Looking Back & Looking Ahead: Art
|By Mary C. Cusack|
Picture is looking clearer for Lansings artistsThe Grand Rapids area can boast the world’s largest art competition, ArtPrize. Easy for them — they have sponsors with deep pockets, something the Lansing area lacks. But what Lansing-area arts organizations may lack in big money, they make up for in moxie, small grants and grassroots support.
Many in the art community feel 2010 was a year for positive transitions. In November Lansing Art Gallery announced it would move in order to better fulfill its mission of providing arts-oriented education opportunities. The larger new space, one block north from its current location on Washington Square, will be handicappedaccessible and will also have classroom space, two things its current home lacked.
After struggling through years of ever increasing public funding cuts, Lansing Art Gallery is emerging from survival mode.
“It almost feels like a rebirth,” Executive Director Catherine Allswede Babcock says of the gallery’s upcoming relocation. ”Hard times make you reevaluate what’s important. The last several years have been almost a waiting period for this new beginning,”
Leslie Donaldson, executive director of the Arts Council of Greater Lansing, cites the Council’s grants program for individual artists as one of her favorite successes. In its second year, the program provides not only monetary support to individual artists, but also guidance on legal, promotion and business issues. The goal is to make artists into entrepreneurs who also give back to their community through outreach activities.
Printmaker and grant recipient Linda Beeman is an example of the success of the program. Beeman created a series of prints, “12 Views of the Shiawassee River,” as part of her grant project. “Her public component included a demonstration at Lansing Art Gallery, a couple of lectures, and a public exhibition,” Donaldson explains. “Just from this little seed money, she is now seeing the ripple effects that have not only been impactful in the community, but also for her own personal career.”
It wasn’t all good news, of course. July saw the closing of the Trillium Gallery in East Lansing, after 13 years in business. Yet for that one loss, the year saw more establish- Courtesy Photo ments open, including the Michigan Institute for Contemporary Art, Gallery 1212 and the Katalyst Gallery in Old Town, and Art Alley in REO Town. Art Alley’s mission is to help revitalize REO Town by providing a space for artists to exhibit and perform.