2017-10-12 / Life in Leelanau

Befitting Digs

G-A art nonprofit completing $711,000 building project
By Alan Campbell
Of The Enterprise staff


PLAYING KEY roles in the expansion and renovation of the Glen Arbor Arts Association art center have been, from left, Linda Young, capital campaign co-chair; Peg McCarty, GAAA director; Jeff Gietzen, capital campaign co-chair and first vice president; Rae Dumke, GAAA president; and Leonard Marszalek, construction chair. PLAYING KEY roles in the expansion and renovation of the Glen Arbor Arts Association art center have been, from left, Linda Young, capital campaign co-chair; Peg McCarty, GAAA director; Jeff Gietzen, capital campaign co-chair and first vice president; Rae Dumke, GAAA president; and Leonard Marszalek, construction chair. Glen Arbor will soon have a fitting home for its art community.

A project begun in April to transform the diminutive Glen Arbor Arts Association (GAAA) building into a showcase for local and national talent will culminate next month.

Residents may not recognize the finished product if they were familiar with the original building, which was purchased in 2002.

The tastefully designed building will include a new, high-ceiling gallery space, a multipurpose room and even a business office for the GAAA.

Functionality played an important role in the design, according to Peg McCarty, the association’s first and only director. She was hired in 2004.


THE EXPANDED arts building will provide space to hold more than one event at once. THE EXPANDED arts building will provide space to hold more than one event at once. “This really started with a board and staff retreat in 2014. One of the topics that came up that we wanted to focus on was expanding the building,” she said.

Indeed, the arts center located at the south end of Lake Street was cramped at best and dysfunctional at worst.

“We kept the original part with the multipurpose space and apartment. Now some of that original space is used for classes and a meeting room. We were doing so many things we were using every inch we could find, and our office space was very tiny for people to share,” McCarty said.

A popular addition to the GAAA repertoire has been its Reader’s Theater, which now has a stage. The area can also be used for lectures, or “we may have small concerts in there,” McCarty said.


MARK BOGART of Heritage Floor of Traverse City sands the yellow pine floor of the second story of the renovated Glen Arbor Arts Association building. MARK BOGART of Heritage Floor of Traverse City sands the yellow pine floor of the second story of the renovated Glen Arbor Arts Association building. One of the first steps in the process was hiring the right architect in Matheson and Matheson of Grand Rapids, she continued.

“We wanted to work with an architect with experience with nonprofits. And the owner’s mother lived in this area, so he grew up as a child coming here. He knew the area and has a love of it,” McCarty said.

That business’ principal is Tom Matheson, who started the project then handed it off to his son Evan.

Cooley Construction, whose office is located off M-72 just west of Traverse City, was hired as the general contractor. The Cooley project manager is Chris Touhey, a Glen Lake grad.

The organization caught a break when the property next to its building went up for sale.

“We decided to purchase that so we could expand beyond the borders of our small property. That helped us a lot because it allowed us to renovate the original downstairs and expand,” McCarty said.

But the biggest factors might have been having the right volunteer administrators in place leading up to and during the project, McCarty said.

Construction chair is Leonard Marszalek, a retired architect from the Detroit area. He’s also a member of the GAAA Board of Directors. And retiring board president for the past two years is Rae Dumke, former executive director of the American Institute of Architects Michigan.

Taking over as board president as of Monday is Jeff Gietzen, owner of Northwoods Hardware and a veteran of nonprofit fundraising in the Grand Rapids area. Gietzen joined Linda Young, past GAAA president and retired education director at the Kalamzoo Institute of Art, as cochairs of the highly successful Capital Campaign.

Donations from individuals ranging from $100 to $50,000 poured in for the project. Also helping were grants of $50,000 from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, and $40,000 from Rotary Charities.

All those donations and grants were need to make the $711,000 project possible.

“We’re thrilled with the response from the community,” McCarty said. “People were so generous and so excited to see the growth of the organization. Anyone who attended events in our building could see we had outgrown it.”

GAAA rented space in the former Leelanau Interiors building during the project from Stan Brubaker, whose wife, Jo, took classes from GAAA.

The finished GAAA project will provide a setting in line with the present state of the organization.

“I feel like we’ve really grown up. We’ll be able to have a class, but the public can still walk in and see exhibits on the wall. We might have a lecture related to the exhibit, or even panel discussions,” she said.

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