Rogue art show discouraged

By Andy Balaskovitz

Property owner, city official urge people not to attend art event at former School for the Blind, say trespassers will be prosecuted. Artist says the show will go on.

Friday, Aug. 31 — City officials say police will be present at a planned secret art exhibition Wednesday because the property owner did not give permission for the building to be used for the event. However, the organizer says the show will go on.

Patricia Baines-Lake of the Lansing Housing Commission Non Profit Development Corp., the nonprofit entity that owns the former School for the Blind, said anyone who attends the event will be trespassing.

“We will prosecute. Absolutely no one has authorization from the building’s owners to conduct any event there nor to enter the premises,” Baines-Lake said today. “We’re respectfully requesting that if you bought tickets or plan to participate that you ask for your money back and refuse to attend. If we all stand up and say no, this event will not occur.

“In the event people decide to come anyway, we do intend to use the full force of all the authority we have to shut it down,” Baines-Lake said.

Local artist Geoph Aldora Espen planned to host “The Haunted Art Exhibition” in what Baines-Lake said is the Abigail building that served as a student dormitory when the School for the Blind was open. Read more about the planned event here.

Despite objections from Baines-Lake and one other city official, Espen told City Pulse Thursday he plans to still hold the show.

“Lansing needs The Haunted Art Exhibition,” he said. “I intend to simply walk in like I always have. … This event has the potential to enrich Lansing’s cultural and artistic identity in a massive way. I am very young and represent the next generation of movers and shakers in the Lansing area.”

Bob Johnson, director of Lansing’s Department of Planning and Neighborhood Development, told City Pulse that Lansing police officers will be on hand to make sure no one enters the building. Not only would attendees be trespassing on private property without permission, Johnson said, but also the building is unsafe to begin with.

Baines-Lake said the nonprofit that owns the building is a separate entity from the Lansing Housing Commission. Money spent on maintaining the site does not come from the federal government.

Baines-Lake said “someone breaks in” to the building “weekly.” The building has been “boarded and re-boarded” after incidents occur.