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Meridian Mall: ’art-tropolis’?

New galleries pop up in an unexpected place

Shoppers at Lansing’s Meridian Mall will have an unexpected encounter with the arts this weekend, when local glass artist Craig Mitchell Smith opens his first ever gallery there.

Smith’s Glass Gallery will be a neighbor of Anselmo Gallery, which moved to its new location in July. Both stores are located in the Macy’s wing of the mall, and are expected to be the beginnings of an “art corridor,” Smith says.

“They’re actively pursuing options for other artists,” Smith said of mall management. “Their goal is to make that into an ‘art-tropolis.’ I think it’s a great concept for a section of the mall that’s underutilized.

“I couldn’t be happier about it.” Owner Rick Anselmo’s eponymously gallery (in the former Gap store) shows works from well-known artists all over the world; Smith’s will display his own original glasswork. For both men, the decision to move to the mall grew out of a desire for more space.

Anselmo is an architect and interior designer by trade, so when the chance came to move his store to a larger location where he could spread out the artwork, he jumped at it.

“Art requires a lot of display space, and some of our artworks are big — bigger than just a picture on the wall,” he explained. “When we existed in that small space on Lake Lansing Road, people would just look us up in our catalogue and our website and they would buy pieces without seeing them.”

Both Anselmo and Smith expect to attract a whole new crowd of admirers who otherwise might never see their art.

“For example,” Anselmo said, “Men come in who don’t usually go into the mall, and we have had our share of families who bring their kids. It’s an educational trip for them.”

Smith plans to lure them in by actually creating glasswork inside his store. For the very friendly artist — who often has tour buses stop by his home — it’s a dream come true.

“I have gone from working out of my basement, where I’m bursting at the seams, to opening what will be the largest single artist gallery in the state,” he said. “I think that’s going to be the exciting part for people, that I will have the kilns there and will be working publicly.”

And what’s more, he’ll be offering classes taught by fellow artists. Smaller nooks that used to be dressing rooms when the space was an Ann Taylor store will now serve as mini-galleries for other artists. “I hope this evolves into an art center,” Smith said.

The opportunities for displaying Smith’s work are endless, too.

“I’ll be doing lighting, wall pieces, garden pieces, sculptural pieces, flat work — all of it,” he insisted. “Every day, it will change. I’m pulling out all the stops.”


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