Andrew Sandstedt at Cedar Street Art Collective - Photo Dave Trumpie <span class='image-credits'></span>

Growing art spaces and places in the Capital area

Cedar Street Art Collective 

If you've lived in Lansing for a while, chances are you've bought a couch, a dinner table, or a dresser from Dicker and Deal. But when they moved down the road to their new location, their old digs at 1701 S. Cedar became the new home of something exciting. People started getting curious when a new mural showed up outside of the building, and a mysterious hand logo appeared above the freshly painted door. It wasn't long before the news was out about The Cedar Street Art Collective (CSAC) forming.

Andrew Sandstedt, Creative Director of CSAC, and the mastermind behind this year's winning Scrapfest entry, says it all came about because he and a friend wanted somewhere for local artists to work and share their creations with the people of Lansing. "We've divided most of the upstairs into smaller studios for artists to rent out, but downstairs is where we'll be doing the art shows, offering people's work for sale, and even offering art classes and workshops."

Right now they have a couple of painters, a photographer, a costume designer, and a host of other creative artists renting work spaces from the Collective. A Latin dancing class meets twice a week downstairs, and several gallery shows have already been held, complete with live music. "We want to provide a space where art can be accessible to the community," Sandstedt says. "A space where people who live in the surrounding neighborhoods can stop by, take a class, make something creative, or buy a piece of affordable art made by an artist who lives in their community."

"No one's going to get rich off this," Sandstedt smiles, "But that's not the point. We just want art to be an important part of the daily lives of people in Lansing, whether it's photography, music, painting, metal art, clay, or some other medium of creative expression. And what better way to achieve that than to make it available to them right in their own neighborhood?"

Reach Studio Art Center

The idea that art should be accessible to people from every walk of life is something that REACH Studio Art Center has been promoting for years. With affordable art classes offered for people of all ages, and an Art Truck that goes out into the neighborhoods in the afternoon, offering kids a chance to make art for free right where they live, REACH is bringing art right to the people of Lansing.

"It's chaos in here!" Christine Murphy laughs, as she picks her way among giant sculptures of insects made by a group of teens, and endless shelves of dried clay pots, waiting to be glazed. And it is - a constantly evolving space filled with paintings, puppets, woven art, and mixed media sculptures. But it's not just the art that's changing constantly - the space itself is growing to meet the needs of the community as well.

Over the last two years, REACH has been expanding their space, growing from a single building to encompass the entire city block. "We've got this whole new Clay Studio now," Murphy says, "It's amazing - kids are learning to throw pots on the wheel, and we've got adults coming in and making ceramic sculptures and learning about glazing techniques. It's amazing to see what people can do when you give them the opportunity to be creative!"

And that's not all. Just this year REACH opened their new Fiber Art studio, their Media Lab, and the recently completed performance space, where they host yoga classes, theater productions, musical performances, and dance classes, like the ones offered by All of The Above Hip Hop Academy.

All of The Above Hip Hop Academy

All of The Above Hip Hop Academy (AOTA) was the brainchild of Tyson Pumphrey a.k.a. Ozay Moore, a hip hop artist from the Seattle area who settled in Lansing after his wife (who was raised here) Ozay Moore says. However, it didn't take long before he realized that perspective is everything. "I realized that if there wasn't a big hip hop scene here, I could work on helping to create one."

AOTA is all about hip hop, but it's so much more than just a place for people to dance and make music. "Hip hop is a lens through which many people view the world. It's a culture. And so I wanted to use that to show people that hip hop can be a force for positive change in your life. Many people think of hip hop as having only negative connotations - all the drugs and violence they see on tv - but it can be an agent of change. You just have to show people how."

Ozay Moore and a group of dedicated artists, musicians, and poets teach kids and teens the basics of breakdance, which Moore says is one of the foundation pieces of hip hop culture. They also offer beat making classes, where they teach young people the art of mixing and producing music, writing lyrics, and even spray art (which you probably know as graffiti).

"We focus on self discipline, respect, personal responsibility, and community awareness. All under the umbrella of hip hop, which allows people a really unique creative outlet,” Ozay Moore adds. “Kids are drawn to hip hop. It's the soundtrack of their lives, and the medium they use to develop an identity as individuals. So why not find ways to help them express themselves, and develop into the best possible versions of themselves, using hip hop as a teaching tool they can identify with and relate to."

The Fledge

Using unconventional tools to help people reach their full potential is something The Fledge has been doing well for a few years now. As one of Michigan's fastest growing incubators, The Fledge has helped countless entrepreneurs get their dreams off the ground successfully. And it doesn't matter what your dream is - if you can think it up, The Fledge can help you find ways to make it real. Whether it's starting a business, recording an album, hosting an art show, teaching a class, or designing something that addresses a need, there are no limits here.

It might not make sense up front - the idea that a space can meet so many different needs for so many different people at once, but that's what makes The Fledge unique. As Jerry Norris, explains, "We're a radically inclusive ideation space, maker space, incubator and accelerator, on a mission to create opportunities to pursue happiness." And their space reflects this dedication to diversity and inclusion, with locally printed t-shirts for sale in the lobby, artwork done by locals all over the walls, and a baptismal font in the process of being converted into a fish pond.

Norris, the creator of The Fledge, has titled himself 'primus inter pares', which means the first among equals, because he doesn't see himself as the guy in charge. And that's not the only thing about Norris' approach that's different. "We don't have rules here, we have values. Rules constrict people, and force them to do something because they have to. Values continue to exist when rules can't be enforced. It changes the way people think."

And that's exactly what Norris is hoping to do with The Fledge - change the way people think. We want a space that presents no barriers, accepts everyone, celebrates all art forms, and helps everyone succeed. From an artist perspective, it's a haven. Whether it's providing free canvases and paint for people to express themselves, a space for local artists to sell and display their work, or a place to come and learn a new medium in a workshop, The Fledge is providing Lansing artists, and aspiring artists, with the tools they need to succeed.

And what more could an artist ask for, than a space to create in, and a welcoming environment in which to celebrate what they do? So if you’re in Lansing and it's time to express your creative side, there are more avenues available to you now. 

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Sarah Hillman is the news editor for Capital Gains.
 

Photos © Dave Trumpie

 

Dave Trumpie is the managing photographer for Capital Gains. He is a freelance photographer and owner of Trumpie Photography.

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