Art Around Town brings Hillsdale to life with art.


HILLSDALE – Art Around Town, an event that brings downtown Hillsdale to life with art, promoted local talent and businesses on Saturday.

The event, presented by the Heritage Association in conjunction with ArtWorks, brought together a crowd to see artists and their work on display in local stores. Live music and refreshments were available.

Organizer Connie Sexton said there were 14 artists featured in downtown Hillsdale and surrounding areas. An artist program included a description of each artist and what business they were located in.

Amy Howe, an artist who dabbles in many different mediums, has been installed at the Blossom Shop on Howell St. Her current obsession is acrylic casting. Howe said this style surprises her every time.

“It’s never the same result and I love the process,” Howe said. “Different results can result from blowing the paint with a straw or a hair dryer.”

Photography is another of her passions, but she is less active there now. Howe graduated in 1996 from Camden Frontier. She received an associate’s degree from Jackson College and met her husband there. They married in 1999 and have a son. Amy is a lifelong Hillsdale resident and her husband is the owner of Bill’s Lawn Care. She also owns Amy Howe’s Photography and Art and is a real estate agent at Coldwell Banker Denny Groves.

Megan Lashaway, owner of The Gifted Garden, a boutique and teahouse where artists can share their artistic abilities with patrons, was in her shop, also on Howell St. She learned from her mother, Melinda Lopresto, the lost art from “El Trabajo Rustico (Spanish) and Faux Bois (French)”, which dates to the 1800s and was very popular in France. She uses rebar, wire and concrete to create her works of art. Her art is to weld rebar and cover it with a wire mesh, then add layers of cement, then she carves every knot hole while the cement is wet.

Lashaway is a longtime Hillsdale County resident, married with two children. She opened her store in May and will have a booth at the upcoming Hillsdale County Fair. It exhibits works by 53 other artists and artisans from the region and sponsors a bimonthly student of the month.

Another artist, Suzanne Spiteri, has moved into her store The Crow’s Nest. She has been a lifelong resident of Hillsdale and has worked with many different mediums, as well as with various famous artists such as Bob Ross, Mary Owens and Donna Dewberry.

Spiteri started painting when she attended a craft show and one of the vendors was offering free painting lessons. Since then she has worked with oils, acrylics, watercolors and chalk paint. She found her passion for painting furniture, which is on display in her East Bacon Street store.

Other artists include: Rhonda Foster and Nick Zemaiduk at HJ Gelzer and Son Furniture; John Castellese at Studio 42; Patt Taylor at Hillsdale Brewing Co.; Liese and Katja Szarafinski at Hillsdale Natural Grocery; David Youngman at Jilly Beans; Karen Mark at the local restaurant; Hannah Cheng at Maggie Anne; Pam Heckel at Smiths Flowers; and Emma Waldvogel at Toasted Mud. David Hummel of Bowling Green, Indiana was the only non-local artist featured in the program.

Organizer Connie Sexton said all proceeds raised will go to The Heritage Association’s 2022 wall projects. Although the 2021 murals projects have been pushed back, the organization is moving forward to bring two murals to Hillsdale County in the spring and fall of 2022.

“Our ‘Welcome to Historic Hillsdale’ billboard mural will arrive in Hillsdale in early spring 2022,” Sexton said. “And if the fundraiser continues to be a success for us, we will be bringing the picturesque historic ‘Old Sauk Trail’ mural to Jonesville in late fall 2022.”

While attending the event downtown, Barb Auseon said she enjoys seeing what local artists can do.

“They’re all so different,” Auseon said. “It’s fun to figure it all out.”

Megan Lashaway, owner of The Gifted Garden, shows off a fairy garden she created for customers to enjoy while browsing her shop and tea house.  It offers a space for more than 50 artists and artisans from the region to share their skills with customers. [NANCY HASTINGS PHOTO]
Artist Amy Howe shows Amy Amburgey (right) how she uses acrylic casting to create unique works of art. [NANCY HASTINGS PHOTO]

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