- Associated Press - Sunday, June 10, 2018

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) - A building that housed an adult bookstore for about five decades is now showcasing art.

An interactive art gallery, Muse opened this month on the west side of Grand Rapids.

The Grand Rapids Press reports that when Stephen and Taylor Smith took ownership of the site, the building’s windows were still covered and adult books were stacked inside. The couple hung before-and-after photos showing the transformation from adult bookstore to art gallery during the grand opening.

According to the Smiths, the cleaning and renovations required to transform the space into a studio for use by the community was well worth it.

“It helped us reshape our whole idea of what Muse was,” Stephen Smith said. “The idea of Muse was just to inspire people. We want to work with the gallery feel because we are both lovers of art and creativity.”

This year, Muse will be a venue for ArtPrize and Stephen Smith said he would like to see Muse as a staple in the west side for growth, development and creativity.

“It felt like it took a long time but it was worth it because we could make sure we did it the right way,” Taylor Smith said. “We’ve been going through this process of this building and these different challenges and it felt good to know there was going to be this positive outlet for other people on the other side of it.”

The interactive gallery is designed for creative people to come together to host an event, take a class or schedule a photo shoot. The couple also plans to hold workshops for the youth in the community.

Muse can be rented for a $100 an hour during the week and $130 an hour on the weekends. The Smiths are still deciding on pricing for art.

Facing adversity growing up, the Smiths turned to art to express themselves. They hope Muse will inspire other budding artists and bring change and transformation to the corner of Leonard Street.

“We want to connect Muse with artist and we don’t want it to feel like this is ours,” Stephen Smith said. “We were really trying to be strategic with our communication and not make it look like, ‘Stephen and Taylor’s thing.’ We just want Muse to exist and we want ownership of creators.”

Taylor Smith works for World Renew, while Stephen Smith is an employee of Grand Rapids Public Schools.


Information from: The Grand Rapids Press, http://www.mlive.com/grand-rapids

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