Bakewell's Niche Is Quiche
Art Toy and Alternative Energy
The Hardy Humphreys The Evolution of Humphrey Products
Serial Painter Ellen Nelson
Tara East Likes Horsing Around
Southwest Michiganâ€™s Magazine
love where you live There are many reasons to love living in Kalamazoo County. But the truth is, our community has needs. We believe, by working together, we can make Kalamazoo County a community where every person can reach full potential. A community where we all love to live. There are many ways to show your love for Kalamazoo and be part of our work. Call 269.381.4416 or visit kalfound.org to learn more.
“Ben was 8 when he was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. At first we tried to manage it through diet, but by fifth grade his weight had dropped to only 40 pounds and he wasn’t growing. It was a pretty scary time. Since he started going to Bronson Children’s Hospital, he’s doing so much better. It took a while to get things under control, but Ben is putting on weight, he’s growing again and his energy levels are up. We are so lucky to have a doctor who specializes in Ben’s condition right here in Kalamazoo. It means he can get the treatment he needs and doesn’t have to miss school or extracurricular activities. He’s able to be a kid again.” Shelly, Ben’s mom, Mattawan, Michigan
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EDITOR'S NOTE ENCORE
Bakewell's Niche Is Quiche
Art Toy and Alternative Energy
Serial Painter Ellen Nelson
Do you know what I love about
this month’s cover story on Humphrey Products? The history. Having started more than a century ago, Humphrey has a lot of it. When you visit the offices of this manufacturing company located on the southeast side of Kalamazoo, you can spend hours with CEO Robert Humphrey looking at all the historic photos on the walls, including those that show the company’s first buildings in downtown Kalamazoo, and at the display of products in the lobby, from the first Radiantfire gas fireplace produced in 1901 to the pneumatic valves the company makes today. Humphrey Products is true Kalamazoo: innovative people with great ideas and endless gumption. And despite its products being known around the world and its employees numbering in the hundreds, Humphrey Products is still a family-owned business that quietly exists in the area. Which brings me to another thing I love about this month’s issue of Encore: the potential of the people and enterprises featured. You can’t help but wonder if one of them will be the next Humphrey Products, whether it’s Erin Hill and The Bakewell Co. or Art Toy and his Four Elements Energy or Tara East at the Cheff Center. While they may not have 116 years of history under their belts, they are still innovative people doing great things in their own quiet ways. And that is truly Kalamazoo.
Marie Lee Editor
Tara East Likes Horsing Around
Southwest Michigan’s Magazine
The Hardy Humphreys The Evolution of Humphrey Products
encore publications, inc.
Photographers brian k. powers
olga bonfiglio, marie lee, lisa mackinder, kara norman, emily townsend
Advertising Sales tiffany andrus krieg lee celeste statler
Office Coordinator hope smith
Encore Magazine is published 12 times yearly. Copyright 2017, Encore Publications, Inc. All rights reserved. Editorial, circulation and advertising correspondence should be sent to:
www.encorekalamazoo.com 117 W. Cedar St. Suite A, Kalamazoo, MI 49007 Telephone: (269) 383-4433 Fax: (269) 383-9767 Email: Publisher@encorekalamazoo.com The staff at Encore welcomes written comment from readers, and articles and poems for submission with no obligation to print or return them. To learn more about us or to comment, visit encorekalamazoo.com. Encore subscription rates: one year $36, two years $70. Current single issue and newsstand $4, $10 by mail. Back issues $6, $12 by mail. Advertising rates on request. Closing date for space is 28 days prior to publication date. Final date for print-ready copy is 21 days prior to publication date. The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by those interviewed and published here do not reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of Encore Magazine or the official policies, owners or employees of Encore Publications.
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“MORE THAN A BROADWAY SHOW. A celebration of music that transformed America!” — CBS Sunday Morning
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Olga always has an eye out for innovative folks, and she says Art Toy’s story about founding Four Elements Energy after losing his 24-year job as a research chemist was especially appealing to her. “When one door closed for him, he found a new business that was in line with his conscience and let him sleep better at night,” she says. Olga is a frequent contributor to Encore, who most recently wrote about the Civic Theatre’s executive director, Stephen Carver, in January’s issue.
In writing two stories for this month’s issue, Lisa Mackinder got some history lessons. At Humphrey Products, Lisa spoke with Robert Humphrey, the great-grandson of the company’s founder. “It was inspiring to hear Robert describe how they experienced soaring profits in the 1920s, endured near-collapse during both world wars, and then rose stronger than ever with products that now span the globe,” Lisa says. Meeting with members of the Friends of the Portage District Library, Lisa discovered that historical finds sometimes pop up in the donation box — like a book containing a letter from a Civil War soldier. “It was pretty profound to hold a letter penned by someone on the battlefield,” Lisa says.
Kara Norman lives in Kalamazoo, where she is constantly bowled over by the local artists and entrepreneurs she interviews. This month she writes about painter and muralist Ellen Nelson and entrepreneur Erin Hill, who owns The Bakewell Co., a small business in Kalamazoo that cranks out an impressive number of beautiful quiches for a slew of farmers’ markets in the summer. After tasting Bakewell’s quiche and hanging out with Erin and her sister Andrea, Kara says she would like a job with them where she is paid in quiche. For more of Kara’s work, visit her website: karanorman.com.
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FEATURE Brilliantly Resilient 24
For more than a century, family-owned Humphrey Products has weathered good times and bad
DEPARTMENTS 4 From the Editor 6 Contributors 8 First Things What's happening in SW Michigan
12 Up Front
Book Sale Bonus — Unusual items, some historic, hit Portage Library's donation bin
Its Niche Is Quiche — The Bakewell Co. builds a following for its savory creations Clean Energy Advocate — Former chemist runs his own alternative energy business
46 Back Story
Meet Tara East — Why the Cheff Center's director has been horsing around her whole life
30 Ellen Nelson
This young painter weaves worlds together through her art
34 Kalamazoo Singers
Celebration concert marks 40th anniversary for group
38 Events of Note On the cover: A century after their forefathers began the company, Robert Humphrey and son Hubbard Humphrey are the latest generations running Humphrey Products. Photo by Brian Powers
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FIRST THINGS ENCORE
First Things Something Tricky
An exhibit of food, sort of Artist Kristina Lechner combines sculpture, trick of the eye and bubble-pop photography to surprise the viewer. Her food subjects look delicious, until one’s eye adjusts and realizes the subject is really made of ordinary household objects. Catch an exhibit of her work, Food Not Food, from 5–9 p.m. April 7, during Art Hop, at the Kalamazoo Valley Museum, 230 N. Rose St. The event is free. For more information, visit kalamazoomuseum.org or call 373-7990.
Something Theatrical Come and 'Meet Vera Stark ' Taking
an irreverent and funny look at the racial stereotypes of Hollywood, the Civic Theatre will stage By the Way, Meet Vera Stark April 7–23 at the Parish Theatre, 426 S. Park St. The intimate black-box setting is ideal for the play in which local actress Marissa Harrington in the title role takes the audience on a 70-year journey through the life of Vera Stark, a headstrong African-American maid and budding actress, and her complicated relationship with her boss, a white Hollywood starlet desperately grasping to hold onto her career. Show times are 7:30 p.m. April 7, 8, 14, 15, 21 and 22, and 2 p.m. April 9 and 23. Tickets are $15-$25 and can be purchased at the Civic Theatre box office, 329 S. Park St., online at kazoocivic.com or by calling 343-1313.
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ENCORE FIRST THINGS
Something Nostalgic Be a pinball wizard
There’s nothing quite like hearing the pingpings and clack-clacks when you’re playing a rousing game of pinball. You can enjoy many of those moments while engaging in a little nostalgic gaming April 20–22 at Pinball at the Zoo at the Kalamazoo County Expo Center, 2900 Lake St. A pinball tournament and free-play arcade, as well as an auction of vintage pinball and arcade games, are all part of the weekend’s action. Hours for the event are 2–10 p.m. April 20, 1–10 p.m. April 21 and 9 a.m.–6 p.m. April 22. Admission is $15 per day, or $8 for ages 5–13 and free for ages 4 and younger. For more information, visit pinballatthezoo. com.
Catch two homegrown groups
The Corn Fed Girls
The Corn Fed Girls and The Go Rounds share plenty. Both are Kalamazoo groups. Both are wildly popular on the Michigan folk fest circuit. Both sing heartfelt tunes that melt into Americana-psychedelic breakdowns. And both will play at Bell’s Eccentric Café, 355 E. Kalamazoo Ave., on the same weekend this month. The Corn Fed Girls, described as “one part salty breakup, two parts bear hug,” will play 9 p.m. April 27. Tickets are $8. The Go Rounds, a ferocious live act, will hit Bell’s stage the next night, April 28, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10. Attendees must have valid photo ID to verify their age (21+) and identity at the door. For tickets or more information, visit bellsbeer.com/events.
The Go Rounds
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FIRST THINGS ENCORE
Something Good S-P-E-L-L for literacy
Fancy yourself a Scrabble® Master? Well, prove it or have fun trying at the Kalamazoo Scrabble Fest, noon– 3:30 April 8 at Bell’s Eccentric Café, 355 E. Kalamazoo Ave. This is the seventh year of this annual fundraising benefit for the Kalamazoo Literacy Council. It’s open to players ages 16 and older, and attendees can register to play in “competitive” or “just for fun” categories or sign up as a four-player corporate team. The cost to compete is $25 per person or $200 per corporate team. To register or get more information, visit bit.ly/2m2HhUf.
Pulitzer finalist to read at fest You don’t need rhyme or reason to partake in a weekend of poetry. Just check out the 2017 Kalamazoo Poetry Festival April 28–29 at a variety of venues in downtown Kalamazoo. The two-day festival is a celebration of the thriving poetry community in Kalamazoo and includes readings, workshops, panel discussions and a showcase for poetry animation. The festival kicks off at 6:30 p.m. April 28 at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts with “A Celebration of Local Poets,” featuring readings by area poets followed by an Inspiration Fair highlighting nearly 20 local organizations that promote or support poetry. Saturday’s events include a presentation of Moving UniVERSE: Youth Animation Project, a collaboration between the young writers of Read and Write Kalamazoo and students at the Kalamazoo Valley Community College’s Center for New Media, and a panel discussion on the healing power of poetry. The festival concludes with a reading and craft talk by poet and Pulitzer Prize finalist Diane Seuss at 7 p.m. The festival is free. For a complete schedule of events and venues, visit kalamazoopoetryfestival.com.
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ENCORE FIRST THINGS
Invasive species and sweet treats Ok, maybe aquatic invasive species such as zebra mussels and the Eurasian water milfoil plant aren’t your idea of sweet topics, but you can learn a lot more about them at the April 11 Dessert with Discussion event at the W.K. Kellogg Biological Station. Jo Latimore, an outreach specialist at Michigan State University’s Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, will discuss the severe ecological and economic damage these invaders have had on recreation, fish populations and water quality in Michigan. The event is set for 7–9 p.m. at the KBS Auditorium, 3700 E. Gull Lake Drive, Hickory Corners. Tickets cost $57 for adults, or $52 for members. For more information, visit kbs.msu.edu/events/dessert-with-discussion or call 671-2360.
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UP FRONT ENCORE
Book Sale Bonus
Unusual items, some historic, hit Portage Library's donation bin LISA MACKINDER
Arlene Norman wasn’t sure what to do with the breast pump.
It had been placed in the donation box for Friends of the Portage District Library, a nonprofit organization that helps the library with special projects and raises money through bimonthly used-book sales. Norman, co-chair of the Friends’ book sale, went back and forth on whether to try to sell it. “I thought, ‘What the heck!’ Let’s see what happens'.” She stuck a price sticker on it. And the breast pump’s fate? “It sold!” she says, chuckling.
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It isn’t the first unusual item the volunteer group has uncovered in its donation box. Most of the time they get books, audio CDs or other literary items to resell, but, as Norman notes, once in a while they discover something especially interesting among the donations. Ellen Yannie, co-chair of the Friends’ book sale, says she has discovered everything from airline tickets to vehicle registration tabs tucked inside books’ pages, but sometimes something even more remarkable falls out — such as the extremely aged letter that tumbled from a book’s pages last fall. Yannie took the letter to Steve Rossio, local historian and youth services associate at the Portage District Library.
The letter, dated Jan. 8, 1863, was addressed to Abbie Watson in Clyde, Wayne County, New York, from her cousin Howard Hopkins, Company E 3rd Michigan Calvary. With the information, Rossio discovered Hopkins’ enlistment and discharge dates and that he came from Lenawee County, Michigan. “It was a neat find,” Rossio says. “A lot of times with Civil War letters they are signed just Howard or Larry, so you have no idea
who the person ever is, (and) with no return address you lose all context.” Around the same time that letter was found, Yannie stumbled upon another letter in a book. “I was going through this book and out fell a letter from Charles Lindbergh,” she says. The Nov. 23, 1927, letter dropped from the autobiography We, by Charles Lindbergh. Rossio realized that it was not a personalized letter to an individual. The letter was one of
Opposite page: A letter written by a Civil War solider was discovered in a donated book. Left: Steve Rossio, local historian for the Portage District Library, holds a book and letter penned by Charles Lindbergh. Below: Friends of the Portage District Library volunteers, from left, Kathy Fosmoe, Laurie Staats and Ellen Yannie, sort through the hundreds of donated books.
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UP FRONT ENCORE
others like it that went to contributors to the Playground and Recreation Association of America. But the library’s Heritage Room — which houses historical information about the city of Portage and surrounding communities, including books, documents,
photographs and artifacts — benefits from these items, he says, because the Kalamazoo/ Battle Creek International Airport was once called Lindbergh Field. “It’s also unique because a lot of times when they (people) got the book, that
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type of thing (the letter) was often thrown away. So the book survives, but often that piece does not. It’s still worth keeping and noting.” About 10 percent of the Heritage Room’s collection has come from items donated to the Friends group, Rossio says, including World War I drill manuals, religious material from 1835, and a fashion “how to” book from 1850 about sewing dresses, to name a few. The Friends group was established in the late 1950s or early 1960s, Rossio says, and was the driving force in establishing a library in Portage. “I firmly believe if it hadn’t been for those people, we wouldn’t exist in the format that we do now,” he says. Every year the Friends hold six book sales at the Portage District Library. To prepare for the sales, at least two days per week
Friends of the Portage District Library 2017 Book Sale Dates When: April 8, June 3, Aug. 5, Oct. 7 & Dec. 2 Time: 9 a.m.– 3 p.m. Location: Portage District Library, 300 Library Lane
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Yannie, Norman and Babs Smith, publicity chair for the Friends board, can be found sorting, organizing and examining books, games, puzzles, DVDs, vinyl records and other donations. The Friends Book Sale is a hopping event. Crowds line up outside the building for the sale, which takes place from 9 a.m.–3 p.m. on a scheduled Saturday. As a membership benefit, members of Friends get to shop the evening before. “I think their success is that they run a fantastic sale,” Rossio says. “They have found the perfect formula.” That formula includes setting up the sale space like a bookstore, with categories such
as sci-fi, westerns, Civil War history, best sellers, music and puzzles clearly labeled. The Friends also make sure not to hang onto books that don’t sell. Setting out fresh items for each sale keeps people coming back, Rossio says. The Friends distribute unsold books to nonprofit organizations like the Salvation Army, Alternatives, nursing homes and local community centers. Smith, a librarian prior to retirement, says she believes that groups such as Friends have a great impact on their community. “What we do not only gives books to people in their hands — that they really like — but also we raise a lot of funds for the library,” she says. These funds go toward library initiatives such as the Summer Reading Program, special programs such as one for veterans and their families last fall, and bringing in performing acts such as the Gull Lake Jazz Orchestra, an 18-piece jazz band. Last year the Friends and some library patrons raised funds for the recently purchased library book bike, outfitted with a case on the back for books and an electric motor that reaches 20 miles per hour. Staff will take it to story time at Celery Flats and many more outreach events. Colin Whitehurst, marketing manager at the library, says the staff is still planning the bike’s itinerary and will post a schedule of the book bike’s locations on the library’s website and social media. “Kind of like how they do with food trucks — where to find us today,” he says. Friends volunteers and Rossio emphasize one thing: None of this would be possible without the generosity of the Portage community. “Portage should not have any books left out there,” Yannie jokes, looking around at the abundance of donations filling the donation room. “And they buy as many as they donate.”
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Its Niche Is Quiche
The Bakewell Co. builds a following for its savory creations KARA NORMAN
When Erin Hill finished high school in
2000, she thought about going to college but couldn’t figure out what to study. While taking general classes at Kellogg Community College, she worked at a bookstore for a year and didn’t like it. Then she worked at a bakery and found her thing. “At the time, it was really stressful, because most people go to college right away. I felt like, ‘I can’t figure out what I want to do with my life!’ You feel like you’re behind. But in the long run it was the right thing to do,” Hill says with a mirthful chirp of a laugh. Hill is sitting at a long stainless-steel table in the industrial kitchen of The Bakewell Co., the small business she owns in Kalamazoo 16 | ENCORE APRIL 2017
that employs up to 21 people in the summer, making 2,000 quiches a week to sell at 14 farmers’ markets from Holland to Marshall. Hill, who is 35 and lives in Climax, grew up in Battle Creek as the oldest of four kids. Her parents were hobby farmers who sold poultry and pork and eggs from pastureraised chickens to friends and family before they started selling their Pleasant Hill Farm products at the Battle Creek Farmers' Market 16 years ago. Hill started Bakewell in 2009 by bringing a few quiches to market to sell to her parents’ customers. She sold out the first day. At the time, she wanted to start a fullscale bakery selling cakes and pastries as
Above: Sisters Erin Hill, left, and Andrea Hill, keep The Bakewell Co. running. Opposite page: Bakewell specializes in quiche such as those pictured at top and bottom, but also makes sweet treats like these Bakewells, at right, for which the company is named.
well as quiche. But while the sweets she later brought to markets languished on her parents’ table there, people got continually excited about the quiches. “Nobody else sells quiche exclusively in all the markets we’ve been to,” Hill says. “Somebody might have one or two, but nobody else specializes in it like we do.” That’s her theory for the popularity of her quiche. The ingredients she uses can’t hurt either. Two favorite quiches are the Sausage, Cheddar and Chive and the Goat
Cheese, Spinach and Roasted Red Pepper. The Butternut Squash with Sausage and Tomato Preserves is another scrumptious option, as is the Potato and Caramelized Onion with Brie and Smoked Gouda. A small Bakewell quiche for one person sells for $6. A medium quiche, which will serve two to three people, is $12, and a large, which can serve up to six, is $20. The shape of Hill’s quiches are also just unusual enough to stand out at farmers’ markets. Baked in tart rings called entremet rings, the quiches aren’t sloped like traditional pies but rather have vertical edges with a tidy, modern look. Hill got the idea for the quiches’ unique shape from a job she had after she graduated from the Secchia Institute
for Culinary Education at Grand Rapids Community College in 2004. She worked six months at Gleneagles Hotel, a five-star luxury hotel, spa and golf resort in Scotland, where she spent half of her time in the fine-dining kitchen as a line cook and the other half in the pastry kitchen producing desserts. The hotel served a chocolate tart Hill loved, made by putting a shortbread crust into entremet rings and then filling it with rich dark chocolate — a process not unlike placing vegetables and meat into an all-butter crust and then filling it with eggs and cream. The tidy shape, which makes Bakewell’s small quiche look like a big hockey puck full of fluffy goodness, often draws people in, according to Hill.
“When people don’t know what we’re selling right away, that helps us have a conversation,” she says. “People guess we’re selling cheese or pizza. They’ll ask what we’re selling, which helps us engage them as they’re walking by.”
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SAVOR ENCORE Back in the “Golden Age” of radio, weekly radio programs brought families to their living rooms to listen to adventurous, mysterious and comical tales. Dedicated to promoting this rich history, All Ears Theatre performs newly scripted radio programs for live audiences, complete with old school sound effects. Shows are later broadcast on 102.1 WMUK-FM. Performances are at 6:00 pm at the First Baptist Church and are FREE TO THE PUBLIC.
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Where to find Bakewell products Bakewell takes orders online through its Facebook page, on the phone and at summer markets. Cherri’s Chocol’Art, 245 S. Kalamazoo Mall, carries Bakewell quiche, and Bakewell sells hot quiche every other Wednesday evening during events at Lawton Ridge Winery, 8456 Stadium Drive. For more information or to place an order, visit Bakewellcompany.com, or their Facebook page — facebook.com/ TheBakewellCo — or call 459-8030. For ingredients, Hill and her team source everything as locally as possible, getting meat from her parents’ farm, butter from a Michigan dairy supplier based in Kalamazoo, and vegetables from vendors at the farmers’ markets where Bakewell sells quiches. “We go loaded with quiche and come back loaded with vegetables,” Hill’s younger sister Andrea, 33, says. A former nurse, Andrea has been working for her older sister full time for the past two years. “I’ve been bossing her around my whole life,” Hill jokes. “She’s the boss, and I’m the minion,” Andrea jokes back. In the summer, Erin tends to stay in the kitchen. She says it’s challenging to run the business that way. That’s where Andrea comes in. “I do the odd jobs that have to get done,” Andrea says. “I’ll call people back and go run and get stuff.” The sisters' easygoing relationship and gentle camaraderie make it easy to imagine Bakewell as a fun place to work. Andrea is also a firefighter for Newton and Climax townships. “There’s been a few times when my pager goes off and I run out the door. Erin’s like, ‘Whoa, come back here!’” Andrea says, laughing. “I come back eventually.” In addition to her sister, Hill has two other employees who work part time during the winter. One rolls out crust and makes quiche; the other creates marketing materials. On market days in the summer, Hill’s day starts sometime between midnight and 2 a.m. She tries to get home around 6 p.m. on Fridays so she can get some sleep before turning around and coming into work.
“Fridays are kind of a crazy day for us,” she says, explaining that they start baking for Saturday on Thursday. “So Thursday and Friday we’re doing a lot of baking, and then stuff has to be packaged and divided up to go out to all those markets.” Andrea arrives later in the day on Friday to start the packaging, and the sisters often pass each other. “About the time I come in at midnight, Andrea leaves,” Hill says, “and then I work the rest of the night.”
Employees arrive at 5 a.m. on Saturdays to load freezers full of quiche into minivans for delivery to the markets. Hill would like to figure out how to expand her business throughout the year. She’s looking toward online sales, increasing cold shipping to customers throughout the U.S., and possibly opening a retail space selling full-scale bakery items, as she first imagined. While quiche makes up 90 percent of Bakewell’s sales, the company also produces
bread pudding, brownies and pot pies. It also makes small, traditional English treats called Bakewells — tarts with a shortbread crust and almond filling and a little bit of jam at the bottom — which sell for $1. Hill discovered the classic treat, named for an English town, during her stay in Scotland and chose the name for her business because of the quality the name suggests. “They’re kind of addictive,” Andrea admits. “You start eating one and think, ‘I need a couple more.’”
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Clean Energy Advocate
Former chemist runs his own alternative energy business by
20 | ENCORE APRIL 2017
There is not much that Art Toy finds daunting. He is a veteran of Desert Storm (1991) and had a 13-year career with the Michigan Army National Guard, his last assignment as an artillery officer. He became a qualified scuba diver as an undergraduate oceanography major at UCLA. He ran as a Democrat three times for Michigan state representative and once for state senator in a Republican district but lost. He bought a house built in 1899 for $5,000 and had it hauled 33 miles, from M-43 and Ninth Street to Lawrence. And, when in 2008 after a 24-year career as a chemist, Toy learned his job at Pfizer was being eliminated, he decided to jump into the emerging world of alternative energy and start his own company. Now he climbs tall towers to install wind turbines that generate electricity and scrambles across rooftops to set up solar energy arrays. Toy’s company, Four Elements Energy, which he runs from his home in Lawrence,
provides consultations on renewable energy from wind, solar, geothermal and hydropower and installs the related technology. But renewable energy is not just a business for Toy; it’s a way of life. Along the driveway to Toy’s house, there’s a wind turbine on the right. In front of the house is an array of solar panels. He has created what they call in the business a "net-zero home," where he generates energy and receives credit for it on the grid from Consumers Energy by offsetting the cost of electricity. But more importantly, Toy says, he sleeps with a clear conscience, knowing that renewable energy is making an important contribution to the country’s energy future and to life on Earth. “We’re way behind in energy innovations but slowly catching up,” says Toy, referring to America’s energy future and Michigan’s in particular. “The drag is that our entire infrastructure revolves around fossil fuels. Slowly, however, integrated renewables — wind and solar — are emerging.
Opposite page: Art Toy, owner of Four Elements Energy, stands in front of the solar array that helps generate power for his home. Toy consults on and installs wind and solar energy systems for companies and homes across the state.
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“The cost of solar power over the last eight years has dropped 80 percent, and it will continue to drop. It used to be that payback for a commercial installation was 20 to 25 years. Now it is only five to seven years with tax credits and depreciation.” Four Elements Energy has completed projects with the Army National Guard in Battle Creek, the Gun Lake Tribe, Kalsec Inc. and the Berrien County Unitarian Universalists Church and has assisted with Pfizer Inc.’s climate change, conservation and energy efficiency efforts. Four Elements Energy has also installed solar arrays and small wind energy systems for several Michigan homes.
But despite the declining cost of renewable energy and its benefits, Toy says people often shun alternative energy sources for aesthetic reasons. Homeowners’ associations, for example, are generally prone to restricting the use of wind turbines, solar panels and even clotheslines, because they are deemed unsightly, says Toy. “Zoning is a difficult problem to overcome,” he says. “To get good wind power, the tower must be at least 100 feet high, but some communities restrict these towers in height and placement; namely, they must be out of sight and far away from the road. Fortunately, for installing solar panels it’s a little easier to get compliance.”
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Another obstacle to renewables is the monopoly of the energy companies, says Toy. Currently, only 10 percent of Michigan’s utilities are open for energy free trade, through which people may buy power from anyone while the rest — 90 percent of the state’s utilities — are a regulated monopoly. “I never dreamed I’d see these battles,” says Toy, referring to efforts today by a variety of players to make renewable energy more accessible to consumers. Toy says he has stood as a lone public citizen in numerous legislative hearings in an effort to promote renewable energy and was always overshadowed by mega-energy lobbying groups. “We spend so much time lobbying for this cause in Michigan,” says Toy. “I just want to install renewable energy systems without having to be publicly vocal.” As it is, some cities in Michigan are already on track to use 100 percent renewable energy for city operations, says Toy. Traverse City is aiming to reach this goal by 2020, while Grand Rapids has become a leader in renewable energy for mid-sized cities and has the goal of powering city operations with 100 percent renewable energy by 2025. Holland, which has one of Michigan’s oldest
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coal-fired power plants, is building a new, state-of-the-art combined-cycle power plant that uses both natural gas and steam power to generate electricity. In fact, due to old age and tighter environmental regulations, 25 coal units at Michigan power plants are scheduled to shut down by 2020, the Detroit Free Press reported in fall 2015. Los Angeles, where Toy grew up, has used renewable energy for decades, including rooftop solar water heating and electrical systems. These rooftop systems have evolved into utility-scale solar electric power arrays throughout California and are displacing coal-fired power plants. Toy says Michiganders just don’t see enough evidence of these devices to effect change in their own state. “Fear of technology is a problem,” he says. “The less exposure to something new, the more uncomfortable people are about it. That’s certainly the case with renewables. Other people take a leap of faith because they believe these technologies can create a greater good.” Toy admits he still has the political bug in him and notices that renewable energy is wanted by conservatives, liberals and independents but for different reasons. “My conservative clients are looking for security from a loss of their power supply, while my liberal clients are looking for energy sustainability,” he says. “The independents are looking to save money.” What this common interest implies is that energy problems may be an issue that people from all political persuasions come together to solve, and Toy reports that political change is starting to happen in Lansing. “The Tea Party (conservatives) and the Sierra Club (liberals) have formed the GreenTea Alliance to promote renewables with the utility companies,” says Toy. “As people become more aware, I hope other businesses will form to serve additional needs.”
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Resilient The successful evolution of Humphrey Products
the chairman and CEO of Humphrey Products Co. passes by the 1920s Radiantfire heating unit in his office each day, it is a constant reminder of his great-grandfather who started Humphrey Products 116 years ago and invented this revolutionary heat source. And the unit, by the way, still works like new. “That whole thing will get red hot,” says CEO Robert Humphrey. “It will put you right out of this room.” The Radiantfire gas heater helped put Humphrey Products — then called General Gas Light Co. — on the map. The product, no longer sold by the company, offered customers a clean, odorless heating alternative to the never-ending, dirty job of heating with wood or coal. Radiantfire slipped directly into a fireplace, and owners only had to hook it up to a gas line, which many people already had in their homes, and then turn it on and off, Humphrey explains. The product took off fast, selling well into the 1950s and 1960s. “They had a lot of different models, the very ornate down to the very spartan,” says Humphrey, the fourth generation of Humphreys to helm the company, which is located just east of the intersection of Kilgore Avenue and Sprinkle Road. Other reflections of Humphrey Products’ history exist all around Humphrey’s office. On a wall near his desk hangs a black-and-white photograph of four men: company founder Alfred Humphrey and his brothers Charles, Frederick and Herbert (H.S.) Humphrey. The men were entrepreneurs, inventors and tinkerers, and all started Opposite page: Chairman and CEO Robert Humphrey, center, with two of Humphrey Products’ key leaders: Todd Bordewyk, vice president of engineering and compliance, left, and David Maurer, president, in the company’s Kalamazoo manufacturing facility. Bottom: The Humphrey brothers — from left, Herbert (H.S.), Alfred, Frederick and Charles — all founded companies in the area.
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Brian Powers companies. Frederick invented and patented a water lift, which was a hydraulic pump used to pump rainwater from a household’s cistern into the house, and sold the design to an individual who established National Water Lift in Kalamazoo, now a small part of Parker Hannifin’s Aerospace division. When the Humphreys came to Kalamazoo in 1883, Alfred, Charles and Frederick worked as machinists at Michigan Scale Co. In 1890, their father, George Humphrey, sparked their first entrepreneurial foray when he convinced Alfred and Frederick to form Humphrey Brothers, a company that performed contract machine work and manufactured its own line of commercial and industrial scales. “During the short existence of Humphrey Brothers, Alfred developed various heat-transfer devices and equipment for use in photography,” Robert Humphrey says. In 1901, Alfred Humphrey went on to establish General Gas Light Co., which was located on the downtown Kalamazoo block bounded by Park, Water, Church and Eleanor streets and manufactured and marketed the new inverted arc gaslights that Alfred had invented. Instead of shining up, the lights shone down and provided better illumination, Robert Humphrey explains. No mean feat, considering they used a gas-fueled flame. In a short time, more than one million Humphrey arcs lit homes, stores, factories and streets. The Radiantfire invention came next, and then a slew of other inventions such as the Radiantfire Humphrey Rotisserie, the first gas-fired overhead heater, and a redesign of the arc gaslight for use with liquid petroleum gas, or propane liquid. Between 1920 and 1940, Humphrey grew to more than 300 employees, but not without some hard times. “Our company almost went out of business twice,” Humphrey says. “I went through all of our board books as part of the centennial (in 2001), and they were both after world wars.” 26 | ENCORE APRIL 2017
Above: Many of the products produced by Humphrey Products over the last century, including a variety of its Radiantfire heating units, are displayed in the company’s Kalamazoo facility. Left: A Humphrey Gaslight produced in the 1990s. Right: A quick dump manifold for a therapeutic surface made by the company today.
The wars left the company hurting, Humphrey explains, because they made it difficult to find employees and locate materials. According to The Gaslight 100th Anniversary Collector’s Edition by author Larry Myland, directly after WWI, the company secretary at a stockholder meeting indicated that, “by spring 1918 Gas Company business was absolutely at a standstill.” “A lot of people think that manufacturers got rich off the wars,” he says, “(but) 99.99 percent of the time it was all patriotic moves. In fact, (at) General Gas Light, all they did was for the war effort, and they did not make a lot of money doing it. And then afterwards the government did not feel obliged to continue on and buy what they didn’t need anymore.” During World War II, the company manufactured equipment for military use, such as gun sights, pumps and whatever else it was suited for making. After the war ended, General Gas Light experienced profitability problems and looked for a new market. The creation of the light bulb had driven down the demand for inverted arc gaslights. Ralph Cooksley, who invented a design for a diaphragm poppet valve, ushered the company into that new market. This type of valve incorporates a rubber poppet into a diaphragm “disk,” which makes it leak-free — an important feature in applications where leakage is unacceptable, such as the respiratory equipment market. General Gas Light bought the patent and brought Cooksley on board, in its engineering department. The company also saw an opportunity with forced air home heating, as did a great many other companies. “The market just got flooded with opportunities and a lot competition, and so we were hit again,” Humphrey says. “We were already not very profitable.”
Humphrey Products sold its heating division in the late 1950s, Humphrey says, to focus on its “fledgling” valve business, and in 1960 moved to its current location in southeast Kalamazoo. “We came out here with 35 people,” Humphrey says, “and the rest is history.”
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Present day Now, with 220 employees, Humphrey Products produces pneumatic valves that are nearly everywhere — in medical devices; in the conveyors of distribution centers such as Target, Walmart and Amazon; in animatronics at Disneyland; in soft-serve ice cream machines at McDonald’s; in machines for sorting, processing and conveying blueberries; in milking machines; and the list goes on. So, while all of the inventions, historical photographs and Saturday Evening Post advertisements for Radiantfire displayed in the lobby at Humphrey Products make it feel like stepping back in time, the company has established a firm footing in the present. “We get involved with a lot of really cool markets,” Humphrey says. “You name it, I guarantee we somehow sell valves into it.” Pneumatic valves provide safe and precise control of compressed air or other media in a fluid-power or fluid-control circuit. “It would compare to the light switch in an electrical circuit,” explains David Maurer, president and chief financial officer at Humphrey Products, “only it controls the flow of compressed media rather than electricity. Some valves are purely ‘off’ and ‘on,’ and some valves incorporate proportional flow technology, which is more like a dimmer switch.” The medical and life sciences industry is Humphrey Products’ biggest market, Humphrey says, with its valves used in oxygen concentrators, anesthesiology equipment for operating rooms, and therapeutic surfaces. Material handling, as at those distribution centers, represents its second biggest market. Developing custom solutions for customers represents a great deal of Humphrey Products’ business today. In the 1990s, the company launched DaVinci Engineering to offer customized, engineered solutions. The concept was so successful that, rather than branding it separately, the company incorporated and infused it into a corporatewide culture and offers customized services to all of its clients. “More than half of our business is custom stuff,” and the demand continues to grow, Maurer says. “(Customers) are trying to achieve a specific size or footprint or performance characteristic, so they want a fluid-control or an aircontrol circuit that is customized to their application. They just don’t want to buy the stuff off the shelf.”
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Humphrey believes that this specialized work keeps Humphrey Products on the cutting edge as it helps its customers find solutions for their problems. Many times customers take the company “onward and upward,” he says, but it works in reverse too — sometimes Humphrey Products pushes its customers. “We did that in the conveyor industry,” Humphrey says. “We had a solution for distributed control of product traffic flow within warehousing that was not there. It was all centralized control, which is very inefficient. We had a solution for that for a long time. We pushed our customers into embracing that technology, and that’s where they are today.” The people Though much has changed over the course of 116 years — think of the evolution from handwritten ledgers to typewriters to computers — Humphrey believes one thing has remained the same at his company: the nature of the people. The company has always been blessed with great individuals, he says. “It’s really a matter of what they aspire to,” Humphrey says. “How much they want to learn. And most of them are ravenous, especially the young ones.” Many of those “ravenous” young people come on board and stay. Maurer is one of them. He started at Humphrey Products in the summer of 1984 and one year ago became only the third non-family member in the company’s history to hold the position of president and chief financial officer. Maurer knows the company from top to bottom. He started as a student assembler, working in the summer while studying economics at the University of Michigan. The personnel manager at Humphrey Products, looking for help on a project in the sales department, knew that Maurer was attending U of M during the school year, and one day approached him with a question: “So do you know how to use these PC things?” “This was back in the days of DOS,” Maurer says. “Everything was pre-Windows or
anything like that, and (I) ended up working on that project for the next two summers.” After Maurer graduated from college, Humphrey Products hired him in sales and marketing to perform forecasting and product planning. He continued moving upward through the company, taking jobs in assembly, general operations, manufacturing, planning, purchasing and, finally, finance. “I rotated through a lot of areas of the company,” Maurer says, “everything but engineering. Bob is pretty much the same story. We rotate people through.” In 1977, Robert Humphrey came on board in the sales department. The company’s current information systems manager, Patty Billingsley, also worked her way up through the company, as did Steve Mohney, the manufacturing engineering manager. Both joined the company in the late 1970s. Mike
Hammond, director of product management and marketing; Larry Tuft, operations manager for Humphrey Products’ South Haven Coil facility; and Scott Ludwig, facilities manager, have also been with the company for 30 or more years. Now Humphrey’s son, Hubbard Humphrey, is a sales engineer at the company. Maurer and Humphrey credit the company’s employees as one of its greatest strengths. Throughout Humphrey Products’ history, they say, its workers have embraced change and jumped on board with every shift in course. “They do whatever is necessary to get us to the next step,” Maurer says. And what does Humphrey think his greatgrandfather Alfred would think of the growth and longevity of his company? “I think he’d be pleasantly surprised,” Humphrey says with a smile.
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Ellen Nelson weaves worlds together through her paintings by
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Nelson is a little hungry. The 26-year-old painter works in her Kalamazoo studio in the Park Trades Center four days a week, all day, making oil paintings that can take up to two months to complete, eating the same kind of sandwich — Tofurky with lots of fixings — every day. “I’m probably the most Type A artist you’ll find,” Nelson says, laughing. “When I was a kid, my mom always said, ‘I don’t care if you’re digging ditches. You’ve got to do your best.’” For that reason, Nelson says, she eats just enough food so that she’s a little hungry all day. “It keeps me alert,” explains the Kalamazoo-raised artist. “I want to do the absolute most quality work I can do. It’s a very spiritual thing in here, you know?” The windows of her studio space are open, and large, heavy curtains are blowing into the room. Eight of her largest paintings, each 4 by 4 feet, line two walls of a common area. Four slightly smaller paintings lean against another wall. Nelson wears all black clothing with leather boots. A bright floral travel cup sits on the table where she normally paints, her canvases propped on a chair. Since graduating from the University of Michigan with a B.F.A. in art in 2013, Nelson has been creating series of paintings — related by the intention behind them — with names like X-Communication, Standing Room Only and Bridging the Distance. She shows her work at least once a month in both Kalamazoo and Detroit. Here she is a founding member of the Alliance of Kalamazoo Artists, a group that came together three years ago to share information and tips about the business aspects of being an artist. In Detroit she is
a part-time member of the studio collective Riopelle. Bridging the Distance, the first painting series Nelson completed after graduation, began with Animals, one of Nelson’s most compelling paintings: a radial collection of animal parts painted realistically, with glistening aortae, a fuzzy hide and sinewy, branch-like tendons, intestinal sacs and pig feet extending toward the edge of the canvas. At 4 feet by 4 feet, Animals is a visceral piece with the potential to repulse, but its overall effect draws the viewer in with its technical skill and the clear story of a dialogue around animals and our relationship to them pulsing behind its imagery. “I started my college senior thesis thinking, ‘I’m going to save the world! I’m going to tell everybody what’s what with these paintings here.’ And then I realized, that does not make for great artwork,” she says. After graduation, as she was trying to figure out her next steps, Nelson remembers thinking, “If I stop painting, it’s just going to be bad.” She moved out of her school studio and set up a studio in the basement of the house where she lived in Ann Arbor. The basement, she says, “was really dank and creepy,” but the remarkable Animals came out of that environment. “It started out as a very personal piece. I was at a huge turning point in my life. I wasn’t going to show it, but it was the best thing I had ever done technically.” Nelson figured out that if she showed Animals as part of a series, it wouldn’t be a piece that just “yelled at people.” She spent the next year weaving the series together, painting Insects, Shoes, Plants and Insides, a painting depicting a pile of human organs
Artist Ellen Nelson sits on the floor in her Park Trades Center studio amid many of her paintings.
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that is probably Animals’ closest cousin, but without its crackling electricity. Her mother, Kay, a retired WMU computer science professor and a teacher turned stay-at-home mom, and her father, Don, offered for her to come back to Kalamazoo in the spring of 2013. She moved home that August “to get my feet under me,” she says. “I had 100 percent of The Promise,” says the graduate of Loy Norrix High School, “so I went to school for free. Otherwise I probably wouldn’t have gone into art, because it would be difficult to pay off student loans. I definitely wouldn’t have been able to do this right away.” She credits not only The Kalamazoo Promise and her parents, but also the Park Trades Center for all she’s been able to do so far. “This building was a big draw,” she says. She rents a small, spare room — “my 9-by-9 box” — and shares a common area, where she paints, with another painter, a couple who
Encore's Featured Artist of the Month: Ellen Nelson Meet Ellen Nelson and see her work 5-9 p.m. April 7 at Spirit of Kalamazoo, 154 S. Kalamazoo Mall, during Art Hop, as Encore Magazine’s featured artist. The musician Wailsharq will perform acoustic music. The House and Home, 2015
makes and sells T-shirts, someone who fixes and builds computers and a photographer. She says a lot of research goes into her work. “Each series is just, like, eight or nine months’ worth of thinking about these things, trying to weave it all together. Hopefully it makes sense.”
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Arguably, it makes a lot of sense. Nelson’s traditional series, no matter their subject, all have mesmerizing qualities similar to the radial arrangement of Animals. Whether she’s painting piles of differently colored hands in her series The Sum of One’s Parts or luxury products and America’s favorite
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foods in her series For Display Only, Nelson begins paintings in the middle of the canvas and works out from there, piece by piece, object by object. The effect, despite the hard edges of her square and rectangular canvases, is circular, almost mandala-like. In fact, the series she’s working on now, so far untitled, embraces mandala qualities head-on. While the objects featured are luminous flowers, Nelson considers this series a departure from realism and hopes these paintings reflect not objects but “states of being.” She says her approach to these paintings, with names like Joy, Despair, Generosity and Selfishness, has been a little different from the way she has worked in the past. “Whatever I’m working on affects me and my daily life, whether I realize it or not. The current series is more obvious, because it’s a practice that I’m trying to maintain that informs the paintings. “We all have seeds. Seeds of love, hate, generosity, stinginess, despair, joy. We choose to water them in certain ways. We cultivate some. We let others shrivel and die.” Every summer, Nelson takes on an experimental series in which she plays around with techniques she’s curious
about. Works in these series tend to be more whimsical, and they vary in size and style. Nelson also paints murals, like the one she did just out of high school for Ambati Flowers, at 1830 S. Westnedge Ave., in Kalamazoo, and the Lakeside Business District mural on the side of Nelson Hardware, at 9029 Portage Road, in Portage, completed in the sweltering August heat of 2016. She illustrated a children’s book called Wings of Courage for children with brain tumors at U of M’s Department of Neurosurgery and painted butterflies, animals and other colorful details in exam rooms at Lutheran Social Services in Kalamazoo.
She admits she’s “still tweaking” her current painting series, which she expects to complete by May. She says that while her earlier pieces were more calculated, there’s room for surprise in her current works. One of those paintings, Joy, which Nelson was working on before a trip to New York, was going to be completely different. She visited multiple museums on her trip, and when she returned home, she had completely new ideas for the painting, she says. Inspired by the Islamic art section of one museum, she decided to add a labyrinth to the background. “I guess my subconscious had been working on it when I took a break from it.”
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40 Years and Counting
Celebration concert to mark Kalamazoo Singers' anniversary OLGA BONFIGLIO
What started out as a one-time gig with Madame Butterfly has metamorphosed into a 40-year tenure for the Kalamazoo Singers. The group celebrates its landmark anniversary with a performance at 4 p.m. May 7 at Western Michigan University’s Dalton Center Recital Hall. In 1977 a group was needed to perform the choral parts of a production of Puccini’s famous opera Madame Butterfly by the Michigan Opera Company and Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra. Mel Ivey, then-choral director at WMU, was asked to gather a group of 40 adult male and female singers for this purpose. By the end of the production, it became apparent to Ivey that a lot of people in town liked to sing. “People had such a good time singing together that they wanted to do more,” says Tom Kasdorf, Kalamazoo Singers’ music director and conductor from 1979–2009. “The only other options for them 34 | ENCORE APRIL 2017
Above: Members of the Kalamazoo Singers practice under the direction of music director and conductor Rick Phelps. Right: Phelps with Tom Kasdorf, who was the Kalamazoo Singer’s music director and conductor for 30 years.
to sing at the time were the Bach Festival, the Oratorio Society, barbershop and church.” Thus, the Kalamazoo Singers group was formed. Now, with about as many members as years in existence, the group performs one of the summer Concerts in the Park each June and another four concerts annually. The group started out doing operatic choruses but evolved into performing an eclectic repertoire in many genres, including major classical and operatic works, Broadway tunes, folk songs, spiritual music, Renaissance music and jazz. Previous performances include Handel’s Messiah, Vivaldi’s Gloria, works by John Rutter, selections from Gilbert and Sullivan, classic and contemporary holiday songs, works by Aaron Copland, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, the Verdi
Requiem, Verdi’s opera Othello and works by Mozart and Haydn. “Our niche is that we have no niche,” says Kasdorf. “We strive to sing repertoire music in every conceivable genre, including ‘Video Games Live’ (in 2008) with the KSO, which
features popular songs from video games, and Gospelfest.” The Singers even performed a “concert movie” of Alice in Wonderland with the KSO. The movie was shown while the symphony played and the Singers sang. “People
loved it,” Kasdorf says. “It’s a throwback to vaudeville and the silent films era. We have come full circle here.” Rick Phelps, music director and conductor of the Singers since 2011, was happy to see children enjoying it. “For the many children who saw it, it was their first live orchestral experience,” he says. “It was thrilling to see the kids out there having fun with it.” Kasdorf directed the group for 30 years. He served as music director at First Presbyterian Church for 47 years and taught music at Loy Norrix and Kalamazoo Central high schools and at WMU. Many of the group’s members are his former students. “It’s nice to see the result of your work,” he says. “It’s nice to see how my students’ voices developed and how they assume a professional attitude.” The groups hold auditions for new members in the spring, and Phelps says the group is made up of some of the finest singers in the greater Kalamazoo area, allowing the music to gel into a highly professional sound. “Relentless attention to detail is how this happens,” says Phelps. “The sound of the group changes over time as I try to create the sound I want. Each year adds another layer of complexity to the quality.”
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For example, Phelps works on the singers’ clarity of delivery through better enunciation and articulation of the words. He also tries to get the singers to engage more with audiences by encouraging them to look up from their music. “The choral art is the most participative art form in America,” he says. “Singing makes people feel good. It’s a communal activity. And even though some individual singers may have average voices, they can become extraordinary singers with a group. It’s also easier to create a great chorus filled with amateurs who love to sing because they feel they are part of something that’s larger than themselves.”
The May 7 concert is the pinnacle of this year’s season. It will feature pieces performed in the past as well as former conductors, accompanists and singers. Highlighting the concert will be an original composition titled High Flight by John Griffin, the group’s pianist, composer and arranger. Griffin, an instructor of composition at WMU, was commissioned to compose the piece, which is based on a sonnet written by John Gillespie Magee, a 21-year-old pilot who was known as the first World War II poet and was killed in a training crash in 1941. Phelps says the group is always looking for more talent. Anyone may join the group by
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Kalamazoo Singers 40th Anniversary Celebration Concert When: 4 p.m. May 7 Where: Dalton Center Recital Hall, Western Michigan University How Much: $18, or $15 for seniors, $5 for students More info: kalamazoosingers.org or 373-1769 auditioning with a piece from opera, operetta, musical theater or choral literature; scales/ vocalizations (in order to determine vocal range); and sight reading. The commitment is two hours per week over a 30-week season running from autumn to spring. “We are looking for voices in all parts,” says Phelps. “We are looking for beautiful voices that show skill, confidence and that fit the choir.” Volunteers are also welcome to join the Singers for jobs like ushering at concerts, facilitating publicity, participating in planning and doing many other tasks. Among the group’s sponsors are the Irving S. Gilmore Foundation, the Dorothy U. Dalton Foundation, the Harold and Grace Upjohn Foundation, other foundations and countless individuals.
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PERFORMING ARTS THEATER Plays The Fox on the Fairway — Ken Ludwig’s comedy about activities at a private country club, 8 p.m. Fri. & Sat., 2 p.m. Sat. & Sun., through April 15, New Vic Theatre, 134 E. Vine St., 381-3328. The Jackal and the Lion: A Zulu Folktale — All Ears Theatre radio theater presentation, 6 p.m. April 1, First Baptist Church, 315 W. Michigan Ave., 342-5059. By the Way, Meet Vera Stark — A humorous play dealing with issues of racial stereotypes, 7:30 p.m. April 7–8, 14–15 & 21–22, 2 p.m. April 9 & 23, Parish Theatre, 405 W. Lovell St., 3431313. Wally’s Garage — All Ears Theatre radio theater presentation, 6 p.m. April 15, First Baptist Church, 342-5059. The Dining Room — Senior Class Reader’s Theatre presents a comedy about family relationships, 2 p.m. April 21, 23 & 30, 7:30 p.m. April 22, 28 & 29, Carver Center Studio, 426 S. Park St., 343-1313. Dangerous Assignment — All Ears Theatre radio theater presentation, 6 p.m. April 29, First Baptist Church, 342-5059.
Musicals The Wiz — Tony Award-winning musical based on The Wizard of Oz, 7:30 p.m. April 7–8, 13–15 & 20–22, 2 p.m. April 9, Williams Theatre, WMU, 387-6222. Unfriended — A Farmers Alley Theatre production that questions love and friendship in the digital age, 8 p.m. April 7 & 8, Little Theatre, WMU, 343-2727. The Andrews Brothers — Three stagehands rescue an Andrews Sisters’ USO show in jeopardy, 7:30 p.m. Thurs., 8 p.m. Fri. & Sat., 2 p.m. Sun., April 21–May 7, Little Theatre, WMU, 343-2727. Comedy Nick Offerman — The actor and writer of television’s Parks and Recreation, 8 p.m. April 6, Miller Auditorium, WMU, 387-2300. Crawlspace Eviction Show: COMP — Improvisational comedy troupe show, 8–9:30 p.m. April 28 & 29, Jolliffe Theatre, Epic Center, 359 S. Kalamazoo Mall, 599-7390. Mo’Nique — Actress and queen of comedy, 8 p.m. April 29, State Theatre, 404 S. Burdick St., 345-6500. MUSIC Bands & Solo Artists Cicada Rhythm — Folk, rock and Americana, 9 p.m. April 1, Bell’s Eccentric Café, 355 E. Kalamazoo Ave., 382-2332.
Soul-Filled Sundays at Arcadia Ales — The Brass Rail, brass quintet, 4–6 p.m. April 2; Isaac Berkowitz of Desmond Jones, fusion rock, 5–7 p.m. April 9; Jack Adams, solo musician, 5–7 p.m. April 16; Calvin Hinds, 14-year-old guitar prodigy, 5–7 p.m. April 23; Sarah Brunner, folk-rock singer/songwriter, 5–7 p.m. April 30; Arcadia Ales, 701 E. Michigan Ave., 276-0458. Marsha Ambrosium and Eric Benét: The M.E. Tour — Soul and R&B recording artists and songwriters, 7:30 p.m. April 2, State Theatre, 404 S. Burdick St., 345-6500. Live Music Wednesdays at Arcadia Ales — Retro Pop Shuffle, jazz and pop, 7–9 p.m. April 5; The Sam Pilnick Project, modern acoustic jazz collective, 7–9 p.m. April 12; Tom McCoy & Mike Powell, duo, 7–9 p.m. April 19; Retro Pop Shuffle, Sharon Jones tribute, 7–9 p.m. April 26, Arcadia Ales, 276-0458. Animal Years — Brooklyn-based indie rock quartet, 8:30 p.m. April 6, Bell’s Eccentric Café, 382-2332. Live Music Fridays at Arcadia Ales — The Matt Smalligan Quartet, jazz group, 7–9 p.m. April 7; The Music Hop, 8–10 p.m. April 21; Arcadia Ales, 276-0458. Christian Lopez & Don Gallardo — Appalachian folk music, 9 p.m. April 7, Bell’s Eccentric Café, 382-2332. Jacquees — R&B artist, 6 p.m. April 8, State Theatre, 345-6500.
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Crime Funk Collective — Funk band, 9 p.m. April 8, Bell’s Eccentric Café, 382-2332. Live Music Saturday at Arcadia Ales — The Mickeys, indie folk music, 9–11 p.m. April 8, Arcadia Ales, 276-0458. Los Lobos — Grammy Award-winning band, 7:30 p.m. April 9, State Theatre, 345-6500. Elephant Revival — Quintet performing Celtic, Americana and folk, 9 p.m. April 9, Bell’s Eccentric Café, 382-2332. Angela Perley & The Howlin’ Moons — Guitar and vocal group perform rock ’n’ roll and Americana, 9 p.m. April 13, Bell’s Eccentric Café, 382-2332. The Class Acts — Local indie-rock album release concert, 9 p.m. April 14, Bell’s Eccentric Café, 382-2332. Generationals — Brit-pop, dance and electronic music, 9 p.m. April 20, Bell’s Eccentric Café, 3822332. Tommy Castro & Mike Zito — Blues musicians, 8 p.m. April 21, State Theatre, 345-6500. Mustard Plug — Grand Rapids-based ska/punk band, 9 p.m. April 21, Bell’s Eccentric Café, 3822332. Pert Near Sandstone — Minneapolis/St. Paul bluegrass band, 9 p.m. April 22, Bell’s Eccentric Café, 382-2332. Flint Eastwood — Detroit-based singer/ songwriter Jax Anderson, 8:30 p.m. April 23, Bell’s Eccentric Café, 382-2332. Blues Traveler — Grammy Award-winning blues/rock band, 8 p.m. April 25, State Theatre, 345-6500. Corn Fed Girls — Original acoustic Americana folk band, 9 p.m. April 27, Bell’s Eccentric Café, 382-2332. The Go Rounds — Soul, baroque folk, country and rock ’n’ roll band, 9 p.m. April 28, Bell’s Eccentric Café, 382-2332. Orchestra, Chamber, Jazz, Vocal & More Cameron Carpenter — Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra presents the world-renowned organist, 8 p.m. April 1, Miller Auditorium, WMU, 387-2300. Teri Bibb: Once Upon a Song — Farmers Alley Theatre presents the singer and the songs of Hollywood’s movie musicals, 8 p.m. April 1, Little Theatre, WMU, 343-2727. WMU Trombone Choir — 3 p.m. April 2, Dalton Center Recital Hall, WMU, 387-4667. Sara Daneshpour — Gilmore Rising Star pianist performs works by Bach, Ravel, Chopin and Prokofiev, 4 p.m. April 2, Wellspring Theater, 359 S. Kalamazoo Mall, Suite 204, 359-7311.
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A Step to Greatness 42ND STULBERG COMPETITION Saturday, May 13, 2017 Dalton Center Recital Hall Western Michigan University SEMIFINALIST PERFORMANCES 9 am to 4 pm Free and open to the public FINALS CONCERT 7:30 pm Ticket information at stulberg.org
Sunday, May 14, 2017 12:30 pm Dalton Center Western Michigan University Free and open to the public
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EVENTS ENCORE The Marriage of Figaro — Abridged version of the opera, 7:30 p.m. April 3 & 4, Dalton Center Recital Hall, WMU, 387-4667. University Percussion Ensemble — 7:30 p.m. April 5, Dalton Center Recital Hall, WMU, 3872300. The Ebène Quartet — Fontana presents the French string quartet performing Mozart, Debussy and Ravel, 7:30 p.m. April 7, Stetson Chapel, Kalamazoo College, 382-7774. Choral Showcase — Featuring University Chorale, Cantus Femina and Collegiate Singers, 8 p.m. April 8, Dalton Center Recital Hall, WMU, 387-4667. University Concert Band — 3 p.m. April 9, Miller Auditorium, WMU, 387-4667. Guest Artist Recital: Roomful of Teeth — Part of the New Sounds Festival, 7:30 p.m. April 9, Dalton Center Recital Hall, WMU, 387-4667. Chanticleer — Kalamazoo Bach Festival presents the a cappella male ensemble, 7 p.m. April 11, Chenery Auditorium, 714 S. Westnedge Ave., 337-7407. Gold Company II — WMU’s vocal jazz ensemble, 7:30 p.m. April 13, Dalton Center Recital Hall, WMU, 387-4667.
Classics Uncorked: Spring Evening — Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra Chamber Series, with wine tasting at 7 p.m., chamber music at 8 p.m. April 14, Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, 314 S. Park St., 387-2300. Guest Artist Recital: Trombonist Joe Alessi, 8 p.m. April 14, Dalton Center Recital Hall, WMU, 387-4667. Classics On Tap: Spring Evening — KSO Chamber Series, 8 p.m. April 15, Bell’s Eccentric Café, 355 E. Kalamazoo Ave., 349-7759. Music Therapy Clinic Concert — 7 p.m. April 17, Dalton Center Recital Hall, WMU, 387-4667. Music in the Round: KSO Burdick-Thorne String Quartet — Performing Shostakovich’s Piano Quintet in G minor, noon April 19, Garden Atrium, Bronson Methodist Hospital, 601 John St., 349-7759. Close to You: The Music of The Carpenters — Performed by Lisa Rock and her band, 8 p.m. April 21, Miller Auditorium, WMU, 387-2300. Kalamazoo Concert Band: Off the Shelf — A concert dedicated to music inspired by books, 7:30 p.m. April 22, Chenery Auditorium, 714 S. Westnedge Ave., 806-6597. Concerto Concert — Performed by University Symphony Orchestra, 3 p.m. April 23, Miller Auditorium, WMU, 387-4667.
Amina Figarova — Guest artist performance by the jazz pianist, 4 p.m. April 23, Dalton Theatre, Kalamazoo College, 337-7047. Community Sing — Michigan Festival of Sacred Music sponsors a community sing, 7 p.m. April 23, First Baptist Church, 315 W. Michigan Ave., 382-2910. Kalamazoo F.O.P. Country Music Spectacular — 7 p.m. April 28, Chenery Auditorium, 3370440. Play It Again, Marvin — KSO celebrates Marvin Hamlisch in a multimedia concert, 8 p.m. April 28, Miller Auditorium, WMU, 359-7759. KSO Percussion Duo — Sarkozy Brunch Concerts, 11 a.m. April 30, Sarkozy Bakery, 350 E. Michigan Ave., 349-7759. Spirit of the Dance — Kalamazoo Junior Symphony Orchestra featuring Concerto Competition winner, 4 p.m. April 30, Chenery Auditorium, 349-7557. DANCE Expedition: Spring 2017 Concert of Dance — New and repertory works, noon & 8 p.m. April 21, 2 & 8 p.m. April 22, Wellspring Theater, 359 S. Kalamazoo Mall, Suite 204, 342-4354.
TOGETHER Marcus Brussee, Kim Labadie, Bryan Todd, Justin Horn, and Tom Lundquist
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VISUAL ARTS Kalamazoo Institute of Arts 314 S. Park St., 349-7775 Exhibits Young Artists of Kalamazoo County — Works by artists from kindergarten through 8th grade, through April 15. West Michigan Area Show 2017 — Works of artists from 14 Michigan counties, through May 28. Pressed for Time: History of Printmaking — Historical survey of Western printmaking processes, through July 2. Impressions: Printmaking in Japan — Japanese woodblock prints from the KIA collection, April 1–July 23. High School Area Show — Artwork by regional high school students, April 29–June 4. Events Sunday Public Tour — Walk through exhibits with a docent: Pressed for Time: History of Printmaking, April 2; Young Artists of Kalamazoo County, April 9; West Michigan Area Show, 2D, April 23; Impressions: Printmaking in Japan, April 30; all sessions begin at 2 p.m. ARTbreak — Weekly program about art, artists and exhibitions: West Michigan Area Show Artists, talk, April 4 & 25; Hidden Books: The Art of Kumi Korf, video, April 11; Meet the Art School’s Resident Artists, talk, April 18; all sessions begin at noon, KIA Auditorium. Building America’s Garden of Art from Rodin to Ai WeiWei — Talk by Joseph Becherer, chief curator and VP of collections and exhibitions for Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park, 6:30 p.m. April 12. Book Discussion: Frida — Discussion of the novel by Barbara Mujica, 2 p.m. April 19. Get the Picture — Discussion of Alfred Juergens’ Twilight, noon April 20. Richmond Center for Visual Arts Western Michigan University, 387-2436 17 Days: Vols. 8 & 9 — Works of 17 video artists play continuously on 50-inch plasma screens, through May 1, Atrium Gallery. Alchemy: An Artists + Writers Initiative — Art exhibit resulting from a collaboration of dozens of area artists and writers, through May 26, Netzorg and Kerr Gallery. Passages: Alchemy, Home & Hours — Three suites of broadsides (image-and-verse prints) by Kalamazoo area artists and poets, April 27May 26, Monroe-Brown Gallery, with reception 3-5 p.m. April 30.
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EVENTS ENCORE Other Venues Community Art: Lupe Smith — Acrylics and pottery, through April 28, Portage District Library, 300 Library Lane, Portage, 329-4544. Art Hop — Art at locations in Kalamazoo, 5–8 p.m. April 7, 342-5059. Alumni+ Art Show — A juried art show by Kalamazoo Valley Community College alumni, 5:30 p.m. April 7, KVCC Center for New Media & Arcus Gallery, 100 E. Michigan Ave., 373-7881. LIBRARY & LITERARY EVENTS Kalamazoo Public Library First Saturday @ KPL — Stories, activities and door prizes for the family, 2 p.m. April 1, Central Library, 315 S. Rose St., 342-9837. Middle Eastern Cooking — Shawarma King head chef Nidal Awad prepares healthy dishes, 6 p.m. April 25, Oshtemo Branch, 7265 W. Main St., 553-7980. Urban Fiction Book Discussion Group — Discussion of Guarding Secrets, by Pat Tucker, 6 p.m. April 25, Alma Powell Branch, 1000 W. Paterson Ave., 553-7960. Bellydance Kalamazoo — Movements, culture and history of Middle Eastern dance, 6:30 p.m. April 26, Washington Square Branch, 1244 Portage St., 553-7970. How to Write Your Own Obituary (or Anyone Else’s) — Ruth Wilson gives do’s and don’ts of writing a good obituary, 7 p.m. April 27, Central Library, 342-9837. Parchment Community Library 401 S. Riverview Drive, 343-7747 Parchment Book Group — Discussion of The Summer Before the War, by Helen Simonson, 7 p.m. April 3.
Yum’s the Word — Healthy Eating on a Budget, cooking instructor Kelly Zajac of the People’s Food Coop shares tips for healthy meals, April 4; Teas from Around the World, Polly Kragt, owner of ChocolaTea in Portage, brings samples and shows brewing techniques, April 26; both sessions begin at 6:30 p.m. Second Sundays Live: Hired Hands — Country western, pop and rock music, 2 p.m. April 9. Front Page: Donuts and Discussion — Current events panel discussion with local media, educators, politicians and special guests, 10 a.m. April 15. Honor Your Elders: Saving Their Stories — Experts show how to preserve photographs, store mementos, capture oral histories and write memoirs, 2–4 p.m. April 30. Portage District Library 300 Library Lane, 329-4544 Science Fiction and Fantasy Discussion: Best Races and Cultures — 7 p.m. April 3. Friends of the Library Book Sale — 9 a.m.–3 p.m. April 8. Top Shelf Reads — A young professionals’ book group discussion of The Prince of Los Cocuyos, by Richard Blanco, 7 p.m. April 10, Latitude 42 Brewing Co., 7842 Portage Road, 585-8711. International Mystery Book Group — Discussion of The Swimmer, by Jaokim Zander, 7 p.m. April 13. Classic Movie: Brewster’s Millions — Enjoy the 1945 movie and popcorn, 2–4 p.m. April 15. Open for Discussion — Discussion of Elizabeth is Missing, by Emma Healey, 10:30 a.m. April 18. PDL Writers Workshop — Workshop with poet Michelle Bonczek, 6–8 p.m. April 18.
Zentangle: Meditation Through Drawing — Carrie Dunn introduces the practices of meditation and Zentangle, 2–3:30 p.m. April 22; registration required. Must Be 21+: Game, Color, Doodle Night for Grown-Ups — 7 p.m. April 24. Must Be 21+: Bad Poetry Night — Competition for worst poem, 7 p.m. April 28; registration required for contest entrees. Other Venues Edible Book Festival — Competition of “books” made from food, 4–8 p.m. April 7, Kalamazoo Book Arts Center, 326 W. Kalamazoo Ave., Suite 103A, 373-4938. Poets in Print — Readings by Kathy Fagan and Christopher Kempf, 7 p.m. April 8, Kalamazoo Book Arts Center, 373-4938. April Book Group — Discussion of What She Left Behind, by Ellen Marie Wiseman, 7–8:30 p.m. April 13, Richland Community Library, 8951 Park St., 629-9085. Why Writers Write — Presentation and reading by Kathleen Stocking, author, journalist and world traveler, 7 p.m. April 20, Richland Community Library, 629-9085. Kalamazoo Poetry Festival — Guest poet Diane Seuss, readings, panel discussion and more, April 28–29, times and locations vary; see kalamazoopoetryfestival.com for details. MUSEUM Kalamazoo Valley Museum 230 N. Rose St., 373-7990 The Wizards of Pop: Sabuda and Reinhart — A pop-up book exhibit with 63 framed pieces, through April 9.
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ENCORE EVENTS And Still We Rise: Race, Culture & Visual Conversations — Works that draw on the tradition of storytelling through quilts, through June 4. Food, Not Food — Photography exhibit by local artist Kristina Lechner, April 7. Foodways Symposium — Cooking demonstrations and children’s activities, times vary, April 7 & 8. Sunday Series — Exploring Kalamazoo’s Foodways, local history and material culture related to food systems, April 9; A Conversation with J. Ernest Green, music director of Play It Again, Marvin, April 23; both sessions begin at 1:30 p.m. Remembering Marvin Hamlisch: The People’s Composer — A photographic journey through the life of the famous composer by photographer Len Prince, April 15–May 14. Moving UniVERSE: Youth Poetry Animation — Read & Write Kalamazoo (RAWK) presents a celebration of poetry, visual art and animation, 11 a.m. April 29. NATURE Dessert with Discussion: Protecting Michigan Lakes and Rivers from Invasive Species — Jo Latimore, MSU outreach specialist, discusses aquatic invasive species, 7–9 p.m. April 11, Kellogg Bird Sanctuary, 12685 East C Ave., Augusta, 671-2510. Green-A-Thon — Earth Day festival with music, exhibits, games and giveaways, 11 a.m.–3 p.m. April 15, Celery Flats, 7335 Garden Lane, 329-4512. Earth Day Celebration: Free Admission Day — 5K & Raccoon Run, activities and crafts, 9 a.m.–5 p.m. April 22, Kalamazoo Nature Center, 7000 N. Westnedge Ave., 381-1574.
Earth Day Free Admission — 9 a.m.–5 p.m. April 22, Kellogg Bird Sanctuary, 671-2510. Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge — John Hartig presents an Audubon Society of Kalamazoo program, 7:30 p.m. April 24, People’s Church, 1758 N. 10th St., 375-7210. The 2017 Great American Eclipse — Kalamazoo Astronomical Society’s Astronomy Day, 10 a.m.– 4 p.m. April 29, KVCC's Texas Township campus, 6767 West O Ave., kasonline.org. MISCELLANEOUS Kalamazoo Numismatic Club Spring Coin Show — Buy, sell and trade coins, paper money and memorabilia, 9 a.m.–3 p.m. April 1, Kalamazoo County Expo Center North, 2900 Lake St., 381-8669. Spring Cleaning Model Railroad Swap Meet — Buy and sell model railroad items, 10 a.m.–3 p.m. April 1, Kalamazoo County Expo Center, 344-0906. Kalamazoo Indoor Flea & Antique Market — New and used items, antiques and handcrafted items, 8 a.m.–2 p.m. April 4–5 & 11–12, 8 a.m.–3 p.m. April 15, Kalamazoo County Expo Center, 383-8761. After Hours Live Food Truck Rally — Food trucks, artisans, booths, music and networking, 9–11:45 p.m. April 7, 201–299 W. Water St., 388-2830. Kal-Haven Trail Run — A 33.5-mile race for individuals or relay teams, 8 a.m.–3 p.m. April 8, Kalamazoo trailhead, North 10th Street, 9294954. Antique Bottle & Glass Show — Flasks, medicines, fruit jars, dairy bottles and related glass, 10 a.m.–3 p.m. April 8, Kalamazoo County Expo Center Room A, 616-581-7005.
Southwest Michigan Postcard Club Show & Sale — Postcards from the 1890s to present, 10 a.m.–5 p.m. April 8, Kalamazoo County Expo Center North, 517-230-0734. Kalamazoo Spring Carnival — 4–9 p.m. April 13–16, Wings Event Center, 3600 Vanrick Drive, 345-1125. 20th Annual Egg Hunt — Egg hunt and Easter activities, 2–4 p.m. April 15, Homer Stryker Field, 215 Mills St., 337-8191. OutFront Kalamazoo Community Open House — The former Kalamazoo Gay Lesbian Resource Center celebrates its new name and location, 5–7 p.m. April 14, 340 S. Rose St. The Arc Community Advocates 10th Inclusion Conference — Tools and tips for promoting selfdetermination, power, information and resources for individuals, 8:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m. April 19, Fetzer Center, WMU, 342-9801. Pinball at the Zoo — Games for sale and play, auction and tournaments, 9 a.m.–6 p.m. April 22, Kalamazoo County Expo Center South, 628-4628. Color Run — A 5K race for all ages & fitness levels, 10 a.m. April 22, Arcadia Creek Festival Place, 145 E. Water St., thecolorrun.com. Interactive Family Health Fair & Camp Extravaganza — Vendors, arts and crafts, open swim and bounce house, 1–4 p.m. April 23, Sherman Lake YMCA, 6225 N. 39th St., Augusta, 731-3000. Kalamazoo Record & CD Show — Collector records, music memorabilia and supplies, 11 a.m.–4 p.m. April 30, Kalamazoo County Expo Center, 734-604-2540.
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Tom Darby, his daughter, Adrien, and his son, Max, of Darby Metal Treating, Inc., with Chris Mars, Vice President, First National Bank of Michigan.
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The Simple Advantage We often overlook the simple things in life. One reason for that might be because when we keep things simple, they work. The desire to improve things often comes with the cost of making things more complicated. The simple sheet of paper is a good example. Durable, flexible, manageable, and ideal for communicating information, the single sheet of paper carries with it an independence you don’t always see these days. You don’t need the right software to open a piece of paper, and you don’t need some kind of access to servers to find it. You don’t even need electricity to read it. Technology might change and improvements might make things more flashy and fashionable, but when you want to tip things in your favor, remember the gifts of simplicity. Paper has advantages, and that creates benefits for you.
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HRM Innovations, LLC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33 Kalamazoo Bach Festival . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 Kalamazoo Community Foundation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 Kalamazoo Landscape Supplies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27 Kalamazoo Poetry Festival . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41 Kalamazoo Valley Museum . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28 Langeland Funeral Homes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33
Lewis Reed & Allen, PC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37 LVM Capital Management . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19
Maple Hill Auto Group . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48
Miller Auditorium . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
Parchment Community Library . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36
CLASSICAL LIKE WHAT YOU HEAR
Mercantile Bank of Michigan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40 Meyer & Allwardt, PC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22
Naylor Landscape Management . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45
PNC Wealth Management . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47 Portage Printing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44 Principle Food & Drink . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28 Jeff K. Ross Financial Services . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32 Sherman Lake YMCA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29
Spirit of Kalamazoo . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28 Stulberg International String Competition . . . . . . . . . . . . 39 V&A Bootery . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28 VanderSalm’s Flowershop . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28
WMUK IS NPR FROM WMU
Varnum Law . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42 Willis Law . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 WMUK . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44
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ENCORE BACK STORY Tara East (continued from page 46)
and sometimes their lives and sometimes those of the people around them.”
How did you end up where you are today? When I was first married, my brother-inlaw suffered a traumatic brain injury and I would bring him out to the Cheff Center. I thought, “This is a cool place. I could do this kind of work.” I was always into horses. As my kids grew, we used to come here and volunteer, and we brought a 4H group here to volunteer as well — I always had my hands in the work here. In 2000, the main building went down — it collapsed from the weight of the snow — and they needed help, so I got onto the board. Several years later, they were searching for a new director, and even though we were doing a national search, we couldn’t find anybody that had the right experience. At the time, Blaine Lam was helping us with the transition, and I told him, “I don’t know if this is a good or bad idea, but I know this business, I know horses, I know kids and I have the community outreach. I think I should run it.” And he agreed.
Do those who come for training to learn hippotherapy have experience with horses or do you get complete neophytes?
Yes (she laughs). We often work with people who have these grandiose dreams about working with horses, and we have to show them how much work it really is. We take our time with people. Because we work with people with special needs, we are used to being patient and kind. But we tell them you have to work really, really hard and the pay is really, really low, but if you want to make a living out of this you can do it.
What’s been your biggest challenge at the Cheff Center? It’s always the money challenges in a nonprofit. We find the right people pretty easily because it is a specialized niche and the horse world is a small world and we all know people who know people. The Cheff Center has been around for 47 years, and it’s not because we don’t know what we are doing. I would like us to go on for another 47 years. I want to make sure this place gets the fences and roofs and all the support it needs so that when I finally do leave, they are able to focus on the mission and just financially roll along.
What do you do when you aren’t here? I own a small ranch, three miles up the road, called East Fork Farms. We give riding lessons to able-bodied students, and we
also work with Gull Lake Schools on a combination P.E./science class. I have 108 students come in every week and learn the science of horses and then learn to ride. It’s great.
How many horses do you work with? I have 20 quarter horses on my ranch and 18 horses here.
That’s a lot of horses. People don’t realize, but horses suffer from burnout just like humans. It’s hard work, and sometimes clients can bite or hit or pinch a horse and it’s hard on the horses. I’d like to open a whole new facet of our training — showing people how to train the therapeutic horses. Horses burn out so fast. A horse might last a year, and some come back from burnout and some don’t. Another hope is that someday we’ll be able to breed therapeutic horses based on their personality and size. Because our clients are getting bigger in size, we need bigger horses and there are just some horses who really embrace the job.
Do you ever get tired of looking at horses? Never. It’s like going to play every day.
get ready to relax this summer (we’ll take care of the work)
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BACK STORY ENCORE
Executive Director Cheff Therapeutic Riding Center It’s a pretty obvious cliché but true: Tara East has spent most of her life horsing around.
East is the executive director of the Cheff Therapeutic Riding Center in Augusta, which provides equine therapy and serves riders of all ages who have physical, emotional or cognitive disabilities. Its clients range from 14 months to 92 years. In operation since 1970, the Cheff Center has also become an internationally recognized training center to certify those who want to provide equine therapy. East, who has been at the helm since 2006, says there is no “cooler place to work. “ “You get to wear jeans and be around horses, and even though some of our clients just have the worst afflictions, they come here with smiles on their faces. We transform their day for them
(continued on page 45)
46 | ENCORE APRIL 2017
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