In 99 years, a lot can happen to a building. The beautiful stucco-sided house with bracket-supported eaves at the corner of Mt. Hope and Teel avenues, now home to art gallery Casa de Rosado, is no exception.
“It was built in 1918, so next year we’ll have a big centennial party for it at some point,” said Theresa Rosado, gallery coordinator and owner. “It was built by the first Studebaker dealers in town.”
The house was occupied by various prominent Lansing families, including the Teels, for whom the nearby street is named. The nearly 3,600-square-foot building has also worn a variety of commercial hats, including an adult foster care home and most recently a law office. But last fall, Rosado purchased the house and gave it a new purpose.
“A lot of people who have visited as well have admired it; that’s part of the draw of a gallery,” Rosado said. “People want to walk inside, but instead of having an experience with a lawyer, they can enjoy a gallery and art and music.”
The house’s location near the up-swinging REO Town corridor was a big draw for Rosado. But converting the nearly century-old building was no easy task.
“The space was unoccupied for over a year. The boiler was cracked and flooding the basement, and there were a lot of cleanup issues and mold issues,” Rosado said. “It’s taken a while to move beyond the cleanup phase, to move beyond 1990s wallpaper attorneys love, the hunter green and maroon theme throughout the house.”
Last month, the gallery held its first exhibition, “Buck Naked,” featuring works by Amanda Grieshop, Teresa Peterson, and Joy Baldwin.
“That was all nude women, and it was to correlate with a women’s erotica event that was at the gallery,” Rosado said. “I wanted something that matched the reading, so we may have an annual women’s erotica-type event every year.”
It was a bold and purposeful opening statement. Rosado hopes that the gallery will became a haven for artists who have been “ostracized” from the mainstream art community in Lansing and beyond. And while some galleries may shy away from political agendas, it’s virtually a requirement for Casa de Rosado.
“I think any painter that is unaware of human rights issues or is actively doing nothing or not seeking to improve the rights of humans would have a hard time getting in this gallery,” Rosado said.
Rosado said that Lansing needs more outlets for difficult-to-digest artwork, and she believes that local communities will support edgy, message-driven art.
“There’s a need for spaces that allow work to include a spectrum of people,” Rosado said. “The lesbian and gay communities are strong and involved. The Latino community has been very strong and involved at all levels. There are so many labor groups.”
The gallery’s latest show, “Raise Your Voice: A Social Justice Exhibit,” opened Saturday and will be on display until May 28. It features works by Bruce Thayer, John Gutoskey, Petra Daher and more, including works by Rosado herself.
The exhibit highlights everything from LGBTQ issues to union rights through paintings and photography. The gallery has also hosted live music events related to social justice.
Rosado thinks the social justice show, like the gallery’s opening show, could become an annual tradition. She’s also planning an upcoming Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) exhibit that will open in September and run through early November.
While planning the her exhibits, Rosado sets out with the primary goal of showcasing artists. But she hopes that people who view the show will be exposed to issues and ideas they may not have thought much about before.
“If somebody feels discomfort, I don’t feel that it’s an issue with our art or our statement,” Rosado said. “There are a lot of resources out there for people to become educated, especially in this community. I’m more interested in providing a comfortable space for marginalized artists.”
“Raise Your Voice: A Social Justice Exhibit”
Through May 28 Noon-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday FREE Casa de Rosado 204 E. Mt. Hope Ave., Lansing www.tenpoundfiddle.org