Beauty, Wonder & Creativity in Our Own Backyard

The Year in the Arts 2016

Posted In: Arts & Entertainment, ,   From Issue 837   By: Robert E Martin

15th December, 2016     0

With over 60 arts and cultural organizations varying from galleries, orchestras, dance & art studios, libraries, theatre companies, gardens, zoos, historical societies, nature centers and universities populating the Great Lakes Bay Region, there was no shortage of significant moments and developments happening throughout the region in 2016.

Symbolic of the revitalization happening throughout our cultural community was the unveiling of the sparkling new Temple Theatre Marquee, which shimmers as a wonderful historic gateway into the Downtown area and arts district. As director Stacey Gannon phrases it: “I think it is more than just a marquee; it’s a symbol of our heritage and history as a community and the resilience of our citizens.”

The Temple has been equipped with no less than three marquee signs during its 88-year history. In 1927, the Temple sign consisted of two parts, a vertical “blade” containing the word TEMPLE and an awning over the sidewalk that contained two lighted end panels and a strip of lettering parallel to the street.  Messages were displayed using moveable cast metal letters. By reprising the vintage sign and re-casting it with durable materials, solid state lighting and electronic panels displaying digital messages, the artistic imagery of the past is blended with the digital miracles of today in a perfect, practical, and inspirational homage spanning the generations.

2016 also witnessed the birth of two major Arts Festivals in the region, beginning with the 1st Annual PATCHWORK Art & Music Festival in April and ending with the 1st Annual Hamilton Street BASH.

Featuring over 20 live musical acts, 10 artist exhibitions and live comedy at nearly a dozen venues stretching throughout the tri-cities, PATCHWORK was conceived and facilitated by cultural mavericks Curtis Dalton and Ben Champagne of the Counter Culture Arts Collective, and aided by the invaluable assistance of Rachel LaDrig and Erin Case. As its title suggested the genres of art and music and culture were woven within the project, which cultivated creative energy by merging these multifarious talents and in turn focusing them back into the fabric of the community.

From June 13-18th artists from throughout Michigan and beyond also converged upon Saginaw, Bay & Midland counties, all of them focused upon a seven-day mission to capture the diverse beauty of our region at the 2nd Annual Great Lakes Bay En Plein Air Festival, which culminated in an expansive exhibition at the Saginaw Art Museum and other nearby venues. En Plein Air is a French expression meaning ‘in the open air’: a term used to describe painting outdoors. Artists create an original painting expressing the mood of a scene which often includes a visual expression encompassing elements such as the atmosphere, changing light, sounds & temperature of their subject matter. Plein air painting includes any subject observed outdoors, including but not limited to architecture, people, and landscapes. 

“Last year we had 52 artists that came from all over the state, and didn’t realize it would be such a big success,” explains Saginaw Art Museum Director Stacey Gannon. “We were more than pleased with the number of artists participating and the feedback and excitement we received back from them about the beauty they saw in the region.”

The month of July witnessed a massive exodus into the region as twelve vintage vessels sailed up the Saginaw River to transform Bay City into a majestic place of historic wonder with return of the sixth Tall Ships Celebration in Bay City, which drew over 100,000 people during the expanse of the four-day event. New to the event this year were El Galeón Andalucía, a 160 ft. replica of a 16th—17th century Spanish galleon; Draken Harald Hårfagre, a 115 ft. replica of a traditional Viking long boat; and When and If, an 83 ft. schooner built for General George S. Patton in 1939. Bay City hosts the Tall Ship Celebration when the fleet visits the Great Lakes; and Bay City has been the only official host port in the state of Michigan since 2006. Given the sizable commitment from sponsors, volunteers, and everybody involved with the Tall Ships Celebration, the payoff is decidedly worthwhile. Organizer Shirley Roberts notes that at peak attendance years the economic impact is about $10.2 million for the three-and-a-half-day event.

Thanks to the vision & commitment of promoter Tom Schwannecke, the Hamilton Street Corridor attempted to reclaim the grandeur of its musical heritage with a three-day inaugural festival that ran from August 12-14th and 27 bands performing on 3 stages consisting of the most notable and legendary performers that have built and defined our regional music scene over the decades. Billed as The Hamilton St. Corridor BASH, this landmark celebration occupied a seven block radius. Although the event was hampered by rainfall, it set a standard and precedent that poses huge possibilities for the second festival that Schwannecke intends to hold in 2017.

Captain Annie's Survivor chest is a non-profit foundation created by Kevin Hoerauf, Margaret LeClere and Tim Boychuck and born from a symbiotic goal dedicated to providing help and support to cancer patients and their families who are struggling throughout the Mid-Michigan area as they are going through cancer treatment; while also honoring the memories of two special people who lost their own battles with cancer in 2015: Kirk ‘The Captain’ LeClere and Annie Hoerauf. In addition to formulating events designed to raise funds that will go directly to cancer patients and their families to help defer ancillary expenses not normally thought of when people think of cancer treatments, eventually the foundation hopes to have a self-perpetuating trust fund that will continue to further assistance to cancer patients and their families for many years to come.  For more information or to contribute go to

The Saginaw Bay Symphony Orchestra introduced their newly named Musical Director Fouad Fakhouri, who was selected to this pivotal position from among 197 applicants.  Fakhouri is an internationally acclaimed Lebanese-born American conductor & composer who has been credited with raising the artistic standards of orchestras that he conducts, while dramatically increasing symphony attendance. Lauded for his artistry and ability to elicit the best musical results from orchestras he conducts, Fakhouri is a committed proponent of the subjective interpretive style of conducting. As such, his performances have been celebrated for their broad, dynamic, and powerful interpretations, which model the Austro-Germanic conducting tradition of Furtwangler and Celibidache in going beyond the score to capture both the essence and spirit of the music.

The Delta College Planetarium & Learning Center, located at 100 Center Avenue in Bay City is an off-campus center for Delta College classes combined with a world class digital planetarium that will be celebrating its 20th Anniversary in 2017.  Funded by an $8.75 million NASA Challenger Grant, the Planetarium houses a 50-foot diameter dome above 146 seats, each wired with a 5-button responder system for audience interaction with whatever program is being presented. Additionally, the planetarium theatre also houses the world’s most modern full-dome digital animation system called Digistar, which takes audiences on realistic voyages through the cosmos and can also offer an unforgettable musical entertainment experience.  As this remarkable resource approaches its 20th Anniversary in 2017, Director Michael Murray finds much in the near future to be excited about. “Back when the planetarium was first conceived by Delta College President Don Carlyon and physics professor Marty Goodman, they each saw a unique opportunity for a world class planetarium not just for the college, but for outreach to the community for public education, shows, special events and rentals, as well as functioning as a learning center and classroom site for the college,” he explains. For their 20th Anniversary year which happens in February, the Delta College Planetarium has several special events in the works throughout the year and is one of the more advanced digital 360 dome systems, which offer an incredibly high level of detail, resolution and depth. Plus, they feature armrest interactives, which is rather cutting edge and rare for a community the size of Bay City to feature such a world-class facility.

The 3rd Street Star Bridge lit up Bay City with a beautiful canopy of more than 660 lights zigzagging from building to building and lining up with Water Fall Park at the west end of the street on the Saginaw River. Spearheaded by Avram Golden, owner of Golden Gallery & Custom Framing, the project was privately funded by 150 people who purchased $100 "stars lights" to honor or memorialize a person important to them. Engraved stars are going to be displayed on the exterior of the buildings lining the Star Bridge.


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