Art classes have been held in area churches, the History Center of Traverse City, the William & Susanne Janis Community Room at the Dennos Museum Center, the Con Foster Museum building and elsewhere. Its office is staffed by one in loaned space along U.S. 31 North in Acme.
“We’re kind of like vagabonds,” said Lawrence, who thinks Artcenter needs to have a home. “It’s a challenge to find space, not so much for classes but for gallery space three to four weeks at a time.”
Artcenter’s oldest perennial event is the popular juried Outdoor Art Fair on the Northwest Michigan College Campus, now in its 53rd year. It is held annually on the last Saturday of July.
“All we need now is 82 degrees and clear sky,” said Lawrence, a retired architect now living in Traverse City who has worked on such projects as the Wharton Center at Michigan State University, Upjohn Fine Arts Building at Western Michigan University and the Howard Performing Arts Center at Andrews University in Berrien Springs.
In January, Artcenter submitted a proposal to the Traverse City/Garfield Township Joint Recreational Authority to use the Historic Barn at the the Grand Traverse Commons as a regional art center. That proposal is currently on hold until the survey is completed and results reported.
Matt Cowall, executive director of the authority, said the proposal was looked on favorably by board members and also spurred them to develop guidelines to seek public input this summer on other proposals for use.
“We want to do this in a very transparent public process,” he said. “The Artcenter idea will be part of it and we will also solicit other ideas.
Artcenter treasurer Bob Streit said art and art events can be important economic drivers in communities. His long-term goal as owner of the high-end Twisted Fish gallery in Elk Rapids is to see northwestern Michigan — stretching from Mackinaw City to Ludington and from Grand Traverse Bay to I-75 — become a national art tourist destination, or “Santa Fe of the Upper Midwest,” as he called it. That area already has a total 22 art organizations.