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The Journey of Handmap Brewing

For the Love of Postcards

Holiday Gift Guide

Meet Cori Somers



Unseen photos from Encore & more

Donating a gift to your community is a personal, meaningful and fulfilling experience. It is one of the many ways to demonstrate your love for our community.

LEARN MORE AT KALFOUND.ORG Or contact our Donor Relations team at donorrelations@kalfound.org or 269.381.4416.





The concept is about to get real. Offering spacious, modern residences designed from the ground up for the comfort, security and wellbeing of those who call it home, Revel Creek will provide an idyllic setting for a safe and rewarding life in retirement. With construction now underway, the best time to reserve is NOW, for the lowest price and highest selection. To schedule a private preview, either virtual or in person, please call: 269-525-0706.

Le wis Re e d & A llen P .C . a tt orn eys Front row, center: Richard D. Reed Middle Row (L-R): Stephen M. Denenfeld, Vernon Bennett III, James M. Marquardt, Jennifer Wu, Michael A. Dombos, Michael A. Shields, Owen D. Ramey, Kimberly L. Swinehart Back Row (L-R): Gregory G. St. Arnauld, Thomas C. Richardson, Joseph W. Vander Horst, Michael B. Ortega, David A. Lewis, Jonthan J. Vander Horst, Ronald W. Ryan, Wesley J. Todd 136 east michigan avenue suite 800 | kalamazoo

| michigan | 49007-3947

phone: 269.388.7600 | fax: 269.349.3831 www.lewisreedallen.com w w w.encorekalamazoo.com | 3

The Journey of Handmap Brewing

December 2020

For the Love of Postcards

Holiday Gift Guide

Meet Cori Somers

Southwest Michigan’s Magazine



Unseen photos from Encore & more


encore publications, inc.


marie lee


alexis stubelt

Photographer brian k. powers

Contributing Writers

jordan bradley, zoË jackson, elizabeth kerlikowske, john liberty, marie lee

Copy Editor/Poetry Editor margaret deritter

Advertising Sales janis clark janet gover krieg lee


gregory macleery

Office Coordinator hope smith

Encore Magazine is published 12 times yearly. Copyright 2020, 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

Evaluation & Care of Trees and Shrubs Kalamazoo, MI • 269-381-5412 • www.arboristserviceskzoo.com 4 | ENCORE DECEMBER 2020

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.


From the Editor W

ith its short daylight hours, December is always a darker month of the year. But in the midst of a pandemic, this month may seem even more devoid of light than usual. We have all been on information overload for months with news of politics, Covid-19 and social unrest, so here at Encore we felt it was important in our December issue to give our readers some light, love and a moment to just breathe. We do that by presenting our annual Revealed issue, which features photos and images taken for Encore by photographer Brian K. Powers that have not previously appeared in the magazine. In addition to a photo of the stunning glass staircase at Dave’s Glass, we present poignant images from Brian’s Porch Portraits project and some beautiful landscapes and nature shots. Revealed is designed to give your eyes joy and your overloaded mind a rest. Not to say we don’t have some great reading in this issue. Writer Jordan Bradley introduces us to some plucky folks who, in the midst of a pandemic, opened Handmap Brewing, a brewery and taphouse in Battle Creek. And speaking of brews, West Michigan craft beer guru John Liberty highlights some great local gifts for the beer lover in your life. In addition, we learn about the Southwest Michigan Postcard Club, which provides opportunities for local collectors of postcards to share their passion for, and the history of, these mailed missives. We also meet Cori Somers, executive director of the Kalamazoo Bach Festival, an organization that presents one of the community’s most beloved holiday concerts, and we talk with her about how changing times are remaking this 70-year-old institution. As the snow begins to fly and the world starts to seem a little more closed in, I encourage you to stay as connected as you can to friends, family and neighbors. I know video chats can never replace a Christmas Eve party with those closest to you, but they can let us share the love and warmth we all need to feel right now. As always, stay safe, stay healthy and take care of one another.

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Beth Simon’s moving story. Beth Simon’s understanding of what it takes to win, and why some teams are better at it than others, was fostered early in life by loving parents and by her husband who believed luck is “when preparation meets opportunity.” That sentiment, put into practice through hard work over countless hours, paid off with Beth’s golf scholarship to Notre Dame, where she earned Academic All American honors, and afterwards found success in pharmaceutical sales for Eli Lilly. If pure luck was ever a factor, it was in the philosophy class where Beth met Ben, a center on the Fighting Irish hockey team, future NHL player and professional coach, and husband to be. (Two daughters have since rounded out their family.) You’d think fifty-four moves across four countries over two decades would be more than enough for a lifetime. But Beth’s fifty-fifth move is her happiest yet: She’s back in Michigan and on the team at Greenleaf Trust. Her temperament and approach to winning—admire and support your teammates, pull together for the greater goal, and put others’ interests ahead of your own— ideally complement the core values of Greenleaf Trust, where our clients’ best interests are at the center of every decision we make. In joining our marketing team, Beth’s focus on event planning, client communications, and team building are certain to result in highlights for us, and a streak of wins for you. Please join us in welcoming Beth Simon to our team.

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Beautiful, unseen images from Encore stories and more by photographer Brian K. Powers




Great ideas and items to help you give local this season



5 From the Editor

8 Contributors

9 First Things

A round-up of happenings in SW Michigan

18 Five Faves

Local gift ideas for the beer lover in your life

21 Up Front

For the Love of Postcards — The Southwest Michigan Postcard Club embraces history and stories of these mailed missives




Back Story

Handmap Brewing’s Challenging Path — Couple forges forward with new brewery and taphouse in Battle Creek

Meet Cori Somers — The Kalamazoo Bach Festival's executive director talks about how changing times are remaking this 70-year-old institution

ARTS 40 Poetry On the Cover: The T-shirt worn by Loy Norrix High School senior Michael Lee not only sums up his view on virtual schooling and the pandemic, but how most of us feel about 2020. Photo by Brian K. Powers.

41 Events of Note

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Jordan Bradley

Jordan, a Battle Creek native, was happy to write about that city's new Handmap Brewery for this issue of Encore. The brewery is spearheaded by two fellow Battle Creek natives, Chris McCleary and Jennifer Brown. "Obviously, starting any new venture is challenging, but opening a brewery in the midst of a pandemic is a whole other animal," Jordan says. "Chris and Jen's dedication to the brewery as well as their positive mindset make for a very inviting space." Jordan is a freelance writer living in the Battle Creek/Kalamazoo area.

Zoe Jackson

Zoë says one thing she was impressed by in working on a story about the Southwest Michigan Postcard Club was how much the members know about the cards they collect. For instance, when a collector told her his interest came from seeing a historic House of David postcard, “it was the first time I’d ever heard of the group,” Zoë says. “And the collector, who had picked fruit in the summers near the camp, told me all about them. It was a really interesting story, and not one I would have found out about on my own.” Zoë, a graduate of Western Michigan University, is a reporter for the Minneapolis Star Tribune. You can find her on Twitter @zoemjack.

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Brian, a lifelong Kalamazoo resident, has created photos and images for Encore since 2014. He says some of the most gratifying work he did in the past year was on his Porch Portraits project (see Encore, May 2020). “Being able to give something back to people during the pandemic stay-at-home orders was really meaningful,” he says. “It was fun to capture people’s love, humor and humanity.” In addition to taking photos for Encore, Brian shoots for clients that include Hour Media, Bronson Healthcare and the University of Michigan. To see more of Brian’s work, visit briankpowers.com.


First Things

Please Note: Due to the Covid–19 virus, some of these events may have been cancelled after press time. Please check with the venue and organizations for up-to-date information.

Something Seasonal

Get your Christmas concert fill online One of the endearing parts of the holidays in the greater Kalamazoo area is that they are usually chock-full of holiday-themed concerts.

While the Covid-19 pandemic has curtailed live events, there is a bright side: Many of these Kalamazoo traditions are still happening as virtual events. What better music to have playing while you curl up on the couch with cocoa or trim your tree? Here are the details on some of the virtual concerts planned:

Holidays with the Kalamazoo Bach Festival — This beloved annual concert will feature songs of the season as the Festival Chorus and Kalamazoo Philharmonia orchestra perform from Stetson Chapel on the Kalamazoo College campus. The concert, which will be streamed live at 4 p.m. Dec. 6 and available for viewing until Dec. 31, will include a new arrangement of the Jill Jackson-Miller and Sy Miller hymn “Let There Be Peace on Earth” and the world premiere of a new text setting of J.S. Bach's Cantata Wachet auf. Viewers will also be treated to historical holiday images of Kalamazoo. Tickets are $5-$199, with the higher prices set for group viewing. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit kalamazoobachfestival.org.

Kalamazoo Ringers 40th Annual Christmas Concert — The Kalamazoo Ringers, one of the oldest community handbell choirs in the country, will present its virtual concert at 4 p.m. Dec. 13. In conjunction with the concert, the group is also hosting an outerwear drive for donations of hats, scarves, mittens and gloves to give to those in need. Donations can be dropped off from 1-3 p.m. Dec. 12 and 13 at Grace Harbor Church, 811 Gorham Lane. For more information and a link to the concert, visit kalamazooringers.org.

Sounds of the Season — With a program of music celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah and other holiday traditions, the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra’s Sounds of the Season virtual concert at 4 p.m. Dec. 20 will also premiere two new compositions: “Hanukkah Blessing,” by KSO Music Director Julian Kuerti, and a new interpretation of the carol “O Come, All Ye Faithful” by Rufus Ferguson, a composer, pianist and the KSO’s education manager. Tickets for the concert are being offered on a name-your-price basis, with the suggested price at $54. If you can’t tune in to the live stream, a recording will be accessible for two weeks after the concert. For more information, visit kalamazoosymphony.com. w w w.encorekalamazoo.com | 9


Something Intriguing

Art of Asian diasporas featured at KIA An exhibition exploring Asian migration to Latin America and the Caribbean and its influence on modern and contemporary art is on display in all of the main floor galleries of the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts. Cultural Encounters: Art of Asian Diasporas in Latin America & The Caribbean, 1945–Present opened in October and will run until Jan. 17. The exhibition features nearly 70 works by Latin American and Caribbean artists of Asian heritage in a variety of media, including paintings, works on paper, sculptures, installations and mixed-media works. The artists featured include Wifredo Lam, Manabu Mabe and Tomie Ohtake. The KIA is open for limited hours, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, so it is recommended that visitors book tickets in advance online to help ensure availability. Admission is $5 for the general public, $2 for students, and free for members, those 12 and under and active military members. For more information or to book tickets, visit kiarts.org. Wilfredo Lam, Retrato, 1982, lithograph

Something Theatrical

Virtual holiday shows to be staged You can watch A Charlie Brown Christmas only so many times, so here’s some new holiday entertainment to get excited about: virtual musical and theater performances by talented local artists, compliments of two Kalamazoo theater organizations. Farmers Alley Theatre will present Home for the Holidays with Farmers Alley Theatre & Friends Dec. 12-19. You might see a familiar face or two since the program will feature myriad singers, musicians and artists in other media from West Michigan who will perform classic songs of the season as well as some newer songs. Tickets are $19.95. To purchase tickets, visit farmersalleytheatre.com. The talented folks at the Kalamazoo Civic Theatre are also offering a new virtual holiday performance. A Season of Giving will feature a program of spoken word and music about community, caring and giving and will be available to view Dec. 18–Jan. 3. Closed captioning and audio description will be available. Tickets are $15 or $30 for a household and are available by calling 343-1313 or visiting kazoocivic.com.



Something Entertaining

Jeff Daniels performance to benefit State Theatre You can hear some great stories and songs when Michigan’s own Jeff Daniels, an Emmy Award-winning actor, presents a livestream concert at 8 p.m. Dec. 12 that will benefit the Kalamazoo State Theatre. Daniels, who grew up in Chelsea, is best known for his portrayal of Will McAvoy on HBO’s The Newsroom and the best friend of Jim Carrey’s character in Dumb and Dumber but has been a prolific musical performer for the past 12 years, authoring about 400 songs and playing more than 300 gigs across the country. With his son’s band, the Ben Daniels Band, he has shared the stage with Lyle Lovett, John Hiatt, Joe Ely, Guy Clark, Keb' Mo’ and Bruce Hornsby. In addition to hearing Daniels perform original songs and share stories from his stage and movie career, viewers will be able to submit questions for an audience question-and-answer session with Daniels after the performance. Tickets are $15, and a portion of each ticket purchased will benefit the State Theatre. For tickets or more information, visit kazoostate.com.

Something Good

Underwear Party becomes a drive-through event Covid-19 may be spoiling the usual festive fun that comes with

Ministry with Community's Underwear Party, but that doesn’t mean the spirit of giving behind the event is gone. This year’s 21st Annual Underwear Party, set for 4-6 p.m. Dec. 7, will be a drive-through event in the Ministry with Community parking lot at 500 N. Edwards St. The annual event gathers donations of underwear and warm clothing for those who are homeless or in need. Ministry with Community is seeking donations of new and unwrapped items of adult-size (medium to 4XL) thermal pants and long-sleeved shirts, sweatpants, sweatshirts, insulated gloves, winter hats and scarves and men’s boxers and boxer briefs and women’s underwear. For more information, visit ministrywithcommunity.org.

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Something Astral

Astronomer to share experiences Emily Levesque, author of The Last Stargazers: The Enduring

Story of Astronomy’s Vanishing Explorers, will discuss what it’s like to be a professional astronomer and work at the world’s cutting-edge observatories when she gives a virtual talk 7–9 p.m. Dec. 4. Levesque is a University of Washington astronomy professor and recipient of the 2020 Newton Lacy Pierce Prize awarded by the American Astronomical Society for outstanding achievement in observational astronomical research. Her talk is being presented by the Kalamazoo Astronomical Society via Zoom and is free. For a link to the Zoom presentation, register at kasonline.org.

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Gift Guide


Elina Organics

4205 S. Westnedge Ave. 269.384.2170 • elinaorganics.com National award-winning, handmade, organic, clinical skin care products and services made in Kalamazoo. Voted best facial of Chicago by Chicago Magazine and Best Facial for Glowing Skin by CS Magazine.

UniQ Jewelry Gallery

3940 W. Centre Ave., Portage 269.459.1669 • uniqjewelry.com Our Gift to You: $75 off a purchase of $300+ (online code Holiday75) $225 off a purchase of $750+ (online code Holiday225) $525 off a purchase of $1,500+ (online code Holiday525) $2,000 off a purchase of $5,000+ (online code Holiday2000)

*new purchase, in-stock only, excludes giftware Offer expires 12/31/2020.

Masonry Heater Design House

269.598.5831 • mhdh@tds.net MasonryHeaterDesignHouse.com With 20 years of experience, Masonry Heater Design House provides installation, design and consulting services for anyone considering a masonry heater. Licensed and insured in the state of Michigan.

Rolling Hill Publishing Co.

3004 Rolling Hill Ave., Portage 269.491.9067• ccole6559@gmail.com Extensive research of images, newspaper articles, actual archives, and rarely seen photos of inventor Jay B. Rhodes, who contributed a great deal to our local history and abroad. Learn about his amazing inventions and innovation in this captivating illustrated book!

Green Door Distilling Co. 429 E. North St. • 269.205.3398 greendoordistilling.com

Genesis Fitness and Wellness

205.433.9377 • genesisfitwell.com Health and fitness is the best gift you can give to those most important to you. Have our certified personal trainers come virtually or in person to the safest environment — your home!

Green Door Holiday Gift Bag – $60 Give the gift of craft spirits this holiday season! Your gift will include a bottle of spirits, two rocks glasses, and a Green Door t-shirt; all bundled up in a souvenir canvas bag. Cheers!

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Gift Guide

2020 Cherri's Chocol'art

Visit Our New Location — 101 S. Kalamazoo Mall • 269.998.7339 Be 1 of 3 lucky winners to win the Golden Ticket inside Kalamazoo's Winnie Wink Bar at participating downtown shops. Each candy bar sold benefits Loaves & Fishes. Grand Prizes include dinner, movie, chocolate for a year and $100 Downtown Dollars!!

Kalamazoo Nature Center

Burtrum Furs & Leathers

7000 N. Westnedge Ave. 269.381.1574 • naturecenter.org

5568 Beckley Road, Suite 8 &10 Battle Creek • 269.979.4101 burtrumfursandleathers.com

Give the gift of nature this holiday season! Select a KNC gift membership, animal or trail adoption, or gift certificate. New! Pop-up Artist Shops featuring local artists in the Trailhead Gifts & Books shop. Visit NatureCenter. org for information and hours.

Burtrum Furs & Leathers in Battle Creek is so much more than a coat store. There are vests, ponchos, capes, hats, headbands, ear muffs, scarves, gloves, purses, wallets, belts and more!

V & A Bootery

Downtown Kalamazoo – 269.345.0107 Southland Mall, Portage – 269.323.9888

V&A Bootery has a huge selection of boots for men and women this fall, including Blundstone. These uni-sex Chelsea boots are timelessly good-looking and tough enough for Michigan winters. Shop online or in-store with free local delivery or curbside pick-up.

Pop City Popcorn

346 S. Kalamazoo Mall 269.382.5770 • popcitypopcorn.com

Pop City Popcorn has several options for gift baskets and tins for Holiday Gift Giving. Not only are there several gourmet popcorn flavors available, but many Michigan produced products that can be included in your custom basket.


Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Western Michigan University 269.387.4157 • wmich.edu/olli

Give the Gift of Lifelong Learning to relatives, friends, and retiring co-workers! Pursue educational opportunities, connect with a community of knowledge seekers, and get engaged with OLLI at WMU! An OLLI membership is the perfect gift for adults 50+ this holiday season!

Gift Guide


Air Zoo – Aerospace & Science Experience 6151 Portage Road, Portage 269.382.6555 • airzoo.org

Need a one-of-a-kind gift that EVERYONE will enjoy? The Air Zoo is a Smithsonian-affiliated aerospace and science center rich in history, adventure, imagination and discovery. Give a gift that is simply beyond extraordinary! Open 360+ days a yearl

The Pantry on Tap

Kazoo Books

7634 S. Westnedge Ave., Portage 269.978.6641 • thepantryontap.com

2413 Parkview Ave. 269.553.6506 • kazoobooks.com

Add some flavor to your life! The Pantry On Tap is a gourmet store featuring olive oils, balsamic vinegars, dips, spices and unique gifts to bring out your inner chef. To preorder your holiday or corporate gifts, call 269-978-6641.

Enjoy a special shopping experience with many rooms and an extensive inventory of new and used titles. We take special orders by phone or email and can ship or offer curbside pickup. Let us help you find books for holiday giving.


434 S. Burdick St. • 269.345.6566 Custom picture framing and design at its best. A special gift that will last a lifetime and more!

Lana's Boutique

124 S. Kalamazoo Mall 269.345.3302 • lanasboutique.com

Lana’s has you covered for all your giftgiving needs this season! Find unique, exclusive gifts and clothing for yourself or anyone on your list. Locally owned for 16 years, Lana’s continues to offer an unparalleled shopping experience to be remembered!

Terrapin Worldwide Imports

237 S Kalamazoo Mall 269.383.4330 • terrapinimports.com Light up your holidays with enchanting gifts from Terrapin. Mosaic, Himalayan Salt and Selenite lamps to brighten your season. There is something for everyone at Terrapin. Help us celebrate over 30 years in Downtown Kalamazoo!

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Gift Guide

2020 Vintage Inspired 52530 N. Main St., Mattawan 269.668.9042 vintageinspiredmattawan.com

Earthly Delights at Amy Zane

Everything you need for your best holiday season is at Vintage Inspired in Mattawan. You’ll love the selection of holiday home décor, unique gifts, stocking stuffers, live plants, and so much more.

132 S. Kalamazoo Mall 269.459.1409 • amyzane.com

We are a casual, eclectic gallery celebrating the work of artists, makers, and small-batch apparel designers. Experience the variety of wonders (for every budget) in-person, or on our extensive and shopable site, www.amyzane.com!

Binder Park Zoo

7400 Division Drive, Battle Creek 269.979.1351 • binderparkzoo.org Give them an entire year of the zoo. Memberships are the PURR-fect gift for everyone and they're 15% off November 27 through December 31! Purchase or renew at binderparkzoo.org/membership.

Tulips Little Pop Up Shop

2036 Parkview Ave. • 269.459.6481 tulipslittlepopup.com

’Tis the time for giving and Tulips has just what you are looking for. Fabulous apparel, beautiful accessories and unique gift ideas that will be sure to make the holidays bright!

Encore Magazine

117 W. Cedar St. • 269.383.4433 encorekalmazoo.com Nothing stuffs a stocking like a subscription to Encore! The magazine for those who love Kalamazoo, each issue celebrates the best people, places and things of our community. Subscribe online at encorekalamazoo.com/subscribe.


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Five Faves

Local gift ideas for the beer fan by


Local artisans, retailers, restaurants, breweries and other beerrelated businesses have been particularly hard-hit by Covid-19, with their futures depending to a great degree on a safe and successful holiday season. If you want to support local businesses and are looking for some great gifts for the beer lovers in your life, here are some of my favorites to consider:

‘Celebrate Diversity’ beer T-shirt For nearly every craft beer style, there is an accompanying glass type. IPA, stout, lager or sour? Try a nonic, tulip, snifter or Teku glass. In recognition of the various colors and shapes of glasses for properly served craft beer, Spirit of Kalamazoo has a slew of “Celebrate Diversity” T-shirts showcasing these distinct glasses filled with beer and “Kalamazoo, MI” written just underneath them. Cost: $19-$23, depending on size Where: Spirit of Kalamazoo, 154 S. Kalamazoo Mall Contact: 382-6249, spiritofkalamazoo.com

Michigan wooden magnet bottle openers If your junk drawer or silverware drawer is anything like mine, you always have to dig around for a bottle opener. This wooden “Drink Local” bottle opener from Pontiacbased Tangico will solve that problem, since it has a magnet to keep it fixed to your fridge, where the beer sits. It’s available at downtown Kalamazoo’s Nature Connection, but not for long. After 17 years, owner Laurie Russell will be closing her store at the end of the year. Keep an eye out for steep discounts throughout December, including on these openers. There are also Michigan cork coasters, koozies for cans, Michigan Beer Cap Maps and other items for sale there. Cost: $10.98 each Where: Nature Connection, 359 S. Kalamazoo Mall, Suite 102 Contact: 567-2873, facebook.com/natureconnectionkzoo1



Handmade drinkware If you won’t drink just any beer, then you need a vessel as special as your brew from which to consume it. Consider picking up some unique drinkware from these local artists: Avolio GlassWerks Longtime local glass artists Michael Fortin and Judith Konesni, of Avolio GlassWerks, produce some of the most visually stunning glass mugs and steins in the region. You’ve likely seen their brightly colored mugs on display at Saugatuck Brewing Co.-Kalamazoo (formerly Gonzo’s BiggDogg Brewing Co.) and Final Gravity Brewing Co. The couple’s showroom in the Park Trades Center, in downtown Kalamazoo, offers a few options to choose from, or, if you can give them enough time, you can request custom colors for your pint or stein. Cost: $25-$75 Where: Park Trades Center, Suite 122, 436 N. Park St. Contact: 385-3350, facebook.com/avolioglass

Grayling Ceramics Shay Church recently moved into his new studio in Kalamazoo, giving him more space to create and display his earth-toned ceramics. I own or have given as gifts several of his pieces over the years. You can go with his 16-ounce steins in a variety of colors, some with animal or nature stamps on them. If you want to go big, consider his 32-ounce howlers or 64-ounce growlers. Cost: $38 for steins; $58-$75 for howlers and growlers Where: 814 Palmer St. Contact: 290-8138, graylingceramics.com

Eric Strader Pottery This Plainwell-based potter’s work may look familiar to those who frequent Bell’s General Store, since Strader has produced Bell’s mugs for years. Paw Paw Brewing Co. also uses his handiwork for its Mug Club members. You can order Strader’s tumblers (14-16 ounces) or steins (16-20 ounces) for your home. He has a variety of colors available, as well as some with a Michigan stamp. Cost: $26-$30 Where: 649 Marsh Road, Plainwell Contact: 330-1274, facebook.com/EricStraderPottery

Kalamazoo coasters Among the most popular items in Amy Zane’s store on the Kalamazoo Mall are the coasters from Iconic Detroit. The company produces a variety of thick and durable options referencing cities, sports teams and landmarks across Michigan. There is also a series of Kalamazoo-specific coasters to spice up — and protect — your tabletop. Cost: $10 each (in store); $12 (online) Where: Amy Zane: Store & Studio, 132 S. Kalamazoo Mall Contact: 459-1409, amyzane.com

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Beer toiletries Since starting to make soap from beer in 2013, Damn Handsome Grooming, of Kalamazoo, continues to expand its line of grooming products using repurposed brewing ingredients. Jarrett and Bridget Blackmon often change things up with the seasons. Accentuate your shower experience with the Coconut Porter Shampoo and Conditioner or clean those digits with the Fresh IPA Beer Soap.

Cost: $15-$16 Where: Damn Handsome Grooming Studio & Store, 1501 Fulford St. Contact: 275-7004, damnhandsomegroomingco.com

As fiduciaries for over 30 years, we remain dedicated to serving the interests of our clients and their families.

Finally, if none of these gift ideas hit the mark, consider purchasing gift certificates or placing frequent takeout orders — for both beer and food — from local vendors if it’s within your means.


About the Author A fee-only wealth management firm 7840 Moorsbridge Road Portage, Michigan 49024 269.321.8120 | 800.488.2036 lvmcapital.com


Longtime Kalamazoo resident John Liberty left the world of journalism at the Kalamazoo Gazette in 2014 to co-found and manage West Michigan Beer Tours, which provides curated beer and beverage events for groups of all sizes across the region. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and communications from Western Michigan University.


For the Love of Postcards

Local club embraces history, stories of these mailed missives zoË jackson

Brian Powers



note from a lover, a check-in from a friend or a reminder of travels. Postcards are a small part of the lives of many. They may remember sending or receiving them or may have saved a few as mementos. But for members of the Southwest Michigan Postcard Club, collecting postcards has become a hobby that has them seeking, buying and selling postcards from years past, places unseen or familiar towns. The club, which was established in 1976, has 20 members who share their enthusiasm for these mailed missives. Club member Wally Jung has about 4,000 postcards in his personal collection and 120,000 more in his inventory, which he sells as a professional dealer. Like many kids, Jung collected baseball cards as a child. He grew up in Battle Creek, where he purchased cards from a shop less than a mile from his house. “My mom and dad thought I was spending too much money on baseball cards, so they yanked the collection from me and I was in a deep funk,” Jung says. His mother suggested that, instead, he collect postcards from his Aunt Ruth, who was a schoolteacher in Chicago. When school was out, her friends traveled the world, sending her postcards. Ruth began passing the cards along to Jung, who had a shoebox full by the time he was in high school. He gave up postcards for a while, but his interest in collecting them came back after he married his wife Christine and earned two degrees, including one in photography. One day he was browsing for photography books at an antiques show in Lansing when a friend suggested they visit a vendor from Ohio who had a lot of photo books.

Historic postcards are among those that Keith Howard collects.

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Brian Powers

“He did have a lot of that stuff, but he also had a shoebox full of postcards on a chair,” Jung says. “I'll never forget this. And it was partially full, so the first card showing up was a real photo postcard of the House of David train.” Jung was born in Benton Harbor, which was also home to the religious group the House of David, known for its baseball team, amusement park and miniature trains that were on private property but were open to the public. “I saw this House of David train postcard, and it just hit my hot button because I used to ride that train,” Jung says. “I’d go out and pick fruit from my aunt and uncle — they just lived about a quarter mile away from the House of David, but I would hear that train whistle all day long.” Jung picked up the card and was shocked that the dealer wanted $10 for it, but that card was enough to reawaken his passion for collecting. “It wasn't too long after that that I had a chance to buy an inventory from a postcard dealer who was quite elderly. She was moving to Florida. 22 | ENCORE DECEMBER 2020

This page, clockwise from top left: A card from Keith Howard’s collection shows a musical family; Howard collects historic postcards of buildings and places; a specialized camera to light and photograph postcards at the Kalamazoo Public Library where Howard works; and a postcard from Howard’s collection shows a Kalamazoo winter street scene. Opposite page: Bottom: Wally Jung at the annual postcard show and sale hosted by the club. Top: A Captain Kangaroo postcard from the 1950s.

All of a sudden I own like 15,000 Michigan postcards. I came home and I said, ‘Honey, we're in the postcard business.’ My wife says, ‘We've been in the postcard business for a while.’ I said, ‘No, this is big time.’” Soon, Jung began doing shows of his own, in Detroit, Toledo, Chicago, Minneapolis. Big shows in the Midwest were followed by big shows on the East Coast.

ENCORE UP FRONT “You know, like any good addict, you start peddling what you're addicted to in order to pay for your habit,” Jung says. Sharing their passion As he’s gotten older, Jung has given up most of his shows. Now he shares his passion with others through his Facebook page, called Vintage Michigan Postcards, and through the Southwest Michigan Postcard Club. During normal times, the club meets four times annually at the Oshtemo Branch of the Kalamazoo Public Library and holds an annual show in April at the Kalamazoo County Expo Center, where visitors can browse through millions of postcards. The show was cancelled in 2020 because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Keith Howard, the club president, got addicted to the hobby when he met his late wife, Leone, nearly 30 years ago. “When you get a postcard, you're getting a little piece of history,” he says. “It's not a copy of something.” Club members and collectors have different niches and enjoy sharing their interests with one another, says Howard. “There are lots of people out there that collect a few really, really expensive cards,” Howard says. “And you have people out there that just like cards, so they collect things that are maybe 25 cents or 50 cents or 10 cents or whatever so you don't have a lot of money invested in it but you have a really great collection.”






Please send your questions to:

Please send your questions to:

Michael J. Willis, J.D., C.P.A.


Q. ASK Given the



My husband is going into a nursing home. I’ve been told it is possible for me to create a trust and protect my assets from the spend down at the nursing home. Is that true?



A. Great question. The answer likely depends on the state of Georgia. The run-off

ESTATE for the 2 senate seats in Georgia will not happen until January. Those run-offs will dechange in our AND PLANNING termine control of the Senate. If the Senate is controlled by Democrats, a modification LAWYER Q. presidential to our existing estate tax law is probable. The current exemption amount (the amount administration, Willis Law A. Q.will the estate tax of assets you may own and/or control without your estate paying estate tax at death) 491 West South Street Michael J. Willis, J.D., C.P.A. for married couples of approximately $23M would likely drop, and somewhat substanlaws change? Kalamazoo, MI 49007 Willis Law 491 West South Street Kalamazoo, MI 49007 269.492.1040 www.willis.law

Michael J. Willis, J.D., C.P.A.



Yes. Most often when folks talk on trust planning, they are referencing a revocable trust. In fact, that is the case probably more MICHAEL J. WILLIS, J.D., C.P.A., WILLIS LAW than 99% of the time. A revocable trust under Michigan law generally is set up only to avoid probate--that’s its only benefit. However, there Please send your questions to: husband going into a nursing home.that I’ve told it is is anMy irrevocable trustisfor persons in your circumstances can been be established withtoyour assetsatotrust the extent they exceed protected possible for me create and protect my the assets from the spend Willis Law amount (which under Michigan law will cap at a little over $125,000). down at the nursing home. Is that true? 491 West South Street If the trust is irrevocable and the assets are effectively established in an Kalamazoo, MI 49007 MICHAEL J. WILLIS, J.D., C.P.A., WILLIS annuity LAW income stream back to you per the terms of the trust, then in 269.492.1040 such Yes. a circumstance the trustwhen will no folks longer talk be considered Most often on trusta countable planning, they are www.willis.law asset, but instead an income stream and thereby exempt for Medicaid Please send your questions to: referencing a My revocable trust. Ingoing fact, that case probably more intois atheand nursing purposes. This is husband a sophisticatedis planning technique, I highly home. I’ve been told it is thanencourage 99% of you the time. counsel A revocable trust underthisMichigan law generally before implementing or possible toforseekme to create a trust andtechnique protect my assets from the spend is set only to avoid probate--that’s its only benefit. However, there anyup other Medicaid planning. Willis Law

Michael J. Willis, J.D., C.P.A.

tially. At the turn of the millennium (2001), the federal estate tax exemption was only $675,000! If the Georgia run-off “splits,” however, with one seat to R and one seat to D, I don’t anticipate a change to the estate tax in the very near future. Note, however, that the current exemptions are slotted to be reduced down to circa $6M per person in 2026 regardless.

Michael J. Willis is the Managing Partner of Willis Law, Attorneys and Counselors at Law, is licensed to practice law in Florida and Michigan, and is registered as a certified public accountant in the state of Illinois. Attorney Willis is rated as an A V -Preeminent Attorney by Martindale-Hubbell. This rating, according to Martindale, which has been rating lawyers for over a century, signifies that an attorney has reached the heights of professional excellence and is recognized for the highest levels of skill and integrity. He is listed in the Best Lawyers in America.




269.492.1040 www.willis.law


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Brian Powers

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Keith Howard looks through books of the many postcards he has collected.

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The prices of cards depend upon how many of a given type are available, he says. “Some cards are really expensive because they're really rare. There might only be one or two in existence. Others are super inexpensive, a blast to collect just because they're out there.” Howard’s own interests lie in historical postcards. “I'm fascinated by history — buildings, people and things that were here that maybe aren't here anymore,” he says. Howard collects cards of his hometown of Ionia, Michigan, and his wife collected cards of her hometown of Benton Harbor. He’s also passionate about music, which is prevalent in his collection. “I collect (images of) early Kalamazoo orchestras. Bands and orchestras, dance bands, that kind of stuff. And I've got some really cool images of a couple of bands that were really super popular around the area. It's just cool to see, compared to today's music, to see the instrumentation and the way people dressed and the way they presented themselves.” From holiday cards to depictions of small towns to humorous cards, there is a lot out there for potential collectors, no matter their interests, Howard and Jung agree. “Even if a potential collector is unsure where their interests lie, it doesn’t hurt to explore,” Jung says. “It's really interesting to just kind of look and see what's out there.”

revealed A glimpse at unseen photos from Encore and more photography by



uring a pandemic, photography becomes an important, comforting thing. While we are self-isolating, viewing images of the world and people outside our four walls can give us a sense of comfort and familiarity. That’s why this year’s Revealed issue not only features beautiful images taken for Encore stories that didn’t make it into print, but other eye-catching photos of Southwest Michigan captured by our talented photographer Brian K. Powers as well. From his poignant “Porch Portraits” and breathtaking landscapes to photos that capture the beauty of everyday things, we hope these images invoke a sense of love and gratitude for the uniqueness of the people, places and things that make up this wonderful corner of Michigan we call home.

The glass staircase at Dave’s Glass is a focal point of the business’s showroom.

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Clockwise from top: Filmmaker Chuck Bentley films a scene in the soundstage in the basement of his Kalamazoo home; ice sheets on Lake Michigan near St. Joseph; the stage at Wings Event Center before a concert; grinding and polishing wheels used by glass artist Gloria Badiner; and a giant balloon reflected in the shoes of a military flag corps at Kalamazoo’s Holiday Parade.


Clockwise from top: Storm clouds over the Silver Beach carousel in St. Joseph; the Overholt family (clockwise from left: Scott, Sarah, Landon and Madelyn) of Portage show how they coped with the stay-at-home restrictions; carrots at the Kalamazoo Winter Farmers Market; the fog rolls in at the South Haven pier and lighthouse; and a lamb and its mother at the Eichorn Family Farm south of Kalamazoo.


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Clockwise from top: CEO Nathan Smallwood, left, and Luke Allison discuss trail maintenance at the Kalamazoo Nature Center; the reflection of the St. Joseph lighthouse is reminiscent of a watercolor; tables await patrons at the Old Dog Tavern in Kalamazoo; and Zachary Smith of Kalamazoo holds a sign we can all identify with.


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Clockwise from far left: A summer sky captured in the window at Scott Tribby Violins on Lovell Street; Fourth of July fireworks as seen from the Skydeck in downtown Kalamazoo; trees in Milham Park reflected in a puddle surrounded by snow; glass artist Gloria Badiner embraces her work; items at Noteworthy Invitations in Richland; and a scene from inside the Kalamazoo Public Library’s Central branch.

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Brian Powers 34 | ENCORE DECEMBER 2020

Clockwise from far left: Ice crystals form on a window; a waterfall in Cooper Park in Comstock; a gallery of art in Chuck Bentley’s studio; and a child enjoys the Kalamazoo Holiday Parade.

Want one for yourself? If you are interested in purchasing a larger print of any of the photos in this issue, send a request to editor@encorekalamazoo. com for more information and pricing.

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A Challenging Path

Despite pandemic, Handmap Brewing forges forward by jordan bradley

Jennifer Brown, left, and Chris McCleary opened Handmap Brewing in June in Battle Creek.




hen Jennifer Brown and Chris McCleary, both 52, decided to open a taproom and brewery in their hometown of Battle Creek, they anticipated a typical number of challenges — but a global pandemic wasn’t one of them. Handmap Brewing, located on the first floor at 15 Carlyle St., offers a subtle blend of hometown homage and revitalization, and a dash of speakeasy for good measure. The ceilings are tall, and soft lighting gives the space an airy, yet subterranean feel, while exposed bricks warm it up into a welcoming environment. In the initial plan, the bar was meant to seat 30, but, because of social-distancing restrictions, stools have been moved and spaced appropriately. “We had 30 barstools. Our vision was: We go to the brewery and we like to sit at the bar and try all the beers and talk to the bartender,” Brown says. “Of course, now we're forced to have (only) so many seats at the bar, and you know, looking back, if we knew this was going to happen, there'd be a much smaller footprint on the taproom side, and we’d make (more) room for the canning line. People can't gather.” Their intention when designing the brewing and taproom spaces was for people to gather. Brown and McCleary graduated from Harper Creek High School together, but each followed their own paths afterwards. McCleary spent 25 years working with Southern Graphics Systems, making dyes for product labels, and Brown moved to Chicago to work as a certified public accountant with a sports technology company for 16 years. The pair reunited at a high school reunion about 10 years ago, leading McCleary to eventually relocate to Chicago. For McCleary, brewing beer started as a hobby about 12 years ago but grew into something he wanted to pursue full time, which he did at Goose Island Brewery, in Chicago. He and Brown started seriously talking about moving back to their hometown to open the brewery five or six years ago, she recalls, sitting near a window at a high-top in Handmap’s taproom as mellow rock plays over the speaker system. “Covid isn't the first obstacle we ran into in this whole project, you know. There were obstacles all along the way,” says Brown. “And we would say to each other like, ‘Well, if it's supposed to happen, it's going to happen.’”

Brian Powers

Not the usual obstacles The brewery’s soft launch was originally scheduled for St. Patrick’s Day of 2020, with a hard opening set for the weekend of March 27. But Covid cases were on the rise in March, and it was unclear whether restaurants would be able to operate, so Brown and McCleary made the hard choice to postpone the opening.

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Brian Powers

But the collective uncertainty that has rocked the world since then didn’t put an end to the couple’s goal of successfully operating a brewery in downtown Battle Creek, nor did it dampen their spirits. They say it just required them to rethink their business model — at least for the time-being. “We built a social environment. We built, you know, an amusement park, in a sense, that you can't use,” McCleary says, and he and Brown both laugh. So rethink they did. They purchased canning equipment after news of the statewide shutdown and prepared to sell their beer in cans out the back door starting in mid-June. “It was really cool to get to see everybody,” Brown says, “and everybody's excitement about us opening, being able to try the beer. It's not really how we wanted to present the beer for the first time, but —” “What can you do?” McCleary interjects with a laugh. “It was slammed,” Brown says of their business, recalling a line of cars around the block. “We would sell out of beer in a half hour.” The brewery at last opened its taproom doors at the end of June, to consistent support from the community. But that support started even before the opening, the pair say. Family and friends lent their hands and time helping make Handmap a reality. Brown’s brother, Mike Brown, and sister-in-law Marisa Brown, for example, did everything from painting light fixtures to filling out can labels and mopping floors. “Maybe they weren’t able to open in the fashion that they had dreamed and hoped for,” says Marisa Brown, “but it was rewarding just

Clockwise from left: Numbered mugs hang from the ceiling above Handmap’s bar; Dana Marie, of Kalamazoo, works as Handmap's taproom manager; and cans of Handmap’s Two Can beer await drinkers. 38 | ENCORE DECEMBER 2020

to help out with to-go beer sales and getting their name out there.” Currently, the taproom is operating at limited capacity, offering about 14 different brews — a mix of seasonal flavors and mainstays, including Handmap’s double IPA called Two Can, the brewery’s popular homage to the Cereal City, with hints of Froot Loops in the brew. Bar snacks are provided by Kitchen Proper, another downtown Battle Creek original. Handmap also features a beer garden and live music from the Battle Creek and Kalamazoo scenes. Opportunity ahead Behind the lightheartedness with which Brown and McCleary greet almost every challenge is a real drive to see the brewery succeed. The pair invested their savings and sought grants and loans to bring the brewery to life. Going forward, the couple says, they hope to bring in comedy and blues and jazz acts from Chicago. They’ve also noticed a trend in requests for non-alcoholic beers, gluten-free options and seltzers — all of which they’re looking into. “We've talked about making a lot of different things, so I think that, for us, there's a lot of opportunity to do whatever we want to do,” McCleary says. “And as long as people come out, we should be able to accommodate most needs for drinking.” The business occupying the second floor above Handmap, The Record Box, is a venue space, often hosting weddings, and it’s not unusual for its patrons to wander downstairs to try the brews. As just such a group descends into the taproom, Brown hops up to assist the staff in pouring brews. “So, if this was regular times, you could imagine this could be three hundred people, and that would change the whole dynamic as far as business and trying to keep up, and we could be having another conversation like, ‘Well, we're so busy. We just can't make enough beer,’” McCleary says with a laugh. “So it could be completely, completely different and just as frustrating and challenging, in a totally different way.”


from the

Wishing you a Healthy, Happy and Safe Holiday Season!

You are invited to support the WMed COVID-19 Response Fund to support the purchase of masks, gloves, face shields, other Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and cleaning supplies. This fund also provides testing equipment and training to keep WMed frontline healthcare workers, medical students, residents and faculty safe while treating the citizens of Kalamazoo and Southwest Michigan. https://med.wmich.edu/node/2573

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Advent A woman steps outside to escape responsibility. Late dusk. Three deer and the woman stop when they encounter each other, more familiar from far away.

Will this be the time she connects? Breath rushes from their black noses.

She speaks their names—doe, yearling,

The doe signals the others what to feel.

button buck—in a voice reserved for

All wait in darkness, quiet, undemanding.

those in need of comfort.

— Elizabeth Kerlikowske

A slow step toward them.

Kerlikowske is president of Kalamazoo’s Friends of Poetry and the Poetry Society of Michigan. She can be seen reading two of her poems at nwsvirtualgallery.com, an online gallery for the local Ninth Wave Studio. Those ekphrastic poems are related to artworks in the Equinox exhibition.

Their flanks twitch but hooves stay.

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Please Note: Due to the Covid–19 virus, some of these events may have been cancelled after press time. Please check with the venue and organizations for up-to-date information. PERFORMING ARTS

Orchestra, Chamber, Jazz, Vocal & More



Holidays with the Kalamazoo Bach Festival — A virtual concert with songs of the season, 4 p.m. Dec. 6, available online through Dec. 31; see kalamazoobachfestival.org for ticket information. Kalamazoo Ringers 40th Annual Christmas Concert — Virtual concert of handbell ensemble music, 4 p.m. Dec. 13; see kalamazooringers.org for ticket information. Sounds of the Season — Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra’s annual holiday concert held online, 4 p.m. Dec. 20; see boxoffice.kalamazoosymphony. com for ticket information. FILM In the Key of G — Fred Child, host of National Public Radio’s Performance Today, gives a behindthe-scenes look at the 2004 Gilmore International Keyboard Festival in this live-stream film screening, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 18; see thegilmore.org for tickets. VISUAL ARTS Kalamazoo Institute of Arts 314 S. Park St., 349-7775, kiarts.org Exhibits Galleries are open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; book tickets on the KIA website. Cultural Encounters: Art of the Asian Diasporas in Latin America and the Caribbean, 1945– Present — An exhibition using modern and contemporary art to consider how migration from China, Japan, India and Indonesia influenced cultural exchange and fusion in Latin America and the Caribbean, through Jan. 17.

Kalamazoo Institute of Arts Holiday Sale — Artwork on sale online through Dec. 21; see website for more information.


A Christmas Carol — Dickens' holiday classic, through Dec. 20, New Vic Theatre, 134 E. Vine St., 381-3328, limited seating; visit thenewvictheatre. org for more information. Revues Home for the Holidays with Farmers Alley Theatre & Friends — Enjoy classic songs of the season, featuring singers, musicians and other media, Dec. 12–19; see farmersalleytheatre.com for tickets. A Season of Giving — An evening of word and song performances, available on demand Dec. 18–Jan. 3, Kalamazoo Civic Theatre, 343-1313; see kazoocivic.com for details. MUSIC Bands & Solo Artists Yefim Bronfman — This internationally acclaimed pianist performs in the Gilmore Piano Masters series, streaming from New York City’s Steinway Hall, 2 p.m. Dec. 6; see thegilmore.org for details. Jeff Daniels — Live-stream performance of songs and personal stories by the Emmy Award-winning actor, director and singer/songwriter, 8 p.m. Dec. 12, kazoostate.com. Jim Brickman — Live-stream holiday concert by the Grammy-nominated songwriter and pianist, 7 p.m. Dec. 22, kazoostate.com.

ARTbreak — Weekly program, now online, about art, artists and exhibitions. Dec. 8: How to Trace Your Heritage, Kimberly Sirmans talks about the importance of family history and how to learn more about your own heritage. Dec. 15: Art 21!, an episode about four artists responding to Beijing’s relentless evolution while contending with centuries of Chinese cultural traditions. Sessions begin at noon on Zoom. Book Discussion — A Zoom discussion of Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations, by Mira Jacobs, 2 p.m. Dec. 16. Unreeled: Essential Arrival — A virtual film screening of Essential Arrival: Michigan’s Indian Immigrants in the 21st Century, followed by a Q&A with the director, Arifa Javed, 6:30–7:45 p.m. Dec. 17. Other Venues Portage Community Art Award Exhibitions — Works from this year’s winning Portage artist in the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts’ West Michigan Area Show, 8 a.m.–5 p.m. weekdays, through Dec. 4, Portage City Hall, 7900 S. Westnedge Ave., portagemi.gov.

Make Room — Multi-sensory installations that amplify black voices, promote causes, and drive narrative change, through Dec. 12, Black Arts & Cultural Center, Epic Center, 359 S. Kalamazoo Mall; registration required to control capacity, blackartskalamazoo.org.

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Four out of four ducks agree...

Kalamazoo Book Arts Center’s 15th Anniversary Exhibition — Online exhibition highlighting the variety and creativity of visiting artists, through Dec. 18, kalbookarts.org. James Schlage Paintings Exhibition — A virtual exhibition of watercolor and acrylic artwork, through December, Ninth Wave Studio, 213 W. Walnut St., nwsvirtualgallery.com. Community Arts Awards — Local arts awards presentation, 5:30 p.m. Dec. 1, live-streamed and in-person event at Wellspring Theater, 359 S. Kalamazoo Mall, 342-5059, kalamazooarts.org. Virtual Art Hop — Hosted by the Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo, 5–9 p.m. Dec. 4, facebook.com/ acgk.359. LIBRARY & LITERARY EVENTS Kalamazoo Public Library 553-7800, kpl.gov

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All KPL locations are open, with reduced hours and some limits on services; see website for more information. Local Author Heidi McCrary — The author reads from her debut novel, Chasing North Star, set near Kalamazoo, 7 p.m. Dec. 1; registration required for link to attend via Zoom. Coping Skills Workshop — A virtual, interactive workshop to learn healthy coping skills, presented by Cope Network and Kalamazoo County Substance Abuse Task Force, 7 p.m. Dec. 2; registration required for link to attend via Zoom. Page Turners Book Club – Online — Discussion of The Best We Could Do, by Thi Bui, 6:30 p.m. Dec. 7; registration required. Urban Fiction Book Club — Discussion of The Coldest Love She’s Ever Known, by Leo Sullivan, 6 p.m. Dec. 15; registration required for link to attend via Zoom. Classics Revisited — Discussion of The Poetry and Short Stories of Dorothy Parker, by Dorothy Parker, 7–9 p.m. Dec. 17; registration required for link to attend via Zoom. Parchment Community Library 401 S. Riverview Drive, 343-7747, parchmentlibrary.org The library is open, with new hours and curbside delivery service available; see website for more information. Hoopla Book Club — Zoom discussion of The Gown, by Jennifer Robson, 1 p.m. Dec. 3; register on library website.

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Portage District Library 300 Library Lane, 329-4544, portagelibrary.info The library is open, with new hours and curbside pickup available by appointment; see website for more information.


Book Buzz — Discussion of House of Earth and Blood, by Sarah J. Maas, 7 p.m. Dec. 16; registration required for Zoom session. Richland Community Library 8951 Park St., 629-9085, richlandlibrary.org The library is open at limited capacity, with new hours; see website for more information. Book(ish) Literary Trivia — Trivia from Shakespeare to Stephen King, live event on Facebook, 7 p.m. Dec. 3. Naughty or Nice Family Mystery Game — Solve a series of virtual puzzles and riddles online, Dec. 8–14; register on library website. MUSEUMS Air Zoo 6151 Portage Road, Portage, 382-6555, airzoo.org The museum is open, but there is limited occupancy because of Covid-19 and amusement rides are not available; online ticketing is encouraged. Mondays are for people vulnerable to Covid-19.

Flight & Flak: The Art of Paul Wentzel Sr. — Oil and acrylic works spanning military aviation history, on loan from the Selfridge Military Air Museum, through March. Votes for Women: A Portrait of Persistence — A poster exhibit exploring the struggle to give women the vote, through March. Alien Worlds and Androids — Join scientists in the search for alien life in and beyond our solar system. Kalamazoo Valley Museum 230 N. Rose St., 373-7990 Tracing the Path: The 1980 Kalamazoo Tornado — See this virtual exhibit recognizing the 40th anniversary of the tornado, 1980kalamazootornado.org. NATURE Kalamazoo Nature Center 7000 N. Westnedge Ave., 381-1574 The Visitor Center is temporarily closed, but trails are open from 9 a.m.–6 p.m. Kellogg Bird Sanctuary 12685 East C Ave., Augusta, 671-2510, birdsanctuary@kbs.msu.edu Birds and Coffee Chat Online — Learn about some favorite feeder bird species, 10 a.m. Dec. 9; registration required. Other Venues The Last Stargazers: Astronomy Adventures and the Scientific Power of Storytelling — Kalamazoo Astronomical Society presents astronomy professor Emily Levesque, who talks about what it’s like to be a professional astronomer and work at the world’s cutting-edge observatories, 7–9 p.m. Dec. 4; register at kasonline.org for Zoom meeting link.

Online Viewing Sessions with the Kalamazoo Astronomical Society — A Zoom viewing session with the KAS Remote Telescope, located under the dark desert sky in Arizona, 8:30–10:30 p.m. Dec. 5, cloudy sky date Dec. 12, kasonline.org. MISCELLANEOUS Winter Window Decorating Contest — Downtown Kalamazoo storefronts display their winter decorations, with contest ending Dec. 16 and winners announced Dec. 18.

drive-through event, 4–6 p.m. Dec. 7, Ministry with Community parking lot, 500 N. Edwards St., ministrywithcommunity.org. Kalamazoo Ringers’ Annual Outerwear Drive — Donate hats, scarves, mittens, and gloves, 1–3 p.m. Dec. 12 & 13, Grace Harbor Church, 811 Gorham Lane, kalamazooringers.org. Kzoo Candy Cane Fest — Candy canes, games, crafts, Santa and a movie, 4–8 p.m. Dec. 12, Homer Stryker Field, 251 Mills St., 337-8191, kzooparks.org.

Holiday Card Walk at Celery Flats — Walk through giant holiday cards depicting the winter season, 9 a.m.–4 p.m. through December, Celery Flats, 7335 Garden Lane, Portage, portagemi.gov.

Friday Theme Nights at the Rink: Ugly Sweater Party — Wear your ugliest holiday sweater, 7–9 p.m. Dec. 18, Ice Rink at Millennium Park, 280 Romence Road, Portage, portagemi.gov.

Traditional Holiday and Tree Lighting Celebration — Virtual event with tree lighting and visit from Santa, 7 p.m. Dec. 1, portagemi.gov.

Santa Skate — Enjoy holiday music and skating with Santa, 3–5 p.m. Dec. 19, Ice Rink at Millennium Park, portagemi.gov.

Gingerbread House Workshop — Decorate at Schrier Park or take your decorating supplies home, 10 a.m. Dec. 5, 850 W. Osterhout Ave., Portage; registration required, portagemi.gov.

New Year’s Eve Skate — 5–9 p.m. Dec. 31, Ice Rink at Millennium Park, portagemi.gov.

A Winter Holiday Around the World — Find out how different cultures and countries celebrate, Dec. 7-Jan. 7, Portage City Hall, 7900 S. Westnedge Ave., portagemi.gov. Underwear Party — Support Ministry with Community's warm clothing collection in a

New Year's Fest — A hybrid celebration (virtual and in-person outdoors) featuring performing arts, fireworks and food to say goodbye to 2020 and welcome in the new year, 7 p.m.–midnight Dec. 31, online, at Bronson Park and on the Kalamazoo Mall, in downtown Kalamazoo, 388-2380 or newyearsfest.com

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ENCORE BACK STORY Cori Somers (continued from page 46)

But if she were to sum up the direction of the Bach Festival now, she would use two words: creativity and collaboration. How do you describe the Kalamazoo Bach Festival? We are less a festival and turning more into a season. We're known in the community for three large events each year and bringing in national or international chorus groups to perform. While the Bach Festival historically was an organization that only performed the music of Bach, we now want to represent who's in our chorus and where we are today and are changing what we do based on who we are right now. Kalamazoo College (where the festival is housed) has helped us shape that as well. K-College has shifted over the years to become a more liberal-arts-focused and progressive school, especially with having the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership on campus. A lot of us classically trained people can sit around and say things like, “Yeah, we do a lot of art history and music theory and harmony and things devoted to this awkward and amazing composer,” but he’s also an old white guy, so what are we doing that’s relevant right now? We want to be more socially conscious. This is our strategic planning year and so we have so many things on the table, like: How do we identify who are we? What are we

doing now compared to 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70 years ago? How will we change and where do we want to go in the future? How has the Bach Festival already expanded its mission? We created the Breaking Barriers with Bach program that originally was to blend different genres of music together but has taken more of an equitable, social justice perspective as well. Our 2019 program featured Heartside Harmony Chamber Music Society, made up of diverse local artists performing works that explored the human condition. This year we had cellist Jordan Hamilton, who mixes hiphop, soul, folk and classical music. And we created our Love Is Love Is Love Is concert. It started out as a Valentine'sthemed concert, but we have decided to do it every year and make it a tradition like the holiday concert. We also have “Bach Rocks!” which looks at classically trained musicians who have gone in different directions with their career paths and showcases what they're doing while engaging in a conversation about how we're more alike than we are different with our training and our backgrounds. Just because you're trained in classical music doesn't mean you end up only playing classical music. What do you like best about what you do? My interactions with people. I feel like I'm at my best when I'm working with others on

creative projects. I get really excited when we have a new concert format, such as the Cole Porter Radio Hour show we did two years ago, which Chris (Ludwa) and a friend of his — actor and singer Rob Johansen — wrote together. Rob played the lead, and the show included a jazz ensemble and a 12-piece chorus ensemble made up of Bach Festival Chorus members. And we had WMUK involved, and the Traverse City Distillery made old-time, 1920s cocktails. I love it when we can collaborate with other organizations in town. One of my most favorite things is to make connections with other groups and other organizations and other musicians and come together and start creating something that's bigger than just one organization. Who has influenced you? Dacia Bridges. She had a huge, huge influence on me the last few years. She was such a huge personality and had achieved so much as a popular musician in Europe. I don't even know how she survived coming back here because her life just flipped upside down here. But I saw how she coped with that huge life change, and she taught me so much about staying focused on what you do things for and to keep trying your best all the time, whether there's five people at the concert or 5,000 people. — Interview by Marie Lee and edited for length and clarity

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w w w.encorekalamazoo.com | 45


Cori Somers

Executive Director, Kalamazoo Bach Festival

Brian Powers


has forced many organizations to rethink their mission and purpose, but for the Kalamazoo Bach Festival that change had been in the works for years before the pandemic even happened. When Cori Somers took the helm of the 70-yearold organization in 2015, it had been dedicated to celebrating the music of German composer Johann Sebastian Bach with three performances a year and an annual week-long festival. One of those events, a holiday concert performed by the Kalamazoo Bach Festival Chorus, had established itself as a beloved community holiday tradition. (See page 9 for information on this year’s concert.) But Somers and Bach Festival Artistic Director Chris Ludwa saw an opportunity to expand the festival’s mission beyond Bach while still embracing the spirit of the prolific composer by promoting local and regional musicians. “We looked at how we have so much in the city already happening with the Gilmore Keyboard Festival and The Fontana that both bring in national and international artists and thought, ‘How do we fit in?’” Somers says. “We have so much to offer musically in this community with our local musicians, and we thought taking the route of being more grassroots and supporting our Michigan artists was a good way to go.” Somers has deep roots in the local music landscape — she’s an accomplished violinist who plays with the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra and is a member of the local folk and rock groups Red Sea Pedestrians, the Dacia Bridges Project and the Jump Bunny String Band. (“I've been to all the music festivals around Michigan,” she admits.) (continued on page 45)


Did Your Doctor Move to Bronson? On July 1, more than 60 family medicine and pediatric providers moved from Ascension Borgess ProMed to Bronson. Daytime, evening and weekend appointments are available at these seven new office locations. Call (269) 341-7788 or schedule online now at bronsonhealth.com/PrimaryCarePartners. Bronson Primary Care Partners: 9th St. • 5973 Beatrice, Kalamazoo East Centre • 2700 E. Centre., Portage Galesburg • 10310 Miller Dr., Galesburg

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Profile for Encore Magazine

Encore December 2020  

Southwest Michigan's Magazine: Revealed Unseen photos from Encore and more, The Southwest Michigan Postcard Club embraces history and storie...

Encore December 2020  

Southwest Michigan's Magazine: Revealed Unseen photos from Encore and more, The Southwest Michigan Postcard Club embraces history and storie...