Detroit Artists Test Lab offers creative entrepreneurs a community space

Mark Cody is a musician, a piano teacher at the Detroit Artists' Test Lab on Mack Avenue on Detroit's east side. Since the space opened two years ago he's joined a growing crowd of creative entrepreneurs.

"That's the way he put it out - that this is a community space and it works out," Cody said.

The lab is owned by artist Glenn Urquhart. He and his family live upstairs where you'll find an eclectic mix of home and business. It is where he's built a kitchen boasting cheese graters as pendant lights - a bathroom with a baby grand piano - and a photography studio used by artists from all kinds of places.

"We've seen people from all over the world," Urquhart said. "Photo shoots from France, it is mostly product and fashion photography."

Photographers, painters, even podcasters - share this place both as studio and event space.

"The podcast studios, it's going so well that we have two of them now and we're building another one," he said. "It is getting these stories out from the neighborhood.”

For Glenn it's important to expose his children to all kinds of creativity as they grow - and here on the border between Detroit and Grosse Pointe Park - it's important to grow the neighborhood as well. He's had plenty of help from TechTown, Motor City Match and others along the way.

"It's truly important for me not to build a good business or be a good artist or anything like that," he said. "I've got to build a good community at the same time."  

The space was once an old dance hall built in 1922 - long ago abandoned until Glenn's family bought the building. It's undergone quite the transformation.

It is now home to musicians and even a mixologist with a bartending school - everyone teaching art, a skill or a trade - and giving back to the community.

In a space that's calling other creatives to come join them for this experiment - here at the Detroit Artists Test Lab.

"I've never seen anything like this place," said Misty Patton, a photographer. "From the time I walk in here to the time I walk out, I can't stop smiling because there is always something new around the corner."

"We focus on employment, educating and empowerment," said Cheryl Williams, Advance Mixology Institute. "We feed off each other's energy."

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