The old St. Joseph Sanitarium and Bath House building on North Avenue is one of the many sites in Mount Clemens that will be considered for a potential Artspace project.

The old St. Joseph Sanitarium and Bath House building on North Avenue is one of the many sites in Mount Clemens that will be considered for a potential Artspace project.

Photo by Julie Snyder


Feasibility study just the start for local art

By: Julie Snyder | Mount Clemens - Clinton - Harrison Journal | Published March 22, 2019

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MOUNT CLEMENS — The Mount Clemens Foundation and the Anton Art Center recently received an $18,500 grant award from the DTE Foundation to invite Artspace to the city to conduct a feasibility study for potential future art and life expansion.

Artspace is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to create affordable living and work spaces for artists and their families, as well as working artist studios, arts centers, and commercial spaces for arts-friendly businesses.

Anton Art Center Director Phil Gilchrist said Artspace members will lead two days of tours, focus groups and a public meeting April 3-4.

“Touring the city and talking to the community, they will really be able to get a lay of the land,” Gilchrist said.

The purpose will be to assess the feasibility of developing an artist live/work community in Mount Clemens.  

Co-sponsoring the visit are Mount Clemens Downtown Development Authority and the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development, which made up the difference after the grant amount to reach the $25,000 necessary for this first phase of the feasibility study.

Mayor Barb Dempsey said the city and the art community, specifically the Anton Art Center, have wanted to get an Artspace project going locally for years. She said they’ve identified several different locations around the city that would be perfect to accommodate a live/work space, including the St. Joseph Sanitarium and Bath House building on North Avenue.

“It’s one of the oldest historical buildings around,” Dempsey said. “We don’t want to see it demolished. We want to keep our history alive.”

Dempsey said that if it pans out, an Artspace project in the city would be a major economic development tool. The spaces, once funding is raised, could either be built new on available land or be installed in renovated existing spaces.

“To take a piece of property in the city that is in dire need of renovation and turn it into an Artspace is a big plus for the city,” Dempsey said. “We want to move in that direction. It’s exciting.”

The space would become a residential building in which each dwelling has extra space that the artist could use as a studio. Live/work units by Artspace have similar design elements that spark the creative process such as high ceilings, large windows, durable surfaces and wide doorways. These spaces could also be designed to accommodate common spaces such as galleries, meeting rooms, or green spaces that encourage tenant engagement, cooperation and community involvement. Most Artspace live/work projects are mixed-use buildings with housing on the upper floors and nonresidential space on the lower floors.

The nearest live/work space opened in 2016 at the former Dearborn City Hall building, now called City Hall Artspace Lofts.

Anyone who qualifies for affordable housing may apply for residency in an Artspace project, but preference is given to those applicants who participate in the arts. Applicants need not derive their income from their art.

Artspace defines the term “artist” broadly, including traditional art forms and those as diverse as clothing design, weaving and even canoe making, according to its mission statement.

The public meeting will be held at 7 p.m. April 3 at the Mount Clemens Public Library, 150 Cass Ave. in Mount Clemens.

For more information, contact Phil Gilchrist at pgilchrist@theartcenter.org.

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