For those frequenting the Division Street parking ramp, affectionately called the Hamster Cage by some East Lansing residents, the walk from the car to the street might be a more pleasant one after the dedication of a mural inside the structure Thursday.
The mural is another effort by the city to celebrate the upcoming opening of the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum, and a component of the city’s ultimate goal for East Lansing to be known as an arts destination.
Grand Ledge, Mich., artist Tony Hendrick said his goal when he began painting the mural in September was taking the casual pedestrian away from the alley adjacent to the mural, and to a more natural place.
“When I started, it felt right to me to transform the space dramatically,” Hendrick said. “The best way I could think of to do that was with nature. (The mural is) such a contrast to the concrete that’s around in the parking lot.”
With the new museum opening Saturday morning, the city has worked to incorporate art-related elements in the community, such as including local elementary school student artwork in downtown businesses, as well as the mural.
By doing this, Mayor Diane Goddeeris said the city is not only encouraging art’s presence in the community to supplement the new museum, but the support of arts education, as well.
The addition of the Broad Museum will only advance East Lansing’s blossoming artistic atmosphere, natural resource recreation and tourism senior Zack Fealk said.
“(East Lansing is) a growing art community; it’s getting bigger and bigger every day — the Broad is an example of that,” he said.
Councilmember Kathleen Boyle said the somewhat unexpected location of the mural is part of the lure of the mural, which brightens up an otherwise typical-looking alleyway.
“We’ve added a really different and exciting new piece downtown that draws you in when you walk down this pathway (that) is traveled so much by people coming downtown,” Boyle said.
Although sculptures are featured throughout the downtown area, assistant professor in the Department of Art, Art History and Design Jon Frey said the Broad Museum hopefully will bring more large-scale, international art to the city, as well an influx of people who want to see it.
“I think there can always be more art,” Frey said. “If you can’t have the opportunity to travel to other parts of the world, (the museum) is a great alternative to bring other parts of the world to Michigan,” Frey said. “With its international status as a major contemporary art museum, it will be interesting to see how much of the world comes to Michigan.”