143 WEST Michigan Ave., Marshall, Michigan
A decade ago, EastEnd Studio & Gallery began as a grassroots movement then known as GreenStreet Arts. Today, the gallery and studio can be found in its spacious permanent historic home in downtown Marshall.
Although the April 16 anniversary celebration marks 10 years of bricks and mortar, the concept was developed even before the 2006 ribbon cutting.
In 2005, local artist Michael Peck began creating plans for a regional arts incubator. He researched best practices across the country, in dialogue with ArtSpace, a national real estate development company. He then built partnerships with local and state governments and area arts organizations. With a detailed premise in hand, Peck eventually joined the United Arts Council of Calhoun County.
Among the arts organizations with which Peck met was the Women’s Art Guild, who had begun pop-up galleries in 2005.
This group of eight met each month at a local restaurant to share information, art work and support one another.
Many of the Guild members were among the first to display their work at Greenstreet Arts.
Guild member Shelley Preston was instrumental in developing, teaching and directing the original AfterSchool Arts Apprenticeship program, funded by the Calhoun County Foundation Alliance.
The program was based on a hands-on training model and the Atelier, “a place where the transmission of practical knowledge and studio practices are passed from master to apprentice.”
Having lived and worked as a professional artist in New York City, Peck offered practical insight on how creative industries work as economic drivers and catalysts for vibrant city centers. The local incubator was designed to provide creative people access to knowledge, tools, space, and opportunities to be successful both creatively and financially. In turn, the business would contribute to a vibrant downtown, increase academic awareness among students, further develop tourism and strengthen the cultural and historic economy that already existed in Marshall.
Originally located in the beautiful and spacious 1913 Prairie School structure, the Masonic Hall at 115 E. Green St., the arts incubator opened its doors in the spring of 2006. It featured a large showroom highlighting the creativity of members of the newly formed Artists’ Association. The gallery was open to the public to enjoy as observers or buyers.
Greenstreet also boasted a designated room for touring art exhibits, opening with “Journey to Freedom,” curated by Battle Creek natives Velma and Vivian Clay. The exhibit told the history of slavery through various forms of art.
Held several times a year, The Art Cafe was a semi-formal affair sponsored by the board of directors and members of the Artist’s Association.
Each community open house featured music, art and idea sharing.
Early on, Greenstreet Arts formed a Design Team where artists shared ideas and collaborated on developing creative-based products for the home interior market. Marshall artist Kim Thompson led a mural project that was sponsored by the Arts and Industry Council. Works were painted under her direction by associate artists and members of the community. The murals still adorn the Green St. building.
After years of restructuring and redesigning spaces, EastEnd Studio and Gallery, 143-145 W. Michigan Ave., currently houses one of the largest galleries in the state. Located in downtown Marshall, its historic Second Empire home was designed by “Chicago’s first architect,” John Mills Van Osdel. EastEnd showcases the work of more than 50 artists and offers a variety of art classes to students of all ages.
Since its beginning as an idea in the mind of Michael Peck, EastEnd has always had community at its core. The public was invited to the 10-year anniversary (and thank-you) celebration on Saturday, April 16. Featured artist Helen Kleczynski will be on site.
There was music, refreshments and tours of the local historic building.
Much of the improvements to our art programs and our facility are the direct result of grants and EastEnd wishes to acknowledge their support over the last four years in our Wagner Building facility:
-Michigan Council for the Arts and Cultural Affairs
-Marshall Community Foundation/Yackers
-Marshall Community Credit Union
-Marshall Rotary Foundation/Club & Rotary International
-Battle Creek Community Foundation
-National Trust for Historic Preservation
We also wish to thank the many businesses and individuals that have given EastEnd many supplies especially Janice Darling and Ace Hardware as well as our major donors and our many, many volunteers that have done most of the lifting, cleaning, plastering, sanding, painting and a multitude of other tasks-over 2,300 hours just last year.
Some of the current artists met recently to bid farewell to departing EastEnd manager Pamela Rudd.
Visit our official website at EastEndStudioandGallery.com
See the video about saving the Wagner’s Block Building, a Second-Empire style design. Video by Vee Kalnins.
The Wagner’s Block building, home of EastEnd Studio and Gallery since 2012, received designation as a historic site from the National Registry of Historic Places October 29, 1971. We will provide additional information about the building including this honor as we move forward.
Thank you for taking time to read this history.