Lansing Area Art Galleries: mid-Michigan's Source of Creative Talent
What Local Art Galleries Contribute to Area Culture
The local art gallery is truly an American tradition. Although often overshadowed by larger art museums, it serves to channel area talent in creative art, crafts, woodwork, metalwork and other means of expression. They are sometimes lost in the urban milieu of the larger American cities, but in a smaller community like Lansing they stand out more conspicuously. On rare occasions, they may even serve as a springboard for a budding genius who will go on to national or even international repute. This article describes how four local galleries are contributing toward the end of promotion and showcasing of this regional talent.
Lansing Art Gallery
The first gallery to be considered is the Lansing Art Gallery, located on Washington Square in the heart of downtown. Founded in 1965 as a non-profit art gallery and education center, it has since grown into mid-Michigan's leading cultural crossroads for the display of local and statewide talent. Previously located further down the square, it was moved some years ago to the north. Despite the physical change of address, the core mission continues: to serve as the focal point for Michigan's homegrown artistic expression. After years of exceptional leadership by Catherine Babcock, the title of Executive Director now rests with the very capable Barb Whitney. The more recent address has an interesting inlay of tiled mosaics around the entrance doors, while inside there is abundant space for the display of art in a variety of media, including glass and metalwork, among many others. Sculptures are found here, but so are paintings with a striking originality. Classes are also regularly held here, and judging by both the quantity and quality of the works presented, Michigan has a lot to offer. Visitors are cautioned, however, that some items priced for sale can rapidly reach hundreds or even thousands of dollars in value, so they may want to bring a thick checkbook. And unlike the Broad Art Museum at the nearby MSU campus, here you really can take it with you!
The Absolute Gallery in Lansing's Old Town neighborhood is another approach to local art. It is situated in an historic building in this culturally vibrant area. Old Town has for some years been the site of a virtual renaissance in the arts as well as retailing and outdoor music fests. A center of mid-Michigan jazz, it serves as a center of experimentally-minded art expression. Antiques are found in these streets, as are bargains in the crafts tradition. The Absolute Gallery reflects this strong focus with an emphasis on the many wares produced by local artists that are for sale inside. Although it originally started as a custom framing service in 2003, it has evolved into so much more. It differs from the Lansing Art Gallery in its more commercial focus, but it still provides a valuable venue for the promotion of local creativity.
Saper and Mackerel Sky Galleries
Turning to East Lansing, there are two other galleries which do their part to keep the mid-Michigan cultural spirit going. Although practically next door neighbors, they differ somewhat in their approaches, as do the Lansing Art Gallery and the Absolute Gallery. The Saper Gallery does a number of important services for customers, such as the restoration of art and custom framing assignments. Founded by Roy Saper, it has become a local institution. The Mackerel Sky Gallery of Contemporary Craft features a variety of expressions in various media, including lamps, scarves, clocks, hats, cards, jewelry, books and ceramics. Between them, they have the local art scene in East Lansing well covered.
Art galleries are found everywhere in today's world. As they apply to Lansing, they help to publicize and to promote our home grown talent. For example, the Governor's Residence Michigan Artists Program at the Lansing Art Gallery has aided the local display and encouragement of area artists. There are also local venues for the exhibition of this talent, such as the East Lansing Art Festival every spring, usually held in May. As technology continues to unfold, there will be further opportunities for artistic expression, as, for instance, the emerging world of holography (laser art) found in some larger cities such as New York with its Museum of Holography, but only since 1960. The entire history of art has shown the power of chance discovery, and--who knows?--there may be a future Leonardo or Vermeer residing in the neighborhood. Lansing could well be the next Vinci or the Dutch city of Delft. At the very least, an Edward Hopper, Georgia O'Keefe or Grandma Moses could spring onto the scene from this very American heartland region.