Recently I interviewed the artist behind 8th Street Up Close, Lenore DePree. Her artwork was featured at the Holland Area Arts Council on June 23.
The first thing I asked her was her history behind her love for art, and the answer I received was amazing.
She discovered her passion for art when she was twelve years old, a Chicago kid living as an only child in the Kentucky Mountains. As a child, she attended a one-room school house for education while living in Kentucky, but school was not where she found that passion.
She mentioned to me that her grandfather was a portrait artist, however he passed before she was born. However, it was her grandmother that pointed out the artistic potential she saw in her. Her grandmother mentioned, after seeing some of her drawings, that she had the talent. Lenore was then given a set of oil colors and it took off from there.
By age 17, she had published a book and was painting and selling commercially. Lenore described to me that art is three leaves of the same flower: writing, painting and music. They are all ways to express yourself.
Flash forward to her most recent work. Lenore said that 8th street chose her. In April 2014, she was given a place as an artist resident at the Holland Area Arts Council and spent the next two years working on this series.
It was very concentrated work, and she would spend as much as four hours each day on her pieces. She would photograph different buildings and locations on 8th street and then would begin to paint. The point of it was to celebrate Holland and to have something very authentic to represent it.
I absolutely loved spending time getting to know this wonderful artist, and her work is something very amazing to see. She mentioned how she plans to paint local beaches next, so hopefully that will be something to look forward to seeing soon!
No one is ever too old to dive into their creativity. This seemed to be a theme of the Holland Area Arts Council’s newest edition, The Studio. Walking in, the first thing I noticed, other than the multitude of activities and options, was the amount of joy and playfulness that filled the entire room -- and not just from little kids.
The Studio includes a “Pond Life” photo wall by Mary Sundstrom, a puppet theatre, Texture Wall, made specially for the studio by Doug Lowe, Our Spinning Toys by James Cogswell, a Zen Wall, Squeegee wall, and Owl in Flight by Jessica Bohus.
At the grand opening of The Studio, Pat Williams mentioned her thoughts on the whole project. “I think that it is just a marvelous opportunity for the kids to express themselves. They are not worrying about getting dirty, and they can just enjoy themselves. Children of all ages can enjoy this!”
At the opening, not only were kids playing with the activities, but adults were getting their “hands dirty,” enjoying the many crafts that were available and playing with their kids.
I ran into a young girl named Ella Johnson who was there with her family, and she excitedly exclaimed that she loved spending time here and wanted to come back every day.
The opening of The Studio began with an opening reception followed by the grand opening day, in which at both snacks and refreshments were served and many people came excited and anticipating all that the new studio has to offer!
Ah the Holland farmers market; a downtown Holland tradition featuring fresh grown fruits and vegetables, homemade breads and treats, and fun activities for kids held every Wednesday morning.
On June 8th, the Holland Arts Council hosted one of these children activity events, a “Mr. Potato Head” crafting event. When learning about what this event is, I was told that it was one of the more popular events for kids that the Holland Area Arts Council hosts, and that in past years it was common for over 200 kids to come to the event.
Arriving at the event, the first thing I noticed was the amount of smiles on the faces of the people that were there, and not just the kids. Multiple tables were set up, each stocked with a multitude of crafting supplies and full of kids decorating their potatoes.
Listening in and talking to the children that were there, I was also informed that Mr. Potato heads were not the only thing that could be created, but flying potatoes, bugs, and even “potato people.”
Parents that came loved the fact that it was a great activity for their kids to get involved in while shopping around at the farmers market. Many described how they loved this idea of decorating potatoes and how it allowed for creativity to be expressed through their kids each individual creations. Overall, it was a fun activity for the whole family to enjoy!
When the Holland Area Arts Council was just beginning, -- before we even had a building -- the organization leaders started a newsletter called Artline. In the spirit of our rich history, the Arts Council's new blog is titled Artline.