Ms. Laura’s Art Gallery offers accessibility for emerging artists


Laura Ray took up painting in 2009 as an outlet during her battle with breast cancer. As her art began to pile up in her home, someone suggested she should try to sell some of the pieces. 

Ray took the advice to heart and began selling her paintings online and at area festivals in 2011 under the banner of Ms. Laura’s Art. She continued to do so through 2018, when she opened her own gallery in the REO Town Marketplace. 

Due to health issues, her first stint at the marketplace lasted less than a year, but she reopened the gallery on March 1 in order to make extra money while being able to set flexible hours. A grand opening event was held on May 18. 

“It's a little bigger than it was last time, and I’m probably going to have to expand again soon because I'm full already,” she said.  

In addition to her own work, the gallery also features pieces by nine other artists.  

“Some are more popular and well-known, but I try to find artists who are just getting started and haven’t had an opportunity to really put their art out there yet. I try to help them figure out whether it's a good idea to keep doing what they're doing,” she said.  

All the art is for sale, and participating artists receive 70% of the profit on their pieces. Once their art is on display, Ray asks that they wait at least three months before taking it down. 

“I want to give people the best opportunity to sell their stuff, but sometimes it takes me a little while to figure out how to properly advertise and market it,” she explained. 

The gallery consists of much more than just paintings. Ray also makes earrings and other jewelry, while other artists offer pottery, recycled metal art and other unique creations.  

Ray grew up in Suttons Bay and moved to Lansing as a teenager in the 1980s. While she raised her children and has spent the majority of her life here, she said her upbringing remains a chief source of inspiration. 

“I spent a lot of time in the Upper Peninsula when I was little, so I think a lot of my art has a lot to do with that,” she said. “Living in the city now, I still have a great fondness for the country and find myself painting the country a lot.” 

Ray considers herself “an untaught Bob Ross.” She aims to provide space for other artists who relate to that sentiment.  

“I think that the difference between mine and other galleries is that if somebody wants an opportunity, they can have one here,” she said. “I want to be able to be self-sufficient, and I also want to be able to help other people along, so this is close to my heart.” 


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