Allegan County News & Union Enterprise

Arts Council seeks volunteers

Members of the Otsego Arts Council paint an outdoor scene. The Council is currently seeking volunteers for various projects. (Photo provided)

By Jason Wesseldyk
Sports Editor

Calling local artists: the Otsego Arts Council needs you and your talents.
The council is looking for two additional artists who are willing to volunteer to paint one of eight mural panels along the riverfront in downtown Otsego. Each panel measures 4-feet x 8-feet.
The Arts Council is also seeking volunteers to prime the murals and seal them upon completion.
Paulette Carr from Brave Art Studios and Gallery in Allegan is helping to organize this and other volunteer efforts for the Arts Council, which formed approximately a year ago.
“As the Otsego Arts Council began to develop, we started looking for places the city could benefit from art,” Carr said. “We came up with a few ideas, including this mural project along the riverfront.
“None of these things can happen without workers, and to help offset the cost of these activities, volunteers are stepping in to help with planning and implementations.”
The panels are scheduled to be primed in the near future, with the painting beginning shortly thereafter. Following a period of between three and six months, the panels will be auctioned off to fund the mural project into perpetuity.
“The idea is that after the initial  panels, they will be a  clean slate for kids to paint or graffiti as a way of taking the temperature of the community youth,” Carr said. “It’s a pretty cool project. Everyone involved so far has expressed excitement for this project and is anxious to get started and involved.”
In addition to the murals along the riverfront, other projects undertaken by the Otsego Arts Council have included updating the Art Garden, Art Thing, an Artisan Market and a disc golf course, among others.
“A community with a growing artistic presence is a healthy community, both economically and emotionally,” Carr said. “The arts add an expression for those who can’t express themselves. It adds beauty, documents history and adds permanence. 
“Businesses especially benefit from art. If you have ever walked into an office with no art on the wall, it feels temporary. Adding art, especially local art from local artists, says that business is part of the community and here to stay. It helps define the tone of the business and community.”
That need for an artistic presence led the formation of the Otsego Arts Council, with Otsego Main Street executive director Kahler Sweeney among the driving forces behind its establishment.
“Not only is the Otsego Arts Council is an important step in recognizing the need for art in the community, but it also gives the artists a voice, fellowship and support,” Carr said. “Our goal is to introduce the city to the artists who have been hiding their art in their basements or exhibiting in other towns.
“Until recently, there wasn’t much to draw artists out. The festivals for art were typically more designed for crafts people. It did not address the arts in a broader spectrum to the fine arts of painting, sculpting, dance, music, performance or more. Our group has all of these voices currently, including the crafts people.”
Carr and her husband Tim—who co-owns Brave Art Studios and Gallery with her—felt so strongly about the need to support local artists that they became involved despite living in Holland and working in Allegan.
“We were approached to help with a festival and before we knew it, the Otsego Arts Council was formed,” Paulette Carr said. “We are excited for all that has happened with this group of artists and citizens in just one short year. It has been beyond gratifying to see the artists their step into the light and gain their voice for their city’s betterment.”
If you are interested in volunteering for the mural project or any other upcoming projects through the Otsego Arts Council, contact Sweeney at

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