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Detroit Focus Gallery Collection

Identifier: MSS.009

Scope and Contents

The collection includes materials primarily from 1978-2000, spanning the existence of Detroit Focus Gallery. Types of materials vary but relate to both the public (exhibitions, fundraisers, workshops, publications, etc.) and administrative (financial documents, correspondence, membership, etc.) sides of the organization. Materials related to significant individuals, including longtime director Gere Baskin and several artists, are also included. The collection also contains a sizable number of photographs that document the full breadth of events hosted by Focus. Later materials, related to the planning and 2011 publication of a book on the artist Robert Wilbert, are also included in the collection.


  • 1978 - 2011
  • Majority of material found within 1978 - 2000

Biographical / Historical

Detroit Focus was founded in 1978 in reaction to the changing art landscape in Detroit. A greater desire among artists for control over the display of their works, a spate of gallery closings, and the emergence of minimal government arts funding all combined to create the conditions for the founding of Focus. Originally located at 1010 Beaubien Street, in downtown Detroit, this space proved insufficient in the long-term, and the gallery relocated to 743 Beaubien Street in 1980. It was in this same year that Gere Baskin became director, a position that she would hold for ten years. The 1980s were a busy time for the gallery. Established thematic exhibits (such as Sustained Vision, Review Committee Selections, etc.) complemented unique, one-time exhibitions, ensuring that the gallery suffered no shortage of content. The 1990s marked the beginning of a slowdown for Focus. Exhibits became fewer and financial issues, always a challenge, became markedly more severe. In 1994 Focus moved once again, this time to 33 E. Grand River. The culmination of this period was Focus 2000, a citywide exhibition of photography. In 2011, Detroit Focus published the book Robert Wilbert: Ennobling the Ordinary, which covered the painter's long career at Wayne State University, and his impact on the Detroit area art community.


7 Linear Feet



Existence and Location of Copies

A number of duplicate materials, used for library displays, are stored separately and follow the same arrangement as the main collection.
Detroit Focus Gallery Collection
This finding aid was created by Diane Sybeldon and Tyler Cunningham
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
  • Robert Wilbert: Ennobling the Ordinary ND237.W63 A4 2011
  • Detroit Focus Quarterly: a Visual Arts Publication

Repository Details

Part of the Wayne State University Library System Special Collections Repository


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