As the Greater Lansing Region continues to expand its art focus, the Lansing Board of Water & Light (BWL) announced a new art installation at its REO Town Central Substation. The work, created by artist Marissa Tawney Thaler, will be installed in the coming weeks on the structure located at W. Malcolm X St. and S. Washington Ave. in REO Town. The work was selected by a panel comprised of representatives from BWL, REO Town Commercial Association and the Arts Council of Greater Lansing.
“We are so honored to be a part of this project,” said Meghan Martin, Arts Council executive director. “We love partnering with BWL, and it’s always a pleasure working with the folks from REO Town. Together they are doing so much to support the arts in their community, and this project, along with the financial commitment from BWL, allows the area’s already booming arts scene to continue to grow.” Martin further noted, “Projects like this are so important because they support creative placemaking and public art across the region, which is great for our residents, tourism and our economy.”
The “Art Movement Project REO Town” was launched early this summer with a call to artists to submit a digital image of new or previously created artwork to be installed on the substation for the duration of six months at which time a new call will be made. This iteration of the original project adds a licensing component; it provides artists with a $1,000 stipend for the work, which artists keep the rights to, and BWL pays the costs to print and install the art. “We were pleased to continue working with REO Town on public art installations at the Central Substation,” said BWL General Manager Dick Peffley. “This expanded direction allows us to keep our commitment to the community while featuring more local artists,” Peffley said.
The first BWL Central Substation art project launched when the substation was first built. In an effort to support the arts in Greater Lansing, and to make the building visually interesting, BWL made a commitment to invest $20,000 every three years to enliven the substation with temporary, rotating public art. BWL partnered with the Arts Council of Greater Lansing to put out its first call to artists in 2018, and artists Dane Vermuelen and Caitlin Gwinn’s colorful lighted design, “City Rhythm,” was installed in 2019.
The installation of Tawney Thaler’s art will add new excitement to this space in REO Town and infuse a feeling of revitalization. With the new changes to the program, that feeling will now be experienced every six months as new art, by artists from around the region and beyond, is featured on the structure. “I am so excited that my work was chosen,” said Tawney Thaler. “I love REO Town–the businesses–the people, and I made this piece to specifically reflect the neighborhood's vibe,” she said. “This is such a cool project to be part of, but it's even more exciting to know that others will have the same opportunity, as it's a rotating art showcase. I'm honored to kick it off, and I can't wait to add a little something to my city," Tawney Thaler added.
As public art interest continues to grow throughout the Greater Lansing Region, projects like these open up more doors for artists and create new ways of looking at public art as something that doesn’t have to be static, it can constantly be changing to reflect more perspectives and represent the diverse voices of our Greater Lansing community.
To learn more about the “Art Movement Project REO Town” (#ArtMovesREO) and other creative placemaking and public art opportunities, contact the Arts Council’s executive director, Meghan Martin, at email@example.com.