Even as the summer draws to a close and people start retreating to their homes earlier as days get shorter, Lansing's monthly traveling arts event is charging ahead, hoping to keep people out and about on crisp autumn evenings.
Since its debut in May, Arts Night Out has turned local businesses and restaurants into pop-up galleries on the first Friday evening of every month. The festival, which is organized by the Arts Council of Greater Lansing, moves each month, alternating between its home base of Old Town and other Greater Lansing districts. For its sixth month, Arts Night Out sets up shop in downtown Lansing for the first time Friday.
"Because each neighborhood is a different setting with a unique feel, the event has definitely changed from what we thought it would be," said Taylor Rupp, Arts Night Out coordinator. "REO Town ended up blossoming into this really great, mostly outdoor event, while Old Town has remained how we originally dreamed the event to be, door after door on the same block physically open, inviting people to see the artists and wares in each shop."
Arts Night Out's first foray into downtown Lansing presents some challenges to an event designed to be walkable. There are significant vacancies on the key Washington Square corridor, and participating businesses stretch east into the Stadium District. But Rupp is optimistic.
"It will definitely be more spread out," she said. "But everywhere you walk, there will be something to check out."
Visitors to downtown Lansing Friday can check out sixteen venues that are participating in Arts Night Out. Participants include mixed-media artist Ingrid Blixt, who offers demonstrations and hands-on activities at the Lansing Art Gallery, and Hannah Meyers, who is presenting paintings of the Paris skyline at For Crêpe Sake. Don and Jon Krauss show their Art Prize installation at the plaza in front of Cooley Law School Stadium, and those interested in live music can catch Taylor Taylor sing at Think Space or Kendall David Wright at the Eyde Co. Lansing painter Julian Van Dyke and illustrator Elisa Schmidt team up for a showing at American Fifth Spirits. Van Dyke is participating in his second Arts Night Out; his first was May’s kickoff event.
"It was fun," said Van Dyke, "and a lot of people came out and participated."
The event gave the painter a chance to connect directly with a new audience.
"For me, there was the benefit of communicating with those who came to see and hear the art experience," he said, adding that the evening gave him a chance to show some of his larger works in a convenient setting and helped spread the word about his next show.
Returning artists are important to Arts Night Out organizers, as are returning visitors. But the Arts Council is also looking to pull in fresh faces.
"After having six events, we are seeing some of the same people coming back to support different artists and new venues that weren't open during the previous event," Rupp said. "And folks are still walking by the information tent asking about the event, because they haven't heard about it yet. We really like that."
Even as winter approaches, Rupp and the Arts Council intend to press on with monthly events.
"We will be continuing the event through 2017," she said. "We really look forward to keeping Arts Night Out alive and building it into a greater event for venues, artists and patrons."
Arts Night Out
Friday, Oct. 7 5-8 p.m.
Downtown Lansing (see web for participating locations)
(517) 372-4636, myartsnightout.com