Artist Bio

My name is Len Gryga, I started drawing at age 12. My cousin is an Artist she had me draw a horse head, it wasn't bad but she said I need practice, that started art for me. In school I had art all 4 years in high school. We had a project in class to draw someone famous, so I did the pope at the time. I never got my picture back so I went up to the teacher, he said he was going to keep it as an example of the kind of work he was looking for, anyway I never got it back.

My wife's sister told me to join the art center. I was hesitant at first but said I would. So in 2013 I became a member. I sold my first piece then. I was at a members' show with my wife and I so I went upstairs. She came up crying. I said "what's wrong?" she said "you sold the piece downstairs. I went to see. Sure enough it had a name on it sold to the art center's president at the time, happy me!

Wooden Horse Sculpture

Artist Statement

I like wood the best because it works well and I have many woodworking tools. I started only with wood, then branched out with metal & wood together. I still use the same media, but also use paper, plexiglass, etc. My theme is to try to make my work beautiful to look at, whatever media I use.

Favorite Art Tool

My favorite tool is what I am using when I work. The most important tool is my imagination, without that I am no artist.

To purchase art from Len Gryga' contact him through his email at

Len Gryga is a South Haven Center for the Arts Artist Member. As a benefit of this membership level, we are proud to be featuring Artists Members on our blog. If you are an artist member and want to be featured, email us at Want to be an artist member? See more information here:

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And The Story Begins…

Artist Statement

2021 Make A Splash With Trash

Back in January, Kerry Hagy contacted us about the possibility of creating two temporary installments with beach trash from a grant she was submitting in cooperation with the Michigan Maritime Museum. We of course were intrigued about this idea and gave our curious nod of approval. As collaborative artists who work primarily with recycling materials, this seemed like a perfect marriage of combining our passion for repurposing, beautification, and public art.

But the story began way before all this…

After grant approval in June and meeting on location with Kerry and Maritime Museum Education Director Ashley Deming, we began sketching out ideas, brainstorming designs, concepts and engineering techniques. This began our beach trash evolution journey that would open our eyes to places and people of South Haven that were hidden in plain sight all along.

But the story really began before all this…

As a point of reference our Cheeky Chic-y Studio work is totally material driven. We primarily use paper-based packaging to create functional and beautiful pieces, and we were operating on this philosophy when starting the Make A Splash With Trash public art project. However, soon our direction changed as our eyes were quickly opened to the seriousness of the issue to which we were assigned. Instead of attempting to just create something aesthetically pleasing, the message and education component of these projects became a top priority. Art is all about problem solving.

But this was not the beginning of our story….

Early on, we had an indication of size and scale for each site, but our imagery was in constant flux until we actually began collecting beach trash. The collection process led us along the north beach to a cozy vintage cottage, the Kal-Haven tra

il, garbage cans, city dumpsters, the cemetery, and the department of public works. Along the way we also met friendly South Haven residents, energetic work staff, summer visitors, and helpful people who listened to our beach trash mission story. We soon developed a new perspective when we found ourselves inside dumpsters poking around for colorful beach toys while trying to avoid the illusive local racoon family and the smell of dead fish. Unfortunately these things were unavoidable.

But our story had another beginning….

We agreed that a simple image of S.O.S. for the South Haven Center For The Arts piece would present pedestrians and motorists with a quick visual distress call signal, thus triggering more interest and pondering, “What’s this all about? Using the bright beach trash toys for the letters, and creating fish heads from cut and reassembled water bottles provided the base of materials needed for the border.

For Fish Over Troubled Water at the Michigan Maritime Museum site, we devised a woven construction employing found beach materials such as a tent, colorful inflatables, drop cloth, lawn chair fabric, beer cans, and flip flops onto a fish shaped wire support. Underneath the 8’ fish, the symbolic, round water base was designed with 600+ bottle caps and beer can tops and bottoms, each screwed onto a round wooden base that was first covered with a beach umbrella.

But the story actually began like this……

The question of how and why all of this trash ended up along the beaches of South Haven is the question we would like to address with these two pieces. So for us the story really begins when YOU and I — as consumers — walk into our local grocery store, shopping center, or big box store and make our purchasing choices. If you’ve ever been overwhelmed by all the incredible assortment of convenient products, some stacked up to near ceiling height, and wondered what happens to all this packaging and stuff then maybe you are on the same page with us.

Everyone makes consuming choices everyday, probably without thinking about where the leftover products will end up. We all breathe a collective sigh of relief when we neatly bag up our trash, tightly close the garbage can lid, and watch someone else pick it up and drive it away to its new location. Now some of that trash has f

ound its new home, at the beach of South Haven Michigan and undeniably we’ve ALL contributed to this at one time or another.

In our evaluation, it is our goal that in viewing Call For Help and Fish Over Troubled Water the observer might not just see colorful and fun public art displays, but also understand the impact we all make upon our environment every time we shop.

Maybe next time ask yourself, “Do I really need to buy this case of bottled water?”

Thanks to the South Haven Center For The Arts and The Michigan Maritime Museum for this artistic and environmental stewardship opportunity.

Jeff & Theresa Heaton

Cheeky Chic-y Studio

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. Thank you to the Maritime Museum for this wonderful collaboration!

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Updated: Jul 17, 2021

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

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 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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