Calumet Art Center offers art classes, builds community
Art's Corner by Miriam Pickens
The first-ever “Super Dog Sled Saturday in Calumet was on January 22. The free event for kids was combined with a fundraising Spaghetti Dinner at the Calumet Elks Lodge. Children got to experience “mushing” in Agassiz Park with a few racing teams and Michigan Tech Mushing Club students.
Calumet is really becoming a vibrant community! It’s so neat to see cool events, especially for local kids. The Calumet Art Center in the Big Green Church, on the South end of 5th Street, has been providing art classes for kids all summer, weaving classes, watercolor classes, and more. They just had a Valentine constructing class on January 29. It was really a cute project; the children each painted a large valentine framed with candy. All of their youth classes are free, while generous sponsors from the community guarantee that the teachers get paid for their work. Anyone can sponsor these children’s classes; just contact the Calumet Art Center for more information.
There are many adult art classes on offer at the center as well. Laura Hamlett has been teaching stained glass classes for many years, and these are very popular. Kristy Walden enjoys teaching Hand Building in Clay, and two classes are available. Blacksmithing with Kris Southerland is actually an indoor class, with a forge that keeps the fire contained so it is safe. Southerland has a studio called Copper Island Forge in Laurium, where he sells forged metal pieces, blown glass, and sharpens knives and scissors. There’s also a beginner painting class with Bobbi Shirey being offered this winter. There are private lessons as well—basket weaving by Lori Laurie as well as other classes in weaving and painting techniques by Donna Lenard, Clarence Fisher, and others.
The “Spotlight Gallery”, on the main floor (lower level) of the Calumet Art Center is featuring art from local veterans this winter. The exhibit started on Veteran’s Day in November, and the participants wanted it to continue. Works by John Sullivan, Clyde Mikkola, Bill Wiard, and Dave Walli are featured.
The most exciting project right now is the planning of an addition to the building.
I spoke with Kristy Walden, board president, about it, and she said “We have started, as of January, to put together a building fund. We are working with an architect, and he is drawing up the plans. It’s a two-story ‘build-on’ that will have an elevator and a bathroom upstairs so that we are completely barrier-free for any classes or shows happening on either level. The addition will have specific classrooms for ceramics, painting, and weaving.”
This will be particularly nice since the goal of the Center is to be an active community center, with different classes occurring simultaneously so that they can serve the community more effectively. This addition will be on the south side of the building where the Rose Garden was, and most of these plants have already been donated. Funding will come primarily from grants, and there will be more information about this coming in the near future.
There is a lot happening at the Calumet Art Center. If you’re interested in purchasing art from local vendors, there will be a Valentine Market at the Center on February 12 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and a “Welcoming Spring Market” on March 19. There is a mask requirement for these, in order to keep everyone safe. Walden commented that everyone has been really gracious about it, and there are masks available if a person forgets theirs.
I remember when the Calumet Art Center got started under the direction of the late Ed Gray, and the vision he had for a community center where the people of this area could have an accessible place to learn about culture, creativity, and community. One really special gift I remember was an “empty bowl” project to bring funds to local food banks. Café Rosetta, co-owned at the time by Patrick Wright, was one of the first to offer soup for the event. Michigan House did likewise. I was reminded of this in an article in Keweenaw Now from that year, which featured Susan Rokicki, delighted at the chance to glaze one of those bowls. Happy to be part of a creative project to make this world a better place.
Susan was a supporter of the arts, a musician, a teacher, an accompanist in schools, churches, and for the Pine Mountain Music Festival, and a really nice woman. She passed away after a long health struggle, on January 15.
I’m grateful for the connections I’ve been able to make through the Calumet Art District.