In 1998, Simone DeSousa moved from her native Brazil to Detroit. She set up her painting practice in the city’s legendary Russell Industrial Center—the Midwest’s largest studio complex, housed within a landmarked, Albert Kahn-designed complex of warehouses. There, she found affordable space and an immensely collaborative community of artists. But over time, DeSousa realized something was missing; there weren’t enough commercial galleries to support artists with the infrastructure and sales needed to sustain and advance their work.
In 2008, DeSousa opened her namesake gallery in a former Jeep showroom in the heart of the city’s legendary Cass Corridor neighborhood. Not far from Wayne State University, the area is known for a group of avant-garde artists who lived, worked, and fraternized there in the 1960s and ’70s. Their paintings and sculptures, which have been described collectively as “Urban Expressionism,” were raw and deeply personal—a response to Detroit’s crumbling, post-industrial landscape.
DeSousa has become one of the movement’s most ardent supporters. In 2017, she organized a series of exhibitions entitled “Cass Corridor, Connecting Times,” which highlighted the work and legacy of artists like
(whom she represents). DeSousa also works with emerging and mid-career artists from the region and around the world; she describes her space as a “container for whatever experience an artist wants to create here.” Her current show, “Root of the Head
,” juxtaposes work by
, each of whom addresses the physicality of the female body, and how it is articulated, perceived, and responded to.
In 2017, DeSousa also launched Edition, an adjacent storefront filled with more accessibly priced works by Detroit-based artists and designers, including print editions, unique ceramic objects, and a fantastic series of tongue-in-cheek “Lofty Bitch
” coasters by
, which take employers to task for underpaying women. “Not everybody has $10,000 to purchase a piece, and we wanted them to feel like part of what we’re doing,” DeSousa explained, “to emphasize that they can also be collectors—they can also acquire something that is connected to the history of its maker.”