Gallery: A Network of Friends and Artists on Full Display at Two Twelve Arts

 05/13/2016 - 11:23

Val Mann and Cindy Barnett were among a large crowd gathered at Two Twelve Arts Center to celebrate the 10-year Retrospective show.

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The Tenth Anniversary Retrospective Show at Two Twelve Arts Center had been planned for years, but was made bittersweet by the recent announcement that the center would be closing in September. Friday evening was the artists reception for the show that will be there through May and June, and many of the artists came to participate.

“I haven’t seen a lot of these people in a long time,” said Director Margie Bovee. “It’s really great.”

Mayor Brian Marl was on hand to deliver a proclamation about the contributions Two Twelve has made to the Saline Community. The group was started by Bovee in 2006 with funding from her family’s foundation, the Cowan Slavin Foundation.

Since that time they have become “the go-to place for artists in Saline.” The organization has involved thousands of art enthusiasts from Saline and the surrounding communities.

In addition to the many classes offered on site at their 216 W. Michigan Ave. location, the center has organized and facilitated many art activities beyond its campus, such as art camps and activities connected with Saline community events. Center staff and volunteers have also catalyzed the formation of several specialty groups such as the Saline Painters Guild, the 212 Arts Potters Guild and the 212 Arts Fiber Guild which continue to have their own monthly meetings.

Another offshoot of the art center is From Around Here Productions, a theater group that has so far produced eight plays including their recent offering, “Mating Calls.”

“This is a very special organization,” said Marl. “This is a very special place that has brought a lot of energy, a lot of excitement to the Saline community and I think I speak not only for myself as mayor but for the entire city council when I say we are indebted to all of you who have helped make this organization a success.”

One of the seven staff members who will be losing their jobs when the center closes is Special Events Coordinator Gaines Collins. She calls her job “a gift,” and “the best job I’ve ever had.” She says that Two Twelve will not slink away quietly.

“We are going out with a bang,” Collins said. “We are just going full throttle. We’re having summer camps; we’re having an art installation around the city that’s kind of a surprise.”

What Collins emphasizes most about her experience at Two Twelve is the teamwork. The breakup of that team that has learned to work together so well is one of the tragedies of the closing.

The closing became necessary when the Cowan Slavin Foundation announced they would be ending their support for the art center. They were its sole supporter and at one time provided $350,000 a year.

While the foundation was able to provide full support during the great recession of 2008, a recent financial setback has forced a cut back on funding.

Regarding the legacy of Two Twelve Arts, Bovee said, “They got a lot of people together, which was what our mission was: to form a community of artists who would be able to network and become friends.”

On Friday night that network of friends was on full display.

Robert Conradi
Bob Conradi Is a retired pharmaceutical scientist who has redefined himself as a photographer and journalist. He has lived in Michigan for 36 years and in the Saline area for 10. He enjoys researching and learning about new ideas. Follow him on Twitter at @RobertConradi.