Art and music festival benefits revitalization

Published 7:54 pm Monday, November 15, 2010

Music and dance groups performed at Artoberfest Sept. 18. The event benefits revitalization in Benton Harbor. Photo by Kathleen Schwarz


Blue Star Highway

For the fourth year in a row, Artoberfest hit the Arts District in Benton Harbor Saturday. Despite the gloomy weather, the festival still managed to draw a crowd out to enjoy local art, music, food, beer and entertainment.

Sponsored by the New Territory Arts Association, a grassroots organization dedicated to the revitalization of Benton Harbor, one focus of the event was to draw attention to the many local artists and musicians from southwest Michigan.

Each of the vendors showcased their individual styles.

Anthony Salvagione, a St. Joseph photographer whose work is on display at the Phoenix Cafe, has been shooting photographs in and around southwest Michigan since the 1960s.

Christina Root, a ceramics teacher at the Krasl Art Center, specializes in colorful and eclectic soldered rings and pendants. Her work can be found for sale at Chartreuse Gallery in St. Joseph.

Perhaps the most unique artwork was that of Chandra Stubbs. Hailing from Sawyer, Stubbs displayed her unique “wall jewelry,” pieces crafted from handmade, needle-felted Merino wool encased in frames of porcelain clay.

Student artists’ works were on display, too. Water Street Glassworks is a non-profit glass and metal work school in the Benton Harbor Arts District that hosts “Fired Up!,” an after school program for Benton Harbor youth.

WSG offers classes and workshops for students of all ages in glass-blowing, bead-making, glass-fusing, and stained glass. The founders of WSG believe that “fire and creativity are powerful tools for personal and community transformation.”

Featured entertainment included performances by local youth groups, including the All God’s Children Choir and the Citadel Dance and Music Center, as well as local musical talents Johnnie Edwards and Co., Charlene Jones-Clark, Venitia Sekema and Mike Struwin. The evening culminated with a performance by Mr. Blotto, a popular Chicago-based jam band.

Another highlight of this year’s Artoberfest was the regional microbrews from five different local brewers, including an Oktoberfest-style lager from The Livery, and craft beers from Arcadia, Founders, New Holland and Saugatuck brewing companies.

Funds raised at this year’s Artoberfest will go toward the revitalization of Benton Harbor through landscaping, holiday lighting and scholarships, and creative educational programs. The New Territory Arts Association hosts several events and activities in Benton Harbor each year, creating within the community a dynamic environment for artists, visitors, residents and business owners. For more information about the NTAA, visit www.newterritor