Galerie Camille: World Class Art in the Heart of Detroit

A painting done on bare wood features two shapes that looks to be a cross between the configuration of a skull and an incandescent light bulb. The background in the skull bulbs is a floral print in pastels. The painting learns against other paintings in a shop.
Photo by Chloe Michaels

Detroit is experiencing a revival, both economically and culturally and is transforming into a destination for both businesses and consumers. Some staff from The Mirror News went to explore Shinola dog park and Midtown for a possible story on the walkability of Detroit. The park was quaint, nestled into the corner of Cass Avenue and West Canfield. A little white-haired dog frolicked in the grass; its owner told us if we came back around five o’clock, the park would be full of dogs and their owners.

After taking pictures, we headed down Cass Avenue to explore. Like any downtown, small shops and restaurants lined the street but behind a glass door just before La Feria, a popular Spanish tapas restaurant, was something we didn’t expect: Galerie Camille.

Galerie Camille is a newly renovated art gallery currently directed by Melanie Chard. Originally from Michigan, she’s back in the area after working at Sotheby’s in New York as the Head of the Evaluations Department for ten years. After working for the world renown art auction house she returned to Detroit because she, “wanted to be part of the renaissance.” Chard has been the director of Galerie Camille since January. She had her first showing January 22 and has planned several for the rest of the year.

Chard gave us a private tour of the gallery and even took us behind the scenes to the workshop where wall-size paintings were getting prepared for a weekend event. Galerie Camille was established in 1986 making its way to Detroit in 2012. Since then the gallery has served as a hidden cultural gem. In 2014, the gallery moved to its current location, which is a renovated car wash. Chard plans to focus the gallery this year around local art stating, “there’s a really strong focus here on promoting Detroit artists.”

While we were there we briefly met Adnan Charara, a nationally renown artist and owner of the gallery. We were able to see many of Charara’s paintings, mixed media, sculptures, and drawings on display, including a satirical series on the art market and how it is becoming a commodity. The series was featured in a day long exhibit on March 5. Charara was born in Lebanon and spent his childhood in both Lebanon and Sierra Leone while spending his adult life in the United States. His homage to various modern artistic movements is evident in his art, including some that evoke pop art and cubism. Charara’s pieces both celebraete art and critique its commodification. His paintings are at once whimsically absurd and serious.

The gallery is currently showcasing work from Brian Day and William Harris in an exhibit called Transitions. Each artist has had solo exhibits, but this is a rare collaboration. Day is a photographer while Harris is a painter and they present together in this unique show. The exhibit runs from March 11 to April 1.

Fyodor Dostoevsky said, “At first, art imitates life. Then life will imitate art. Then life will find its very existence from the arts.” Galerie Camille brings life to the streets of Detroit, where a couple reporters from the Mirror News, one of whom had never been to Midtown, can happen upon it and be both delighted and inspired.

Galerie Camille is open Wed - Sat, 12 - 5 p.m., or by appointment. For more information, visit: