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Wednesday, February 26,2014

Glass action

Craig Mitchell Smith brings his factory, showroom to Old Town

by Jonathan Griffith

This story was corrected on March 7 to say Smith's new gallery is at 1220 N. Washington Ave.

The freestanding glass sculptures of artist Craig Mitchell Smith recently found a new home to refract their dapples of color. Smith moved his gallery from the Meridian Mall in Okemos to Old Town on Jan. 1, and held a grand opening last Sunday. The building is the former studio of Lansing-based print artist Linda Beeman. As obvious a home as Old Town may seem, Smith, 50, said he fondly remembers his former digs.

“The mall was very good to me,” says Smith. “It helped me get my name out there — thousands of people have seen my work.” Smith used to work out of the basement of his Lansing home until he moved into Meridian Mall in October 2010. Rising costs of rent, however, and an increasingly busy schedule drove him to find a place where he could have more independence.

So while things are indeed changing, location-wise, they'll also be staying the same … sort of. The standalone gallery, 1220 N. Washington Ave., has the same square footage as the mall location. However, where the mall gallery had 1,000 square feet dedicated to production space and 3,000 square feet of showroom space, the Old Town location will have the exact opposite.

To break in (figuratively, we hope) the new exhibit space, Smith offers a sneak peek at his newest work, “The Flight of the Monarch,” a freestanding sculpture replete with dozens of glass butterflies. The sculpture will be on display at the gallery until Thursday, after which it will flit off to its new home: Disney World’s EPCOT Center in Orlando from May 5 to 18.

Smith plans to do a bit of traveling and take his works with him on the road. The months ahead will find Smith as a featured artist at The Chicago Flower Show at Navy Pier in March and basking in the spotlight for a one-man show at the Minnesota Arboretum.

Smith said he plans to keep his studio based in his hometown of Lansing; the Old Town location will be home until at least until his three-year lease is up. It’s be hard to pass up the convenience that comes with the five-minute drive from his Lansing home to his new gallery, compared to his former 40-minute jaunt to Okemos. In reference to his new gallery's relative proximity to the Grand River, Smith said, “Maybe I’ll get a kayak and drift home.”

Craig Mitchell Smith Glass

1220 N. Washington Ave., Lansing Thu-Sat: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sun: Noon-6 p.m. Other time are available by appointment (517) 349-1345 craigmitchellsmith.com

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