Artists create for a cause

Published 8:54 pm Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Nancy and Jennifer Watts spend their lives giving to others.

The mother-daughter duo, who run Cross-Cultural Ministries in Donna, Texas, distribute food, clothes and other resources to needy immigrants every day near the border of Mexico.

But the Niles natives don’t stop there.

“As missionaries, we want to give to other ministries,” Nancy said.

To do that, they are getting Niles area artists involved.

For the second year, the Watts’ are holding the “Ira Clark Art for a Cause” event, a juried art show and sale benefiting charitable organizations, on June 30 in Niles. This year, 30 percent of the sales will go to Feeding the Nations, out of South Bend, Men of Honor in Elkhart and Calvary Children’s Home based in India.

“We don’t accept any of the money,” Nancy said. “That’s what’s fun about it.”
Jennifer and Nancy are both artists as well, but, when they sell their art, they always give away the profits.

“We don’t sell anything for ourselves,” Nancy said. “We live by faith and whatever money comes in.”

Nancy admits that last year’s Art for a Cause show was “tiny” with only two artists participating, but this year she has reached out to leaders in the southwest Michigan art community to participate in and promote the event. They also will have a larger venue in Lake Michigan College’s Bertrand Crossing Campus in Niles.

“We expect it to be quite a bit larger,” Nancy said. “We want to bring as many people in as possible. Art is a gift from God, a wonderful expression of beauty all around us.”

The show is in honor of Nancy’s late father, Ira Clark, who helped inspire and fund Cross-Cultural Ministries.

“He lived for that (mission work),” Nancy said.

Nancy and Jennifer will be in town for the event June 30.

“Niles is still home to me,” Nancy said.

The deadline for submitting art for the show is June 7.

Those interested in participating can contact Martha Branson-Banks at or Sandy Larkin-Hall at

For more information about Cross-Cultural Ministries, visit

‘Ira Clark Art for a Cause’

What: Second annual juried art show and sale, benefiting local and international charities

When: Noon-4 p.m. June 30

Where: Lake Michigan College Bertrand Crossing Campus, Niles

More information: msbanks106@comcast.ent,  (269) 687-5292