THURSDAY, Feb. 21 — Keys to Creativity, the nonprofit charity gallery in the Lansing Mall offering local artist exhibits and community art classes, will close after four years in business.


“You can’t survive doing general artwork and it does leave a big hole,” owner Larry Grudt said.

Groves Gallery and Studios, a fellow nonprofit gallery in East Lansing, closed Feb. 15.


“It does make it difficult because these two galleries — outside of the Lansing Art Gallery — were the only true original art galleries in the two cities,” Grudt said. “There are other places where artists can exhibit like boutiques, restaurants and coffee shops, but they aren’t true galleries.”


Where Keys to Creativity is located on the west wing of the Lansing Mall saw Younkers close in summer 2018. On the other side, Macy’s closed in 2017.


“When we lost the two major anchor stores, we lost a lot of attention,” Grudt said.


Keys to Creativity did stay afloat with its event gallery showings but it wasn’t enough, he added.


“We are just a struggling nonprofit. My wife and I were putting in money monthly to keep this alive. The mall wasn't supporting us and we became the only retail store in the west wing.”


The organization will still conduct local art programs like the Lansing Harmony Celebration and figure drawing at the Cedar Street Art Collective. It also plans to keep its eBay account featuring the works of local artists active.


With Keys to Creativity Grudt booked bands for the Lansing JazzFest and Old Town BluesFest, and coordinated city-wide art projects. He is currently planning a pop-up series of mini galleries throughout Lansing with Local First Mid-Michigan, a nonprofit promoting small local businesses.


“Sometimes the road gets lost in front of you but you need to backtrack and find another way to achieve your destination. My big goal is to be involved in the community. I like the arts. I like music. Those are the things we focus on.”


Grudt will still have to pay the Lansing Mall for the remainder of his lease to March 2020. The store will officially be closed March 31. It plans to have a final week full of events prior to close.


“Lansing isn’t really seen as a destination town. No one says ‘honey let’s pack up the kids to go to the capital.’ I want to build this as a destination town and build an identity that surrounds us with reasons for people to come to the Lansing area.”


For more information, visit keysart.org