Sparking the arts

ALPENA -The arts are alive and well in Northeast Michigan.

Art in the Loft proved that Thursday evening when it hosted a Spark the Art membership event that not only allowed guests to meet the facility’s newly hired gallery coordinator but also to enjoy a variety of art performances.

The impressive offerings included a vocal performance from “Les Miserables” by Linda Suneson, poetry and creative memoir readings by Anne Heraghty and Joe Bastow, and painting on the spot by Brooke Stevens with saxophone accompanist by Kat Tomaszewski. There was even some juggling thrown in to peak the interest of those in attendance.

Muralist Tony Hendrick traveled to Alpena to lead guests in the hands-on creation of a mural. Many grabbed brushes, dipped them in paint and add their owned personal touches to a mural stretched across one wall of the loft.

Later this year, Hendrick will be overseeing the creation of a fish-themed mural that, when completed, will be placed on the side of How Cute is That on Chisholm Street in downtown Alpena. He also has previously helped the community to make an inspirational mural that is now showcased at the Alpena Cancer Center.

Justin Christensen-Cooper, the new gallery coordinator, shared brief remarks about all the exciting events coming up at Art in the Loft. Via a short Powerpoint presentation, he also reiterated the mission of this regional center for the arts to continue bringing awareness of and participation in the arts to Northeast Michigan.

Food also was in plentiful supply, with catering by gourmet chef Eric Peterson, owner of The Fresh Palate.

Diane Speer can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5691. Follow Diane on Twitter ds_alpenanews. Read her blog, Art Beat, at