Saluting the Women of the Box Factory

Saluting the Women of the Box Factory

This weekend we ran an advertisement in the special Saluting Women in Business section of MailMax. The size of the advertisement limited us in displaying all of the roles that the following female leaders of the Box hold in the community. We wanted to expand here. Thank you for helping drive our success!

The Berrien Artist Guild was established in 1962 by a group of women sitting around a kitchen table planning a local arts organization. The grit of those women over five decades ago is still evident in today’s Berrien Artist Guild women.

We salute the women who serve on the Guild’s Board of Directors, and the Office Coordinator who all keep the organization running smoothly while maintaining their own positions at area businesses. Many also volunteer for other organizations. (Judy Sokolowski, a grateful President of the Board of Directors)

BOX: Rose Narregan, Board Treasurer and Finance Committee Chair
BIZ:   Accountant with Tri-County Bookkeepers.
BOX:  Linda Cooper, Board Secretary and member of Finance Committee
BIZ:    Managing member of Cooper Boettger, a CPA firm
BOX:   Michelle Rumsa, Board Director and Fundraising/Development Chair
BIZ:     Licensed architect with Edgewater Resources
BOX:   Susan Solon, Board Director and Marketing Chair
BIZ:     Retired from City of St. Joseph, Communications and Marketing Manager
BOX:   Jennifer Tomshack, Board Director and Gallery Committee Member
BIZ:    United Way of Southwest Michigan, Communications and Marketing Manager
BOX:     Amy Kuchan, part time Operations Coordinator
BIZ:       Holistic life coach for her own business SPACE + SPARK
BOX:     Jane Rush, Board of Director and Gallery Committee Chair
BIZ:       Part time Spectrum Health Lakeland Co-ordinator of Healthwave, Employer Services

To get involved at the Box Factory for the Arts please visit our website at

Our Annual Member Show is Now Open

Our Annual Member Show is Now Open

ST. JOSEPH, MI – Series 6, the annual holiday exhibit by members of the Berrien Artist Guild, opens Friday, Dec. 4th at the Box Factory for the Arts, 1101 Broad St., St. Joseph. The exhibit in the Heartha Whitlow Gallery will be available for viewing on Fridays-Sundays from noon to 4 pm through January 16.

This last exhibit of the year is an annual celebration of the variety of artwork created by Box Factory studio artists and the membership at large.  It is an opportunity to shop for local art during the holidays. Included are paintings, sculpture, ceramics, glass, photographs, jewelry and much more.

Abstract Painting by Carr Pierce

A special mini gallery exhibit of paintings by Carr Pierce will also be displayed during the member show.  The exhibit “Here and There” includes abstract paintings inspired by the landscape of Southwest Michigan. The paintings are memories and impressions of landscapes with flashes of saturated colors and fields of muted grays. The painted surfaces are worked with brushes, trowels, and other mark-making tools. 

Carr Pierce is an artist whose practice includes painting, drawing, collage and ceramics. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a Master of Fine Arts. The recent transplant to Southwest Michigan has exhibited works in New York, Chicago, Minneapolis, Seattle, Kalamazoo and St. Joseph.

For more on this and other, Box Factory events visit the website at or on the Box Factory for the Arts Facebook page. 

Exhibitions Series 5: The Return of In-House Shows at the Box Factory for the Arts Begins October 23

Exhibitions Series 5: The Return of In-House Shows at the Box Factory for the Arts Begins October 23

Five women with distinctly different artistic styles will bring gallery exhibits back to the Box Factory for the Arts, 1101 Broad St., St. Joseph on Friday, October 23, 2020.  These exhibits are the first in-house gallery shows since the pandemic forced closure of the Box Factory’s doors in early March.

Show Schedule
The exhibits will be open for public viewing from noon to 4 pm on Fridays-Sundays through November 29 as well as on the Box Factory for the Arts Website.
An opening reception, featuring conversations with the artists, will be streamed live on the Box Factory for the Arts Facebook Page at 6 pm on Friday, October 23. If you cannot attend there will be a recording of the stream uploaded to the Facebook Page.

Artists Showing
Those exhibiting work in the Heartha Whitlow Gallery and the main floor stage area will be: Michele Corazzo of Valparaiso, IN with a sculpture exhibit titled “Head Menhirs”; Carly Norris, Niles, MI, mixed media art titled “From the Ashes”; Nicole Brown, St. Joseph, “Heavy Like Floating”; Maggie Bandstra, Grand Haven, MI, “Nature Abstracted”; and Vicki VanAmeyden, Augusta, MI, “Objections: Democracy Under Pressure 2015—.”

Michele Corazzo
“The Menhir series depicts my long personal relationship with trees. These abstracted tree trunks illustrate my uneasiness with current destructive human interactions with nature by using texture of mass-produced objects for the bark. As time has passed, I saw these trunks becoming torso-like and began to add heads to remind us that we are one with the natural world.”

Carly Norris
Carly strives to involve her audience in her discoveries and the treasures she finds. She is drawn to the reaction of ink, paint, encaustics, oil and more on every possible surface.

Nicole Brown
“This work is influenced by the many strong women in my life that I look to for inspiration and courage in my paintings. It is their presence and faces that grace much of my work, as does derivatives of myself. They help me tell the stories of the figures in the images I hear, and the poetry I have felt in my life.”

Maggie Bandstra
The human connection to nature inspires her paintings and pottery. She extrapolates the simple forms and colors that she finds in plant life and the landscape. She is using an exaggerated scale, movement, and patterns to deliver a healing message through her work. She is encouraging us to take notice of the beauty in the world around us. 

Vicki VanAmeyden
The spirit of OBJECTIONS resonates with a quote from American author and editor, Professor Toni Morrison:“…All good art is political! There is none that isn’t. And the ones that try hard not to be political are political by saying, ‘We love the status quo.’ …it (art) has to be both: beautiful and political at the same time. I’m not interested in art that is not in the world. And it’s not just the narrative, it’s not just the story; it’s the language and the structure and what’s going on behind it…”

Kimberly Wood: Local Artist Behind the Box’s New Look

Kimberly Wood: Local Artist Behind the Box’s New Look

It’s Mid-September in Saint Joseph, Michigan. You can feel the season changing and see the façade of The Box Factory for the Arts changing as well. Residents from the condo building next door stop by to admire the scene while out on daily walks. Cars and trucks pass by, honking their horns, some even rolling down their windows to yell words of encouragement. Meanwhile, Kimberly Wood, the artist responsible for all the change and excitement sits high above Broad Street on scaffolding with her bucket of supplies, painting a bird from her mural, “Birds of a Feather Flock Together”.

For a span of only three and a half weeks, Kimberly Wood (Saint Joseph), with the help of fellow artist, Shawn McCann (Minneapolis, MN), accomplished a colorful and playful mural on the West and South exterior walls of The Box Factory for the Arts. The Mural project funded by a grant from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs as well as the National Endowment for the Arts was created as a way to encourage the community to take notice of this multi-use facility existing to nurture the arts. Kimberly’s design was chosen in July by the Berrien Artist Guild Board of Directors from three submitted proposals and concepts.  

The mural design, “Birds of a Feather Flock Together” is meant to emulate the community and the arts as vibrant and playful. In a clever way, Kimberly specifically chose origami birds to mimic the history of the Williams Brothers Paper Box Manufacturing building. Given our four distinct seasons in Southwest Michigan, Kimberly knew that using bright colors would help the design stand out from the brick and surroundings. She wanted the simple design to be pleasing to all and hoped onlookers would find something to enjoy among the animals and greenery. Her goal was to encourage people to get to know The Box Factory for the Arts as more than an historic building.

Kimberly Wood grew up in Saint Joseph and from an early age was encouraged by family and friends to pursue art as a career. She remains grateful for her own arts education in how it shaped her interests and skills. Kimberly received her BFA and K-12 Art Education Training from Grand Valley State University and her Master’s Degree in Careers in Technical Education from Western Michigan. Together with her past experiences of being nurtured and supported to grow a career in art and her formal education she now works as a Commercial Design Instructor for Van Buren Technical Center. She is working to help her students explore the possibilities of a future in art through real life experience during High School.

When Kimberly isn’t teaching, she works as an artist and graphic designer under her business name, The Seventh Studio ( She works as a freelance artist for non-profits and businesses. Her most recent design project aside from the Mural for the Box Factory is a Southwest Michigan Bike Map sponsored by the Southwest Michigan Planning Commission. The Berrien Artist Guild is also proud to include her as a long-time member.

Mural project begins at the Box Factory for the Arts

Mural project begins at the Box Factory for the Arts

ST. JOSEPH, MI — The façade of the Box Factory for the Arts on Broad Street in St. Joseph is taking flight under the artistry of Kimberly Woods. Her mural design “Birds of a Feather, Flock Together” will wrap the sides and front of the building in a colorful mix of flora and fauna.

“The design is meant to emulate the community and the arts in a vibrant and playful way,” says Kimberly. “I specifically chose origami birds to mimic the history of the Box in paper products and then evolve and take flight into something colorful and new.

I believe that the Box Factory and artists within it are what keeps the arts in St. Joseph alive and flourishing – not just the visual arts but the performing arts, the galleries, the ArtMarket and more.”

The Berrien Artist Guild at the Box Factory feels the work on the mural will be a positive visual during these unusual times. Once the COVID-19 guidelines are relaxed and the gallery hours return to normal, the mural will pull visitors in to explore what the Box has to offer. In the meantime, it will provide a backdrop for photographs by passersby.

Kimberly Wood, who works in a variety of media, has been a regular participant in the local Chalk the Block events. As an international street artist, she has participated in festivals in many states including the Coloured Earth Festival in Halifax, England and the Sarasota Chalk Festival in Florida.

Kimberly has helped create murals in North Dakota and Minnesota. The most recent mural in Breckenridge, MN was awarded the Arts Legacy City designation, one of only 9 cities to receive the designation. Her work has been entered in Box Factory exhibits and can be viewed on her website at A graduate of Grand Valley State University, she is a full time Commercial Design instructor at Van Buren Tech Center in Lawrence, MI.

The mural is being underwritten by a grant from the Michigan Council for the Arts and Cultural Affairs and the National Endowment for the Arts which has been matched by members and friends of the Berrien Artist Guild.  Scaffolding and lift are being donated to the project by Giannola Construction Services.

For more on the mural project, contact the Box Factory at or visit the Box online at or on Facebook.

Berrien Artist Guild Member Update

Berrien Artist Guild Member Update


Thank you for helping us reach our goal during “Raise the Box,” our very first online art auction fundraiser. We exceeded our goal of raising $5,000 with a grand total of $5,157! We can’t thank our donors enough for supporting the Berrien Artist Guild at the Box Factory for the Arts.

As you know, our galleries are closed and our stage is dark; yet, we continue to explore innovative ways to provide fine art and performances to our community. We couldn’t do it without the expertise and volunteer help of so many. Please join me in thanking those who worked tirelessly to make this goal a reality. 

We’re grateful for the leadership and insight of the Executive Board, Judy Sokolowski, Scott Gane, Rose Narregan and Linda Cooper, the Board of Directors, Bret Witkowski, Dennis Gast, Jane Rush, Jennifer Tomshack, Stephen Smith and Susan Solon.  I’m thankful to the volunteer committee whose collective skills and willing spirit were invaluable, Kate Ulery, Carol Myers, Betsy Gill, Nicole Brown, Denise Barcowicz, John Bougearal, Kristin Hosbein, Breeze Ettl, and Lynn Christiano. 

The event would not have been the same without the talent of Ed Bagatini and the Revival of the Cool, a Jazz Tenette and the behind the video and audio skills of Bryan Lubeck and his audio/ video editors. Thank you! 

Thank you to all the artists who donated beautiful pieces of art and for sharing stories during the live events. This was truly an art gallery of talent and creativity! 

Many thanks to our sponsors and the community: St Joseph Today, Priebe’s Creative Woodworking, Sherwood Snyder, Fred Holland and Judy Sokolowski

Moving forward, with your generosity, we will bridge the financial gap of the cost of staying in business while we strive to creatively re-imagine ways to provide art, education and performances. We look forward to engaging our patrons, and audiences throughout the community.

Under the leadership of Jane Rush, the gallery committee has decided that the Michiana Annual Arts Competition (MAAC) will not be held this year. The committee is in the process of altering the exhibition schedule for the remainder of 2020. They also are planning a re-design of the MAAC show for 2021 and returning to in-house gallery exhibits. Stay tuned for more information from this busy group.

The Board of Directors approved changes to the membership fees starting with this fiscal year. The membership categories and benefits have changed to more accurately reflect our unique members’ needs. New members and those who renew their membership will now receive a gift card based on their membership level for an ArtMarket or Gallery purchase. For a full list of benefits, visit the website for all the enhancements.

Kimberly Wood’s mural concept, “Birds of a Feather, Flock Together,” was selected by the Board of Directors for installation on the exterior of the Box Factory starting this week. It will be exciting to watch the mural unfold and change our face on Broad Street.

The mural is being funded by a grant from the Michigan Council for the Arts and Cultural Affairs which was matched by donations from many members and friends. Since it must be completed by September 30, the board made the decision to approve it on behalf of the membership.

In addition to the concept submitted by Kimberly, a second member Caroline Tubbs submitted “Building Blocks.” Both concepts were beautifully presented and the vote by the board reflected that with a very narrow victory for “Birds of a Feather.” We are hoping to use Caroline’s concept with a variation of her design in the future.

As we cautiously move forward during the pandemic, we are planning to open our gallery doors to the public. Beginning on September 4, we will be open from noon to 4 pm on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Masks and social distancing guidelines will be in effect.

A crew of volunteers have been busy expanding the ArtMarket into the Williams Gallery to provide more artwork for visitors to view. Susan Plee, Susan Solon, and Elaine Harju have been hanging and arranging artwork in anticipation of the reopening. A big thank you for their efforts.

As we open the expanded Art Market, now would be a perfect time for you to try and sell your art.  If you have a piece(s) that you would like to put in the market. Please contact Judy or Amy or email us at