Calumet Art Center a community hub

Photos provided by the Calumet Art Center The T. Kilgore Splake Writing Room, located inside the Calumet Art Center.

CALUMET — Since 1893, one old church in downtown Calumet has been a center for the community; once as a place of worship, now as an art center for Keweenaw residents.

In 2008, Ed Gray saw a need for a creative and safe place for area artists. To meet that need he started The Calumet Art Center with the mission of “[creating] a safe learning environment where art, culture, and history inspire and challenge people of the Keweenaw.”

“We thought that [an art center] was one thing that was missing up here in this part of the Keweenaw,” said Gray.

Open year-round, the center provides art classes, four art galleries and performance space in the old sanctuary. The center is volunteer-run and a local artist hub with classes for youth and adults and partnerships with many other local organizations.

“We encompass all the arts, we don’t separate them,” said Gray. “So in our performance hall we have performances, we have writing, we have poetry. We do all sorts of stuff besides painting and clay and metals.”

Gray saw another clear need, for youth activities, in particular.

“If you open that door of creativity, whether they’re going to be an artist or not, they can use that for the rest of their life and we kind of explain that to them,” said Gray. “It’s a way of thinking.”

Quite a few young students have gone on the become artists themselves after learning at the center, he explained. The art center also incorporates elements of different cultures into their work. With students encouraged to draw from their own cultures as well.

Upcoming events include wheel, clay, encaustics, and twining classes. The center attempts to hold one or two classes each week and some classes can take multiple weeks.

“This year more than ever, we’re trying to have our classes [online] so you can see the calendar a year in advanced,” Gray said.

The goal is to make it easier for people who don’t live in the area to plan to attend a class, making the center more accessible to visitors and residents in other parts of the Keweenaw.