Traveling Artist to Paint Mural in Downtown East Lansing

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Courtesy of the artist.

Artist Lauren Asta will create one of her signature murals on the east side of the new Albert Ave. Center City parking garage.

Lauren Asta, muralist, street artist, illustrator, and self-identified doodle dame, is set to create a public art mural on the eastern wall of the Center City District development in downtown East Lansing, just off Albert Avenue.

This project results from a partnership between the City of East Lansing and developers Harbor Bay BM East Lansing LLC (HB BM) with facilitation by the East Lansing Art Commission and the East Lansing Art Selection Panel and approval of the East Lansing City Council.

Representing a product of East Lansing’s “Percent for Art” program, the mural is funded using $19,800 of the $25,000 payment by HB BM allotted to the Percent for Art program’s Public Art Fund. HB BM has agreed to contribute the remaining $4,700 for further art opportunities in downtown East Lansing.

“Center City was formed through a long-term commitment and partnership with the City Council, East Lansing Downtown Development Authority, East Lansing Brownfield Redevelopment Authority and HB BM,” said Harbor Bay owner Mark Bell. “We knew that we had to find the right muralist to capture the togetherness and enthusiasm that Center City was built upon. Lauren Asta’s artistic talents will accomplish this.”

Percent for Art, more formally known as Ordinance 1339​, was approved by East Lansing’s City Council in October of 2014. East Lansing appears to be one of only a handful of Michigan cities that mandate art contributions by private developers of big projects.

Ordinance 1399 only applies to projects where the full cost of a development is in excess of $500,000. Developments with fewer than four residential units are also exempt.

Developers commit one percent of their project costs (capped at $25,000 for developments with a budget in excess of $2.5 million) to fund public art.

The Percent for Art ordinance specifies particulars in how the Public Art Fund can be spent. The private developer can either install the art on-site or can make a donation of art or money to East Lansing’s Public Art Fund.

Money within the Public Art Fund can also be used to maintain artwork and cover fees to artists for execution of the artwork. Administrative costs may not exceed 15 percent and marketing costs may not exceed 5 five percent of the amount reserved for the artwork.

Last year, real estate developer Leo Brown Group worked with the City of East Lansing to erect a ​7-foot-tall mosaic Virgin Mary statue along Coolidge Road at the entrance drive to a geriatric psychiatric inpatient facility.

Raymond Holt for ELi

Artwork by Cincinnati artist Jonpaul Smith installed under East Lansing’s Percent for Art ordinance.

In hiring Lauren Asta to create the work at Center City, HB BM worked alongside Chicago-based art consultant Anna Cernigilia, founder of Johalla Projects.

Asta is a San Francisco-based artist who creates work entirely freehanded. Her murals are influenced by oddity art and doodle art.

“Creating public artwork allows me to visually stimulate an audience,” wrote Asta on her ​website​. She said she seeks to inspire audiences “with my cast of characters doing what they do best… being humorous about the human experience.”

Lauren Asta working on one of her signature murals.

Asta’s mural is set to be painted from early July to early August, weather permitting, now that Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s stay-at-home order has been lifted.

It will be located at street level within the walkway between Pinball Pete’s and Jolly Pumpkin’s upcoming East Lansing location.

The artwork when finished will be approximately 22 feet tall and 56 feet wide and will enliven an area frequented by many passersby.

“When I began exploring the opportunity to work in East Lansing, I was blown away by the City’s commitment to public art,” said Asta in a statement. “Public art is created to inspire and create hope. In challenging times, such as this, I am looking forward to creating a mural that will remind us of the joy and love that continuously remains around us.”

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