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1xRUN - Doug Coombe

1xRUN and Inner State Gallery

1410 Gratiot
Detroit, Michigan 48207

1xRUN and Inner State Gallery

By MJ Galbraith
August 7, 2013

1410 Gratiot is more than just a building. It is a living thing buzzing with activity on each floor. In the basement, it is the production house of 1xRUN, an e-commerce company specializing in limited edition runs of prints signed and authenticated by international artists averaging over 1,000 sales a month. Inner State Gallery is on the street level, having recently hosted an exhibition of all original work by Austria's Nychos and the European artist collective The Weird. Nychos himself was staying upstairs, living in the artist's loft while finishing his colorful anatomical-themed works. Also upstairs is the office for both businesses. This building is where co-founders Jesse Cory and Dan Armand run an operation that has quickly ballooned to eleven employees, a business that has become an international player in the arts scene in less than three short years.
Dealing art started off as a side project of Jesse Cory's former video production company in Royal Oak. It was during this time that Cory and Armand launched their own e-commerce application 1xRUN. The duo saw potential for growth, but didn't know exactly just how big it could get. Even today, after the company has outgrown its Royal Oak headquarters and has moved into this building on Gratiot, Cory and Armand maintain an everyman approach.
"If we were to sit here and try to develop this picture-perfect application from the ground up, we'd never have a product developed," said Jesse. "If we just said, 'Whoa, hold the presses, let's stop everything until it's perfect—it doesn't have to be perfect. Consumers understand that we're not Amazon or we're not some big Best Buy or something like that. They realize we're just like them. We're like our customers. We're like the artists that we work with. And they don't expect us to be like a major corporation or a major e-commerce site. They're buying something that's really authentic and unique."
The move in December of 2012 to a bigger space was necessary for the business to grow. Also, Cory believes the move across from Eastern Market has also helped the company further define itself. "There's something really tangible happening here right now. It's palatable. You can feel it. We're a part of that and we're also coming in as it's manifesting. It was manifesting before we got here but I hope we're a piece that pushes it forward."
The company mainly deals in works of illustration, low-brow pop art, surrealism, street art, and graffiti artists who have transitioned into fine art and gallery exhibitions. Many of the artists Cory and Armand bring in for their gallery shows end up leaving their mark on the city with massive candy-colored murals. Cory and Armand were closely involved in the implementation of the Detroit Beautification Project, and are now focusing their mural efforts on their new home in the Eastern Market neighborhood. The art comes from local, national, and even international artists, the latter sometimes to the consternation of some Detroiters. "We want to be a place for international artists to have a place to exhibit, a place to paint murals," Cory says. "There's been heavy pushback. We've gotten a lot of pushback. We've felt the pressure of it but we're not going to cave to it because we feel like, 'Why shouldn't we have an international outdoor art gallery from international artists that are going to do it for free?'"
Facilitating artists with the space and permission from building owners to paint street murals is another important aspect of what the group does. Cory sees it as both a way to make the city cleaner and safer, and as a way to promote the city. In the age of social media, murals spread quickly across international art communities, as evidenced by artists coming unannounced from places like Barcelona and San Francisco and asking for wall space.
"If there's graffiti and there's a broken window, there's going to be garbage. When you remove the graffiti and you clean up the sidewalk, the person that's on the sidewalk will feel less likely to throw their garbage there. And if there's more traffic, more people around, you're less likely to get your car broken into. These are things that we deal with here in [Eastern Market]. We deal with high crime. Nobody reports it because they don't think the police are going to do anything. You deal with break-ins, car break-ins and car theft. And graffiti and trash. So hopefully the murals are at least one catalyst for that."
Cory feels the murals not only beautify the environment and create a public art experience from internationally-known artists that is entirely open for all to enjoy, but they also deter others from "tagging" the buildings and reduce the appearance of blight and decay. "I can't solve any of the other problems. I can't police the neighborhood. I don't have the capacity to clean up garbage. But I have the capacity to help an artist paint a mural."

All photos by Doug Coombe. 

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