Artist guild celebrating milestone at Box Factory

Published 4:53 pm Wednesday, October 21, 2015

(Submitted photo)

(Submitted photo)

ST. JOSEPH, Mich. — The Berrien Artist Guild (BAG) celebrates 20 years in the Box Factory For The Arts this Friday, Oct. 23.

Though the not-for-profit art organization existed prior to moving into the building in 1995, the location allowed them to grow in membership and in services. No longer limited to meeting in member’s living rooms, BAG was able to create what is now one of the most important art destinations and resources in the region, with low cost studio spaces for artists to work, classes and workshops for anyone to learn and galleries for everyone to view.

The BAG board of directors president at the time, Robert Williams, pushed the group to pursue the facility, which had been empty for years. Since that time, the building has seen many improvements and the membership of the guild has more than tripled. The range of art shown and taught has extended from fine arts into writing, ceramics and multimedia. The Box Factory has been designed as a place for the entire public to come in and enjoy art, with free galleries and other programs that serve thousands in a 75-mile radius.

“We want people to come through,” said current president, Laura Goos, indicating the organization’s ongoing goal of including the entire public. The group has worked with local tourist groups, including St. Joe Today and the Southwestern Michigan Tourist Council, to bring in people who may not know what the Box Factory has offered or has planned for the future.

According to Goos, the Birthday Bash is a celebration of the history of the building and the organization, as well as a “culmination of a year of work to recharge and reenergize” their offerings. In marking a path for the future, it’s Box Factory leaders hope to further the reach, continuing to bring art appreciation and education to people young and old. She, along with Project Manager Cindy Kinney, describe the Berrien Artist Guild as a dynamic group, with actively involved original members in their 80s and 90s and growing participation from the area’s youth.

The Birthday Bash will serve as a primer for an evening in local art, with the event beginning at 5 p.m. and ending at 7:30 p.m., in time for attendees to move on to the Fall Benton Harbor Art Hop, a downtown event featuring artists and local business. The coordinated timing was intentional. When discussing other local art facilities and not-for-profits, Goos indicated that they maintain informal ties and work to schedule events in relation to each other when possible.

“We’re not in competition. We feel like we’re a partner with them.”

The Berrien Artist Guild hopes to continue to provide events and resources unique to them, that compliment other offerings in the region. They are working to hone their future classes, creating a curriculum particular to the Box Factory. Classes in printmaking will be offered in the facility print shop. An expanded theater program, led by Birthday Bash emcee, Carole Catherine, will take advantage of the old factory atmosphere and the wide-open theater. New gallery showings, changing every 6 to 8 weeks, and live events most Saturday nights will continue to be staples at the Box.

Tickets to the Birthday Bash include the evening’s entertainment, with performances by The Ne’ Do Wells, featuring MonTe micHel bLue and Rick Willey, along with special guests Mark Albers and Rusty Hardwater of The Boulevard Billies. Food will be provided by local eateries, as well as a cash bar, a coffee station and raffles with prizes provided by supporting businesses from the area. Details and tickets are available at


Justin Flagel is the founder of the web magazine and podcast Anywhere the Needle Drops, where he and others showcase their interest in music, pop culture, creativity and life. Follow their work at Feedback can be directed to