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Graffiti for good

REACH Studio Art Center completes JazzFest, BluesFest mural

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FRIDAY, Aug. 26 — After a three-month process, the Jazz and Blues Fest Old Town Mural at 1208 Turner St. was officially unveiled earlier this month. The mural, coordinated by REACH Studio Art Center with help from MICA Gallery, MessageMakers and Habitat for Humanity, was created by 24 REACH teen students and five graffiti muralists, Sam deBourbon, Lebaron Rodgers II, Steven Allen, Kaitlyn Granger and Julie Smith. The mural is based on past posters from Lansing JazzFest and Michigan BluesFest.

“There wasn’t as much creativity on our end because we were trying to stay true to the original artists,” said Joy Baldwin, REACH Studio Art Center program director. “It was challenging to remain faithful to the artists’ work. When you make your own art, you’re used to painting it the way you want and you’re used to making it your own. Making art based on others forces you out of your box.”

To create the mural, the five graffiti muralists spray painted the black outlines at night and the REACH students and mentors filled in the colors during the day. Through the process, the group faced many obstacles and challenges.

“It was very complicated,” Baldwin said. “We had to work around the rain, and a majority of the artists have full-time jobs elsewhere, so we had to work around multiples schedules.”

The inspiration to create the mural came after someone spray painted graffiti on a wall mural painted by Lansing artist and founder and CEO of MessageMakers, Terry Terry.

“The project began with an illegal street artist,” Baldwin said. “We wanted to make it right by turning it into an opportunity for a larger project,”

The mural is part of REACH’s goal of bringing art into the community.

“REACH’s mission is to make art accessible to everyone,” Baldwin said. “We’re accomplishing that because we’re making art on the walls and streets for everyone to enjoy. We’re doing something valuable and making something to be proud of.”

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