You might be surprised to hear this, but art is everywhere. If you’re looking closely, you can find beauty in the grass that grows through the cracks in the sidewalk or in the way the clouds roll in before the sky lights up with lightning.
If you’re lucky, you get the opportunity to see those moments through a visual artist’s eyes when they capture it in charcoal, watercolor, or papier-mâché. If you’re even more lucky, you can find a place that showcases those works of art for all to see – free of charge. In Frankfort, that place is the Elizabeth Lane Oliver Center for the Arts, or Oliver Art Center, a community’s gift to it’s own from the very folks who live there.
The Oliver Art Center was the prized jewel at the end of #MittenTrip Frankfort – I had heard plenty of wonderful stories about this place that brings community and art together in a real way. Their mission statement reads:
The purpose of the Elizabeth Lane Oliver Center for the Arts is to establish and maintain an educational program and facility for the advancement of the arts. The Art Center also works to promote and develop the visual, performing, culinary, and literary arts in Benzie County and the surrounding area.
And that, folks, is a beautiful thing.
Every May, the Center hosts a regional student art show, showcasing student art from elementary school all the way through collegiate-level pieces. We enjoyed spending time with the finger paintings that were obviously projects for art class, photography from many an emotional teenager, and some of the most interesting pottery and sculpture imaginable.
Visiting on a Sunday afternoon meant having the place completely to ourselves, and we were free to savor every single piece in the museum. At its most full, the Center is likely hosting a community concert or workshop with Lakeside Shakespeare Theatre. The Oliver also offers a wide range of classes and workshops featuring local artists of all kinds. Young or old, there’s always a new way to look at the world, and the Oliver is proud to bring those opportunities to the community.
What was formerly the Crystal Lake Arts Center was founded in 1948 and reestablished in the Coast Guard Station at the mouth of the Betsie Bay in 2011. The new facility was awarded LEED platinum certification, the highest rating for sustainability, in 2013, as well as Michigan Historic Preservation Network’s 2014 Building Award.
Because the Center is one of the places that boasts ‘Open Year Round!’ on its sign, it’s a no-brainer to stop in no matter what it looks like outside. Visits to the non-profit art center are free of charge, though donations are always accepted. For more information about upcoming events, exhibitions, or rental availability, please visit oliverartcenterfrankfort.org. And the next time you’re in Benzie County, do not hesitate to stop by – you’ll always be glad you did.