Presents with presence

GPAC helps visitors master the ‘art’ of giving

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published November 13, 2013

 Roselyn Rhodes, of Grosse Pointe Park, who has been experimenting recently with plein air painting, stands next to one of her oil paintings, at top left, “Grosse Pointe Yacht Club at Sunset.”

Roselyn Rhodes, of Grosse Pointe Park, who has been experimenting recently with plein air painting, stands next to one of her oil paintings, at top left, “Grosse Pointe Yacht Club at Sunset.”

Photo by K. Michelle Moran


GROSSE POINTE CITY — Whether they’re trying to bolster local businesses or support local workers, buying Made in Michigan products is a positive trend that has generated a lot of interest among consumers.

And one way to jump on the bandwagon while checking off that holiday shopping list is by visiting the holiday shop at the Grosse Pointe Art Center, where visitors will find local art and more created by their neighbors. The annual show, which opened with a public reception Nov. 8, will be on display through Dec. 24. Grosse Pointe Art Center Director Amy DeBrunner said there are about 100-120 artists in the show.

From Detroit T-shirts for kids and adults — including onesies for the littlest members of the family — to ornaments, jewelry, natural candles and soaps, eco-friendly art kits for children, and fine art ranging from photos and paintings to ceramics and sculpture, the annual holiday shop is chock full of original gifts. There are even cuddly stuffed creatures for the kid in everyone.

“There’s so much Detroit apparel and so much local art that you can’t get anywhere else,” said GPAC gallery coordinator Katy Wereley, an artist, herself, who created glass ornaments that she can personalize for customers on the spot.

With the exception of a couple of paintings by Peruvian artist Juan Carlos Zeballos Moscairo, DeBrunner said nothing is more than $500, and most of the items are less than $200.

“I think we’ve got good price points this year,” she said.

Jackie Brooks, of Grosse Pointe Farms, embraces Detroit in her work, which includes gift items such as key chains, bookmarks and coasters embellished with Detroit imagery and printed on pieces of recycled tires. She had also created a 2014 calendar featuring Detroit landmarks like the Fox Theatre, as well as ornaments and necklaces with her version of the Detroit Tigers’ “Old English D.” The Tigers’ version requires special permission to use, but Brooks said there are “so many versions of this font” that she was able to use another instead. She’s not surprised people are in love with all things Detroit right now.

“People just want to be associated with Detroit,” Brooks said. “We’re just hopeful for the future and ready to take off.”

Another artist with work in the holiday shop is art educator Roselyn Rhodes, of Grosse Pointe Park, who submitted some of her plein air paintings, some of which feature local landmarks like the Grosse Pointe Yacht Club.

“I’m going all over Grosse Pointe, painting,” Rhodes said. “Your lighting changes (throughout the day), so you have to paint fast and furious. That’s kind of the magic of it.”

Artist Sara Yavruyan, of Grosse Pointe Park, a GPAC member since the early 1980s, brought a couple of her garden pastels to this year’s show.

“I did these some time ago,” she said of the small, colorful paintings based on local gardens. “I would invade people’s gardens, and sometimes they would give me a bouquet” because they were flattered.

Although he didn’t have any pieces in the holiday show, GPAC member James Lady, of Grosse Pointe Park, a photographer, was on hand to admire the work of his fellow artists during the opening reception.

“It’s an impressive show,” Lady said. “It’s a labor of love for those involved. This is perhaps the best-merchandised show in the history of the holiday (shops).”

Brooks said the look of the show can largely be attributed to the addition of two GPAC board members with retail experience. Blayne Browcker, one of those new board members, has designed retail spaces for stores at the Somerset Collection, City Loft, and retailers like Pier 1, among many others. The new GPAC space is about half the size of the space the group had for last year’s holiday shop, leading to inventive staging, such as the use of a toboggan as a shelf above the register.

“The challenge with this space is to manage the amount of artist inventory without being overpowering,” Browcker said.

The holiday shop has thematic clusters that allow shoppers to see several pieces in a similar category or works by the same artist.

“He’s just given it a real retail feel,” Brooks said.

Organizers said they were pleased with the variety of work that has come in this year. The holiday shop is one of only two nonjuried shows a year at the GPAC.

Once again, the GPAC is serving as the official gift-wrapping site for the Village. Shoppers who purchase gifts at Village retailers this season can bring their receipts to the center for complimentary wrapping Dec. 5-7, 12-14 and 19-21. That, of course, includes items from the GPAC.

“Unique is the only gift to give,” DeBrunner said.

The GPAC is located at 17118 Kercheval in the Village. Hours are noon-6 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday. For more information, call (313) 881-3454, email or visit