Arts scene, museums continue to thrive

2014-03-16T00:00:00Z 2014-03-16T00:11:07Z Arts scene, museums continue to thriveEloise Marie Valadez Eloise.Valadez@nwi.com, (219) 933-3365 nwitimes.com

Residents of Northwest Indiana and visitors to the area will find a vibrant arts and museum landscape throughout the region.

From innovative and colorful artworks to historic displays and eclectic crafts, there's much to admire and explore at area arts institutions, museums and organizations.

John Cain, executive director of South Shore Arts, said enjoying and immersing oneself in art makes life more fulfilling.

"People recognize the value of the arts in their lives," Cain said, adding interest in works and exhibitions is growing all the time.

"There's an energy in the arts," he said. The mission of South Shore Arts encompasses making the arts accessible and essential.

"We've always been open to new trends in art making. Our organization was founded by artists," Cain said. With that in mind, South Shore Arts has long been at the forefront of bringing engaging, creative and thought-provoking exhibits to the area. There are also art classes, student outreach programs and other avenues of art education.

In South Shore Arts' main gallery at The Center for Visual and Performing Arts in Munster, one of the recent heralded exhibits was Mid-Century Modern: Style in the Age of Mad Men, which highlighted various furniture pieces and other items.

Cain said South Shore Arts' new director of exhibitions, Laura Cutler, who's an artist by profession, is a wonderful addition to the staff.

"I'm looking forward to Laura acquainting us with  new artists," he said.

Upcoming exhibits at Munster's South Shore Arts include a William Dawson display, running through April 20. The exhibit was organized by the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts and also includes works from Chicago collections.

This year, Cain said, also will be the 40th anniversary of South Shore Arts' High School Show. Cain, who turns 60 this year, particularly looks forward to a "fun summer show," which he's curating, revolving around baby boomers. The exhibit will feature icons of pop culture of the 20th century.

Other exhibits at other South Shore Arts locations include Money Tree: Encaustic Painting by Deborah Landry, through March 22, in Hammond.

The staff at Lubeznik Center for the Arts in Michigan City also is doing its part to enliven the artistic and museum landscape.

"We like to say we're providing community impact through the arts," said Carolyn Saxton, the center's executive director.

"We do that through our exhibits and also provide outreach to students," she said, adding the organization also has special after-school programs for students who may have mental health issues or cognitive delays.

Saxton said the Lubeznik Center "works with Michigan City to redefine community." The center assists in presenting First Fridays, education programs, the Lakefront Arts Festival and other programs.

One of the most recent popular exhibitions at the center was Citizen-Soldier-Citizen, a display featuring work by military veterans.

The executive director said they look forward to bringing musician/actor Ronny Cox of "Deliverance" fame to the center on April 9.

"We want to bring a varied art experience to the region," she said.

Other galleries, museums, displays and institutions around the area provide fascinating glimpses into all facets of life through their exhibits.

At the Indiana Welcome Center's exhibit hall, various displays star. Region United, Nation Divided: Following Lincoln, an exhibit revolving around the Civil War, continues through April 30. The center also plans its annual Trashion exhibit, from May 16 to July 17. Individuals fond of the film "A Christmas Story," will also enjoy seeing and taking part in the annual "A Christmas Story" Comes Home displays and activities housed at the center every year. In addition, the center is now home to the statue of Flick licking the flagpole, from the iconic scene in the movie.

Another display at the Indiana Welcome Center is the Wall of Legends, showcasing noted individuals who've demonstrated ideals of innovation, creative spirit, innovation and exploration. One can also visit The John Dillinger Museum on the premises.

Among other venues to explore in the area is the LaPorte County Historical Society Museum, which just had a Vintage Valentine's display. The museum also features a natural history display.

Other places to visit include the Porter County Museum in Valparaiso and The Brauer Museum of Art at Valparaiso University.

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