Public Art: Jesse Cory and Roula David
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Public Art: Jesse Cory and Roula David

September 22, 2017

Owners of Inner State Gallery and 1xRun, Jesse Cory and Roula David, help bring public art and community together, through Murals in the Market. 

By Suzanne Chessler
Photography by Jacob Giampa

A pug named Oscar has become a repeated subject for local painters. What makes him popular is the couple who adopted him, Jesse Cory and Roula David.

The husband-wife working team, who know many artists through two businesses and community projects, readily open their home to the talented people they represent. In return, artists have shown their appreciation with tribute renderings.

“We have a lot of tribute art from a lot of artists,” says David, who describes their home collection as holding all kinds of original pieces by artists who have become close friends. “Everyone [who knows about Oscar] wants to come and see the Oscar paintings.”

The couple make many contacts through Inner State Gallery, which exhibits original work, and 1xRUN (pronounced One-Time Run), located in the same Detroit building but focused on producing fine-art edition screened and digital prints offered through the internet. 

Murals in the Market

Jesse Cory and Roula David with their Detroit famous pug, Oscar.


Cory and David are at the helm of Murals in the Market, which takes place Sept. 21-28 at Detroit’s Historic Eastern Market as more than 50 local and international artists will be painting live throughout the district over the course of eight days in the third year of the city’s only international mural festival. 

They also are hosting a closing party for Eastern Market After Dark, which features special projects presented by more than 30 studios and galleries from 7-11 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 28. 

“We really don’t separate our business lives from our personal lives,” David says. “They’re combined.”

The couple, married in 2012, came to their businesses with complementary marketing and art world experience. His background includes owning a marketing firm, Ohm Creative Group, where art was exhibited, and developing a documentary about street art. Her background includes marketing management for Red Bull House of Art, a Detroit residency program for artists.

Cory formally entered the art business in 2008, establishing the 323 East Gallery in Royal Oak with partners Dan Armand and Ryan Brogan. 

“We started to have art shows and publish a few art prints,” Cory says. “We were also developing technology for clients — websites and things of that nature. In 2010, we started our 1xRUN website. Within a couple of months, it got traction, and we were able to focus on that fulltime.

“We moved to Eastern Market in 2012, closed our previous gallery and opened Inner State, which was a connection between the online gallery and the physical space where we enjoyed having exhibitions.”

After the business moved, the staff expanded from six employees to about 20. The number of collectors reached 55,000. More than 100,000 art prints have shipped to 100 countries.

David, COO of 1xRUN, was hired to help manage staff, provide strategy and expand the brand globally. 

Public Art: Jesse Cory and Roula David

1xRun Workspace in Detroit.

Public Art: Jesse Cory and Roula David

The Inner State Gallery exhibits original work.

Public Art: Jesse Cory and Roula David

1xRun produces fine-art edition screened and digital prints.

“The genre in which we work has to do with artists in the public domain — street artists, graffiti writers, muralists and illustrators,” says Cory, CEO for 1xRUN and partner in Inner State. “It’s a counterculture form of artwork, a little more aggressive than what is considered traditional.”

Cory and David enjoy watching young artists succeed, and they feel extraordinarily proud of the career trajectory of Ellen Rutt.

“Ellen had a show that Roula produced at House of Art,” Cory explains. “It sold out, and Roula said that this artist is very special. We quickly booked an art show that she did with two other artists, and we’ve done art prints with her.

“Ellen ended up working for 1xRUN for over a year. She was able to build all the creative and identity materials for Murals in the Market. Her career started to grow so she left her position, and the growth of her career since then has been astronomical. Participating in her career growth has been really rewarding.”

David, who serves as gallery director while managing various aspects of the business interests, is festival director for Murals in the Market. It takes about 10 months to put the event together. 

 “We’re expanding into the neighborhoods,” she says. “We’re partnering up with community markets in Detroit to paint five murals at five different neighborhood markets. 

“We’re also working with community partners so we just finished a mural with the Detroit Jazz Festival. We’ve also been involved with a mural for a project started by De Andre Levy of the Detroit Lions to raise money to test old rape kits.

Public Art: Jesse Cory and Roula David

Public Art: Jesse Cory and Roula David

Public Art: Jesse Cory and Roula David

Public Art: Jesse Cory and Roula David

“We love community-building and any way we can we integrate the arts into the overall conversation using artistry as a medium for change and allowing people to think differently about their situations,” she adds.

The William Davidson Foundation is a new partner joining the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and Eastern Market Corporation in supporting the murals event.

Until a year ago, Cory and David lived above their workplace. They moved to a bigger space in the Boston-Edison area of Detroit and offer home respite time to the creative people they encounter.

“We have guests who are working artists and curators doing something in the gallery,” says David, who enjoys travel and electronic music for getaways with her husband. “In the time we’ve lived in Boston-Edison, we’ve had about 70 houseguests. 

“Our home has become a sanctuary for people who want to take a break. They can hang out and not have to do anything. It’s like a home away from home for them.” NS

For more information on Cory-David businesses and activities, go to 1xrun.com, innerstategallery.com and muralsinthemarket.com, and follow them on Instagram at @inner_state@1xrun and  @muralsinthemarket

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