Krasl Art Center excited about host of ‘new’ opportunities

Published 10:23 am Monday, February 3, 2014

"Blackburn" (2002), a color lithograph by Ron Adams. (Submitted photo)

“Blackburn” (2002), a color lithograph by Ron Adams. (Submitted photo)

ST. JOSEPH — “New.” That’s a popular word at the Krasl Art Center these days. A new exhibition, a new artist in the artlab, a new session of classes, and most exciting of all, a newly renovated interior on the first floor of the museum.

Built in 1980, the museum has not enjoyed such a major overhaul since 1996. Over the last several weeks, all of the public spaces have received special attention.

“First, we’re putting a polished cement floor in the artlab,” said Tami Miller, curator of exhibitions, collections and education at the Krasl. “From a curatorial perspective, that’s just great because we use that space for so many things, and the new flooring will provide increased flexibility for that space.”

The artlab will enjoy its first use at 7 p.m. on Jan. 30, when artist Heather Parrish engages the public in a free artlab artist’s talk. Currently an M.F.A. student at the University of Notre Dame, Parrish utilizes light, paper and, at times, sound to create physically and psychologically evocative spaces. Her work will remain as a feature at the museum through April 20.

The Main Gallery has also received attention in the form of new, maple hardwood flooring.

“In the Main Gallery, the maple flooring will be just a lovely addition to that space. It will lighten it up and work very well with the architecture,” Miller said.

On Jan. 31, that gallery will also host a new exhibition, The Harmon and Harriet Kelley Collection of African American Art:  Works on Paper. An opening party for that exhibit will be combined with the premier film screening for the Children’s Coastline Film Festival.

David Driskell, Professor Emeritus at the University of Maryland at College Park, has called the Kelley Collection “one of the finest that has been assembled tracing the history of African American art.”

The Harmon and Harriet Kelley Collection of African American Art: Works on Paper includes 70 artworks from the 19th through the 21st centuries. The exhibit is organized by Landau Traveling Exhibitions of Los Angeles, Cal.

“The premier is free and open to the public, starting at 6 p.m. At 6:30, there will be a live drum performance by students at Hull Academy in Benton Harbor. At 7:15, we will have the screening of “Kirikou and the Sorceress” in the gallery,” Miller said.

The Krasl’s gift shop, known for its eclectic mix of artistic gifts, has also received its share of attention in the recent renovation.

“The gift shop will have new paint, store fixtures and carpet,” said Colleen Villa, director of community relations at the Krasl Art Center.

“We are freshening up the ways that we’re displaying the merchandise as well,” Miller added.

Finally, the flooring in the lobby of the museum has been updated.

“The new carpet in all of the public spaces on the first floor of the museum will give it a lovely, fresh look and provide a nice welcome to the pubic,” Miller said.

“We are very fortunate to have these funds,” said Villa, of a $67,500 grant from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs that made the renovations possible.

“The public can come and get a first glance at the improvements we’ve been making at the ribbon cutting that we will be hosting on Friday, Jan. 31, at 4 p.m.,” Miller said. “Members of the Cornerstone Chamber Alliance will be there, and our executive director, Julia Gourley, will be speaking at the event.”

The Krasl Art Center galleries, located at 707 Lake Blvd., are open Monday-Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Thursday from 10 a.m. to 9; and Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m.  Admission to the museum is free of charge.  More information can be obtained by calling (269) 983-0271 or visiting

Finally, a new session of classes will be starting at the Krasl as early as Feb. 4.

“There are still limited openings available in our adults’ and children’s classes, so we have extended the registration period,” Miller said. “We want to make sure that as many people as possible have an opportunity to sign up for them.”