With the holiday shopping season just around the corner, Art in the Loft in downtown Alpena continues to be a place not only to find unique gifts, but also a source of calm, beauty and inspiration in the midst of stress-filled days.
The loft's 2001 WinterView season opens today and features artworks by 30 different artists showcased in a wintery wild animal decor.
"Visit our wild winter wonderland, where you will see a wide variety of artistic creations from mosaic mirrors to colorful sea urchin Christmas ornaments," said Sue Fitzpatrick, board of directors president. "There is an outstanding selection of one-of-a-kind jewelry and beautiful fused and stained glass pieces, along with many other distinctive works of art."
Gallery Coordinator Liz Smigelski encourages people not only to visit the WinterView during the loft's new extended hours, but also to consider spending a relaxing lunch hour there amidst all the art.
Current hours of operation are Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. Although WinterView closed in January during the previous seasons, this year's exhibit will remain open through March 3.
"With our new hours, we encourage the public to bring their lunch up now that we open at 11 a.m.," Smigelski said. "There's no cost to come and enjoy a peaceful lunch in the gallery. You can also order lunch from the Fresh Palate or any other downtown business, and have it delivered."
Several new artists are among those exhibiting this season, including Dave Nelson, Jennifer Cook and Robbin Fitch, all painters, and Kevin Gauthier, a fine jewelry artist. A number of artists who had previously participated at the loft but took a few years off also are among the exhibitors, such as Joanne Cromley, who does woven tapestries, and Lynne Freitag, who creates intricate beaded jewelry and felted items.
Additionally, WinterView features many returning artists with totally new pieces.
"There are a lot of artists that visitors will recognize from previous seasons," said Smigelski. "They each have brought in new inventory so that there's a constantly changing look within the gallery.
Smigelski hopes lots of local residents and visitors to the area will stop in the gallery. There is no charge for doing so, although once people are inside, they will find gift ideas in every price range.
"This season offers a wide variety of unique gifts in all price ranges," Smigelski said. "We have items that start at $6 up to easily $1,200. We offer free gift wrapping for items purchased in the gallery and we're happy to assist in picking out that one-of-a-kind gift."
Many volunteers have helped to decorate the gallery both for the WinterView season and for the annual Glamour and Gourmet event, held earlier this week. Among the volunteers was artist Anita Harmon, who is impressed with quality of the art being offered.
"There are a lot of new styles and some new artists," Harmon said. "I'm impressed with what I've seen. As an artist, you get reinvigorated. Your creative juices start flowing again. Creativity breeds creativity."
For more information about the WinterView exhibit and other activities at Art in the Loft, call 356-4877 or go to www.artintheloft.com.