A long, rough road led up to this latest exhibit, as the collective battled with the city of Ypsilanti to extend its lease past May, when the building is slated to be demolished to make room for townhouse construction. In all fairness, notes Samuels, the group knew from the outset that the building was scheduled to be torn down. He sees the temporary nature of the space as emblematic of the lack of area art havens. Forced out of the Tech Center last summer, the group seized the Ypsilanti building as the only one available in the area that was viable as an art space. "The closing of the Tech Center forced a lot of people into basements and garages," notes Samuels. In contrast to this bleak isolation, the artists of Gallery 555 cross-pollinate each other's work with feedback and ideas, he says, and enjoy a sense of community in the welcoming space.
Around 150 people flocked to the current show's opening reception on a frigid Valentine's Day evening, more than I've ever seen at any Ann Arbor opening. The sweat-stained dedication of the collective's artists and the clear interest from the Ypsilanti community indicate there's a need for this oasis to survive the demolition of its building.
[Originally published in March, 2004.]