Art show to benefit restoration of The Highlands

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    Painting by Kathy Mohl, photo courtesy of Blandford Nature Center

    Blandford Nature Center and LaFontsee Galleries present Art is Second Nature, an art show and sale to benefit the ongoing efforts to restore The Highlands golf course to a natural landscape.

    Art is Second Nature takes place Saturday, Oct. 22, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. at Blandford Nature Center, located at 1715 Hillburn Ave. NW, in Grand Rapids. 

     “This property has become a center of species diversity and a staple in our community for people to enjoy nature, but there is more work to be done,”  said Jack Woller, President and CEO of Blandford Nature Center.

    The show and sale will consist of pieces by over 40 artists, all of which have been inspired by the beauty of The Highlands. Piece sizes will vary. All exhibited work will be for sale and proceeds will go towards returning the 121-acre former golf course into a natural space the public can explore and enjoy.

    Artists will be present for the duration of the show alongside their work expressing their vision of and depicting scenes of The Highlands. Artists such as as Stephen Duren, Kathy Mohl, Justin Kellner, Jason Quigno and Rachael Van Dyke and many more will have pieces on display. A full list of participating artists can be found on Blandford Nature Center’s website.

    “When I visited The Highlands for the first time scouting out what I was going to paint, I was struck by the light. It blew me away,” said artist Stephen Duren. “There is ‘California light’ where I grew up, there is ‘Michigan light’, and now there is ‘The Highlands light’. I used colors that I have never used before in my work. I couldn’t do just one piece, I had to return to do more.” 

    Today, The Highlands features native grassland covering 75 of the 121 acres, eight wetlands, and three miles of trails, including segments of accessible paved and crushed gravel trails. The proceeds from Art is Second Nature will go towards continuing the restorative work at The Highlands, but also maintaining the land for years to come.

    Blandford Nature Center and the Land Conservancy of West Michigan teamed up in 2017 to purchase the former golf course. 

    “Walking through the sea of native wildflowers that now covers The Highlands in the summer, it can be hard to believe that it was a golf course just four years ago, said Woller. “From here, we’re hoping to improve public access through infrastructure at The Highlands while ensuring the area continues to support biodiversity.” 

    Admission to this event is free and no registration is required to attend. Light refreshments will be provided and all ages are welcome. Guests will have the option of making donations in support of the conservation efforts at The Highlands. For more event details or to visit the online gift shop, attendees can visit the Blandford Nature Center website.

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