Grove Studios Welcomes Laura Wartel as Event Coordinator
We’re stoked to introduce Laura Wartel as our new Event Coordinator at Grove Studios. Laura brings a wealth of art curating, talent buying, production management, artist relations, corporate event planning, stage lighting and projection mapping design experience to the team. We recently chatted with Laura about her background, support of the Southeast Michigan music scene, plans for Grove Studios and creative projects:
How did you get started in event planning for music and creative events?
I’ve been curating art events since 2014, and I used to manage a small art gallery in downtown Royal Oak. I graduated from Eastern Michigan University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts and a Minor in Arts Management. I started a master’s program for arts and cultural management at Michigan State University in 2015, but discontinued my education to pursue real-life experience working in the arts.
I started my own art and music event production company in 2016 called Gallery Bypass because I needed to gain experience in what I wanted to do. As an artist, I found a lot of social stigmas behind art and music shows and wanted to create an all-inclusive community. I wanted to be someone that anyone could reach out to about some wild performance idea that other event producers or venues would otherwise reject.
What type of events have you curated and supported in the past?
Every event was a themed, multi-genre art and music show, including hip-hop, jazz, funk, jam, noise, soul, rock, electronic music, fire/circus performers, avant-garde art performances, and more traditional art forms such as painting and sculpture.
Some of my most well-known events are The FUNKtion, Touch Me, Distoria, Animal Party and Subreality. I’ve produced events across metro Detroit and Ypsilanti, and I’ve brought a lot of Ypsilanti/Ann Arbor acts to Detroit such as Chirp, Ma Baker, Act Casual, Stormy Chromer, Sonny Dulphi, Funkwagon, Liquid Thickness, and Ypsilanti favorites Pan the Musical Goat and Soft Milk.
In 2017, I made the switch to corporate event planning for a national audio/visual production and integration company called Conference Technologies Inc. and became Tangent Gallery/Hasting Street Ballroom’s Director of Event Coordinating and Marketing. During the beginning of the pandemic, I led a fundraising campaign for Tangent Gallery and raised over $20,000 in donations to support staff who had been laid off due to the pandemic and cover building expenses.
What do you enjoy most about event planning and supporting the local music/creative community in Southeast Michigan?
I like seeing creative ideas come to life and giving them the space and support to do it. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Nothing is impossible.
Why did you decide to join the Grove Studios team? What do you hope to bring to Grove Studios’ live events in the coming months?
I miss Ypsi and Ypsi bands! I decided to join the Grove Studios team because I’ve admired their mission and the community they’ve built. I’m excited to get back to the Ypsilanti music scene.
I’m also excited to coordinate Grove Studios’ May 29 Loud women’s showcase with performances by Nina & The Buffalo Riders, Ally Evenson, Zilched and Carmel Liburdi. There will also be a projection mapping by Kelli Austin who I’ve also worked with before. I think this is going to be a great event to kick off what we will have in store for the rest of the summer. I’m looking forward to coming up with different themed events to highlight talented folks in the community.
How did you develop an interest in stage lighting design and projection mapping?
At my 2018 Distoria event, I worked with a team of artists to projection map the entire inside and outside of Tangent Gallery and was honored to work with RUFFMERCY, aka Russ Murphy, who’s an animation director based in Bristol, U.K. He’s animated hip-hop music videos for Run The Jewels, Danny Brown, Earl Sweatshirt, Flying Lotus and others.
My current independent project is The Bedroom Light Show. I’m an analog lumia performance artist, and I perform locally in metro Detroit. In late 2018, I toured across Germany and France with Germany’s Peter Piek and Los Angeles’ Bee Appleseed performing my light show alongside their music. I’m looking forward to hosting jam nights once things get better. I used to invite musicians into my studio to improv jam and would illustrate their sounds in the moment with my lights. I’m looking forward to getting back to that by the end of the year.
Follow Laura Wartel: