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Arts Center is area’s jewel

March 15, 2011
By Richard Clark

ESCANABA - It's enough to make you unbalanced. Watching news channels or surfing the web can make you want to leap from the tallest building in the U.P., Harbor Towers. What with Wisconsin stripping collective bargaining rights, Michigan giving financial managers dictatorial powers over cities and school districts and a 8.9 earthquake that shook Japanese buildings, flooded towns and, heading for a melt down, it is difficult to feel settled.

Turn off the television, pause the computer and push the off button on your mobile device. Take a deep breath, a cleansing breath for yoga types, walk through Escanaba and look around. You will find respite.

Last summer during Gulf Oil spill NPR ran an interview with a professor of social work at Tulane University in New Orleans, Charles Figley. The news channels were running live footage of the oil spewing from an underwater valve. The professor said we can be overcome by compassion fatigue. He advised turning off the news.

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Richard Clark

In the U.P. we can ski and snowshoe in the winter and fish, kayak, and hike in the summer. The tween times are difficult. What to do?

The Bonifas Arts Center in Escanaba is a jewel in our community. At the Bonifas you can see and, perhaps more importantly, take part in just about every art form imaginable.

Last week the Bonifas Fine Arts Center in Escanaba hosted two noteworthy events. Students from elementary through high school submitted art works for Youth in Art. On display through St. Patrick's Day, Youth in Art will wow you. Admission to the arts center is free. It is open Tuesday through Friday 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Students from Stevenson High School produced remarkable works. Award winning "Emu" by Cassie Vetort is a wonder of color and detail. Stevenson's art teacher, Terra Stenberg, took her students to the DeYoung Zoo to sketch and photograph animals for later work, thus "Emu." Do not miss it.

Among the award winning Youth in Art you will see names you recognize. That doesn't happen at the Detroit Institute of Arts. I saw Sadie Fix's name next to "Lady Gaga," a black and white pencil drawing that won several awards. Sadie's dad, David Fix, an art teacher at Mid-Pen school, grew up a stone's throw from me in Escanaba. David's mom, Ann, is still a neighbor.

Classes from Escanaba elementary schools made colorful quilts from paper that are hanging on the walls of the gallery. They are full of life. Inspirational. Go, look and and shed news fatigue.

Want to be more active? The Bonifas offers classes for the whole person: painting, writing, cooking and yoga, for example. See The fees for the classes are reasonable because they cover the cost of the class.

My sister-in-law from Toronto is always taken by the quality and range of what is available at the Bonifas.

The second event was Players De Noc production of the "Drowsy Chaperone." We went on a Saturday and the house was full. "Drowsy" was a musical comedy. In its 46th season Players has a rich history and it's productions are fresh and energetic. Talk about commitment, "Drowsy" had 19 cast members, 16 musicians and a production staff that erected sets, put on make up, made costumes and managed the stage. Don't miss Players' next production, "Escanaba in Love," May 13, 14, 15, 19, 20, 21. See

To keep our arts center vibrant the Bonifas is sponsoring a raffle with prizes of a $3,000 travel voucher, a painting, season tickets for Players De Noc, cash, and my favorite, a football signed by the 2010 Super Bowl winning Green Bay Packers.

Prizes will be drawn at the Bonifas annual art auction on Saturday, May 7.

Counting Crows in "They Paved Paradise" warned " don't know what you got till it's gone..." Let's be forewarned. Call 786-3833 and order raffle tickets and your seats for "Escanaba in Love."


EDITOR'S NOTE - Richard Clark, Escanaba, practices personal injury law throughout the Upper Peninsula. He can be reached at



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