Art Gallery Owner to Board Member

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By Juliana Moxley
Old Town Lansing Times staff writer

Photo: Juliana Moxley. Katalyst Art Gallery’s sign in front of the building on Turner Street. A unique and modern-styled sign that flows with the type of merchandise for sale inside Katalyst.

Photo: Juliana Moxley. Katalyst Art Gallery’s sign in front of the building on Turner Street. A unique and modern-styled sign that reflects the type of merchandise for sale inside Katalyst.

Old Town Lansing — From her art gallery that offers an array of uniquely styled pieces, to her new position on the OTCA Board of Directors, Sara Christiansen is making her mark on Old Town.

How it All Began

Old Town businesses, residents and clientele came together for an exciting evening to celebrate the winter season and the achievements of those in Old Town at the district’s Winter Mixer on Jan. 26. It was at this event when Katalyst Art Gallery owner Sara Christiansen was announced to be holding a position on the 2014-2016 Board of Directors for her first time, a position Grace Boutique owner Summer Schriner said Christiansen perfectly represents.

“I think she can contribute to the board and I think she’s a hard worker,” Schriner said.

Christiansen ran for the OTCA board position because she said she felt retailers were underrepresented. She’s also an Old Town resident, and that’s another reason why she wanted to get more involved.

“I’m very excited, and I’m a little nervous because I haven’t done anything like this before,” Christiansen said.

Photo: Juliana Moxley. Katalyst Art Gallery is located at 1214 Turner St. in Old Town. Sara Christiansen opened the gallery on Sept. 24, 2010.

Photo: Juliana Moxley. Katalyst Art Gallery is located at 1214 Turner St. in Old Town. Sara Christiansen opened the gallery on Sept. 24, 2010.

Katalyst Art Gallery has been part of Old Town since Sept. 2010, and during that short period of time Christiansen has taken on a leadership position with the Board of Directors. Within the board, Christiansen holds a position on the Promotions Committee, which is in charge of fundraising, approving projects submitted by the OTCA Executive Director, and approving the financials for projects.

Well-known in the OTCA

Polka Dots Bead-a-full Boutique owner Kristin Szymusiak has known Christiansen since Katalyst opened in Old Town and said she’s looking forward to having her serve on the Board of Directors.

“She’s a great leader and has done well with her business,” Szymusiak said. “I’m excited — it’s nice to have other shop owners on the board.”

Photo: Juliana Moxley. Polka Dots Bead-a-Full Boutique store front. Polka Dots is located on Turner Street, across from Katalyst Art Gallery.

Photo: Juliana Moxley. Polka Dots Bead-a-full Boutique store front. Polka Dots is located on Turner Street, across from Katalyst Art Gallery.

Christiansen, who has a bachelor’s degree in fine art, said it has always been a dream to own an art gallery. After hearing a statistic that Old Town is the most creative place in the state per capita, Christiansen said she knew it would be the perfect spot to open an art gallery.

“They’ve coined this as the art district, so this seems like the normal place to put an art gallery,” Christiansen said.

Among the selection of art created by various artists, Katalyst also sells Christiansen’s own artwork for sale. She said she mostly does landscape photography, but she also sells items such as mobiles and jewelry.

Katalyst Art Gallery is commended by others in Old Town, such as OTCA Executive Director Louise Gradwohl, for the unique pieces it carries and the cool, upbeat atmosphere it creates upon entering the shop. Gradwohl raved about the job Christiansen has done with finding pieces that fit the “aura” of the gallery, as well as her personality.

“She has done an exceptional job of finding retail that fits her personality and fits really well with the clientele that shops down here,” Gradwohl said.

Questions? Contact Juliana Moxley at moxleyju@msu.edu or (586) 819-9750

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