Skip to content

Text-Image-1

One recent weekday over Zoom, Terese Reyes recalled to me the beginnings of Reyes | Finn, the gallery she co-runs with Bridget Finn in the Detroit neighborhood of Corktown. It was the middle of 2017 and Reyes was in the middle of a fruitless search for a partner for her gallery, which was then known as Reyes Projects and had been running for less than a year in the Detroit suburb of Birimingham. “I’d been given a lot of suggestions from people and I was very politely like ‘mmm, no.’ And then, finally, Bridget,” she said, referring to Finn, who was then working as the director at Mitchell-Innes & Nash in New York and Reyes had known socially from her time there as the director at nearby Marlborough Chelsea. Finn also happened to have grown up in the Detroit area and attended school at the city’s College for Creative Studies. “It was just kismet–Bridget and I. I was like, ‘oh my god, Bridget,” Reyes said with a laugh, when recalling the possibility of working with the bespectacled gallerist. “I would fall over.”

And so Finn signed on to be the Managing Director of Reyes Projects, which a year and some change later morphed into a full fledged partnership and the beginning of Reyes | Finn in earnest. Since then, the gallery has moved from the suburbs to the city proper and made an imprint on both Detroit and the contemporary art world at large, showing a mixture of locals and out-of-town artists and engaging its community in a variety of ways, perhaps most notably through its annual Art Mile Detroit program, a citywide arts festival that exists both virtually and in real space.

“The way we started working together was around so many corners,” Finn told me, of the gallery’s origins. Though Reyes grew up in California and attended school in Washington DC, she has Detroit roots–her aunt, Julia Reyes Taubman, lived in the city and was one of three founders of the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit. In the summer of 2016, Reyes left her post at Marlborough Chelsea to be closer to her aunt while she was battling cancer. She had the first iteration of Reyes Projects up and running by the spring of 2017, where she kicked off programming with a group exhibition that was conceptualized with the Detroit-based artist Scott Reeder and named after Undercover Boss, the CBS television show in which disguised corporate executives take on menial roles within their company.

Though Finn told me she had been hearing buzz about a new space in Detroit, she “hadn’t really put two and two together that it was actually Terese who was opening the gallery.” It was only after Finn reconnected with Reyes’s aunt and uncle at an art fair in the Hamptons in September 2017 that the math added up; as a matter of coincidence Finn was scheduled to be in Detroit the next week, where she went out for dinner with Reyes and her family and formal discussions about her involvement with the gallery started. “They popped the question right away,” Finn said. By November, she had relocated back to Detroit to be a part of Reyes Projects.

Exterior of Reyes | Finn located at 1500 Trumbull, Detroit, MI. Photography by Clare Gatto. Courtesy of Reyes | Finn, Detroit.

Exterior of Reyes | Finn located at 1500 Trumbull, Detroit, MI. Photography by Clare Gatto. Courtesy of Reyes | Finn, Detroit.

Flashing forward to early 2019, Finn had helped to secure the gallery’s current home in Corktown, which over 100 years ago served as a bank. “We had this great gallery, but we wanted it to be downtown,” Reyes said. The first exhibition in the new building and under the rechristened Reyes | Finn umbrella was a three person show with Eddie Martinez, Gerasimos Floratos, and Rafael Delacruz–artists whose names should be familiar to many in the New York contemporary art world. Shows followed from Detroiters including James Benjamin Franklin and Maya Stovall-the latter’s Liquor Store Theater project, which started in 2014 as a series of location-specific dance interventions in front of area alcohol retailers, began in the McDougall-Hunt neighborhood of the city, which Finn notes is “probably a six minute drive from the gallery.” 

Since their location shift, Reyes | Finn has maintained a steady flurry of activity, both at home and on the road, even and especially over the course of the pandemic. Case in point is the duo’s Art Mile, which is run in tandem with Red Bull Arts and the New York-based consultancy firm Cultural Counsel and was initially birthed, according to Finn, as a means to virtually bring together art institutions, galleries, collectors and the general public during the time of Covid. It also could be seen as a vehicle to showcase Detroit to the wider art world. “The gallery infrastructure here, it’s not supported like it is in New York. Everytime we’re at a fair, we’re anywhere, there’s this conversation, like, ‘what’s happening in Detroit? Tell me what’s happening in Detroit,’” Finn said. “We try and figure out a way to connect everyone,” she continued.

Slideshow-2

Installation view of LaKela Brown: IMPRESSED, Reyes | Finn, Detroit, 2021. Photography by Clare Gatto, courtesy of the artist and Reyes | Finn, Detroit

Installation view of LaKela Brown: IMPRESSED, Reyes | Finn, Detroit, 2021. Photography by Clare Gatto, courtesy of the artist and Reyes | Finn, Detroit

Installation view of LaKela Brown: IMPRESSED, Reyes | Finn, Detroit, 2021. Photography by Clare Gatto, courtesy of the artist and Reyes | Finn, Detroit

Installation view of LaKela Brown: IMPRESSED, Reyes | Finn, Detroit, 2021. Photography by Clare Gatto, courtesy of the artist and Reyes | Finn, Detroit

Installation view of Nikita Gale: HOT WORLD, Reyes | Finn, Detroit, 2019. Photography by Clare Gatto, courtesy of the artist and Reyes | Finn, Detroit.

Installation view of Nikita Gale: HOT WORLD, Reyes | Finn, Detroit, 2019. Photography by Clare Gatto, courtesy of the artist and Reyes | Finn, Detroit.

Nikita Gale, DRRRUMMERRRRR, 2019 (detail) Photography by Clare Gatto, courtesy of the artist and Reyes | Finn, Detroit.

Nikita Gale, DRRRUMMERRRRR, 2019 (detail) Photography by Clare Gatto, courtesy of the artist and Reyes | Finn, Detroit.

Maya Stovall, Liquor Store Theatre vol. 1 no. 3, 2014 (still) HD video, color, stereo surround sound; 6:33 min. Courtesy of the artist and Reyes | Finn, Detroit.

Maya Stovall, Liquor Store Theatre vol. 1 no. 3, 2014 (still) HD video, color, stereo surround sound; 6:33 min. Courtesy of the artist and Reyes | Finn, Detroit.

Maya Stovall, Liquor Store Theatre, vol. 4 no. 7, 2017 (still) HD video, color, stereo surround sound; 16:13 min. Courtesy of the artist and Reyes | Finn, Detroit.

Maya Stovall, Liquor Store Theatre, vol. 4 no. 7, 2017 (still) HD video, color, stereo surround sound; 16:13 min. Courtesy of the artist and Reyes | Finn, Detroit.

Installation view of Maya Stovall: MACHINE, Reyes | Finn, Detroit, 2019. Photography by Clare Gatto, courtesy of the artist and Reyes | Finn, Detroit.

Installation view of Maya Stovall: MACHINE, Reyes | Finn, Detroit, 2019. Photography by Clare Gatto, courtesy of the artist and Reyes | Finn, Detroit.

Quote

"Everytime we’re at a fair, we’re anywhere, there’s this conversation, like, 'what’s happening in Detroit? Tell me what’s happening in Detroit.' We try and figure out a way to connect everyone.” 

-Bridget Finn

Text-Image-2

Since their location shift, Reyes | Finn has maintained a steady flurry of activity, both at home and on the road, even and especially over the course of the pandemic. Case in point is the duo’s Art Mile, which is run in tandem with Red Bull Arts and the New York-based consultancy firm Cultural Counsel and was initially birthed, according to Finn, as a means to virtually bring together art institutions, galleries, collectors and the general public during the time of Covid. It also could be seen as a vehicle to showcase Detroit to the wider art world. “The gallery infrastructure here, it’s not supported like it is in New York. Everytime we’re at a fair, we’re anywhere, there’s this conversation, like, ‘what’s happening in Detroit? Tell me what’s happening in Detroit,’” Finn said. “We try and figure out a way to connect everyone,” she continued.

It’s a city that has undergone quite a few changes over the past decade. Corktown exemplifies these changes. A former train depot in the area is currently home to a Ford campus that the automaker refers to as a “mobility innovation district.” Until recently, the neighborhood housed a James Beard Award-winning restaurant. Close to the gallery is an oyster bar and a high end wellness center. “I always say I came home to a different city than when I left, and I know that’s true of so many places, but with Detroit, I can’t tell you how different it is,” Finn said. “It’s really very different.”

Even so, the genetic makeup of the city, the same one that birthed Motown and techno and Destroy All Monsters, is so singular that it would be hard to imagine Detroit ever becoming another facsimile of Portland. “You can be in the grocery store next to a celebrity musician or all these different kinds of cultural icons here, and no one around you has any idea of who they are standing next to,” Finn said. “It becomes popular in other places, and Detroit still maintains its low-key attitude,” she continued.

When considering this history, it’s easy to see Reyes | Finn as part of a longer lineage of culture. The gallery has established an in-town presence and helped to expand Detroit’s creative footprint beyond its city limits. It also functions as a bit of a tourism bureau. Artists usually travel to Detroit to install their shows. The Brooklyn-based, Detroit-raised LeKela Brown spent the entire month of July back in her hometown, making the work she would go on to show in her exhibition Impressed, which ran last fall at the gallery. In late-2019, the Los Angeles-based artist Nikita Gale traveled to Detroit to install an exhibition that included a sculpture composed of, among other elements, running water and a drum kit. Nikita told me that in addition to making work, the artist was able to see friends and visit the Ford Rouge factory and the Motown Museum and the Belle Isle Aquarium. “Honestly, artists want to come here. They really want to come here,” Finn said. “And sometimes they don’t want to leave.