Kelly Vander Kley

Mattawan, Michigan, SHCA Artist Member

Artist Bio

I grew up working on farms and now currently operate a small farm of my own. My farming background is important to my art because much of my work is about the human connection with nature or food and the way nature and humans are interdependent. This stems from my extensive experiences with trying to organize earth and the elements to create human comfort. Professionally, I have worked since 1993 in graphic design and layout. I have owned a photography business since 2005. I have been a post-secondary and high school teacher in the areas of graphic art and print media since 2014. On a personal level, I adore working in watercolor, ceramics and glass. I also own several antique printing presses and enjoy printmaking.

Artist Statement

My work usually has a message about humans and the eternal struggle we have with the power of nature. Over the years, my delivery and medium have changed as my brain has a constant hunger to consume new methods and techniques. I began with photography and graphics primarily to build a solid income. Oil, watercolor and acrylic painting have always been a part of my life. After my artistic foundation was established, I dove head-first into glass as a medium and learned under world-renowned artists and institutions. I learned glass blowing and kiln fired methods of glass art production. Ceramics followed soon after that as I sought out ways of incorporating glass and clay into work. In around 2016, I began collecting antique printing presses because they fit well alongside my in-use antique tractors, spinning wheels and other centuries-old farmstead equipment. Owning printing equipment necessitated learning to use the machines and that pointed me to my latest artistic obsession of printmaking.

My ongoing theme throughout the years has been the human struggle to control environment or the resistance to nature’s control of us. I do this by using the nature provided elements of fire, earth (clay), and water along with pigmented inks, paints, glazes, and glass.

Art Tool

It is very hard to pick one favorite tool. I love so many! I don’t think I could do without my pottery wheel because when I sit at the wheel, the feeling of molding clay with my hands is meditative.




Kelly Vander Kley 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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Updated: Aug 26, 2020

Mabel Marcellus Anthony of Casco, South Haven, was a feature reporter for the Daily Tribune and authored a column called Odds ‘n Ends. Here are some of Mabel’s memories of the library.

In the days before radio and television, when movies were an occasional treat and kids were expected to amuse themselves, I read books.

A generation after mine, kids bought a few comic books and a couple of paperbacks, and by astute trading around the neighborhood, kept themselves in fresh reading materials all summer. I was born 30 years too soon. I had to borrow books from the Public Library.

Each visit to that grey stone building at Phoenix Street and Broadway was an exercise in controlled panic. One did not bound in and browse ad lib amongst the stacks. One did not talk above a whisper, and only when it was absolutely necessary did one speak at all.

What one did was enter in complete silence and tiptoe across the hard tile floor and up the wide stairs. The book being returned was clutched in sweaty palms; tightly, lest one’s grip slip and let fall, a mishap I firmly believed would terminate my borrowing privileges forever.

At the top of the steps was a semi-circular enclosure with a linoleum-covered edge chin-high to a little girl. Behind it, on a bookkeeper’s stool sat Miss Nellie Stewart, watching over the tops of her steel rims as supplicants approached in fear and trembling.

She was a large woman, or perhaps she only seemed so to a girl who was small for her age and not very old. Her word was law and her decisions not open to arbitration. After she had leafed carefully through each book you brought back, and was satisfied there were no torn pages, no turned down corners, co cookie crumbs or pencil marks, then she was ready to consider your request to borrow a different one.

You never saw the book you chose til Miss Stewart brought it, stamped it in all the proper places, and handed it over the counter. You studied the list of what was available, picked a title that sounded interesting or an author that proved reliable, and wrote the identifying number on a slip of paper. Miss Stewart liked a multiple choice, so unless someone else was waiting to use it or it was too close to closing time, you could study the list as long as you liked––if you didn’t rattle the pages.

You copied numbers and each visit you presented the paper to Miss Stewart, who disappeared into the vast maw of open shelves and came back with a book. If you were reading a series, like the Bobbsey Twins, you could only hope for the next in line. (A gap in that sequence was akin to missing a week’s worth of present-day soap operas.)

Off to the shadowy right was a reading room, with long tables and straight-backed chairs. I never ventured in there. How could anyone concentrate on the printed page surrounded by strangers and with a gimlet stare directed at the back of your head from behind that desk in the outer room?

I tried fairy tales, but I read too many and too fast and I never could remember which princess lived with the dwarves, which was put to sleep by a poisoned needle. Or was it any apple? I refused to believe that all princes were handsome and honest, all kings rich, all stepmothers mean, and the whole lot of them stupid enough to be fooled by an obviously wicked queen.

Little Women gave me an inferiority complex. How could a kid with temper and more than a streak of stubbornness ever hope to identify with anyone as sticky sweet and good as Meg and Beth?

I rode the purple sage with Zane Grey, prowled the Limberlost with Gene Stratton Porter, mushed the frozen north with Jack London, and wept gallons when Black Beauty died.

Somewhere along the line I read The President’s Daughter, a biographical account I recognized as scandalous even if I didn’t quite understand why. I read Three Weeks and Chickie and Tess of the Storm Country. Like the princes and princesses, they went through too fast to touch more than the skimmest surface of my mind.

I did understand that these books were considered unfit reading for nice people, because they weren’t on the Public Library’s list. Would I have gathered the courage to request them if they had been there? Would I have laughed aloud? Or slammed a door? Maybe I would have just dropped a book on the floor.

Over the last few years, I have collected some memories of the library from those who grew up in South Haven and would like to publish more here. Please send your stories to

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Updated: Sep 9, 2020

“The arrival of the cut stone for the library and the subsequent proximity of the time for laying the corner stone of that handsome structure makes it fitting that a brief review should be given of the movement which led to the building of the library.”

—South Haven Daily Tribune, Friday, September 29, 1905

Many know, some might not, that the South Haven Center for the Arts resides in what was originally the Andrew Carnegie Library; the first free library in South Haven. The building was financed with a $12,500 grant bestowed upon the City of South Haven by U.S. Steel magnate Andrew Carnegie. The grant would be worth $357,142.86 today.

Securing the funding from Carnegie was a bit of a hurdle, but those involved persevered. The local chapter of the Grand Army of the Republic—who gifted the lot at the corner of Phoenix and Broadway to the city—appointed a committee of two to request funding for a Memorial Hall. Albert Earle and Reverend F. G. McHenry were enlisted to write to Mr. Carnegie with the request, but nothing came of it, so they abandoned the idea.

Mrs. C. R. Hemenway then began corresponding with the Scottish steel-master and he became interested in the town. She enlisted the help of Library Board Secretary W. W. Holmes and board member C. E. Abell to cement the promise that South Haven would pledge ten percent of the grant sum for maintenance of a building to be used as a library—Carnegie’s sole stipulation in return for funding. The board received a letter in May of 1904 from Carnegie’s business secretary, Mr. Robert A. Franks, announcing that South Haven would receive $15,000 to build a library. The offer was subsequently changed to $12,500.

The city chose the architectural designs submitted by Albert Randolph Ross of New York City from a pool of seven architects. The design is in the Neoclassic Revival style, as were many of Ross’s Carnegie Library designs. In exchange for the land—purchased by the G.A.R. in 1896 from Prentice Lounsbury and Mrs. Geo. Hannahs—the first floor of the library would house the Grand Army Hall.

The building project was granted to the construction firm of J. L. Simmons, 2162–4 West Madison St., Chicago, Ill., with a bid of $10,684. Mr. Simmons agreed to complete the building within 150 days. Construction began on August 21, 1905. Foreman O. M. Foster and crew began by digging the trenches for the foundation.

Building the Carnegie Library, 1905

The crew completed the south wall and half of the west wall on August 26 and predicted the east wall and the north wall would be completed on August 28. Sub-contractor Sullivan ordered the apparatus for hoisting the cut stone set in place for the arrival of the stone on September 28.

The masons first cut the foundational stones, the cornerstone, and the bases that would hold the embedded Ionic columns for the facade. They swung the foundational stones, which were “comparatively small,” into place on the northeast side of the building on October 5, 1905 and laid the cornerstone on October 6, “forenoon.” The cornerstone holds an 8” x 8” x 12” copper time capsule “in which will be placed newspapers, records, etc.”

The last of the four columns were lifted into place on October 27 and “attracted a good deal of attention from passersby, few of whom could resist the temptation to linger a moment and watch the columns take shape under the skillful hands of the workmen. The fine carving of the cornice and chapters is also being watched with much interest by the citizens who happen to be around the building.”

Above the door is carved “Open to All,” and beneath is the Carnegie crest, which adorns each library he funded. The frieze is inscribed “Dedicated to the Advancement of Learning,” which still holds true today in the form of the visual arts.

Board members and librarian Nellie B. Stewart assembled the collection for the stacks that were purchased and ready for delivery. The walls were plastered, the floor laid, the moldings attached. South Haven Plumbing, Heating and Lighting Co. installed the plumbing and the boiler that fueled the hot water and the radiators that heated the building.

The second floor, accessed by a wrap-around stairwell beneath a rotunda that is topped by a balcony, boasts a barrel ceiling, maple floors, and arched Palladian windows with transoms and wavy glass that radiate the most stunning shades of light you can imagine. All four walls have windows and much of the glass remains.

The second floor gallery late one sunny afternoon in 2018. Painting of the light by SHCA board member David Baker, 2019.

The reading room faced Phoenix St. and was separated by the stacks. The ceiling was painted Old Ivory and the walls crimson. The contrasting color scheme was designed to enhance the gracefully curved ceiling—a prized architectural feature. The space holding the stacks was painted French Gray and the picture molding ebony. The ceiling of the rotunda and reference room were light yellow, the walls a rich green. The reference room also remains and is situated along the south wall.

Even though the furniture was delayed, the community was eager to start using the library and so the grand new building at 602 Phoenix St. opened in early April 1906 for the exchange of books. Hours were from 1:00–5:30 p.m. and 6:30–8:30 p.m. The public was greeted by the library board during the formal opening and librarian Nellie B. Stewart gave official tours. The Grand Army Hall was dedicated at 3:00 p.m. on that same day.

The original address 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. Fiedorwicz 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 for newcomers; even addresses in the hundreds or thousands are typically set on corners. And, because the building—the crown jewel at Phoenix and Broadway—deserved a more prestigious address. And, indeed it has one.

Cannon of the South Haven Chapter of the Grand Army of the Republic honoring the Civil War, photo circa 1915

On December 22, 1905, Herb Daggett and two teams of horses hauled a G.A.R. cannon honoring veterans of the American Civil War from the M. C. Railroad Yards down by the water up to the library. Workers loaded the 16,090-pound cannon over eight-inch timbers affixed between two wagons, and three teams of four horses pulled it up the hill. It took them three days. The cannon and cannonballs were scrapped for the war effort in the early 1940s.

By Nancy Albright

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