Playground Detroit aims to help artists, make city better place to live

Detroit offers unique opportunity for young artists

By Karen Drew - Reporter/Anchor, Derick Hutchinson

DETROIT - Over the past few years, Detroit has been luring artists from all over the country. With the city's affordable housing, more attention and financial initiatives are being brought to Detroit to award artists.

Two Detroit women realized what was going on and came up with an idea to help others and make Detroit a better place to live. They call it Playground Detroit.

Samantha Bankle Schefman and Paulina Petkoski have a dream for an area on Gratiot Avenue. It might seem bare on first glace, but their dream is to create a collective space for artists to show their work.

The two met at Groves High School and reconnected when they both moved to New York.

"Samantha has been working in the arts community," Petkoski said. "I had been working with musicians in the Detroit community, and so we kind of put those skills together and embarked on an endeavor to start Playground, which was at one point a different concept which has really evolved over the years."

They decided to move back to Detroit and develop Playground Detroit, agreeing that art would be the focus.

"We thought we'd be more successful if we had one place that everyone could find us," Schefman said.

They had an idea but needed backing. That's where Michigan Women Forward, a nonprofit that helps female entrepreneurs, came into play.

"These are two incredible, smart women," said Carolyn Cassin, of Michigan Women Forward.

When Local 4 visited Playground Detroit, it was hosting the artwork of Danny Sobor, a struggling artist originally from Chicago.

"The cost of living is so low," Sobor said. "It's one of the only places in America where you can be an artist and survive primarily off making art."

Sobor said he moved to Detroit, but he wasn't sure where he could show his work.

"To be a midlevel artist and have a beautiful room with natural light and white walls -- it's, like, unparalleled," Sobor said. "I think it's one of the only spaces in Detroit that can do that. To have a room I can fit 13 paintings into and (to) have 500 people come to on an opening night is really empowering for a 25-year-old who has never shown paintings before."

But Playground Detroit isn't only about helping artists.

"We are dedicated to not just them but to the city that they live in," Schefman said.

Click here to check out the events and openings going on at Playground Detroit.

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