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Introducing the Box Factory for The Arts

 

    The Box Factory for the Arts has been serving the St. Joseph artistic community for 22 years as a place for local artists to create, showcase, teach, and sell art. The start of this art center stems from the Berrien Artist Guild’s quest to find a place for their meetings, and eventually became a project to purchase a large permanent space for the artists of St. Joseph.

Adapted from the building of a box factory constructed in 1902, the Box Factory maintains visual elements of architectural styles from many time periods, matching the diverse artistic styles represented inside. Exposed wooden columns and beams interlock with metal rails and fluorescent lights over the various sections of the center. Though the building seems from the outside an unobtrusive brick building, it opens up to an expansive three floors. The top floor holds space for meetings for the museum’s management and sponsors, the basement holds the studios of different artists, and the main floor holds galleries, the reception area, and a small shop.

On the main floor, the Williams Gallery displays a thematic collection of different forms of visual art, from paintings to sculptures and even a decorative board game. The current theme being alchemy, each piece of art has a plaque tying it to the concept of alchemy (a transformative fusion of materials sought by medieval thinkers).

One volunteer, Bonnie Miller, models one of the necklaces for sale in the “Art Market” while she gives some information about the art center. She says that the building serves about 40 artists who “come and go as they please.” She comments further saying, “(The artists) like the solitude of it.” In addition, she describes the art classes offered, including portrait classes.

All around the art center there are signs of the intimacy of the local art community and its sponsors. Scattered through the store, cards have written pleas warning against shoplifting, in variants of, “Please don’t steal from the artists. It’s not nice, and you look like a nice person.” On the inside of the front wall, the names of all the major sponsors are laid out on the bricks.

The criteria for membership in this group of artists are a monetary contribution as low as $20, and a desire to create art for the community to share. Many artists, including Andrews students, have taken advantage of this opportunity to further their growth as artists. The Box Factory provides a variety of options for artists and art enthusiasts to support one another, and its position is quite unique. The Herald Palladium even gave its 2016-2017 Reader’s Choice Award for Art to the space. It is clear that the Box Factory has a special place in St. Joseph and the lives of its artists.

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