Gallery
hopes to educate and instigate a better dialogue among artists, art
connoisseurs, and the community.
My family is here, which is the simplest, obvious
answer. My work was inspired by Detroit when I started school here at
CCS. When I moved to go to grad school (Washington State University),
I couldn't shake that idea of Detroit, the images of Detroit and
emptiness of it. It's funny - when I went out there I tried
doing the same things I did here ... I ended up doing very small, detailed,
textured kinds of paintings, intimate, almost like little pieces of
Detroit. I ended up moving really far away to get really close
But then I felt like coming back, because Detroit
was a blank slate basically - it was burnt out, and I could do what
I wanted. I felt like I wanted to do something for Detroit, just because
I was born here, and it needed people because everybody left. I felt
I had some responsibility. I don't think one person could ever save
it, I am not that ambitious. I just wanted to try to make a mark, to
improve something. I had no idea what that meant. All I wanted to do
was make my own work. I had no idea that (my work) would become a little
bit more public with the gallery.
WHY AN ART GALLERY?
(When I moved back to Detroit) there was no art
community at that time, or at least not a a very big one. And that was
frustrating for me. I felt that wherever I looked the interesting artists
That led to coming into seeing this space
and hearing [building owners Robin Buckson and Joe VanBael] whole vision
of trying to start an art community. I thought it would make a great
gallery, but [then partner Helen Bevan] was the one who took the torch
and decided she wanted to do it. Then I started realizing that without
even thinking about it, I was starting another important chapter of
the Detroit art community.
The Tangent Gallery was actually a response to
other galleries in general. I wanted Detroit art to be held at a higher
level, I wanted the artists to be held at a higher level. I didn't like
giant group shows. I wanted to be able to create a dialogue by showing
artists on a large scale and all their work - so that everyone can get
an idea of how thorough artists are, how hard they work and how much
work they produce.
I also wanted to introduce people who don't show
in Detroit, or don't show on this scale. Now I am to some extent doing
that - by bringing in artists like Cai Guo-Qiang, who I really admire.
(Chinese artist Cai Guo-Qiang comed to the DIA March 5th through the
Forum for Contemporary Art www.dia.org/information/modern.html)
WHAT ARE YOUR HOPES FOR THE FUTURE OF THE
To not only show local artists, but to use the
gallery as a tool to show artists from all over the place. Basically
staying on the same path that I am and hopefully make more money -make
money [laughs]. The things that I see in the immediate future are just
cleaning up the place, getting some windows, making it more visible.
I want to be able to communicate with the art community on a national
level and maybe international level. Which is something that also frustrated
me about Detroit's art community - we didn't export, we didn't import
One thing that's great about this (large of a
space) is that we can do crazy stuff
things that are abnormally
large or abnormally experimental. Ed's Sykes' show that is coming up
after the house show, he is building a machine that makes sculpture
. Stuff that can be site-specifically made for the gallery.
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT THE FUTURE OF DETROIT?
I am kind of worried about it
. the seeming
lack of support for the arts. Detroit has so many problems it is hard
to tell how to tackle any of them. From simple things like trying to
buy a building - I don't understand why the city can't control that
and say hey, we have to get rid of these abandoned buildings - we have
to get people in there using them.
I think Detroit will become more known for its
arts. I think that's the first thing that comes out of the ashes - creativity,
growth, life. It hasn't been until the last five, ten years that we
have been coming out of the ashes. I think it will become a real city
it is already started to go in that direction. There are
people who are establishing themselves here, who are not temporary.
Just the fact that Joe and Robin the owners, have bought this building
and doing what they're doing and allowing me to do what I do
There are lofts going up and down the street.
I think it will become more of an artistic kind of community. It is
a very creative, workman based, hands on, community and I have a feeling
that it will become more known for that - crafts, arts and design.
The Tangent Gallery: 715 E. Milwaukee, Detroit.
Gallery Hours: 12 -6 Wed - Friday & 12-5 Sat.