The Arts Commission convened Thursday, Oct. 15, to discuss the status of “parklets” and other upcoming opportunities for East Lansing residents to both create and experience outdoor art.
Planning for Parklets
As ELi previously reported, the City has proposed creating “parklets” to engage the community during the winter months. Planning and preparation for these small outdoor spaces in downtown East Lansing, where visitors can view temporary art installations, is still underway. Seen as a way to “activate” the downtown area, the commission discussed parklets as a “dynamic” way to make arts and markets available to residents while encouraging foot traffic to local businesses.
As these spaces are designed, weather and budget restrictions are a concern, as is the ongoing pandemic. Despite these obstacles, Commissioner Wendy Sylvester-Rowan, who has been in communication with Community Development Administrator Adam Cummins, reported that numerous ideas, including small-scale theater productions, were being floated, though some of them may have to wait until the spring thaw.
Calling All Artists
While East Lansing residents wait for the parklets, area artists can now submit proposals to create an art sculpture for the Pincanna marijuana dispensary on Grand River Ave. Proposals are due by Dec. 15, 2020, and the winning project will be installed in June 2021.
Cultural Arts Grants applications are also now open until Friday, Oct. 23. The Arts Commission is seeking “high-quality public art projects that encourage artistic expression and public participation” and encourage art that focuses on “appreciation” for BIPOC and LGBTQ communities. Projects funded by these grants must be completed between November 1, 2020, and June 20, 2021.
The Arts Commission met with muralist Victor Ving and photographer Lisa Beggs to discuss their design for the upcoming Greetings Tour mural. The mural will be installed on the side of the Harrison Roadhouse, facing the parking lot.
Ving and Beggs walked the Commission through their design and decision process and presented “initial sketch” options for the commissioners to pick between. The renderings showed many of the images discussed at the September meeting, from Sparty to the “hamster cage” Division St. Garage.
Positioning and content within the mural – including the representation of indigenous peoples from the East Lansing area – were debated thoroughly by the Commission. Commissioner Matt Borghi-Weil stated: “I don’t necessarily think of Indigenous anything when I think of East Lansing.”
Other commission members were quick to point out that including Indigenous imagery in the mural would hopefully both change that way of thinking and acknowledge the history of the land East Lansing occupies.
In the end, the commission unanimously voted for the inclusion of images of Native people and decided on a background for the mural. Next, Ving and Beggs will pull together the final mural design and send it to the Arts Selection Panel for approval.
This version is expected to include most of the images included in the second rendering and the background of the first rendering. Some adaptations will be made, such as including the Red Cedar River in the lettering.
Since this was described as only a “formality” at this point, East Lansing residents can expect to see work beginning on the Greetings Tour mural in the near future.
What’s Next for the Arts Commission:
The Arts Commission concluded with a discussion concerning a proposed mural site on the Albert Ave. parking garage. There has been some community interest in adding art that would be seen above Pinball Pete’s. The commission plans to discuss this further at its December meeting, but is leaning toward opening up a call for proposals to local artists for mural designs.
There will also be two open spots on the Arts Commission in January 2021. Interested parties may apply through the City’s website.
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