2020 has been a year of great change and uncertainty for many people, businesses, and governments across the world. From learning new ways of working to masks being a staple of our wardrobes, we have all had to learn together what our “New Normal” moving forward will look like. 

The Bonifas is no different. Like many other non-profits, COVID hit the Bonifas hard. On March 17th, the Bonifas found itself closing its doors to the public while waiting out the pandemic. While this could have been a time of fear and anxiety, instead it became a season of creativity and exploration for the staff at the Bonifas. They found themselves researching and planning new ways to keep the Bonifas open during a time when close contact, and in some cases any contact at all, is not able to happen.

First, they took a pragmatic approach by deeply sanitizing the building before allowing people inside. The building is still sanitized daily and the staff takes care to make sure specific areas like doors, bathrooms, phones, and light switches are sanitized often. Masks, both traditional masks and fun cloth ones, are offered at all entrances with hand sanitizer being offered throughout the building. Social distancing is practiced both by the staff and the public, but the staff works hard to make every person who walks in the door feel welcomed. 

The Bonifas focused on classes and events that could be held virtually, allowing more people to attend classes than would be able to attend in-person due to the restrictions. Thanks to a recent Art Bridges grant, the Bonifas was able to purchase new videography equipment that allows them to create quality online classes. With this grant they were also able to hire Craig Woerpel to train the staff on how to create professional videos of classes and livestreams. Classes like Art Essentials for Kids and What’s Cookin’ have been successfully held online with more classes offering this option in the near future. Events, such as Night of Magic and Wizardry, have also been able to be held online thanks to the creative planning of Events Coordinator, Paula Jordan and the Events Assistant, Olivia Johnson. Holding events and classes online was new for everyone but with a little tweaking and patience, they are off to a great start.

Things are still evolving for the Bonifas. On October 19th they decided to change their open hours to 12:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Tuesdays through Fridays and 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Saturdays due to the uptick in COVID cases in Delta County. Visitors are also asked to sign in when they enter the building to help track any outbreaks that might occur.

The Bonifas will continue to evolve and change as needed in order to provide the central Upper Peninsula inclusive, educational, and safe access to arts and culture. Through their creativity and passion for the arts, the staff will continue to find new ways to foster the sense of community that they are known for.

The Bonifas would like to announce the following winners of Northern Exposure XXVII and congratulate all of those who were chosen for this exhibit: 

The Media Awards go to the following: Marquette Mining Journal - Untitled (No. 12) by Dakota Gutierrez; Escanaba Daily Press - Safe Haven by Tracy Anderson; Iron Mountain Daily News - St. Helena by Caroline Carlson; Munising News - Red Canoe and Social Distancing by Paul Rose.

The Featured Artists Awards go to the following: St. Helena by Caroline Carlson and Pike Lake by Bernie Park were chosen by Alberta House Arts Center. New Cloth Bound by Christina Kionka of Iron Mountain was chosen by Cappaert Contemporary Gallery. Three Dark-Eyed Juncos by Tracy Anderson and Awakening by Kristine Granger of Marquette were chosen by the Erickson Center for the Arts. Finally, Untitled (No. 12) by Dakota Gutierrez and Awakening by Kristine Granger were chosen by Gallery on 5th.

The Bonifas Residency Award was presented to John Hubbard for his piece Deadfall.

The Artist Network Awards were awarded to Bernie Park for his work Pike Lake, Paul Rose for his work Winter Dance, and Brian Burroughs for his piece Our Imperiled Incubator (Part 3) The Bonifas would like to thank the following businesses for sponsoring this award: Alberta House Arts Center, Borderland Arts Center, Cappaert Contemporary Gallery, Cheap Joe’s Art Stuff, Christine’s Gallery, Cooper Office Supply, Erickson Center for the Arts, Genesis Graphics, Gallery on 5th, Frame Farm, Heynssens & Selins, Lake Effect Community Arts Center, Sviland Paint & Wallcoverings, The Village Artisans & The Garden Gallery.

Purchase Prizes went to the following: Bay College chose Mashkawizii by Bill Savage, Safe Haven by Tracy Anderson, and Night Vision by Cameron Wilcox. The Delta Area Chamber of Commerce chose First Light by Dan Young, and Red Canoe and Social Distancing by Paul Rose was picked by Schneider, Larche, Haapala, & Co. Thrivent Financial chose a painting, Floral Blanket by Liz Evensen of Crystal Falls, a 3D mixed media, Spirited Fairy by Diane Kribs-Mays of Rock, and a photograph, Lakeside Explorerby Cameron Wilcox of Marquette.

Finally, the Bonifas would like to announce their Placement awards which are sponsored by Crawford Funeral Home, East Ludington Gallery, and The Bonifas Arts Center.

3rd place goes to Banish Misfortune II by Carol Irving

2nd place goes to Safe Haven by Tracy Anderson

1st place goes to The White Pantsuit Project by Deborah Abramson

The Bonifas would like to thank Escanaba Veterinary Clinic, Tackman Capital Management, and Thrivent Financial for being our Gallery Partners. They would also like to extend a thank you to the artists who applied for Northern Exposure this year--they have inspired us all to remember that in times of hardship, hope and creativity can still shine through.

Northern Exposure XXVII will run through February 4th in the Alice Powers Gallery. The public is invited to stop in and check out the amazing work on display. For more information, call the Bonifas at 906-786-3833.

The 2020 Bonifas Arts Center Annual Meeting was held Oct. 22 virtually during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Download Financial Statement  »

Bonifas Trailor from Ron Rademacher on Vimeo.

The backwoods of Michigan are full of cool destinations and great stories.

The adventures of the Backroads of Michigan program will showcase some of these next week at the Bonifas.

Irina Bruno, right, takes the helm from Sue Roll as executive director at the Bonifas.

The Bonifas Arts Center is pleased to announce the following change in its leadership: Irina Bruno is the new Executive Director of the Bonifas, as of Sept. 1. Bruno takes the reins from Sue Roll, who has worked as Executive Director since January 1, 2018, and also worked for two and a half years as the Bonifas Business Director.

Bruno was selected after an extensive search and interviews by the Bonifas Board of Trustees. She holds a Master of Business Administration degree in international management and a Bachelor of Arts degree in geography and economics.

Bruno said of her new position: “I am honored and look forward to continue working with our dedicated and talented staff, the Board of Trustees, and volunteers. The Bonifas is recognized in the Central U.P. as a venerable cultural and education organization bringing to our communities varied exhibits, lively events and educational outreach. It is a unique place where people of all ages can meet the artists, flex their creative chops, learn new skills and simply have a great time! I hope to provide the experience, energy, and drive needed to lead this wonderful institution into the future and ensure that our community continues to benefit from its presence.”

This leadership change has been in the works for nearly a year. Roll will be reducing her hours to focus on her family and a ‘pre-retirement’ lifestyle. She will continue to work part-time for the Bonifas, concentrating on grant writing and supporting Bruno’s transition. 

“I am excited that my new job will include grant writing – something I’ve learned about and practiced over the last several years,” Roll said. “I will also be researching additional financial support options for the Bonifas, and helping with other special projects. Because continuity is crucial, Irina and I will work together to ensure that this transition is smooth and that our members and our community will continue to take pride in the Bonifas Arts Center.”

Bruno has worked as Education Coordinator at the Bonifas for the past three years, a role which had her developing several new class series, attracting new class participants, recruiting new artists as instructors, and ultimately, strengthening the Arts Center’s bottom line. 

“Irina brings to the Executive Director position a strong knowledge of business and finance and a deep commitment to bringing arts experiences into people’s lives,” Roll said. 

According to Roll, the Bonifas remains committed as ever in its mission to continue working to enhance and inspire the cultural and creative lives of the people in the Central Upper Peninsula. 

 “We would like to assure our members and the general community that the Bonifas will remain a creative force of artistic talent in our community,” Roll added. 

For more information on the Bonifas Arts Center, please visit bonifasarts.org or call 906-786-3833.

The Upper Peninsula of Michigan is just plain beautiful and if you ride around for awhile you're going to find crystal clear rivers, trails that go through old forests, you'll find waterfalls and scenic views.

The Bonifas Arts Center has partnered with Michigan Back Roads author,  Ron Rademacher, on a podcast series featuring day trip adventures on the back roads of Michigan. 

In this episode, Ron takes us to Piers Gorge on the Menominee River.

Lean more about Rademacher’s books at michiganbackroads.com.

Neighborhood kids put their hands to a mural on a pump house yesterday at Stephenson Park in Escanaba. 

The Bonifas Arts Center and artist Jim Finlan are painting a wrap-around mural depicting the four seasons and activities in the park.

Finlan says he wants the kids to feel a part of the project.

"The hands are to add color to the mural, offer a childish aspect to it and it bring the community's kids to the mural to be involved. Then they have memories," Finlan said.

The mural is funded by a Prosperous Places Grant from the Regional Prosperity Initiative.

We have made the difficult decision to cancel the Waterfront Arts Festival. Given the current circumstances we would not be able to provide attendees, artists and vendors the experience they have come to expect while attending Waterfront Art Festival. Most importantly we are committed to keeping our community healthy and safe. We understand that this is a disappointment to many of you in the community. 

We will help our artists and vendors with a virtual art festival this year. We understand that it has been a different and difficult year for everyone, especially our artists, food vendors and people that look forward to a good time at the Waterfront Art Festival every year. 

The Bonifas Arts Center would like to encourage you to visit Virtual Waterfront Art Festival online August 1st – 31st to purchase the unique gift items from your favorite artists. You can go to bonifasarts.org, look for the link to the virtual Waterfront Art Festival. 

Next year we will be back Yooper Strong! Watch for updates online on our website, Facebook and Instagram. 

The Bonifas Arts Center has partnered with Michigan Back Roads author,  Ron Rademacher, to launch a podcast series featuring day trip adventures on the back roads of Michigan. 

Ron is the author of six books about Michigans off-the-beaten path locations filled with history and stunning scenes that inspire a sense of wonder and peace. Join us in listening to this new series that will feed your adventurous side and lead up to his presentation at the Bonifas Arts Center, September 10 at 6 p.m.

These are short videos, about five minutes. Each will highlight day trip destinations all across the back roads of Michigan. We’ll explore lesser known destinations across both peninsulas including scenic drives, little know trails and historical destinations that you have overlooked. 

Examples include:

All of these and more can be found on the back roads of Michigan. We hope you’ll join us for day trips and getaways on the back rods of Michigan.

In this video, Rademacher talks about the Crisp Point Lighthouse and A.E. Seaman Mineral Museum.

Lean more about Rademacher’s books at michiganbackroads.com.

Juror Statement:

Wow!  I am amazed at the fantastic talent displayed throughout this membership show!  Selecting the awards was difficult and I wish every one of you the best in your creative journey!  I always enjoy seeing work that is innovative and maybe 'pushes the boundaries' a bit.  I love it when an artist uses originality and creativity in their own way!  I also look for a masterful craftsmanship and professional use of materials.  Presentation is very important whether it be the matting or framing or simply the way a piece is finished.  This is very important!  I also look for good use of composition and design and COLOR!  Studying and having a background in all of these will help you as you further your creative career!  All the best to each and everyone of you!

- Ginnie Cappaert

Escanaba City Hall Award winners:

Kate Oman, Escanaba, MI                            
“Night Watch”  

Bill Savage, Munising, MI                             

Monica Miller-Mortel, Escanaba, MI                       
“Secluded Waterfalls”   

Kathryn Lund Johnson, AuTrain, MI                         
“Reverberations in Time”             

Maureen Lapinski, Bark River, MI                             
“Flower Moon”

Sharon Fosmo, Escanaba, MI                      
“Rules 1 & 2”     

Kim Arntzen, Cecil, WI                   
“Spring Fever”  

Tracy Anderson, Rapid River, MI               
“In Autumn's Stillness”

Anonymous, Rapid River, MI                      

Gladstone City Hall award winners:

Tracy Anderson, Rapid River, MI
“In Autumn's Stillness” 

Kim Arntzen, Cecil, WI                   
“Spring Fever”  

Fran Darling, Marquette, MI                      
“Paddling The Colors”   

Monica Miller-Mortel, Escanaba, MI                       
“Secluded Waterfalls”   

Suzy Decker, Gladstone, MI                        
“Birches We're In This Together”             

Janice LaFond, Gladstone, MI                    

Julie Ann Neisius, Escanaba, MI                 

Bob Roberts, Mt. Pleasant, MI                   

Marlene Wood, Deerton, MI                      

Featured Artist Award  

Suzy Decker, Gladstone, MI        
“Eye of the Storm- COVID-19”   

Placement Awards

Honorable Mention

Jim Rutledge, Engadine, MI                         
“Blue Inspiration”

Bill Savage, Munising, MI                             
“She Dances”

2nd Place

Bernie Park, Marquette, MI                        
“Deep Blue”      

1st Place

Dennis Dufek, Gladstone, MI                     
“Tribute to Crazy Horse”              

As people are continuing to stay home during these final days of Michigan’s “Safer at Home” order, the staff at the Bonifas Arts Center has been working to find ways to bring the arts to people in their homes. The goal is to help bring a sense of normalcy back to people’s lives when so much has been disrupted. 

“The arts have a vital role in our lives, and we want to continue to offer classes that entertain our community members, and help inspire them to express their creativity,” said Sue Roll, Executive Director of the Bonifas Arts Center. “We love that people are using this time to learn new things they’ve always wanted to try, whether it’s the arts, music, writing or reading that book they’ve always wanted to read – basically, exploring new creative outlets. Without a doubt, the arts help us through difficult times, and right now, many of us are turning to the arts to calm us and inspire our creativity.”


In this stressful time, many of us are looking for ways to do just that –calm ourselves and clear our minds of the worries of day-to-day life. Through Insight Meditation classes at the Bonifas, you can learn to be in the moment. Experienced meditation instructor Gene Schleuter will lead the class. 

"You can recognize the very real personal benefits of relaxing and becoming aware of how you feel, as well as the source of your thoughts," Schleuter explained.  "It makes you more aware of what's going on in your life, allowing you to take control of your thoughts, rather than having them control you.”

These guided introspective classes are suitable for beginners as well as those with previous meditation experience. These classes will be held on Wednesdays, May 27 and June 3 and 10 from 6:30 to 7:45 p.m. Currently, classes are offered via www.Zoom.us for free! Participants are expected to have Zoom downloaded on their devices and to have a basic understanding of this technology. Call the Bonifas at (906) 786-3833 or e-mail Irina Bruno for more information.

The staff at the Bonifas is committed to continuing to offer high-quality classes to help people stay creative and inspired during this COVID-19 pandemic. Art, after all, has been shown to improve academic performance, sparking creativity and innovation, thus driving the creative industries, tourism and revenue to local businesses. This, in turn, has been shown to strengthen local economies. 

The Bonifas Arts Center is holding its annual Spring Raffle. Prizes are as follows:

First prize: Pictured Rocks Getaway for two, including two tickets for sunset cruise, overnight stay at the Roam Inn, Dinner at Tracey’s, and a $100 Visa gift card.

Second prize: $250 cash.

Third prize: Two adult and two children’s tickets for “A Night of Magic and Wizardry” at the Bonifas, set for Saturday, Oct. 24.

Winners will be drawn on Monday, June 29 at the first Music Monday concert in Ludington Park. You do not need to be present to win.

“Your purchase of raffle tickets not only gives you a chance to win some awesome prizes, it also helps the Bonifas continue its mission throughout the year by bringing in gallery exhibits, youth programs, classes and events,” said Bonifas Arts Center Events Coordinator Paula Jordan.

Tickets can be purchased for $5 each or six for $25 at The Bonifas or by calling 906-786-3833. Please leave a message if the Bonifas is closed.

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