The Art Kettle Heats Up in Manchester
On Monday evening, the Village Council unanimously welcomed The Art Kettle as Manchester’s new Community Cultural Center and Artist Residency. The owners, Rich and Laura Earle, envision a place where people can gather, learn new creative skills, share their work with the community, and inspire one another through visual, literary and performing arts. The Art Kettle staff will focus on the visual arts, including painting, drawing, printmaking, textiles, ceramics and jewelry making, and balance its offerings by partnering with established cultural organizations like Riverfolk Arts and the Manchester Area Historical Society. The house’s main floor will be available as a venue for educational workshops, concerts and performances.
“I’m looking forward to hosting our first gallery show featuring Manchester area artists!” says Director, Laura Earle. “The Art Kettle is delighted to provide a central location where our growing creative community can collaborate and exhibit together.” Throughout the year a variety of talented artists and writers will be guests of the residency program, staying to create original works, teach workshops, exhibit in the gallery, give a lecture or a reading. “Our goal is to enrich the community while upholding it’s residential charm.”
The Art Kettle will make it’s home in one of Manchester’s oldest houses, the historic Fargo homestead at 121 West Main Street. On the corner of Washington Street, the house is adjacent to Wurster park and overlooks the gazebo on the village green.
The name The Art Kettle was chosen for its connotations of hospitality, creativity and freedom of expression. 1) When friends come to visit, it’s time to put the kettle on and settle down for a meaningful conversation. 2) A head of steam building in a kettle acts as a metaphor for the creative process. As an idea expands, it gains energy and “heats up” until it is given material form and shared. 3) Kettle is a term for designating a safe space for public protest. Similarly, a good art gallery serves as a venue for freedom of expression.
The plan is to begin refurbishing the house the first week of August with a volunteer clean-up day on Saturday, August 4th. Once a certificate of occupancy is obtained, the hope is to open the first exhibit featuring Manchester area artists in early September (those interested in participating can reach out through artkettle.com). The Art Kettle will be open to the public regularly and in conjunction with special events like Third Thursdays, the Gazebo Concerts and Christmas in the Village.
“We’ve always had a sweet spot for Manchester,” Laura explains. The Earle family lived in Manchester from 1999-2008 but the economic downturn forced them elsewhere for employment. “Now that we’re empty nesters and my degree is finished, we are at a good point to become involved in village life again.” Laura is a multi-disciplinary artist and recently earned a Masters of Fine Art in Studio Arts from Eastern Michigan University. See some of her work online at lauraearle.com. Rich is an engineer in the automotive industry. The Earles are collaborating with MFA candidate, printmaker and ceramicist Margaret A Miller and her husband, musician Anthony Emery, to oversee day to day studio operations.
Margaret and Anthony are two creatively driven Michiganders who met while studying at Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. “One of the great joys in my life is sharing my knowledge of art with people of all ages,” explains Margaret. “We are excited to join the community of Manchester and are looking forward to working together with local artists to turn The Art Kettle into a welcoming gathering space and creative studio.” Margaret is currently a Masters of Fine Arts candidate in printmaking at Eastern Michigan University. In addition to her two-dimensional work, she is a ceramic artist and teacher at the Clay Works Studio in Ann Arbor. Margaret grew up in Saugatuck, Michigan where she worked for a number of years at Uncommon Coffee Roasters before leaving to attend Graduate School. Anthony, a native of Adrian, Michigan, is a multi talented musician, who plays guitar and banjo. Formerly of The Carboys, Anthony is currently working on a solo album. After leaving school, he worked for Davco Technologies and is planning to attend luthiers school in Big Rapids this fall.
“We’re happy to be in the neighborhood again, and connect with Manchester area residents who are interested in becoming involved with The Art Kettle,” says Laura Earle. “We’re looking forward to partnering with Manchester area artists, craftspeople and authors to develop quality programming and events. Come say ‘hi’ at the Farmers’ Market or Gazebo Concert. Or, send us an email through our new website, artkettle.com, or post on Facebook @theartkettle. We’d love to hear your ideas for what you’d like to see, do and learn.”