Meet the Artists

On a recent trip to St. Joseph, Kristin Bienert, editor of Michigan Travel Ideas, spent time touring the Box Factory for the Arts, a venue for local artists.

Built in 1907, this one-time box factory made fancy boxes until 1989 for companies like Marshall Fields. Now restored, the first floor and lower level house artists’ studios and galleries, plus a small gift shop. Owned by the Berrien Arts Guild, the venue sponsors writers’ workshops, music and theater performances, and other special events.

After wandering through the front and back galleries and gift shop on the first floor, plan to devote your time meeting the artists. Almost three-dozen artists rent space by the month. On any given day, visitors can find a handful of artists working in their studios. Note: All keep their hours posted outside their studio doors.

Artist Lynne Tan

The artwork is as diverse as the artists, including Lynne Tan from Singapore. Lynne’s clay pieces are simple yet stunning. She appreciates being able to work when the mood strikes—artists have 24/7 access. “This is my space, and I can come here anytime,” Lynne says. She also plans to show her installation piece Offering in Celebration of Mostly Grey at Grand Rapids ArtPrize, September 19–October 7.

Other artists include:

  • Besides showing her art, which has an Oriental flare, Elaine Harju reserves wall space for her photographer husband’s work.
  • A rainbow of colored pencils fills Susan Schirmer’s desk. She illustrates books and like most artists at the Box Factory, offers private lessons.

    Artist Susan Schirmer

  • Light streams in Jan Sonneman’s studio space, which she’s rented since 1997. Jan creates jewelry and collages from torn pieces of magazines and newspapers.
  • Bob William’s artwork looks like photography, but upon close examination, you’ll see the medium is paint.
  • A graphic designer by trade, Robin Maxon works in watercolor and among other things, designs wine bottle labels for Karma Vista Vineyard, an area winery.
  • Find Vicki Cook during the week (Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.) in her studio on the lower level. She creates jewelry from metals such as sterling, gold and copper.
  • Fiber artist Gwen Jones works on a loom set up in the lower level hallway.
  • Fractual artist, James O’Haver, uses mathematical formulas to create complex works of art. Just like looking at clouds, everyone sees something different in his work. Depending on the piece, I see an extremely intricate snowflake, vibrant spiral and bursting bubbles.

Box Factory for the Arts is free and open to the public Monday through Saturday (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.) and Sunday (1 to 4 p.m.).

Feeling inspired by her visit to the Box, Kristin Bienert went home and dug out her calligraphy materials with the goal of practicing her letter writing on a weekly basis.

Beachtowns Fall Fun Itinerary

Sunset in Ludington

The nine Beachtowns along the west Michigan Lakeshore aren’t just summer destinations. The editors of Michigan Travel Ideas put together a fall itinerary to guide you in enjoying each beach town on a different weekend this season.

October 7–8, Ludington
Friday 10-2 p.m., Saturday 10-5 p.m.

Celebrate the harvest at Autumn Days, offering experiences in everything reminiscent of this fleeting season. Watch apples being pressed into cider, hop on a hayride and take a look at the past in the 29 museum buildings in the historic village. The Old Fashioned Ice Cream Parlor is serving up that perfect taste of fall—fresh baked apple pie.

October 15, Muskegon
Saturday 10-3 p.m.

Discover the vibrant colors of fall on the 7th Annual Depot to Depot Fall Color Tour. On the self-guided drive, see several historic and scenic sites; there is also a list of optional side trips. Make a weekend of it with the discounts offered at select lodging facilities and local businesses. Enter to win the Lake Express Ticket Contest and receive complimentary passes to various attractions.

October 22, Holland
Saturday 9 p.m.–1 a.m.

At the biannual GrooveWalk music event, 10 bands perform at 10 local bars for a night of live music and fun—each bar even has a featured drink. The free GrooveXpress buses stop near each venue, and each bus has its own musician on board to keep the beat going.

October 28–29, Grand Haven
Friday and Saturday 7-11 p.m.

Dare to walk through the Haunted Hall’s Experiments in Terror this Halloween. Admission gets you into both of their haunts: Phobia1a Proj3ct and Operat1on unr3ality. Prepare to be terrified.

November 5–6, St. Joseph
Saturday 10-4 p.m., Sunday 12-4 p.m.

HollyMarket is a great way to get a jump-start on holiday shopping. The annual art and craft fair features a variety of artwork, decor and holiday gifts arranged in the galleries of the Krasl Art Center.

November 11–13, South Haven

Women are taking over for the annual Women’s Only Weekend. Events start Friday afternoon with the Wine and Cheese Welcome. Activities include a Harbor Walk, scavenger hunt and enrichment workshops.

November 18–20, Silver Lake Sand Dunes
Any time

A blanket would be the perfect accessory for cozying up on the beach to watch a beautiful Pure Michigan sunset at Little Sable Point Lighthouse.

November 25–26, Saugatuck
Friday and Saturday

A horse-drawn carriage ride provides the perfect pace to take in all the creativity this artist’s colony has to offer. Explore downtown Douglas and Saugatuck in a new way with this laid-back tradition. After your ride, the annual tree lighting ceremony takes place on Saturday at 5 p.m. in Wicks Park.

December 3, Harbor Country
Saturday, 1- 4 p.m.

Sample wines at the Holiday Open House at the Round Barn Winery. Kids can make holiday decorations and take photos with Santa.


It’s an Autopalooza Weekend!

Michigan International Speedway

Michigan International Speedway

Do you enjoy the blood pumping action of seeing cars streaming past you at over 200 MPH? Or do you prefer to see the classics cruise by, restored to their former glory by caring owners? Whatever your preference, this weekend offers opportunities for both!

  • This Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400 race promises to provide plenty of excitement for fans with a need for speed. Come for the day, or stay for a long weekend. There are a lot of activities available right at Michigan International Speedway, as well as in the local area. Before you head out to the race, be sure to get the official Pure Michigan fan gear! If you haven’t got tickets yet, get them at our special discounted price for Pure Michigan fans! Continue reading