Art & Music

By Ryan R. Ennis

WHETHER YOU’RE AN aspiring actor or director, or just seeking entertainment, the non-profit organization Michigan Stage has something for you. With its goal “to produce theatre in enriching, refreshing new ways directly within the community of Ferndale and greater Oakland County,” opportunities abound for escaping from the monotony of the daily grind by indulging the imagination.

At Michigan Stage studio locations this summer, instructor/ artists with strong creative drives conducted summer youth playlabs for students ages 7 to 13. During the sessions, the instructors helped students develop themes and dramatic moods for designing skits and short sketches centered around D.I.A. (Detroit Institute of Art) works on display in the community. Under the artists’ tutelage, the students learned how to breathe life into their ideas through performances at small local venues. The classes have served as meaningful ways for children and adults to express their creativity.

The playlabs fall under the wings of the organization’s Performing Arts Academy, whose vision is a commitment to “upholding the professionalism of the performing arts community.” To execute that vision, the academy provides resources such as intensive tenweek theater workshops scheduled in the evenings for students ages 13 to 22. Also available are individual voice and dance lessons along with workshops on contemporary pop-rock Broadway composers. A youth ensemble assists with the academy’s artistic and administrative direction.

Another opportunity offered through Michigan Stage is its play-reading group – Michigan Page – in which group members analyze and critique theatrical works via Zoom. Selections include both contemporary and classical drama. Guest speakers help to facilitate the meetings by providing discussion points and background on the texts. Most recently, in April, participants read and interpreted Sarah Ruhl’s Orlando, based on Virginia Wolf’s popular genderfluid character who lives for centuries and re-examines history through encounters with key figures of English literature. Michigan Page’s bimonthly meetings plan to resume in January 2022, at a local library. Says a Michigan Page participant about the club, “(It’s) an environment where the love of theatre is nurtured . . . and impactful discussions are fostered in a relevant way.”

Leading the cast at Michigan Stage is founding Artistic Director Tim Paré, a Michigan State University graduate with an impressive résumé. Previously, he held the titles of Educational Director for two stage companies where he developed theater arts programs for youths and young adults. By directing and choreographing his students in musicals and other performances, he annually reached 7,500 community members. College students have also enrolled in his workshops and courses on how to audition performers, dance professionally, and manage stage productions.

In forming his company, Paré has striven “to expose audiences both new and old to the performing arts in new ways – to nurture a curiosity to explore the world around us through…community theater productions.”

As part of fulfilling his mission, Paré directed three free concerts entitled Broadway in the ‘Burbs, all performed on August 7 at The dot (Development on Troy) in downtown Ferndale. The shows featured Broadway cast members singing tunes from Beautiful: The Carol King Musical, Dear Evan Hansen, and other hits. Before and after each performance, gatherers were able to meet the singers, as well as chat with the fire and police department workers who were on hand with activities and information on city services.

Up next for Paré and Michigan Stage is Looking Back Through Stained Glass, a family-friendly musical that explores the styles of punk rock and heartbeat pop music in addition to the themes of rebellion and selfacceptance. Starring in the production will be Drag superstar Nancy Nogood and recording artist Ugochi Nriaka. Performed at the Ant Hall in Hamtramck, the musical will run from September 30th through October 9th.

For more information on Looking Back Through Stained Glass, autumn playlabs, and other Michigan Stage events and programs, visit www.michiganstage.org. You can also keep up to date by joining the mailing list. To contact Tim Paré directly, email him at tim@michiganstage.org.

By Kevin Alan Lamb

SUMMERS WERE SPENT PLAYING BASEBALL in the front yard by day, and running through neighborhood streets, playing Capture-The-Flag by night. In those brief moments we took respite inside my childhood home for PBJ’s and hydration, we could always depend on my mom busy at work painting in the kitchen (her studio), listening to Julio Iglesias. Our home was decorated with her water-color and mixed media creations, while her positive energy and creativity still tell a story today.

All those years ago, she was a member of the Lawrence Street Gallery, which first made its home in Pontiac, before finding its way to Ferndale. Little did I know then, but some 25 years later I would call Ferndale home, and be given the opportunity to write about Lawrence Street Gallery, connecting with Laura Host, its Director and my mom’s old friend.

“Your mom, Kris, was always a very enthusiastic member. She was a great artist and was willing to attempt anything!” Host says.

“Our first location was on Lawrence Street in the old Salvation Army building in Pontiac. The space had been an art gallery but a new owner bought the building and wanted to have it continue as a gallery. So she decided to turn it into an artist cooperative gallery. The original members set it up legally as a cooperative and Lawrence St. Gallery started in 1987.”

Despite being closed from mid-March until July, Host was quick to identify a silver lining in the pandemic; citing increased foot traffic downtown as a result of people having less to do, and receiving the Oakland Together Small Business Recovery Grant.

“We received the grant in October 2020,” thanks to Treasurer Dennis Montville, who is also a wood turner and wood sculptor. “We’ve been able to purchase air-purifying machines and hand-sanitizer machines to help our members and visitors feel safer,” Host says.

Closing also prompted a needed shift in emphasis toward the Gallery’s online presence. “Cindy Parsons (painter) spearheaded the project of making the Gallery capable of having virtual exhibits online.”

WHILE SHE WASN’T LOOKING FORWARD TO COMING BACK, HOST QUICKLY REALIZED how much she missed it. “What could be better than sipping coffee while looking at art?”

Open the first Friday of every month, ten people are allowed in the gallery at a time. Even after being in Ferndale for 18 years, they are exploring ways to better let neighbors know they are there.

“We joined the Chamber of Commerce and have tried to create events that get people into the gallery, like Meet-the-Artist Sundays. We stress that we have a brand-new exhibit at the gallery every month.”

Grateful for this serendipitous entanglement of past and present, I asked Host to paint us a picture of the gallery’s early days.

“The space had high ceilings, beautiful tall windows and wood floors. Downtown Pontiac was waking up after a time of empty buildings and the City offered buildings for very little, hoping to have the new owners refurbish the buildings and downtown. We were the first gallery in the 1987 version of downtown Pontiac, and the last one to leave in 2003.

Finding a spot on Woodward Ave. in Ferndale seemed like a great idea. We kept the name Lawrence Street Gallery as we had been known as a place for artists to display their work, and we wanted to keep a connection to all the history of the gallery.”

Artists are their best customers, and Host is grateful that people are learning more about the community, that they might not have had time for in the past.

“We have affordable, original, all-media art by area artists. Those who love buying art can always find something at the gallery, and those who are just starting out buying artwork for their homes can find amazing art, at affordable prices. We even donated a percentage of sales for a couple of months when we reopened last July to the Renaissance Vineyard Food Pantry in Ferndale.”

KAISER SUIDAN NEXT STEP STUDIO & GALLERY: 530 Hilton, check web site for shows and hours. Indoor and outdoor galleries and event space. An emphasis on functional art. www.nextstepstudio.com

LAWRENCE STREET GALLERY: 22620 Woodward, Weds.-Sat. 12:00-5:00 P.M. (Friday till 9:00 P.M.), Sunday 1:00-5:00 P.M. A member-owned gallery that also includes other artists in juried displays. www.lawrencestreetgallery.com

LEVEL ONE BANK COMMUNITY ARTS GALLERY: 22635 Woodward, Mon.-Fri. 9:00-5:00 P.M. (Friday till 6:00 P.M.). Curated by gallerist and framing guru Mark Burton. Specializes in solo and themed shows.

M CONTEMPORARY GALLERY: 205 East Nine Mile, Weds.–Sat. 1:00-6:00 P.M. (5:00 on Saturday). Special services for collectors both individual and corporate. National presence. www.mcontemporaryart.com

PAUL KOTULA: 23255 Woodward (second floor), Check website for hours. Focused on emerging and mid-career artists. www.paulkotula.com

RUST BELT GALLERY: 22801 Woodward, Hours vary seasonally. A group of creative small businesses, many in arts and design. www.rustbeltmarket.com

SPACE CAT V-STRO: 255 W 9 Mile Rd, 248-268-3211. www.spacecatvstro.com

STATE OF THE ART: 918 W. Nine Mile, Tues.- Fri. 11:00-7:00 P.M., Sat. 11:00-5:00 P.M. Gallery with full service design, printing and framing services. www.stateoftheartonline.net

THE STRATFORD: 138 Stratford, Check Facebook for hours. Gallery and event space near Eight Mile. Facebook: The Stratford Studios Ferndale.

THE WHITEBRICK GALLERY: 150 Livernois, Hours vary. A group of artists providing an opportunity for creative exhibits. www.whitebrickgallery.com

OAK PARK IS ALWAYS EAGER TO CELEBRATE ARTISTIC EXCELLENCE, and you’ll find some of that excellence on display at the City Hall now through October.

It is the work of Markham, a Detroit-based artist who loves and excels in everything from pop art to graffiti, but, that’s not even the tip of the iceberg. Markham’s work is an embodiment of the independent artistic spirit spanning from music to his extensive exhibition history. However, the latter is merely one aspect of what Markham reveals to us. Whether doing freelance work or making art in his free time to express his relentless creative energy, Markham puts his own unique stamp on everything he does.

His works currently featured in the City Hall exhibit include surreal and fantasy landscapes, as well as a pop-art Beatles montage (the last available in a sold-out series.) The selection of Markham’s work is a step away from what he most commonly shows his viewers. “I paint the visions in my head that intuitively express dark overtones of monsters and uncertainty through a mostly surrealist view,” Markham states. Mostly, his intention is to make us step back and look at how we’ve been dismissive of humanities undesirable qualities. Sometimes he holds the mirror up in a repulsive way, but that is what a lot of Markham’s work does, by reflecting some of the things many of us shy away from.

HOWEVER, HIS INTENTION IN PORTRAYING DISQUIETING THEMES IS NOT TO UPSET THE VIEWER. Part of his vision as an artist is to present topics that are often ignored or shunned by the popular media. By exploring and artistically depicting his feelings on abuse and the media’s exploitation of certain groups of people, for example, he hopes to give voice to the victims whose suffering is often overlooked. This represents the true spirit of using art as a healing force, for the creator, and hopefully for the viewer as well.

It is this fluidity in creative expression that makes Markham’s work what it is. He does not think, “This is a graphic design job so I must follow these rules,” or, “This is a painting so I must do things this certain way.” This disregard for convention is what makes his work unique, as following norms is a surefire way to stay in a safe zone and ensure that artistic output will never approach what it could be if the creative spirit were truly allowed to be free.

His exhibits in Detroit, New York, Venice, and L.A., along with his published works in multiple national publications including The Finger Mag, Propulsion Magazine, Studio Visit Magazine, and Ink and Voices have met with good acceptance.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO CONTACT MARKHAM FOR YOUR artistic business needs, murals, and more, he can be reached at 586-246-4028 or at markhamartist@outlook.com. You can also find him on Facebook and Instagram at MarkhamArtist, YouTube at Markham|Artist, and markhamartist.com, where his work is also available for purchase.

 

 

FOUNDED IN MAY 2015, THE HIGHLY RESPECTED FERNDALE COMMUNITY CONCERT BAND (FCCB) completed its fifth season this year, and has become one of Ferndale’s most successful non-profit non-profits and largest volunteer organization in the community, boasting more than 70 volunteer musicians.

The FCCB does not hold auditions, but does consider the experience and accomplishments of a musician when accepting a new member. All concerts are free, with donations gratefully accepted at the door. There are a broad range of volunteer musicians involved, ages 16 to 84, with various levels of skill and experience. FCCB members are music educators, amateurs, professionals and students. A few members have played in the Detroit Symphony Orchestra on an as needed basis. Over 200 musicians have been a part of FCCB over the years, with each concert involving 70 or more musicians. The FCCB performs five concerts per season. When invited, the FCCB has added special performances, such as the NAACP 2019 National Convention performance, and other public events to their concert schedule.

In order to establish and manage this pivotal cultural band, two residents were selected to become members of the Ferndale Arts & Cultural Commission in 2014. Both were chosen for their outstanding skills and experience: Tim Brennan (a Hamtramck High School music teacher and veteran of the U.S. Army Band) and Sharon Chess (a well-known community organizer).

Information received from the Ferndale Arts & Cultural Commission’s public survey led Chess and Brennan, to organize the Ferndale Community Concert Band. They created a promotional Facebook page, as a call to action, listing a time and date for the first band rehearsal. They also consulted with retired Cass Tech Orchestra Director, Marc Haas, on how best to form a community band. In all, 105 people responded to the request for volunteer musicians.

ON MAY 5, 2015, THE FIRST REHEARSAL WAS HELD at Ferndale High School (FHS). Both FHS Principal Roger Smith and FHS Band Director Elon Jamison were very helpful, and allowed the band to use their expansive facility for rehearsals and concerts. Additionally, Ed Quick stepped up as the Artistic Director and Conductor of the FCCB. Chess recalls the evening of the first rehearsal very clearly: “Quick wasn’t confident there would be a good turn-out. We were expecting maybe 15-20 people to show up. But people kept coming through the door, and coming and coming!” It was an incredible ensemble of every instrument and player we needed.” Hope ensued.

Even though the concerts are free, the attendees are very generous with their donations. The cost to produce each concert is over $1,800 (which includes printing, recording, sound/lighting technician and conductor fees). To help further with fundraising, a bake sale is held at each concert. “We have some really good bakers in the band!” Chess added with a smile. Members of the local Senior Group, and the Memorial Foundation, Dick and JoAnn Wilcock, and David Chess, help with the bake sale and door donations.

Another source of donation comes from the FCCB Board members, who have purchased equipment, music, recording and sound equipment, and other needs for the band. A friend of a Board member donated an expensive Yamaha concert drum kit, then, after few years, decided to donate the set to the FCCB. Another example of generosity was by a philanthropic donor, Jeffrey Chess, who purchased over $12,000 worth of equipment for the band. Chess added that sometimes Ed Quick donates the cost of music, if the total is over the $550 music budget, allowed per concert or it is a special piece he does not want the expense to fall on the Band.

The Band has played and is invited to return to the Music on Belle Isle Group (MoBIG) River Blast! Concert series. MoBIG is a non- profit dedicated to returning summer band concerts to Belle Isle. MoBIG features community bands and orchestras from Southeast Michigan throughout their season. Part of MoBIG’s overall mission includes providing free concerts on Belle Isle (Sunset Point) during the summer months, at 6:30P.M. MoBIG is also involved with fundraising efforts to restore Belle Isle’s historic Remick Bandshell. Please visit their web site at www.mobigmusic.org for updated information.

Another project which has recently developed from the original FCCB is the M-1 Jazz Collective, led by Brennan. There are 18 members and a vocalist rehearsing regularly, with the goal of playing for smaller public or private events such as festivals, fairs, and weddings. Currently, they perform in the commons area of FHS, directly preceding the full concert.

CHESS REMARKED, “WHEN I WAS FIRST HELPING TO FORM THE BAND, I figured in five years’ time either we will be broken down or a great success. Every year we become more and more memorable. We continually improve our sound, and the cohesiveness of our ensemble. Other community bands want to play with us, or they want us to play events with
them, and we never miss an opportunity.” Many musicians, in fact, have come from other bands, and the FCCB’s warm and welcoming attitude helps.

I asked if they had encountered any major hurdles or disappointments over the years? Chess mentioned they asked the City to support the FCCB: “Not financially but to post our concert schedule on their website and in their city
newsletters. We continue to hope they will recognize the FCCB as an asset to the city. Ferndale should be proud of us!”

The FCCB is setting a strong, positive example to our community as a whole and providing us with excellent musical entertainment. We wish them many more years of great success!

Euchre fundraising tournaments are held on the fourth Friday of every month at The Ferndale Elks Lodge #1588: 22856 Woodward Ave, Ferndale.
Tournaments and band events are currently on hold due to health crisis.*
info@fcconcertband.org
www.facebook.com/ferndalecommunityconcertband

YES, YOUR FURNITURE MAKES YOUR HOME DISTINCTIVE, whether you shop at Ikea or the Art Van going out of business sale. Painting in just the right color furthers the statement. Now it’s time for the cherry on the top: The right art.

The Ferndale Arts & Cultural Commission (FACC) reminds you that there are many places in the city to select beautiful art. Long time favorites like the Lawrence Street Gallery shares Woodward with Level One Bank’s Community Arts Gallery. A more comprehensive list follows. Then, of course, there is the Funky Ferndale Art Fair and the DIY Street Fair (the DIY is canceled this year due to the health crisis).

What’s the difference between shopping at a gallery and at an art fair? Many art lovers do both as they each have an advantage. Galleries give you an ever-changing, carefully curated selection. You have one or two people that can learn your taste and preferences and help you find exactly what you are looking for. Many can even advise on the framing and matting, which can make a huge difference on how the piece appears.

Art Fairs are also curated, but don’t include the expert advice. Mark Loeb of the Funky Ferndale Art Fair suggests that there are some other advantages. “At art fairs you will meet the artist and have time for a conversation. I feel that a big reason people go to the fair is to get the full story of the art they plan to display. For example, when your friend comes by and admires your new sculpture, you can share the story of the artist. The experience of the art fair becomes a memory for you and your loved ones.”

Why not just buy art at those aforementioned furniture stores or even Walmart? You certainly could, and it likely will be simpler. You will have something that tens of thousands of others will also display. While not all art appreciates in value, no department store pictures ever will. And don’t forget that if you love art, supporting the artists becomes an important mission. Going to the shows is not demonstrating your love of art nearly as much as buying art. Only when you buy something do you actually support the artist, and allow them to continue creating.

What happens when your walls are full and there’s no space left on the floor? Many collectors rotate their art. Every month or season they replace a few items with another favorite. Others start buying smaller items that fit in between the cracks. Loeb suggests that the next step is to “replace your mugs, flower pots, dishes and more with items created by favorite artists. Why not have a table as individual as you are?”

By Sara Teller

JAI REDDY WANTED TO CREATE A COMMUNITY WHERE CHILDREN OF ALL ABILITIES, including his 12-year-old autistic son Arjun, felt comfortable learning and engaging. A community that provided support beyond traditional therapy options and allowed students to utilize whatever methods might best benefit them.

This led to the concept for LifeLab Kids in 2017 and, over the past two years, Reddy has worked tirelessly to develop the nonprofit, recruit experts in several differing therapy fields and remodel a 1950s church at 3178 Hilton Rd. into a state-of-the-art learning facility, which opened in February 2019.

“Basically, this place provides kids with a multitude of options that nurture their interests outside of the regular clinical therapy that’s available and quite popular out there,” Reddy says. “It’s not that everything we are doing is non-existent, it’s that you have to go out and find them in different places with a lot of driving around.”

THE FOCUS AREAS OF LIFELAB KIDS ARE RECREATIONAL, speech, music, art, occupational and technology therapies and life skills. Each of these specialties has its own dedicated space within the building. Mathew Bessette, MA, MT-BC, music therapist at LifeLab Kids, walks through each of the areas – starting with the music therapy room.

“Using music, I can find motivation within the student to work on things that are hard. It’s more motivating because of the activity you are doing and the reward of what you are producing,” he says. “Having a lot of instruments in that room gives us all kinds of different tools.”

There is a full gym used for recreational therapy and “building play and leisure skills” and an occupational therapy room for working on fine motor functions and sensory matters. The art therapy room contains three pottery wheels, a kiln and an entire plexiglass wall for finger painting.

“We have a giant space dedicated to art therapy. Bridgette Crockett (Counselor) is our art therapist, as well,” Bessette says. “She works a lot in emotion expression and uses art as her medium.”

THE MAJORITY OF THE DOWNSTAIRS SPACE AT LIFELAB KIDS is dedicated to life skills and technology and was designed to emulate an apartment.

“We have kids that need work on activities of daily living skills,” Bessette says. “If they need to stepwise learn how to do laundry, we have laundry machines. Or if they need to learn how to cook, there is a full kitchen and a dishwasher.”

Technology has been incorporated into the living room space and has a separate room dedicated to augmented and virtual reality (VR).

The expertise and collaboration of the therapists were one of the most important aspects of opening LifeLab Kids. There are nine therapists on staff now and that makes things happen at LifeLab Kids. Reddy is also conscious of the number of students they can take on, not wanting to exceed more than 60-70 students for the year of 2020.

Reddy says the next year will be focused on stabilizing programs and beginning their outdoor facilities. Their next open house will be December 13th and will feature holiday and Christmas sensory-friendly activities. All are welcome to check out the space and meet the team.

Families interested in touring or enrolling in LifeLab Kids can reach out by phone at 248-629-4600 or email contactus@lifelabkids.org.

By Sara E. Teller

VITRINE GALLERY & GIFTS OPENED IN DECEMBER 2017. The Berkley location was perfect because it included both a studio and retail space, according to owner Susan Rogal.

“We jumped on it,” she said. “Later, I would understand more fully the incredible sense of community in Berkley. I have been in retail for almost 40 years, and it’s rare to find men shoppers, couples shopping together, just happy shoppers. Every hour of every day there are lovely people in here.”

The name of the store is a French word meaning “a glass display case filled with treasures,” she explained, and it was inspired by a shabby chic antique hutch Rogal found with a glass front. This would also be incorporated into Vitrine’s logo.

In the retail space, shoppers can explore a multitude of treasures, including clothing, accessories, housewares, food, and other goodies made by artists and artisans. Vitrine also features garden accessories, handcrafted baskets, and a spa area with many handmade soaps and bath bombs. SERV, Ten Thousand Villages, and many others are on display, with products also available for purchase online.

ROGAL SAID, “THE STORE IS FOR LOCAL ARTISTS, artisans, potters, jewelers, and crafters. We feature many local artists and foods, soap artists, pens, and many other products each month. We have Wee Bee Jammin’ jams and Sanders Chocolates. The shop has also become the flagship store for Kari Hughes’ Buy the Change line. We have an art show once a month, and we also curate the art through the Berkley Public Library, which offers even more exposure.”

She added, “It’s really a trip around the world, and we bring in new stuff once a month. Our vegan handbag line has quite a following. We searched the world for a wonderful collection with phenomenal prices. Many people buy more than one!”

To add to the eclectic and one-of-a-kind ambiance, there is a door at the back that annexes to Holy Cannoli’s Bakery which fills Vitrine with incredible bakery smells and allows guests to experience both businesses at once. The studio also serves as Rogal’s workspace for her other endeavor, Artwear Detroit, a company that transfers local artwork onto items available at Vitrine and elsewhere. The company’s mission is to support regional artists and their contribution to Detroit’s legacy.

ROGAL BELIEVES IN A “DO GOOD, FEEL GOOD” mantra and remembers as a child her mother sponsoring children in developing countries through World Vision.

“She would always have their pictures on the wall and would refer to them as her other children,” she remembered fondly. “Now that she’s passed, I wanted to do something for her – offer a memorial gift – and I also wanted to do something extra to show how much we care. This became a very personal journey.”

She added, “We decided to have some of our profits go towards sponsoring six kids in Haiti, all from the same village. And, eventually the goal is to support ten. Doing it this way, we can extend our resources to the entire area, supporting healthcare, clean water, safety and education. It goes towards the whole community.”

Through Vitrine and Artwear Detroit, Rogal is truly able to exemplify her personal mission of giving back. “It’s my hope that as the world gets smaller with resources like the Internet we’ll all begin to realize we can make a difference.”

Story By Ingrid Sjostrand | Photos By David McNair

Sometimes a passion just follows a person and inspires them throughout life. For April McCrumb this passion is art, and for nearly two decades she has shared her creative craft with the City of Berkley.

Co-owner of Berkley stores Catching Fireflies, Yellow Door Art Market and co-founder of the Berkley Art Bash, McCrumb’s interest in art developed in childhood. And although she pursued a degree in education, she found ways to incorporate creativity into teaching.

“I was always raised to be creative, but I followed my parents lead and took a conservative college route and just dabbled in art shows and craft fairs on the side,” McCrumb says. “While working in education, a lot of paper was being recycled; I created stuff in class with the kids and it transitioned over time into the traditional papermaking hobby.”

This hobby became A.I. Paper Design which McCrumb and her husband Steve made out of their home and sold at the Ann Arbor Artisan Market. As demand grew, they found the perfect 2200 sq. ft. storefront available in Berkley to grow the brand and McCrumb’s career shifted back to art full-time. An old pharmacy at 3117 W 12 Mile Rd. was transformed into Catching Fireflies in October 2000 with some bright paint and help from friends looking to sell their own work on consignment.

“We thought the front half could be used for selling and the back half would be our studio; essentially the goal would be to make enough in the store to pay the rent,” McCrumb says. “Over time Catching Fireflies gained popularity. We moved our studio and turned it into a full store.”

MCCRUMB’S VISION FOR THE STORE GREW from an art studio space with a storefront to a gift shop with the purpose of bringing others joy.

“Our favorite adjective is ‘whimsical’ – we like to delight and inspire happy things,” She says. “We want people to come in here – whether they buy or not – to be uplifted, this world can drag you down and we want this to be a little haven.”

The popularity of Catching Fireflies propelled into the opening of multiple locations – one in Grand Rapids that was eventually moved to Rochester and another in Ann Arbor. They’ve stayed true to the whimsy theme and have been conscious of the locations of their shops.

“All are in unique historical buildings. Rochester is located in the old train depot downtown and Ann Arbor is a very old building in the middle of Kerrytown,” McCrumb says. “I love that our buildings represent quirkiness and fit the flavor of our brand.”

Another thing that sets Catching Fireflies apart from other local gift shops is their online presence. They created an e-store in 2008 before it was a common trend among smaller retailers.

“We have progressed with the times and 90 percent of our catalog is available to purchase online,” McCrumb says. “I’m proud that we are keeping up with the big dogs and it helps us gain customers that are not local.”

SOON AFTER THE CREATION OF CATCHING FIREFLIES, in 2001 McCrumb collaborated with the Berkley Chamber of Commerce to create Berkley Art Bash. The event occurs on the second Saturday in June and is the largest community event in Downtown Berkley, shutting down 12 Mile Rd. between Kipling and Buckingham Rds. It has attracted crowds as large as 10,000 people.

“We had 150 booths this year and over the years we’ve had such a great response,” McCrumb says. “For the Chamber, it’s a huge bump to make money and make the city a great place to do business. Now we have over five blocks of booths, kids activities and music.”

While Catching Fireflies carries multiple artist brands and Berkley Art Bash provides an event for art in the community, McCrumb noticed a lack of spaces where artists could control the sale of their own work. When a storefront became available doors down from Catching Fireflies at 3141 Twelve Mile Rd. she jumped at the chance to create the Yellow Door Art Market in 2010.

“It’s tough being an artist. You have Etsy and art fairs but I thought we could be the in-between space for artists that don’t want to do art shows and be a bridge for artists who want to open a store but might not be ready yet,” McCrumb says. “People can shop there and truly shop local – everything in there is made by someone in Michigan.”

MCCRUMB MAY HAVE BROUGHT ART TO BERKLEY in a variety of ways, but she recognizes that she couldn’t have done it without the help of the city.

“The community has been so supportive of local art. Being here for 19 years, we’ve seen so many changes and I think it’s only gotten better,” she says. “The City is great, the population is supportive and I really feel blessed by this whole community in Berkley.”

And she says if you’re passionate about something, take the chance and pursue it.

“It sounds cheesy but I love the quote, ‘Follow your heart but take your brain along with you.’ Not to say this didn’t come with a lot of hard work and sweat equity, but you can follow your dreams and make it work beyond what you ever imagined.”

Catching Fireflies (248) 336-2030 3117 W 12 Mile, Berkley, MI 48072

Yellow Door Art Market (248) 336-2038 3141 12 Rd, Berkley, MI 48072

Mon/Tue/Wed/Fri/Sat 10-6 Thur 10-8 Sun 12-5

By Sara E. Teller

VITRINE GALLERY & GIFTS OPENED IN DECEMBER 2017. The Berkley location was perfect because it included both a studio and retail space, according to owner Susan Rogal.

“We jumped on it,” she said. “Later, I would understand more fully the incredible sense of community in Berkley. I have been in retail for almost 40 years, and it’s rare to find men shoppers, couples shopping together, just happy shoppers. Every hour of every day there are lovely people in here.”

The name of the store is a French word meaning “a glass display case filled with treasures,” she explained, and it was inspired by a shabby chic antique hutch Rogal found with a glass front. This would also be incorporated into Vitrine’s logo.

In the retail space, shoppers can explore a multitude of treasures, including clothing, accessories, housewares, food, and other goodies made by artists and artisans. Vitrine also features garden accessories, handcrafted baskets, and a spa area with many handmade soaps and bath bombs. SERV, Ten Thousand Villages, and many others are on display, with products also available for purchase online.

ROGAL SAID, “THE STORE IS FOR LOCAL ARTISTS, artisans, potters, jewelers, and crafters. We feature many local artists and foods, soap artists, pens, and many other products each month. We have Wee Bee Jammin’ jams and Sanders Chocolates. The shop has also become the flagship store for Kari Hughes’ Buy the Change line. We have an art show once a month, and we also curate the art through the Berkley Public Library, which offers even more exposure.”

She added, “It’s really a trip around the world, and we bring in new stuff once a month. Our vegan handbag line has quite a following. We searched the world for a wonderful collection with phenomenal prices. Many people buy more than one!”

To add to the eclectic and one-of-a- kind ambiance, there is a door at the back that annexes to Holy Cannoli’s Bakery which fills Vitrine with incredible bakery smells and allows guests to experience both businesses at once. The studio also serves as Rogal’s workspace for her other endeavor, Artwear Detroit, a company that transfers local artwork onto items available at Vitrine and elsewhere. The company’s mission is to support regional artists and their contribution to Detroit’s legacy.

ROGAL BELIEVES IN A “DO GOOD, FEEL GOOD” mantra and remembers as a child her mother sponsoring children in developing countries through World Vision.

“She would always have their pictures on the wall and would refer to them as her other children,” she remembered fondly. “Now that she’s passed, I wanted to do something for her – offer a memorial gift – and I also wanted to do something extra to show how much we care. This became a very personal journey.”

She added, “We decided to have some of our profits go towards sponsoring six kids in Haiti, all from the same village. And, eventually the goal is to support ten. Doing it this way, we can extend our resources to the entire area, supporting healthcare, clean water, safety and education. It goes towards the whole community.”

Through Vitrine and Artwear Detroit, Rogal is truly able to exemplify her personal mission of giving back. “It’s my hope that as the world gets smaller with resources like the Internet we’ll all begin to realize we can make a difference.”

Vitrine is especially event-driven throughout the summer, participating in the Street Art Fest and hosting various pop-ups featuring a rotation of artists. Rogal said that Small Business Saturday, held on November 30, 2019, will also be an especially big day for all Berkley businesses.

For more information, visit Vitrine at 2758 Coolidge Hwy,
thevitrinegallery.com, or call 248-629-7329.