Arts Night Out, the Arts Council of Greater Lansing’s traveling monthly art event, pops up this month in one of Greater Lansing’s up-and-coming commercial corridors. REO Town, named for auto magnate R.E. Olds, was formerly a hub for the blue collar workers employed by Olds’ factory. After years of stagnation following the factory’s closure, the neighborhood is reinventing itself with a mix of hip-hop culture, thrift store style and D.I.Y. spirit.
Taylor Rupp, Arts Night Out Coordinator, expects that Friday’s event will have a different vibe than its stops in Old Town and East Lansing.
“The REO Town location will definitely be more interactive,” Rupp said. “It will be busy on the sidewalks, with a break-dancing workshop and street artists.”
“REO Town is edgy,” added Debbie Mikula, executive director of the Arts Council. “I’m hoping for a different vibe than the other venues, and I know attendees will see that.”
At least 20 artists will be involved in Friday’s event, which turns local businesses into pop-up art galleries and performance spaces. Over 90 artists have been featured since Arts Night Out kicked off in May.
“It’s really about promoting community development,” Mikula said. “For REO Town, we’ve added more street life, food trucks and activities.”
Participation by local businesses is an essential part of Arts Night Out. With assistance from the Arts Council, each business is responsible for finding its own local artists to feature. Ten businesses are participating in this month’s event, including Saddleback BBQ, the Firecracker Foundation and Soulful Earth Herbals. The REO Town Commercial Association is throwing a parking lot party for the event, featuring hip-hop artists like Jahshua Smith, Ozay Moore and DJ Ruckus.
Paul Schmidt, owner of UnoDeuce Multimedia, has worked in REO Town for almost five years.
“I think these events really showcase a different style of art, especially in REO Town,” Schmidt said.
UnoDeuce Multimedia is housed by Co:Space, a collaborative workspace in REO Town. The two businesses are hosting art from Lansing Mall’s Keys to Creativity Gallery, as well as DJ Cutt Nice, who will be spinning records.
“It’s about getting people involved,” Schmidt said. “And introducing them to Keys to Creativity.”
Amy McMeeken, owner of REO Town’s Vintage Junkies, sells a mix of upcycled furniture, quirky antiques and original art pieces.
“I feature local artists in my shop all the time,” McMeeken said.
Vintage Junkies will host a meet and greet with local artists Jesse Allen Collins and Mary Molnar.
“The talent of the two local artists I have is unique,” McMeeken said. “Arts Night Out is a good way for Lansing residents to get acquainted with a different area of Lansing.”
REO Town’s recent resurgence, Schmidt said, is due in large part to its creative entrepreneurial spirit.
“We’re a big component in the Lansing community,” Schmidt said. “Businesses want to be involved.”
McMeeken is excited for the chance to show off her neighborhood to new visitors.
“REO Town is beautiful,” McMeekin said. “It’s not polished, it’s gritty and has a culture about it that is truly unique, located in a lovable Lansing area.”
Arts Night Out
5 p.m. Friday, August 5
FREE REO Town, Lansing (517)372-4636, myartsnightout.com