Joining Faith and Art at Michigan Church

For 10 years, Second Christian Reformed Church in Grand Haven, Mich., has helped foster conversation about faith and art through its Atrium Art Gallery. The gallery’s current exhibit, Contemporary Japanese Art, is the 39th since its 2005 inception.

The exhibit, which includes several woodblock prints by Sadao Watanabe and Hoshi Joichi from the personal collection of John and Etta Hesselink, opened last Sunday with a reception following the morning worship service. Over 50 people attended.

The Hesselinks led a walk-and-talk presentation of their collection. John is a former president of Western Theological Seminary in Holland, Mich. For several years he taught in Tokyo, where he met Watanabe and served as his translator. Watanabe is known for his biblical-themed prints. 

The exhibit also includes several ornate wedding kimonos owned by the Hesselinks as well as a display of traditional Japanese dolls from the collection of Grand Haven residents Ron and Kazuko Bacon.

The gallery has been a wonderful tool for reaching out to the community, particularly artists, said Vange Van Huesen, who helped start the gallery and has been on its steering committee ever since.

Van Huesen said that they had no idea how much work they were getting into when they started the gallery. They also “didn’t realize at that time what a blessing it would be to us. We have met hundreds of artists in their homes and studios and heard how their art expresses their journey of faith.”

A comparatively large space for a church gallery, the Atrium generally displays over 40 pieces of art in each show, with three or four shows per year. Previous participating artists include Edgar Boeve, Betsy Steele Halstead, and Joel Schoon Tanis, among many others.

The current exhibit will be open through January 2015.

Etta Hesselink discusses her collection of Japanese kimonos. A Japanese kimono from the collection of Etta Hesselink. A Sadao Watanabe woodblock print currently on display at Second CRC, Grand Haven. Larry Gerbens discusses a John August Swanson painting during a 2010 exhibit. The Atrium Art Gallery at Second CRC, Grand Haven.

About the Author

Susan Vanden Berg is the Banner's regional news correspondent for classes Holland & Zeeland.

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