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Wednesday, March 13,2013

Taking art to the streets

Lansing Art Gallery to host lectures on trends in contemporary art and the social value of public art and graffiti

by Hélène Dryden

Friday, Sept. 28 — A new lecture series starting Oct. 10 is getting down and dirty with the subject of graffiti and public art — a timely subject for Lansing-area art enthusiasts.

As associate professor in Michigan State University’s sociology department, Toby A. Ten Eyck has focused his research on the value of contemporary and public art and the standards of the medium. He will hold two separate lectures on Oct. 10 and Oct. 17 at the Lansing Art Gallery in downtown Lansing in a series designed to address the transformation of art over time.

Lansing Art Gallery executive director Catherine Babcock says she likes the work that Ten Eyck has done and thinks his lectures will draw a diverse audience, including many students.

“I think, for him, it’s more about getting everyone involved,” Babcock said. “He’s trying to take the fear out of art.”

The first lecture will detail the trends and traditions of contemporary art and how it affects our view of the world. The second lecture will focus on the value and social narrative of public art and graffiti.

Earlier this month, local artist Jeffrey Scott Handley was arrested for allegedly tagging the Capitol Building and a nearby war memorial with graffiti. Handley has admitted to committing the crime. On two east-facing pillars of the Capitol, Handley spray-painted male and female stick figures as a commentary on what he said was the stifling of women’s rights by the Legislature. On the back of the war memorial, Handley spray-painted “give art a chance.” Handley is awaiting his first court date in the 30th Circuit Court.

It is unclear whether the incident surrounding Handley will be discussed at the lecture. Ten Eyck could not be immediately reached for comment.

Lansing Art Gallery coordinator Sarah Palav says that Ten Eyck should offer an interesting take on both contemporary art and graffiti. She says she’s excited to hear his lecture about public art and the issues of risks and fears associated with public art like graffiti.

Babcock says that Ten Eyck, who is a member of the board at the Lansing Art Gallery, has done projects at the gallery and is well known and respected in the Lansing art scene. His projects focus on art constructed through community involvement. Most recently, he held a public art project on the sidewalk outside of the gallery that encouraged the community to contribute drawings and paintings on a blank canvas.

Ten Eyck’s lectures will be the first in the proposed series of adult workshops that Palav says the gallery hopes to offer. The cost is $10 per lecture or $15 to attend both. For more information or to sign up, call (517) 374-6400 or email lansingartgallery@gmail.com.

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