EL Architects Expand Art Gallery Annex

Aug 10, 2017

There’s a change happening along Grand River in East Lansing. Buildings are being prepped for renovation, which means some businesses are relocating. WKAR’s Jamie Paisley learned about one business that decided to add-on a little something.


"We were previously located at 201 and 1/2 Grand River and our building is undergoing development, so we needed to find a new home." says Amanda Harrell-Seyburn, one of the two-person team that makes up East Arbor Architecture. "So, east arbor architecture is not just a design studio, it's also an art gallery and at our former location, the Plus Gallery was 1/2 of about 300 square feet that was the total of our design studio. Here at Michigan Energy Options, we have the design studio about the size of our previous one. The Plus Gallery is adjacent to us on the 1st level of the building and it is about triple in size as to what it was at the previous location."

"We're just north of, I'll say the HopCat building," says  Dan Bollman, founder of east arbor architecture. "but the parking structure is actually a little but closer to us."
While the gallery is attached to the architecture firm… "I don't know that we're actually landed any specific clients." says Bollman. "It's actually an opportunity for us to show off work of artists to our clients. It's really more of a ‘Thank You’ to our clients than a search for new clients. Though of course, we would never turn away a new commission if that were to land on our new doorstep."

Though as Amanda explains, one of the biggest benefits is to the artists themselves. "Our primary work is architecture. The gallery is supported by our architecture and the proceeds are 100% to the artists. We do not collect any proceeds."

"So, I have a bachelor's degree in Art History, along with my master's degree in architecture." says Amanda Harrell-Seyburn, "and when I heard about [East Lansing] Arts Night Out, it sounded like a great opportunity for us to open our design studio to the public and host an exhibition. It went so well that we decided to do another one… and then another one… and then we decided to permanently name the space 'Plus Gallery.'"

The Plus Gallery exhibit opening this Friday, August 11th partially includes a bit of architecture in its photography, but as Amanda says "it's not a rule that all the artists that we show have something to do with the build environment, but it is a bonus. We've had artists come to us because we are in architecture and they know about the gallery and they're doing something related to architecture and that's the case with our current artist in exhibit. The artist (Khalid Ibrahim) actually contacted me almost half a year ago and said 'Hey, I'm working on this series. Would you be willing to host it in the gallery space.' and it's really delightful that this is the first exhibit that we're showing here at our new location, because it is about architecture."

The photography exhibit is called In Place: Dancers Plus Architecture by Lansing-based artist Khalid Ibrahim and for the opening, which coincides with the first day of the Great Lakes Folk Festival, there is another partnership that east arbor architecture developed.

"I knew Red Cedar Spirits by their reputation and they're our local distillery." says Harrell-Seyburn. "So, when we decided that we wanted to serve mocktails at the opening, I called Diane at Red Cedar Spirits and asked her if she was available to do this and they were more than generous to put together a plan so that we could serve some really fantastic drinks at the opening." And the non-alcoholic drinks being prepared are themed around architecture as well. "One is the 'Skyskraper,' one is the 'Library,' and one is the 'Conservatory.'" But though the contents remain shrouded in mystery, Amanda has her pick: "Probably 'Conservatory.'"

The newly expanded Plus Gallery from east arbor architecture opens Friday, August 11th at 5pm and is located in the Michigan Energy Options building behind East Lansing City Hall near the Grove St. parking Garage.. Given their recent move away from Grand River Ave, they recommend visiting their facebook page here, which has more information about the Plus Gallery re-opening.