Bonifas reopens after pandemic closure
ESCANABA — The William Bonifas Fine Art Center re-opened June 9 with the Bonifas Membership Show in the Powers Gallery and the continued exhibit, “Lines – an Element of Art,” in the Studio Gallery, where permanent art collection pieces aid in educating visitors about art.
The Bonifas, described by Executive Director Sue Roll as “a classic arts center with a twist,” is adapting to the “new normal” by offering hand sanitizer and masks to visitors who do not have one. People are asked to keep physically distant from others when in the building.
“Like all other shops, we do want you to wear masks, we’re pretty strict about that,” said Roll. “A lot of people who visit here are retired and they’re the more vulnerable population. We have a staff member who has been a transplant recipient — she’s a little more vulnerable than most — so we want to take care of the health of people.”
The Bonifas will hold events and classes outside as often as they can in the upcoming months, while following social distancing guidelines. If the weather is bad, the gatherings will be held inside.
The first outside event was held Thursday night, a reception for the artists who submitted pieces in the Bonifas Membership Show.
“We have some stations for people to stand at … We’ve changed how we serve food a little bit,” said Roll. “You don’t stick your hand in the bowl and grab some chips anymore.”
Bonifas will continue to have more activities and projects families can do at home online.
“We will continue online projects and start up Monday Music … we’ll do a live concert and see how that goes,” said Roll.
Monday Music concerts will be streamed live for those who do not want to go to the park and be in public yet.
“There are some people not ready to go out in public,” she said. “Hearing a concert is not worth dying for. Our job is to bring it to them.”
Roll said people will be able to pay a fee for some classes and physically go to it. Other people may pay a fee and watch the class online, or the class can be downloaded at a later date.
“We’ll have free things, we’ll have things that come with the membership; we’ll have ‘normal’ classes that are online and can be downloaded,” said Roll. “We’re turning toward technology, and it’s not a bad thing … We’ve found out life on Zoom is interesting.”
While having time off between March 24 and June 9, Roll enjoyed not hearing the alarm clock and sitting in the gallery surrounded by art.
“I still had to work, because we have grants we apply for and things we have to do,” said Roll. “At the time we had the Youth-in-Art exhibit up. All this lovely art, colorful — I would just sit and look at it.”
Staff at the Bonifas cleaned, organized, added more lighting in the basement, completed a few building projects, did some grant research, and just laid low.
“It was a break in some ways. Employees who had a project to do, could do it,” said Roll. “But it’s nice to get back to a routine. It’s just been great. And I really hope that parents who have been home with their kids doing art projects together will take what they’ve done with them and grow the concept.”
Roll offered an invitation to parents to bring their children to the Bonifas and sketch art they like, and learn about lines and color.
Music Monday’s start June 29 and continue through Aug. 3 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Karas Memorial Bandshell on Ludington Park in Escanaba.
The Bonifas Arts Center is located at 700 First Avenue South in Escanaba. It is open Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; Thursday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; and Saturday 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information call 906-786-3833, or visit www.bonifasarts.org.