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Jeana-Dee Allen paints tribute to Eckert Power Station stacks | 2024 Lansing ArtPath Profiles

Jeana-Dee Allen

Throughout the summer, WKAR is bringing you stories about the artists participating in the Lansing Art Gallery and Education Center’s annual ArtPath Exhibition and the pieces they’ve created along the Lansing River Trail.

Some artists use the opportunity to make works as a tribute to Lansing like one piece which celebrates the Board of Water and Light’s Eckert Power Station stacks.

Lansing artist Jeana-Dee Allen says for her painting Wynken, Blynken, & Nod, she took inspiration from vintage moving pictures that predate movies and film.

"A crankie or moving panorama is a way for someone to tell a story with an illustrated background," Allen explained.

A person would use a crank to move a long piece of artwork from one roll to another, so the picture would move along from side to side while the story was narrated. The storytelling device has been around for hundreds of years.

"It's like television before there was television," she said. 

Jeana-Dee Allen laying on an unfinished panel of her piece between two painted ones. She's pointing to an illustration of the BWL stacks
Sophia Saliby
Jeana-Dee Allen reimagined the poem Wynken, Blynken, and Nod as a story about Lansing.

The design for Allen’s ArtPath piece was originally created for a crankie to celebrate the third anniversary of the Robin Theatre which she runs with her partner in REO Town.

"We were going to write a puppet show about Greater Lansing and bring that sense of whimsy to the show because we started the Robin Theatre with a kind of vaudeville experience," Allen said.

Like Lansing, I hope it's a piece that people take some time and explore and enjoy and take a moment to reflect.

The Robin Theatre performance featured a moving scroll and the puppet of an old man to narrate. For ArtPath, Allen has unraveled the design as one long painted panorama in black and white. It’s made of six eight-foot long panels.

And it follows the story and takes its name from the 1889 poem Wynken, Blynken, and Nod by Eugene Fields.

"It's a bit of a psychedelic sounding lullaby," Allen said. "It goes from fish in the sea to wooden shoes to rocking and falling asleep at the end."

Wynken, Blynken and Nod are also the nicknames for the Lansing Board of Water and Light’s Eckert power plant stacks.

Looking at the painting, viewers might notice local landmarks like the Boji Tower and the state Capitol, but the silhouette of the stacks makes several appearances throughout the piece.

"You would see this the smokestacks in every panel to remind folks that we are in Lansing," said Allen. "We are sending people off into a dreamy state."

Allen wanted the piece to not feel so straightforward, just like the city it pays tribute to.

"Lansing is a city that you sort of have to know in order to be able to explore and enjoy which means on one hand," she said. "It can be surprising every time you turn around, and on the other, you kind of have to discover it."

She encourages people to make their own discoveries while looking at her painting

"Like Lansing, I hope it's a piece that people take some time and explore and enjoy and take a moment to reflect," she said.

Jeana-Dee Allen’s piece Wynken, Blynken & Nod is installed on the wooden dock just north of the Shiawassee Street Bridge overlooking the Grand River and Adado River Front Park.

The Lansing Art Gallery and Education Center is a financial support of WKAR.

Sophia Saliby is the local producer and host of All Things Considered, airing 4pm-7pm weekdays on 90.5 FM WKAR.
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