Updated: Jul 17

The South Haven Center for the Arts is extremely fortunate to have very supportive and loyal members. It is our pleasure to showcase some of these amazing members on our website. We begin with Diane Lynne Cheeseman who has been a member since 1971 - 50 years!

Lynne grew up in Michigan, spending time in Grand Ledge and St. Ignace, then Kalamazoo and Lansing. Her father was the Chief Photographer for the construction of the Mackinac Bridge and her mother was a teacher. Lynne remembers her first (and worst?) art class as a child in St. Ignace where paint-by-numbers was a favorite of her under qualified teacher. She attended Michigan State University in 1959 and took an art design class. Her love of painting was born. By 1968 she held BFA, MA and MFA degrees. The MFA is the highest degree for practicing artists for teaching purposes.

Photo of Lynne Cheeseman in her studio, holding an original painting.

After her marriage to George Cheeseman, she moved to South Haven in 1969 where her husband worked at the Palisades Nuclear Plant. They bought one of the only 3 houses for sale at that time and have made it their home with a garage studio ever since. She and George have two adult daughters, Andrea and Marcy, who graduated from the SH public schools.

In April of 1971, Lynne wanted to meet other area artists and joined what was then known as The South Haven Art Association. The President at that time was the late Steve French. She has served on the Board several times and was a member of the committee that wrote the original By-Laws and also our Statement of Purpose.

Lynne is both formally-trained and self-taught. She has attended classes throughout the years and has incorporated new techniques and inspiration into her own unique style. She is a watercolorist who now primarily uses acrylics like watercolors - lots of water and many layers of colors. The application of up to 15 layers of color can require several days to complete. She describes her style as abstract and emotional with Lake Michigan frequently providing inspiration. Form and composition are important factors in her work and she has won many state and midwest awards for her efforts.

When asked what advice she would give to aspiring artists of any age, she replied "Don't give up too soon". She also suggested that, when inspired, work on several things at one time so there are always pieces to work on while others are drying. She said "I might have 6 or 7 pieces going at one time". Aside from her artwork, Lynne also enjoys reading, exercising and gardening.

If you have an interest in Lynne's work or just want to offer congratulations on her 50 years of membership, she may be reached via email at dlcheeseman@gmail.com.

Do you know of someone else who merits special recognition either as a long-time member or who has made significant contributions of time and energy to us? Please send his/her name to Kerry at kerryh.shca@gmail.com We have wonderful members/volunteers at every level and recognizing them here is a great way to say "Thank you!"

To learn more about the history of the South Haven Center for the Arts, view our history posts on our blog.

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This summer the South Haven Center for the Arts is collaborating with the Michigan Maritime Museum for the third annual Make a Splash with Trash event. The Maritime Museum conceived of the event, which centers around a community beach clean-up for families to focus our community and visitors on the stewardship of our public beaches and water ways. The Center's role in this collaboration for the last two years has been leading an art-making workshop using the materials from the beach cleanup to make an art piece. We are very excited to have received a grant from the Greater Area South Haven Community Foundation for this year's collaboration. With this grant, the South Haven Center for the Arts will collaborate with Lawrence, Michigan artists Jeffrey and Theresa Heaton. The Heaton’s will create two art installations, one on the South Haven Center for the Art’s campus and one the Michigan Maritime Museum’s campus and will engage families in an art making event planned for Friday, August 27, 2021 on the Maritime Museum’s campus.

The Heaton's Collecting South Haven's Beach Trash

The Heaton’s make amazing relief and three-dimensional pieces from materials redirected from

waste streams. Examples of their work are intricately woven pieces made from dog and cat

food bags and geometric designs made from cat food cans and toilet paper rolls. You can see some of their work on the Cheeky Chic-y Studio facebook page and @cheeky_chicy_studio on instagram. The Heaton's have kicked off the project by exploring South Haven's beaches and river ways, chasing down the beach combing machine, and finding where all the beach trash gets dumped. When visiting the dumpster at the cemetery where the beach trash is deposited, Theresa and Jeffrey met Mary, who told them all about the patterns of refuse left on the beach. Below are photos of the Heaton's adventures and notable pieces of beach trash which they are planning to use in their final sculptures.

How can you help with this project?

Now that the artists have started to identify what type of waste is left on the beaches, they need more! Theresa and Jeffrey Heaton will be making two installations which will be on display for the month of August one on the Michigan Maritime Museum campus and one on the east side of the South Haven Center for the Arts. These installations will highlight the trash that is left on our beaches and in our water ways. You can help the Heaton's by cleaning up the beach and collecting trash! If you can help, and need a bucket and gloves - let us know, we can provide that for you. Below is a list of the types of waste that the Heaton's are collecting for this project. We ask that you safely collect all other waste and throw it in the garbage. The Heaton's plan to start building their two sculptures after July 6. A great time to help collect them collect would be Monday, July 5. We will have receptacles at the art center that week to donate your findings.

Beach Trash to collect and donate to the South Haven Center for the Arts

  • colorful abandoned beach items like beach buckets, toys, shovels, goggles, and flip flops

  • plastic bottles

  • large colorful items like the spring float above or kites

August 27, 2021 Save the Date

Make a Splash with Trash

Join us at the the Michigan Maritime Museum on the morning of August 27 lead by the Maritime Museum who will host the beach trash clean up, and the Heaton’s with assist families in making art from the trash they collect on the beach.

Thank you so much!

This project has been made possible through a grant from Greater Area South Haven Community Foundation, and by operational support from the Michigan Council for Arts and Culture and the National Endowment for the Arts. Theresa and Jeffrey's day on the beach in South Haven was made possible by art center members Diana Densmore and David Stelzmuller who generously shared a nights stay on the beach with artists so they could wake up early in the morning and catch the beach comber and this beautiful rainbow. Finally, thank you to the Maritime Museum for this wonderful collaboration.

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By Nancy Albright

From artists meeting in private homes and churches to 600 Phoenix St., the South Haven Center for the Arts has a long-standing tradition of sharing art with the community beginning in 1951 with a group of women who worked together to form an art league “for the purpose of giving South Haven an annual art exhibit.”

The American Association of University Women sponsored the formation of the South Haven Art League, and the original charter was adopted on March 15, 1951. Mrs. Natalie S. Federsen was elected Chairman of the Board. Serving alongside Mrs. Federsen were Alternate Chairman Mrs. E. R. Shoop, Recording Secretary Mrs. George Corliss, Corresponding Secretary Mrs. Kathryne Everson, Treasurer Mrs. Albert Labz, and Registrar Mrs. Marshall Mackey. Mrs. Neil Goodrich, Mrs. Robert Anderson, Mrs. June Gale, Mrs. Frank Chaddock, Mrs. Horace Brown, and Mrs. John C. Kerr served on various League committees.

There were 18 charter members, and as of May 12, 1951 there were twenty-eight Art League members, including three men: Mr. Harry Liens, Mr. Donald Anderson, and Dr. John Kleber, which was notable at the time. Art League membership dues were $1.00 per year.

Early Exhibitions

The Art League put out a call for entries for its 1st Annual Indoor Exhibit, held at Oddfellows Hall, 304 ½ Broadway, May 18–20, 1951. (The entry fee for artist work was $1.00.)

The Friday evening preview was for artists and members, and the public was invited to view the exhibition on Saturday and Sunday. That first exhibit contained 25 pieces, and Mrs. John (Pat) Dagget was the youngest exhibitor. Retired art teachers Neil and Mrs. Goodrich exhibited, and Dr. Kleber exhibited two painted Chinese figurines. Included were paintings by Mrs. Federsen and Mr. Donald Anderson; both having won awards at a recent art exhibit in St. Joseph for their artwork.

Twenty-seven artists exhibited 58 paintings at the 2nd Annual Indoor Exhibition in 1952. The exhibit contained “not only paintings, but ceramic pieces and sculpture work and any media.” There were many paintings of South Haven scenes in the exhibition. Among the artists were Esther Warshawsky, Neil Goodrich, Geraldine and Hazel Kerr, and Pat and Martha Daggett. (In 1905, Herb Daggett and his team of sixteen horses dragged a Civil War cannon up the hill from the Black River to the lawn of the newly constructed Carnegie Library.) [Link]

For the next four decades the Art League exhibited at various venues in town, including Oddfellows Hall, City Hall, Church of the Epiphany, First Congregational Church, the Aldo Hotel, the South Haven Yacht Club, and the South Haven Carnegie Library.

Exhibition catalogues from 1956 and 1957 (top). Bottom left, Marvin Haney of Bangor explains his painting technique to Mrs. Don Barden of South Haven. Right, Blue Ribbon winner of the 14th Annual Indoor Exhibition (1964) Mrs. Jack Brandel with, from left, South Haven Art League Board President Robert Fleming, and Dr. Michael Waskowsky, Chairman of the Arts Department at Kalamazoo College, who judged the exhibition. Other Blue Ribbon winners that year were A. H. Guunarson of Bangor, and Florine Hester, Erma Everhart, and Frieda Fedore of South Haven.

Glenda Johnson (left) won Best of Show in 1967 at the Art League's 17th Annual Exhibition. Artist Fran Larsen and her son Teddy (center) with her painting in 1967. Fran is still a member of the South Haven Center for the Arts and last exhibited at the art center in 2017. "Coming Home" featured the work of five South Haven artists who moved to various parts of the country during their lifetimes, and continue to create artwork today.

In July 1958, the Art League held its first outdoor exhibition—The Clothesline Art Exhibit—where “an enthusiastic crowd of amateur art critics flocked to Dyckman Park to inspect more than 300 artworks by local artists.” Artists from Southwest Michigan and those from as far away as New York City also exhibited that day. According to the South Haven Daily Tribune, a large crowd assembled prior to opening the fair when “passersby stopped to watch the setting up. A gay holiday atmosphere was provided by colorful lawn furniture and umbrellas loaned by Wank’s Furniture Store.”

Robert Fleming (right) enjoying the 1st Annual Clothesline Art Exhibit in 1958. Fleming was Art League President from 1963 to 1964. Fleming's wife was president from 1957 to 1958. Robert studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and founded the Bangor Art School where he was director and teacher. Among Fleming's students were Florine Hester and Arlene Schiele. Scheile was Art League President in 1956, and Hester in 1962. Fleming is pictured with Gerald Macklem of South Haven, and John Kerr of Columbus, Ohio. John was the guest of Mrs. Hazel Kerr, who was Board President in 1959.

Admirers of artists' work, circa 1966. What began as the Clothesline Art Exhibit in 1957 (one news source reported that there were few actual clotheslines) transitioned to the Art League's Annual Outdoor Exhibition sometime in the 1960s. After the first exhibit in 1957, Art League Publicity Director Mrs. Grace Haines commented that the show had been so successful it would be "repeated annually.” Today we know the event as the South Haven Art Fair. [LINK: Learn more about Art Fair.]

A Home for Artists and the Arts

Still without a permanent exhibition space—the organization had met in private homes and churches since its inception—the Art League continued to hold annual exhibitions and the art fair, as well as art classes, musical performances, and other cultural events.

The South Haven Memorial Library was built across the street at 300 Broadway in 1959. The South Haven City Council retained sole ownership of the old [Link: Carnegie Library] and allocated $3,000 for its use as a community center.

The building was abandoned in the 1970s and then sat empty until the early 1980s, when the city contemplated demolishing US steel magnate Andrew Carnegie’s 1905 gift to the City of South Haven. The Art League—now the South Haven Art Association—understood the value of the historic building and asked the city to lease it to the organization to save it from the wrecking ball.

Art Schewe was instrumental in acquiring the old library in 1984. Eventually, the city agreed to lease the building at 602 Phoenix St. to the Art Association for $1.00 per year for 20 years. The lease was signed on February 23, 1984, and the rescue was underway.

The Art Association set out to restore the Neoclassic Revival structure to its former glory with a renovation project that would end up lasting six years. The renovation was an enormous undertaking, and without the help of artists, members, volunteers, local tradesmen and businesses, the city, the community at large, and others, the grand building may well have been lost. At that time, the Art Association had only $25 in the treasury. Membership dues were increased to $10 per year, which were used as operating funds.

In addition to private and corporate donations, the Art Association held community fundraisers such art auctions, performing arts events, and the art fair to raise money for the renovation. That year, the art center set up a donation booth at the fair and sold T-shirts featuring the art center logo. Monies were received from the City of South Haven, the Michigan Council for the Arts (now the Michigan Council for Arts & Cultural Affairs) granted $1,500, and the Art Association received a $50,000 equity grant from the State of Michigan. Twenty-thousand dollars of the state grant was used to renovate the first floor. The Association also raised $6,000, and procured $6,000 of donated materials and services to transform the “gray downstairs into an attractive, spacious gallery.”

The Art Association hired Dar Davis, then director of the Krasl Art Center in St. Joseph, to guide the renovation and help with plans for remodeling and obtaining additional funding. The interior renovation began in the spring of 1987 with the help of many, including Vern Adkin, who is rumored to have had great fun recording the whole operation for viewing on his new Betamax.

The 1908s renovation began with the first floor gallery, which had originally been used by the G. A. R. in exchange for donation of the land for the library in 1905.

The original tiled floor was replaced with maple and the walls and exposed pipes were plastered. Jack-of-all-trades Al Weener cut the arch into the wall leading to the gallery for easier access from the foyer. (The foyer is still tiled with the original terrazzo tiles laid in 1905.) The gallery was lit with lighting designed by [find that well-known guy’s name]. The kitchenette and office were upgraded, and they created a gallery shop that would feature the artwork of local and out-of-town artists. The heavy renovations were done by Rick Johnson Builders, and Jim Foley of the Foley Construction Co. installed the new kitchen.

Board member Kent Olberg helped resurface the first floor walls and ceiling. Prior to Al Weener's cutting the arch, visitors walked through the side hall and entered the gallery through a door in the east wall.

Despite cracked plaster and peeling paint on the second floor of the art center, the Art Association held the 33th Annual Indoor Art Exhibit in the first floor gallery that spring. That summer, the paintings and drawings of Susan B. Siegal of Kalamazoo were exhibited, and life drawing and oil painting classes were held on the in-progress second floor, as well as mini-art classes for children ages three through six.

The renovation project was led by South Haven Center for the Arts' Board President Persis Fassen, then Director and Manager of the Art and Design Center, an artist cooperative in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

South Haven Center for the Arts' Board President Persis Faasen hanging the 33rd Annual Spring Exhibition, the first show at the renovated library.

The art center held a Halloween fundraising event

Bit about the Haunted Halloween fundraising event that fall (made a lot of money) [images] Persis dancing in costume, giant masks on exterior]

The exterior restoration began in the summer of 1989, which included sandblasting the stone on the north and west walls, tuckpointing the brick on the south and east walls, patching the roof, replacing the front and side doors, and landscaping the lawn.

Funded by the City of South Haven, the art center gets a facelift in 1989

[image] Young Marian with her sculpture

Local sculptor Marian Anderson dedicated one of her outdoor sculptures (Untitled)—restored in 2018 by local artist William Busca—which still sits on the east lawn.

Major donors for the exterior restoration were Audrey Storr, Vern Adkin, Mike DeGrandchamp, Genie Insidioso, Jeanette Seiler, Mary Kay Sverid, Citizen’s Trust and Savings Bank, Huntree Nursery, Monitor Mold, Jim and Toni’s Dry Cleaner, and Shore Realty. According to Faasen, the art center planned to generate additional capital for the ongoing restoration project from art exhibitions, art classes, films, recitals, guest speakers, and a gallery shop.

The second floor restoration began in the winter of 1989, planned for completion in time for the May 29, 1990 spring art show. The curved staircase and balustrades were stripped, sanded, and refinished to reveal the original wood. The walls and barrel ceiling were repaired, and solid wood partitions were removed to create an open gallery space and classroom. The twelve arched Palladian windows and transoms were repaired—the original cylinder glass panes were preserved and still remain. The Art Association planned to use the second floor for exhibits, films, lectures, recitals, and concerts. They also planned to rent space to local organizations for meetings and programs.

The Grand Opening

The Art Association opened the doors of its permanent space on June 9, 1990 as the South Haven Center for the Arts. The Master of Ceremonies was Pete Gent of Bangor, wide receiver for the New York Giants and the Dallas Cowboys, and author of North Dallas Forty.

The Western Michigan University String Quartet played selections from Mozart, former Carnegie Library employee Marie Dissette presented "A Moment in Time" to commemorate the origin of the first free library in South Haven, dancers Sylvia Jania and Karrie Benedict presented "Let Us See Where We Can Go From Here," choreographed specifically for the event, and the featured speaker was Harold Chappelear of the Upjohn Company

Exhibited were 20 winning entries from the 1990 Spring Exhibition, selected works from the art center's permanent collection, and works by four nationally known artists originally from South Haven—Ann Farley-Gaines, Fran Larsen, Hal Larsen, and William T. Scudella. Fran Larsen has been a member of the art center since the mid-1960s.)

During the summer of 1990 the SHCA held a children’s theater workshop, and art camp—"Art Ventures: Adventures in the Arts"—where children ages four through nine learned sculpture, painting, silk-screening, creative movement, and dance. Adults could enjoy drawing and painting, yoga, and landscape art. And the South Haven Art Fair was the largest in the history of the fair with over 150 artists exhibiting their work.

"3 x 3 x 3" opened at the SHCA on Friday, July 20, 1990 and exhibited the largest collection of art ever hung at the art center. A number of artists donated their pieces to the art center, the public was invited to bid on collage, mixed media, pen and ink, oils, watercolors, mono prints, etchings, ceramics, handmade paper, and blown glass. Artists from South Haven and other regions in Michigan, as well as artists from Illinois and California exhibited.

First SHCA Exhibition Committee: Lori Lytle, Scott Wilson, Mary Landry Decker (ballet dancer photo in office), and Jackie Skarritt.

21st Century

Another round of renovations began in 2015 [Thea confirm year], and the historic home of the art center continues to be a beautiful and unique venue in which to promote community enrichment through the arts. It has an elevator and a concrete ramp that slopes up to the main entrance, upgraded restroom facilities, flagstone patio and outdoor seating area, concrete mosaic benches on the west side of the building, exterior tuckpointing, and a security system. The original maple flooring throughout the building was restored in 2018 (the wood on the second floor had been covered with industrial linoleum and the first floor carpeted with the exception of the original terrazzo tile).

The window trim was again in need of repair . . . pocket gallery, Kathy K’s ART sculpture, wave sculpture on west side

[Link to AOTT blog post?]

​The art center continues to seek operational and project grants from state and local organizations . . .

The original address of the art center was 602 Phoenix St. In 1996, South Haven Center for the Arts’ Director and current SHCA Board Treasurer Michael Fiedorowicz learned that the building sits on more than one lot. He worked with the city and the post office to change the address to 600, not only to avoid the hassle of a P.O. Box, but to make the art center easier to find. Prestigious structures were often building on corners with even numbered addresses. The crown jewel at Phoenix and Broadway now had a prestigious address indeed.

Little-known fact: The two original lots that comprised what is now 600 Phoenix St. were donated to the library by the local chapter of the Grand Army of the Revolution. The land had been donated to the G. A. R. by XXXXX in XXXX. [Link: Learn more about the construction of the Carnegie Library and the secret of the art center.]

All images are from the SHCA historical archive.

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