When I left my home of 40 years in the Lansing area, I moved into a much smaller home in Petoskey. I was concerned that I would not have adequate room to display all my art, collected over many years. Some of it was rather large and my wall space was rather small in this 1903 house. I did have a generous amount of space in the stairwell going to the second floor. I began to mount the art in the stairwell, in the old European way of filling the space from ceiling to, well, at least the hand rails. It took me all day, and when I was done, I sat down on the stairs and wept. Not for sadness, but being in awe of so much beauty, creativity, many memories of places visited, and artists I knew. I felt surrounded by old friends.
When asked to write about what Art and, specifically, what the Lansing Art Gallery and Education Center mean to me, I think how important art is in my life and was, as well, to all the children I had the joy of teaching in the Lansing Public Schools.
*Art expresses a whole range of emotions: joy, humor, awe, sadness, surprise, grief, and love. Art touches and evokes in the viewer those emotions. I remember being awed by a painting by Renoir in the Musee d’Orsay in Paris. I had only seen his art in books, and thought them to be too sentimental, but in person, they were magnificent.
*Art can also bring back memories, like my Tlingit carved mask purchased on a trip to Alaska. It brings to mind the Indigenous Peoples traditions and style. I watched sculptors working on carving huge logs.
*Art makes us think, as does Kehinde Wiley in his contemporary portraits or the Story Quilts by Faith Ringgold.
*Art can please simply by its color, composition, patterning, texture or contrast, as did countless artists like Georgia O’Keeffe, Henri Matisse, or Winslow Homer.
*Art can surprise us with creativity and imagination, and catch our eye from across the room, as does the work of Chuck Close.
*Art enriches our lives in many ways, just as good food does, by nourishing us in unique and essential ways. Just as you don’t have to be a gourmet cook to appreciate good food, you do not have to be a working artist to be moved by art that “speaks” to you. Love of art is in all of us.
Why do I feel that the Lansing Art Gallery and Education Center is essential for the Lansing community? The first aspect is the most obvious: art needs to be seen. We need a gathering place where art can be viewed, appreciated, discussed, and, perhaps purchased. How would I know of most of the work I have collected if not for the LAG?
*Additionally, it is a place for young and old to learn about and experience art in the many classes offered there. LAG is a space where emerging artists can begin to put their work out to the public.
*LAG also carries the work of established local artists. In the era of “Shop Local,” it has exclusively carried the work of only Michigan Artists for 57 years.
*LAG partners with schools, colleges, and businesses to display art. LAG has tirelessly brought art out of the Gallery and displayed it in our streets, parks, and along the Riverfront.
*It also advocates for arts in community planning. Because of it longevity in Lansing, LAG is a respected voice in community planning and focus.
Truly, the Lansing Art Gallery is the gathering place and focal point for creativity, imagination, and artistic support in Lansing.
I am a working artist, a retired Arts Specialist from the Lansing School District, and a former Docent for the Kresge Art Museum and the Broad Art Museum, MSU. My connection with the Lansing Art Gallery includes being a former Board Member, a volunteer, and a major donor.