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News & Press: FOCUS

Keys to Creativity: Unlocking the Door to Art in Lansing

Wednesday, August 1, 2018  
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Larry Grudt, director of Keys to Creativity (KTC), located in the Lansing Mall, is on a mission to help market Lansing as more than the “capital of Michigan”, but as a destination spot, full of cultural identity and art. In the process, the concept behind Keys to Creativity may be part of how American shopping malls reinvent themselves.

KTC, run completely by volunteers, opened a little under three years ago. The Lansing Mall approached Grudt, asking if he would help rebrand the mall by converting two vacant stores into art galleries.

“I think in 10 to 20 years we’re going to understand malls quite a bit differently. I don’t think they are going away,” Grudt said. “There are just different opportunities now that we are acting upon for the betterment of the community.”

One of the galleries provides a space for local artists to display their work, while the second gallery is for events and special exhibits. KTC has a variety of classes, including drawing, watercolor and acrylic painting. Saturday kids art classes are beginning in September. They’re also starting music lessons in the back gallery.

“It’s very widespread, what Keys to Creativity is interested in. We just want to advocate for creative expression in whatever form that may be,” Grudt said. “And we’re trying to reach out and do unique things for the Lansing area.”

In addition to the galleries, Keys to Creativity works closely with the community to promote support between local artists and other art venues. Last year, KTC hosted “Lansing’s Summer of Love,” the theme was a throwback to the summer of 1967. This year they are working with Lansing south-side neighborhood groups developing the Lansing Harmony Celebration on September 8, a multi-cultural festival filled with music, art, ethnic foods and activities for kids and adults. Next year, they are planning on a Woodstock-themed festival.

Grudt said they aren’t interested in recreating things that have already been done before. He wants Keys to Creativity to be a place where local artists support one another and help the community implement art into their everyday lives.

“Things like Painting with a Twist already exist in the community and there’s no need to provide those opportunities at Keys to Creativity,” Grudt said. “Rather than stepping on someone else’s toes, I’d much rather advocate for their business. I want to promote them in their successful work as well as our unique projects.”

What makes Keys to Creativity so special is the importance of community. KTC focuses on highlighting local Lansing businesses, while promoting artists and musicians in the area. All of this can’t be done without the 15 volunteers who donate at least five hours of their time each month to keep the galleries running.

Lansing is rich in cultural identity and Keys to Creativity is at the center. It’s no surprise surrounding malls are asking Grudt and his team to open galleries in their vacant spaces.

Keys to Creativity is unlocking the door to a new outlook on shopping malls and Lansing.

Click here to download the August issue of FOCUS.

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