Nov. 18 2015 11:45 AM

Keys to Creativity brings artistic vision to Lansing Mall

Most Greater Lansing residents know about the art galleries up in Old Town, and it’s not surprising to stumble upon an art gallery in downtown East Lansing or Williamston. But tucked away inside a small storefront at the Lansing Mall is Lansing’s newest member of the continuously growing arts scene: Keys To Creativity.

Keys to Creativity is the brainchild of Lansing residents Larry and Beth Grudt and local artist Julian Van Dyke. Designed to be a community art center, Keys to Creativity will operate as a gallery, classroom and event space for members of the Lansing arts scene.

Many locals know Larry Grudt, 57, as a coordinator of Lansing Jazzfest and Old Town BluesFest, but his most recent project, the “Keys in The Cities” art instillation, is where mall directors first took notice of his work.

“We had four pianos scattered throughout the mall,” Grudt said. “They were really attracting a lot of attention from customers. People seemed really interested, really enthused. After mall executives attended a piano unveiling at the Detroit Institute of Arts, they approached me about a community art space inside the mall.”

Needless to say, Grudt jumped at the opportunity and began laying the groundwork for what would become Keys to Creativity.

The purpose of Keys in the Cities was to show people what can be done when you take ordinary spaces and use them for something totally different,” Grudt said. “That’s what I want this community center to be: this raw space where ideas can develop and inspiration can flow. Art should never be a one-way relationship but rather a group process.”

The shop’s gallery features works by 24 different local artists, including paintings, photography, small sculptures and furniture. Keys to Creativity has been open for just over a month, but Grudt and his cohorts are already mapping the art center’s future, especially the future events calendar.

“When we were discussing the parameters of the center with mall execs, I asked about event potential. How big could they be, what could they include,” Grudt said. “For some reason, and I still don’t know why, they’re letting us use the entire mall. We even have permission to spill into the parking lot. I’m just so excited for the potential this place has.”

In addition to art sales and events, Keys to Creativity plans to host drop-in classes for children and adults led by local artists. With local schools cutting back on arts education, Grudt sees the center as a way to get art back into students’ lives.

“There is always such a need for youthfocused arts programming,” Grudt said. “It can’t all be left to schools or part-time teachers. There is a void there, and I think eventually we will fill that gap.”

Grudt added that the gallery is a sign that the community is looking for more arts opportunities.

“I don’t want to force a certain culture on anyone or tell a community what I think they need,” Grudt said. “But we were invited in and essentially told, ‘We want this. Can you help us make this happen?’”

As a storefront in the Lansing Mall, Keys to Creativity is open during most of the mall’s regular hours. This means some long hours for the center’s small staff, but Grudt doesn’t mind.

“I knew it was going to be a lot of work, and I wasn’t sure about an other 9 to 5 job,” he said. “This is usually 10 to 10, and I’ve never enjoyed something more.”

Keys to Creativity

10 a.m.- 9 p.m. Tuesday- Wednesday; Noon-9 p.m. Thursday-Friday; 10 a.m.- 9p.m. Saturday;

Noon -6 p.m. Sunday; closed Monday (Inside the Lansing Mall) 5746 W. Saginaw Highway, Lansing (517)657-2770, keystocreativity

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