Photos by Erika Hodges
Katalyst Gallery and Gift Boutique has been showcasing retail, fair trade and designer pieces of art since September 2010 and has contributed a great deal to the greater Lansing arts community ever since.
Sarah Christiansen, owner of the gallery, started her business in a very non-traditional way. Formerly working as a photographer and designer for the Lansing State Journal, she decided to leave her career in journalism due to a downsizing scare in her industry.
“I had always wanted to open my own art gallery,” said Christiansen.
Christiansen knew about a year and a half prior that her job was going to be eliminated. So she started writing a business plan to open Katalyst at the Small Business Technology Center at Lansing Community College while looking for locations in Old Town.
“I love to stay in Lansing because the Old Town Commercial Association does a great job of bringing traffic and events to Old Town,” said Christiansen.
Each month, Katalyst features a new artist, each from Michigan. From each artist, Christiansen tries to grow the gallery’s permanent collection by buying a couple pieces from each show.
“Artists usually contact me when looking for a show,” explains Christiansen. She has a knack for creating opportunities for up-and-coming artists, more often than not housing their first public show.
“Usually Katalyst is their first showing and I’m really proud of that.”
Aside from her talents as a new business owner, Christiansen is a photographer and displays her own canvas-printed photos at Katalyst as well.
Katalyst is more than just a gallery, it functions as a shop as well, selling art and artsy items like camera lens-shaped mugs, or pieces of art that can be colored by the buyer.
“I work to make sure that everything in my store is unique and interesting,” says Christiansen. “I’ve just come from a Handmade Jewelry Show in Montreal and picked up some pieces. Each of them is unique and there isn’t another like it.”
Everything in Katalyst is for sale, and Sarah works hard to make sure that nothing that is brought into the store is a duplicate.
Katalyst participates in a number of art events in the greater Lansing area including a new favorite, Arts Night Out, a monthly event series that inhabits one of four different Lansing neighborhoods to experience urban space and creativity in unexpected ways.
“Arts Night Out is awesome, I love it,” said Christiansen. “It’s brought so much attention to the great art in the area and is great exposure for artists, my gallery and Old Town.”
When asked about where she would like to take Katalyst, Christiansen said that she would like to continue to feature artists in her gallery. Recently buying the building in Old Town, she said she’d like to expand the floor space a little in order to include more merchandise for people to sell.
For more information, find Katalyst Gallery and Gift Boutique on Facebook, as well as their website at katalystgallery.com.