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Board | Staff | Our Story

bringing audiences and artists together

Our Mission

LowellArts connects artists and audiences through the visual and performing arts.

​Our Vision


Our community will be a vibrant hub for the arts, bringing audiences and artists together in quality environments.

bOARD OF dIRECTORS

 

Todd Drenth, Chair

John Wenger, Vice-Chair

Julie DeVoe, Treasurer

Mary Tobin, Secretary

Sue Clements, Gary Eldridge, Jennifer Helner, Laurie Kuna, Barb Pierce, Liz Ripley

Meet the Board of Directors

 

Sue Clements

Early On Coordinator and Occupational Therapist at Montcalm Area Intermediate School District (retired), LowellArts Music Committee Member, Grand Rapids Modern Quilters Member

​Julie DeVoe

Jeweler and Owner of Chimera Design - jewelry store in downtown Lowell

Todd Drenth

Comstock Park High School Teacher

 

Gary Eldridge

Director of Communications EnergyTouch Inc, Fine Artist, Graphic Designer - www.garyeldridge.com

 

​Jennifer Helner

Owner of Scripted Expressions Studio, Art Instructor at Northville Art House and LowellArts, Arts Juror for the Kent County Youth Fair, LowellArts Fallasburg Arts Festival Artist Chair, LowellArts Gallery Committee Member

Laurie Kuna

High School English Teacher (retired), published Author and Editor, LowellArts Theatre Actor / Director / Committee Member, Lowell Area Schools Board of Education Trustee

 

​Barb Pierce

Lowell High School Counselor and Art Teacher (retired)

 

Liz Ripley

High School and College Art Teacher (retired), Interior Designer (retired), Fine Artist, LowellArts Gallery Committee Member

 

Mary Tobin

Graphic Designer, Fiber Artist, Mackinac Arts Council Member, Grand Rapids Modern Quilters Member

 

John Wenger

Owner and Lead Sound Engineer at Clear Sky Technologies, LowellArts Music Committee Member

Staff

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Lorain Smalligan

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Janet Teunis

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Laurel Conrad

Lorain Smalligan,

Executive Director

Lorain has led LowellArts for the past 21 years and has worked in arts management and fund development for over 25 years. Under her leadership the organization has tripled in its capacity, and held a successful $1.3 million capital campaign to move to a new state-of-the art facility in the heart of historic downtown Lowell.

 

She holds post-graduate degrees in arts management from the University of Cincinnati and arts education from Aquinas College. She also has a BFA in sculpture from Calvin College University. Prior to joining LowellArts, Lorain was the Cultural Arts Coordinator at Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids and the Fund Development Coordinator at the Arts Council of Greater Grand Rapids. Currently she is an advisory board member for Grand River Watershed Arts and Music Festival and a past board member for the Urban Institute of Contemporary Arts, Arts Council of Greater Grand Rapids, ArtServe Michigan and the Michigan Association of Community Arts Agencies.

Janet Teunis,
Project Director

She graduated in 1998 from the University of Michigan School of Art with a Bachelor's of Fine Arts degree. In 1999, she held a position at LaFontsee Galleries. In 2000, she joined the staff of the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts (UICA) and worked in various positions over 13 years including Exhibitions Program Manager (2000-2002), Visual and Performing Arts Program Manager (2002-2005), Managing Director (2005-2009). and Director of Operations (2009-2013). Her responsibilities at UICA included: artistic and programmatic leadership, human resources, management of programs and events, management of operations and marketing, and special event planning.

 

Janet is also a practicing visual artist and her paintings are included in many private and public collections including the Spectrum Heart Center and Mercantile Bank.

Laurel Conrad,
Program Manager

Laurel graduated from Adrian College in 2018 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theatre. Some of her favorite performances include Agnes in Agnes of God and Older Elizabeth Law in When the Rain Stops Falling. Laurel has received two Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship nominations, one of which she took to compete at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. She was also elected president of Adrian College's chapter of Theta Alpha Phi, the national theatre honors society.

Before joining LowellArts in 2021, Laurel has previous professional experience in the formal wear industry. She started as a bridal and prom dress consultant at Memories Bridal and Evening Wear in Kalamazoo, MI. Laurel then became the Social Media Specialist and Purchasing Manager after her first year. She particularly enjoyed creating photo and video content, and helping customers have their "say yes to the dress" moment!

Artrain's visit to Lowell in 1976 inspired the formation of the Lowell Area Arts Council, later to become LowellArts.

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LowellArts has been serving the greater Lowell community since its inception in 1977.

Our Story


LowellArts connects artists and audiences through the visual and performing arts. Our welcoming, vibrant organization has been growing since its inception in 1977 and is made up of committed arts enthusiasts.

The Lowell Area Arts Council (DBA LowellArts) is a vital resource for the greater Lowell community, connecting artists and audiences through the visual and performing arts. For over 40 years, LowellArts has promoted and supported artists through exhibitions, performances, and events. LowellArts continues to be a welcoming, vibrant organization, and serves both as a catalyst for local economic development and a source of valuable art experiences for the community.

LowellArts began with the enthusiasm of community volunteers and funds raised through a visit to Lowell by Artrain USA in November 1976. Originally called Lowell Area Arts Council, the organization was incorporated as a non-profit organization in 1977 with initial projects that included community beautification, gallery exhibitions of local and regional artists, and theater productions. In September 1978, LowellArts took over the management of the Fallasburg Fall Festival for the Arts, a two-day outdoor event which had been started by the Lowell Historical Society in 1968.

The space on Hudson Street that served the organization from 1977-2016 was generously made available by King Doyle and the King Milling Company. Located in the front third of one of King Milling's buildings, the space consisted of a 1000 sq. foot gallery, a classroom space, and office space.

In April 2015, LowellArts purchased two adjoining buildings on the corner of Main and Broadway, and launched a $1.25 million "Moving to Main" capital campaign to renovate the space. In November 2016, the organization moved to its current home on 223 W Main Street, which is in a highly visible location, easily accessible, has an abundance of parking space, and is centrally located in the popular Downtown Lowell Historic District.

The new facility, with 4,700 sq. foot of programming space on the first floor, offers twice the gallery space, a flexible performance space, a larger classroom, and an open upstairs space for theater rehearsals and artist-residency programs.

The LowellArts stated purpose is: to encourage the understanding, appreciation, and importance of the arts in the schools and communities we serve, and to provide expression and enjoyment of the arts to all segments of these communities. In the coming years, the staff, volunteers, and supporters will continue to make exceptional, heartfelt efforts to bring exciting artwork and performances the community.