The new gallery Playground Detroit gives artists a space to share their work and be recognized.
By Stephanie Steinberg
Photography by Justin Milhouse
Paulina Petkoski and Samantha B. Schefman have one goal: to attract and retain artistic talent in Detroit.
To accomplish that, the two friends from Metro Detroit launched a creative agency called Playground Detroit in 2012 to uplift artists, young art collectors and arts advocates. After raising over $75,000 through a Kickstarter campaign, they opened an art gallery on Gratiot Avenue near Eastern Market in November 2017.
Petkoski and Schefman, both 31-year-old Detroit residents, say they’ve worked with over 200 Detroit-based artists to present exhibits, concerts, screenings and workshops.
“We support artists by developing opportunities for them that enhance and sustain Detroit’s creative economy,” says Schefman, who managed a gallery in New York before returning to Detroit in 2015. Petkoski also spent several years in New York, where she worked for designers such as Isaac Mizrahi and Diane von Furstenberg.
They’ve taken their collective experiences and created a space for artists and locals who want to try Pilates in a gallery or scout out artwork created in the city.
Upcoming exhibits at Playground Detroit will feature Detroit artist Elysia Vandenbussche’s ceramic and photographic work starting June 15. Wayne State University ceramics lecturer Victoria Shaheen and Detroit artist George Vidas are partnering to present their clay, neon and multimedia work starting July 20.
Petkoski and Schefman say emerging artists play a critical role in the future of the arts — here and around the country.
“Their success as professionals proves the necessity of maintaining arts programming in schools; inspires the generations to come; and they are the vibrancy behind creative placemaking that will bolster our budding city throughout the rapid redevelopment Detroit is experiencing,” Schefman says. “We want to give the emerging talent the tools to become the best artist they can be as early as possible.
“There is as much to learn from them as there is to be shared with them, especially as the digital boom of e-commerce and social media is reshaping the way galleries function and their relationship with artists.”
For SEEN’s June Art Issue, we talked to several artists who’ve partnered with Playground Detroit, including:
Kirstin is a contemporary painter and mixed-media artist who incorporates film slides, light projection and digital illustration in her work. Read more about her.
Louise, known as Ouizi, is known for her floral murals painted on buildings around Detroit and the world. She is also the 2018 Movement Artist-in-Residence. Read more about her.
Luke is an automotive designer by day and oil painter by night. Read more about him.
Brendan is a blind painter who lost his sight due to complications from cystic fibrosis. Read more about him.
Photo Location: Brooklyn Outdoor in Eastern Market