If your family is looking to take a day trip to St. Joseph, Michigan, and the surrounding areas, I have an experience for you.
The Krasl Art Center has a variety of things it has to offer. It’s more than just an art museum. It’s a piece of the community. It’s a place for the family. It’s the map that guides you on a treasure hunt. It’s a haven for local artists and it’s home to various pieces of art.
The Krasl Art Center
The non-profit center located across from the bluff in St. Joseph was inspired by a group of local artists who hosted an art fair on the bluff. Those artists eventually turned into a group known as the St. Joseph Art Association, and through the Krasl benefactors, the Krasl Art Center was born.
Olga Krasl thought an art center was needed, “to make life more worthwhile,” and I believe that art certainly does that. Admission to the art center is free, so it’s a great activity for those who are looking for an inexpensive, yet meaningful experience.
Donations to support the Krasl Art Center are always appreciated!
A Peak Inside
I entered the art center and my attention immediately landed on a large, glass-blown gold chandelier. I was astounded when I read the information placard that described the piece as 700 pounds. I stared up at it for quite some time, wondering how something so delicate and intricate could be so heavy.
After pulling myself away from the chandelier, I found the gift shop that hosts pieces by local artists, hallways to the Art Lab, galleries, and an art-filled lobby area for visitors to take in the art while reading, sipping on a coffee, or just looking for a quiet space.
The larger galleries were closed when I visited. At first, I was apprehensive that there wouldn’t be much to see, but I was pleasantly surprised by what the center offers outside of its large galleries.
The exhibit that was running during my visit was titled, “Broken Alphabet: A Love Letter to Graffiti,” by Guillermo ‘ASMA Speeks’ Sotelo. I liked seeing graffiti in an art museum setting. The art mediums ranged from cereal boxes to painted ammo cans and had me itching to create something out of the random things in my recycling bin.
After browsing the art, I read about the artist, ASMA Speeks, and learned that he is a Michigan native. His work has also been featured in the Grand Rapids Public Museum. That was the perfect cherry-on-top for this exhibit.
Make Your Own Mark
In the center of the exhibit is a sketchbook where visitors are encouraged to create graffiti of their own. After flipping through the book, I found the pages were full of people who left their mark. How often do you visit an art museum and leave a piece of your own behind?
A Fun Sculpture Scavenger Hunt
In the lobby of the art center, I found sculpture maps (download your own sculpture map here). The art itself isn’t confined to the museum, the center has sculptures placed throughout the town of St. Joseph and the surrounding areas.
To experience all of the sculptures, you’ll need a vehicle and prepare to walk a short distance.
I grabbed a map and studied it, wondering how many times I had walked by a sculpture without realizing it was part of the art center.
I eagerly identified multiple sculptures on the map. I hopped in my car, the sculpture map resting on my passenger seat, and I was off to find some art.
The Sculptures on Silver Beach
I started with the classic blue sculpture I had walked past a million times at Silver Beach. Upon reading the name, “Moon Dream,” the sculpture finally made sense to me.
While I was at Silver Beach, I decided now was the perfect time to check the other sculptures along the lake off my list. I noticed some rain clouds rolling in but I was determined to continue my search.
More sculptures I found at Silver Beach:
- Young Flight
- Go Fly A Kite
My Favorite Sculpture
With the rain clouds looming, I sped things up by driving down the parking lot to the walking entrance of the pier on the far end of Silver Beach (so much for getting my steps in!).
At the entrance of the pier, you are met by the most beautiful sculpture, titled, “And You, Seas.” I spent several moments just taking in the grandeur of the sculpture.
From this location, you have an excellent view of the train bridge and the Tiscornia Park lighthouse. If you’re lucky enough, you might even get to see the bridge turn and the train cross.
More Sculptures in St. Joseph & Benton Harbor
I found even more sculptures throughout downtown St. Joseph and Benton Harbor. A couple of my favorites were “Allegheny Drift” and “Riddle,” which reminded me of a piece of cheese.
When I ventured into the Benton Harbor Art District, I found myself wanting to stop and take in everything I saw, so plan on hanging around this area for a while, there’s lots to enjoy!
Tips For Your Art Adventure
I won’t take you on the whole adventure, I would like some element of surprise, but the experience is perfect for individuals of all ages, you don’t have to be an art connoisseur.
I would recommend checking the weather (or packing an umbrella!) before your journey out.
On a sunny day, I would even recommend picking up ice cream from Cabanas or Kilwins, following the map, finding the sculptures AND experiencing the beach. I think that’s a pretty epic day.
If you don’t feel like planning it out, Krasl offers guided tours for groups ranging from 5-15 people.
Souvenirs for a Lifetime
Once you finish the Sculpture Scavenger Hunt, you can head back to the Art Center where your journey began and find an epic souvenir.
When I travel, I always like to get my typical laptop sticker that says the name of the place I visited AND something meaningful. Whether it’s something handmade from a farmer’s market or a shop supporting locals, I hunt down these hidden treasures.
The gift shop inside the Krasl Art Center is a place where you find those hidden souvenir treasures, like a piece of pottery or a tea kettle made by a local artist. Those are the pieces you purchase, save, share, and leave behind for the next generation.
The Perfect Southwest Michigan Adventure
If you get the opportunity to visit Southwest Michigan, add the Krasl Art Center to your list. Whether it’s the sculpture scavenger hunt, an art workshop with the family or a rainy day spent viewing art, the experience will be so worthwhile.