Two guys, both named Steve, decided to join forces to create a space for emerging local artists. Not only did they set out to own a place that bred creation, but they also aimed to house the creators. In August of 2010, Fortress Studios opened its doors.
Both founders are proud Michiganders. Steve McShane grew up in Tawas, MI while Steve Kuypers has always resided in Detroit. Both graduates of College for Creative Studies, they wanted a space that supported the growth of artistic talent in the area. They wanted a space for the makers and doers to thrive.
When asked how they decided upon investing in the building that is Fortress Studios, Kuypers described how the property essentially “chose them.”
Located at the North End neighborhood of Detroit near Russell Industrial Center, Fortress Studios has some long-standing and like-minded neighbors such as Red Door Digital, Tangent Gallery and the Pioneer Building. The space is communal, which provides the artists with the opportunity to interact with each other and discuss their ideas.
The warehouse space houses a wide array of materials including metal working and welding machinery, a 3-D printer, a sewing machine used to assemble leather accessories and a hand-built kiln for ceramics. Many of these things were acquired via Craigslist, auction or through generous donations from supporters.
Several of the pieces that were created in the space are showcased in or around the facility. Right now, the majority of the pieces and installations come solely from the artist’s ideas, but there are also private buyers who contact them for specialized items. For example, a trophy for a race at Michigan International Speedway was crafted by Kuypers, with the help of McShane, through a grant that Fortress Studios had received.
There are some big things in the works to expand Fortress Studios. Kuypers and McShane pooled together to purchase a house just one block from Fortress (for only $500), which they plan to convert into an exhibition space and additional living space for residents. Eventually, they would like move toward fee-free residencies and stipends.
To find out more about Fortress Studios, check out their website and follow them on Facebook. They have open houses and other events such as beer tastings every so often. Mark your calendar for one so you can go check out some of the awesome things being built and made in Detroit by Detroiters!