Tenants of the Russell Industrial Center awoke to some bad tidings yesterday: eviction notices were delivered to the more than 100 people, many of them artists, who currently work (and in some cases, live) in the massive former auto complex. As laid out in a story by the Detroit Free Press, the evictions presage the closing of the complex, due to multiple violations of city ordinances and safety and building codes, according to Detroit’s Buildings, Safety Engineering and Environmental Department (BSEED). The Russell has long been a locus of artistic activity in Detroit, housing dozens of studios, shared work spaces, and galleries, including Cave, as well as an exhibition hall that has hosted the annual erotic art expo The Dirty Show for the last several years.
While the closing of the facility is a major blow for its tenants — offering, as it did, gargantuan studio spaces for low rent — it has serious motivations, particularly in light of the Ghost Ship tragedy in Oakland, California, last year. The evictions “are terrible for all of the tenants, but as a former tenant of seven years, the landlords were also terrible for the tenants,” artist Andrew Thompson told Hyperallergic. Thompson and his longtime studiomates moved their shared work space out of the Russell a few years ago.