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Michigan’s Diverse LGBTQ+ Community Inspired This Stunning New Mural at The Ringwald Theatre at Affirmations

Artwork a visual display of Ringwald-Affirmations partnership

By |2022-05-16T16:26:53-04:00May 16th, 2022|Michigan, News|

The Ringwald Theatre, now operating inside Affirmations LGBTQ+ community center in Ferndale, has unveiled a new mural by local artist detroit_baklava, aka Brian Lacey. 

The mural, which is untitled and measures 20-by-12 feet, now resides in the large window adjacent to the entrance of the theater, which is the rear entrance of Affirmations. The mural was made possible thanks to a grant from the Ferndale Community Foundation earlier this year.

Vince Kelley, a member of Ringwald’s board of directors, was the one who reached out to Lacey about creating the mural. Kelley knew that Lacey had previously designed and completed another mural inside the center.

“When the idea of incorporating our brand on the exterior of Affirmations came up, I wanted to give Brian the opportunity to get his work out where everyone could see it. Thankfully he’s also very talented and has a colorful and unique style because, if he sucked, that would have been awkward.”

Kelley said the only guidelines he laid out for Lacey were to incorporate The Ringwald’s new logo and to make sure the mural represented The Ringwald as a cornerstone in the Ferndale LGBTQ+ community. In other words, it needed to include a rainbow.

“We all are fully obsessed,” Kelley said of the finished product. “The speed at which he worked was crazy. It came to life before our eyes. Every time I pull into a parking space in the lot, I smile. It’s just straight up joyful and couldn’t represent the colorful characters at The Ringwald any better.”

Lacey, who finished the mural in about a week, said his mural work plays upon the emphasis of space and value, and “in relation to the Ferndale community, it’s a very diverse community that celebrates everyone’s value and space, no matter who you are as an individual. So that kind of clicked for me.”

Lacey said he’s been doing murals since about 2014.

“I got a wall in Brooklyn, New York that I painted, which was a cool way to start off my mural career. Then I stepped back and I was able to assist some large, more established artists and I was able to learn that way.”

He took the moniker detroit_baklava for a few reasons.

Among other things, part of my heritage is Greek American,” he said. “Baklava has been passed back and forth between cultures for thousands of years, each taking their own twist on it. I like the name as a sweet-appearing desert but also that it represents cultural transmission and is representative of my background as well.”

Lacey’s origin story is, he said, “kind of a common artistic beginning. I was creative as a kid. I was active in the world of graffiti for a long time before I decided to take the plunge and start art school. That’s where I discovered muralism — large scale painting and fine arts painting, in general — and found a passion in that.”

Today, when someone looks at one of his murals, Lacey said he hopes they walk away with “a feeling of either relaxation or playfulness, maybe some degree of escapism. I prefer to tap into some of the more basic human reactions that people might get from artwork. That’s one of the reasons I produce my work into basic geometric shapes. People can take away their own artistic impression of the work.”

Lacey’s mural has received praise from Affirmations Executive Director Dave Garcia. “It pops with color and is clearly visible for hundreds of people to see every day as they park, walk and drive behind the center,” he said. 

The Affirmations/Ringwald union has, so far, been a pleasure, Garcia said.

“I’m excited for the community to see the mural and think it will bring attention to the fact that The Ringwald is now at Affirmations. The Ringwald and Affirmations has been a great partnership, and this is an important step in the marketing, communications and creativity of that partnership.”

Kelley agreed.

“When we first moved, which was scary and exciting, we thought we were just upgrading our space, working air conditioning, more bathrooms, more parking, that kind of stuff,” Kelley said. “What we couldn’t have known is about the people at Affirmations. Welcoming, collaborative, transparent and, best of all, we share a goal, highlighting and lifting up the marginalized and unique members of our shared community.”

The Ringwald, a professional performing arts company whose mission is to engage diverse audiences through fresh, risk-taking theatrical experiences, will present Robert O’Hara’s outrageous comedy “Bootycandy” later this season. Stay tuned for updates at theringwald.com.

In addition, The Ringwald is holding open auditions for the 2022/2023 season on Wednesday, June 8 and Saturday, June 11 at their location inside Affirmations, which is located at 290 West Nine Mile Road in Ferndale.

About the Author:

Jason A. Michael has been with Pride Source since 1999 and is currently senior staff writer. He has received both the Spirit of Detroit Award (presented by the Detroit City Council) and the Media Award from the Community Pride Banquet & Awards Ceremony for his writing and activism. Jason is also an Essence magazine bestselling author for his authorized biography "Strength Of A Woman: The Phyllis Hyman Story," released on his own JAM Books imprint.
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