The Grand Opening of Wasserman Projects in Eastern Market

By: Bob Tesh

Wasserman Projects’ new space in Eastern Market is not just an art gallery: it’s an experience.  The Grand Opening is Friday, September 25th at 6pm and the main attractions are some very interesting – and very interactive – art installations.

“The whole idea with these interactive pieces is that you have a different experience every time and that’s one of the core points of our mission, it’s about this engagement,” said Alison Wong, Gallery Director, “It’s not just about your personal experience with a piece of work that hangs on the wall… there’s this division between what happens there.  Your experience is going to change every time coming into this space depending on who else is here interacting with you.”


Gary Wasserman, the 65 year-old CEO of Allied Metals Corporation and head honcho of Wasserman Projects, mentioned a German word, “Gesamtkunstwerk” which translated means “a work of art that makes use of all or many art forms or strives to do so”.

“I’ll consider this successful if people come to the market to buy some tomatoes and they say, ‘Ooh, you’ve gotta go over and see this Wasserman Projects, this guy thinks that chickens are art!’  That’s a success.”


Outside the building there’s a small, cylindrical, metal hut.  It’s a piece by local artist Jon Brumit and it looks like a short grain silo.  When you step inside you’ll find it’s a sort of audio resonance chamber, with sounds changing depending on where you’re positioned and what you’re touching.  Next year this installation will be replaced with an exhibit consisting of genetically modified chickens.


To enter into the building, you’ll first have to pass through “The Dream Machine”, a 12-foot tall sculpture by Toronto-based artist Harley Valentine (which will be a permanent fixture).

Inside the 5,000 square foot main room, the first piece you see is also by Jon Brumit.  It’s a strange display of fake, plastic food items wired into sound amplifiers.  Inside the food items are sensors that trigger sounds based on how much light they’re able to pick up when a patron interacts.


On the other side of the room stands “THEFIRSTONEISCRAZYANDTHESECONDONEISNUTS”, a pavilion made of birch plywood that looks unassuming until you step inside it.  It was created by German artist Markus Linnenbrink and Miami Beach architect Nick Gelpi, a team paired up by Gary Wasserman himself.  The interior is a multicolored psychedelic space, Linnenbrink’s painting perfectly complimenting Gelpi’s architectural design. It was designed not just to be an enclosed art installation but also a performance space with a stage when opened.

“It’s about making these really one-to-one connections between you and the artist and the work and the other people who are engaging at the same time.  That’s another reason to not have these quick turnover one-month exhibitions like a traditional gallery because it really is about that experience part,” says Alison.

Needless to say, Wasserman Projects is here to make a splash and they don’t plan on leaving Detroit any time soon.

“This is not a renaissance, it’s not a revival, it’s not a renewal, it’s not a comeback, it’s none of that,” said Gary. “It’s that ruined cities are the new frontier of the 21st century and it is up to society to figure out what to do with redundant people and places because they don’t go away, they get worse.  Detroit is not going to be a Chicago or a Toronto.  It’s going to be some new urban experience that’s totally cool.  Nobody knows what this is really going to be.”

In addition to the large-scale installations, a selection of works by Linnenbrink, Gelpi and Brumit will be on display and for sale in the gallery. The current exhibit runs until December 12. The Grand Opening this Friday, 6pm-10pm, is free and open to the public. All are welcome.