Fernwood focusing on art

Published 5:22 pm Thursday, February 13, 2014

Participants in Fernwood’s upcoming beading class can make their own necklaces and bracelets. (Photo by Jan Ferris)

Participants in Fernwood’s upcoming beading class can make their own necklaces and bracelets. (Photo by Jan Ferris)

NILES — Whether it’s viewing art, creating art or learning about a type of artistry of the past, Fernwood Botanical Garden and Nature Preserve is offering many different options for art lovers this February.

First, two new exhibits will be opening in Fernwood’s galleries on Feb 14.

In the main gallery, The Contemporary Show will provide an eclectic mix, featuring the work of Scott Hatt, Maureen Lighthall, Nancy Bailey and posthumously, Robert Bloss.

“This is a very rare contemporary show that we’re having at Fernwood,” said Kathee Kiesselbach, gallery curator and organizer of the show. “Scott Hatt is going to have a collage, Lighthall and Bloss will have paintings, and Bailey will have wildlife paintings in the show.”

The artistry of South Bend-based artist Scott Hatt will also be on display in the Curator’s Gallery.

“In our smaller gallery, we’ll have a display of Scott’s handmade boxes,” Kiesselbach said. “He creates these little boxes that all have collages in them. They’re really colorful.”

An opening reception for The Contemporary Show will be held at Fernwood from 1 to 3 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 16.

For those visitors to Fernwood who would like to create their own piece of wearable art, a class on beaded bracelet-making will be lead by Julie Soales from 2 to 4 p.m. on Feb 22.

While participants are welcome to bring their own beads, Soales, who owns Mystic Beads and Earth Ware in Niles, will be bringing a selection of beads and findings for participants to chose from. Soales will also supply all of the necessary tools.

The cost for participating in the class is $8 for members and $10 for nonmembers. Materials will cost extra. There are a limited number of spots in the class, so early registration is recommended.

“Participants can choose to make either a bracelet or a necklace,” said Jan Ferris, special projects coordinator at Fernwood. “They should expect to spend about $20 to make a bracelet and about $30 to make a necklace if they don’t bring their own beads. At the end of the class, you will go away with a finished piece of jewelry.”

Other classes, such as ones on making mosaics and knitting, are available throughout the year at Fernwood. More information about those class offerings is available at www.fernwoodbotanical.org. Those wishing to register for classes can call (269) 695-6491.

Finally, for those who are interested in learning about a form of artistry that flourished along the St. Joseph River in years past, Fernwood will be hosting an informative lecture on the history of pearl button manufacturing by Ric Ladonski of Niles.

“That ought to be a very interesting program,” Ferris said. “Ric has been collecting these pearl buttons and other objects for quite a long time.”

Ladonski will be bringing items from his collection. He will also be presenting a PowerPoint presentation that describes how pearl buttons were made from freshwater clams.

“As many as five button manufacturers were located along the St. Joseph River between South Bend and St. Joseph,” Ferris noted. “And, Fernwood itself is located on the banks of the river.”

The lecture is scheduled from 1 to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 15. The cost of the program, which is suitable for all ages, is $8 for Fernwood members and $10 for nonmembers.

The number of art-related programs and exhibits that Fernwood offers is not surprising, given that the connection between the arts and botanical garden goes back to the very roots of the nonprofit institution.

“Fernwood always offers a variety of artistic programs,” Ferris said. “Kay Boydston, our founder, was very interested in the arts, as well as being a fern propagator.”