Meet Andy, an artistic haven in Detroit

The entranceway to Andy is adorned with the multicolored imprint of its owners and shapers. PHOTO/BRIAN CURTIN

OU News Bureau

Andy is more than just a name to Joshua Bisset.

After moving to Michigan in October 2016 and looking for a place to host Detroit artists, he purchased a warehouse on Fenkell Street near University of Detroit Mercy with the help of his collaborators.

The location became Andy, a performance space project that’s intended to host Detroit musicians and any other type of art which “reflect the reality of the space,” according to Bisset. It’s a blank canvas with few permanent art fixtures aside from decoration on the gate and outside fences.

The first person to welcome Bisset’s art collective, Shua Group, to the neighborhood of HOPE Village in northwest Detroit was a 76-year-old man named Andy Jones, whom they found helping clean up a lot adjacent to the newly acquired space one day.

Shua Group named the project Andy to honor the kindness of Jones.

“In calling this place Andy, we want to link it directly to the neighborhood,” Bisset said. “It gives us a chance to tell us that story.”

Andy’s primary space, about 60 by 60 feet, was used for a concert in May 2017 arranged by the curation platform Detroit Bureau of Sound. The performance hosted Detroit experimental band Saajtak and other underground musicians. The concert also showcased percussion with reused industrial parts in smaller spaces branching off the main room.

Andy’s door is open to anyone who wants to be a part of the artistic vision. PHOTO/BRIAN CURTIN

A powerful aspect of Andy is that audio, visual and eclectically mixed artists in metro Detroit are encouraged to be a part of its expansion and evolution. Starting points for Shua Group’s members included the Motorless Park performance, an experiment in visual art and environmental consciousness involving cleanup of discarded car tires, and other similar “site-specific artwork” that is built around the significance of areas of Detroit, according to Bisset.

His history mostly involves choreography and visual art of a performance-oriented type, similar to his collaborator Tzveta Kassabova. She’s helped him and Laura Quattrocchi, his wife and fellow artist, realize the long-term vision of Andy for over a year, since before Bisset relocated to Detroit from New York City.

“I feel me and Josh are both very visually driven artists,” Kassabova said. She and Bisset came to Detroit from art scenes outside the state. Bisset brought his work here from New York City and New Jersey, and Kassabova relocated to Detroit from Vermont.

Becoming part of the art in Detroit from the outset was a challenge.

“It was first getting to know Detroit and then getting to know the students,” Kassabova said of her first time teaching as a theater and performance art instructor at the University of Michigan after a time teaching at Middlebury College in Vermont.

Kassabova’s mentor, choreographer Ed Tyler, guided her into “creating big worlds around dance,” a concept she still sees as significant to her artistic endeavors, since dance is a huge part of her art, academic or otherwise.

As part of Shua Group, Kassabova trades responsibilities often with Bisset and Quattrocchi while working on Andy.

“For now, it’s the three of us, so we do everything — we go from construction worker to visual artist often,” Kassabova said.

The direction that Shua Group is taking with Andy involves participation with artists or members of the public who want to get involved. A successful Kickstarter has brought Shua Group’s vision to another level, with a performance in May from French percussionist Stephan Garin for select crowd funders.


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Posted by on Feb 5 2018. Filed under Featured article, Wayne C.. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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