Tag Archives: Lowell Showboat

Lowell artist inspires generations

IW Inspiring Women – Jan Y. Johnson

Longtime artist inspires generations embedded in Lowell area

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Note: The IW winter series, which leads up to the International Women’s Day on March 8, features women from all walks of life who continue to inspire others in our communities.

Inspiring women
Inspiring women

Their positions in the society are not measured by money or the accolades they receive, but by contributions to progress and well-being of all.

Nominate a woman who has inspired you for the series.

Lowell, MI – Artist Janet Y. Johnson, 86, is an icon. Together with artists late David Davis and current Kathleen Mooney, they have created an artistic legacy for generations embedded in the greater Lowell area.

Lowell artist Janet Johnson has created a legacy.
Lowell artist Janet Johnson has created a legacy.

Johnson has been a staple at the Flat River Gallery & Framing in downtown Lowell with countless exhibits of watercolor and acrylic paintings.

The gallery will celebrate its fourth anniversary with the “Let’s celebrate” event with champagne and chocolates on Feb. 11 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Johnson recalls all the great years of exhibiting and painting in the Lowell area.

“They’re all realistic paintings,” said Johnson about her work.

Some of them go as far back as to the heydays of another icon, the Lowell Showboat on the Flat River in the 1950s.

“I used to sing on it, and then I painted it,” Johnson said during a recent interview at her home.

As we looked at the dark blue watercolor painting of the Showboat with strings of lights floating on the Flat River hanging in the detached studio, one could imagine the lively atmosphere on the deck.

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Iconic Lowell Showboat with windows into the past by Jan Y. Johnson

You could almost hear the voices singing:

“Here comes the Showboat.”

Circus elephants by artist Jan Johnson of Lowell.
Circus elephants by artist Jan Johnson of Lowell.

Johnson sold two paintings of the Showboat and bought one back when the owner stated, that the painting should stay in the Lowell area.

Johnson has lived in the Lowell area for 57 years.

Growing up on a farm in Alto, Johnson acquired a natural affinity to all animals.

Johnson studied animal drawing at the Ringling College of Art & Design in Sarasota, FL and graduated in 1951.

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Miller Circus at Lowell Fairgrounds, 2016

Prior to that, she studied at the Kendall College of Art & Design in Grand Rapids, and worked as a publication designer for Amway in the 70s.

“It was a wonderful place to work,” she said.

Among her favorites are vivid paintings of exotic animals in circus settings.

Work in progress by Jan Johnson.
“A friend’s boat,” work in progress by Jan Johnson.

Johnson’s most recent watercolor painting is of the Miller Circus which performed in Lowell last August after the fair. She will hang the painting of the circus at the gallery for the new February show.

According to Johnson, the circus ringmaster at the Miller Circus was connected to  the Ringlings.

Johnson spent most of 2016 illustrating the children’s book  “Gertie Goose.”

“It’s a story about bullying,” said Johnson.

Pat Markle, former teacher of Hastings Schools, wrote the book. This was the third project for the author illustrator duo during the last decade.

The book is available at the Lowell Arts and at the Flat River galleries for $15.

“Gertie Goose” was published by J-Ad Graphics of Hastings in 2016.

“They do a good job,” said Johnson.

For more info on publishing go to www.http://www.j-adgraphics.com/

It is also available on Jan’s Facebook page at

https://www.facebook.com/janet.johnson.96742277

Johnson’s art will be at the ArtPrize 2017 from Sept. 20 through Oct. 8.

ArtPrize: https://www.artprize.org/jan-y-johnson

For more info on the Flat River Gallery go to: http://www.flatrivergalleryandframing.com

info@flatrivergalleryandframing.com

Copyright (c) 2017 Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this story or its photos may be reproduced without the written consent of author Emma Palova. @EmmaPalova

Lowell Showboat icon closes to public

Lowell Showboat closes to public

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Lowell, MI – Looking from her chamber office window on a chilly January afternoon, executive director Liz Baker has a clear picture of the Lowell Showboat still decked out in its Christmas glory.

There’s the mailbox for letters to the Santa and the big sugar canes, garlands and Christmas figurines. The archway is decorated with pink garland.

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“The showboat is iconic,” Baker said. “It’s been a part of so many people’s lives.”

The fifth replica of a Mississippi steamboat, has served as the Lowell Area Chamber’s logo for the last 20 years, until the chamber adopted a new one.

In the official press release, city manager Mike Burns stated the need to close the Showboat to the public as of Jan. 4, 2017 for safety reasons.

“The Robert E. Lee’s long history and tradition in the community has made this a very difficult decision,” he said.

However, the committee “Rebuild the Lowell Showboat” has already been preparing to replace the Showboat with a new structure.

“We’ve been preparing for this,” Baker said. “There is going to be a new structure that will somewhat resemble the old Showboat.”

The committee expects to submit formal application to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) by the end of the month.

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The new lower maintenance structure will sit on a platform dock to prevent rotting in water.

The current Showboat, although closed to the public, is not going anywhere.

“It will stand there until we’re ready to put the new structure out there,” Baker said. “The chamber will continue to maintain it.”

The Showboat has been an integral part of the Lowell community and its citizens. Over the last 85 years, it has served as the major venue for entertainment, and as a backdrop for the Sizzlin’ Summer concert series, the Riverwalk Festival and the Lowell Christmas festivities.

Santa posed with children for the last time on the Showboat during Christmas festivities in december of 2016.

“Things deteriorate,” said Baker, “our hope is to create a different structure with some of the old elements like the smoke stacks, and better use of space. It will serve the same purpose.”

According to Baker, the Showboat, owned by the city, has outlived similar venues.

“It is our shared belief that the current structure built in 1979 has served us well, it has outlived its expected lifespan,” said Burns.

The “Rebuild the Lowell Showboat” committee will be hosting an informational meeting on Jan. 19th at 7 p.m. at the city hall seeking input from the residents.

It is the hope of the committee, to have a new structiure in place in 2018.

“The Showboat is is iconic, but it is also our future,” said Baker.

Copyright © 2017 Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

Lowell Expo 2014

Lowell Expo brings in spring

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

LOWELL, MI- Always held on the fourth weekend in March, the annual Lowell Expo sponsored by the Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce has become a community perennial over the years.

It is also the only community event when chamber director Liz Baker wishes for bad weather.

“We want people to come inside and visit,” said Baker.

This year’s 18th Expo was well attended with more than 150 vendor booths. The event was complete with local entertainment by the Lowell Area Schools groups and by bluegrass band of the WMBA Eazy Idle led by Dave Simmonds.

Bluegrass band Eazy Idle with Dave Simmonds
Bluegrass band Eazy Idle with Dave Simmonds

These included newcomers: the Red Barn Market from Vergennes Township with owner Barbara Roth and River Edge Bed & Breakfast and Gathering Place with owners Brenda and Bill Schreur, as well as the Candlestone Resort of Belding.

Follow EW journal for stories on the above mentioned businesses.

There were signature mainstays of the event like the Lowell City Directory represented by Cathy Acker at the entrance, the Lowell Area Farmer’s Market with Dave & Betty Deans and Lowell Arts with director Lorain Smalligan. The farmer’s market this year opens on June 12th in front of the Tractor Supply Co.

Cathy Acker with Lowell City Directory at the Lowell Expo.
Cathy Acker with Lowell City Directory at the Lowell Expo.

Ada Lowell 5 were also represented by Amy Petersen.

The city of Lowell had on display Riverwalk Stage and Showboat Plans as part of the future masterplan.

The Expo serves as a great platform for new organizations such as the Rebuild Whites Covered Bridge group led by Christine Baird and Keith Salter.

The group hopes to raise $300,000 for a new replica of the Whites Bridge that burnt on July 6th of last year. They are selling memory bricks for Memory Lane, and beautification project at the bridge. Join their facebook group: Supporters for Whites Bridge. Whites Bridge Benefit will be held on June 7 at the Qua-Ke-Zik Sportsman’s Club on Riverside Drive.

Al Halbeisen and Betsy Davidson with Lowell Trails at the Expo
Al Halbeisen and Betsy Davidson with Lowell Trails at the Expo

          The Lowell Area Schools Food service offered a complete menu along with vendors’ samplings by Litehouse, Frozen Creek Floral & Farm.

Hubbert’s Kettle Corn had fresh kettle corn samples in front of the Lowell High School.

For upcoming fundraisers for the Whites Bridge replica check the local & events page on EW Emma’s Writings journal.

Rebuild Whites Bridge group at the Expo
Rebuild Whites Bridge group at the Expo

 

 

 

 

 

 

Related links:

Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce

www.discoverlowell.org

Lowell City

www.ci.lowell.mi.us

Lowell Area Schools

www.lowell.k12.mi.us

Lowell Arts

www.lowellartsmi.org

Lowell Area Historical Museum

www.lowellmuseum.org

West Michigan Bluegrass Association
http://www.wmba.org

Kent County Youth Fair
http://www.kcfg.org

Litehouse Inc.

http://www.litehousefoods.com

Ada Lowell 5 cinema

www.adalowell5.com

Candlestone Resort

www.candlestone.com

Hubbert’s Kettle Corn

www.hubertskettlecorn.com

Lowell City

www.ci.lowell.mi.us

Lowell Area Schools

www.lowell.k12.mi.us

Lowell Arts

www.lowellartsmi.org

Lowell Area Historical Museum

www.lowellmuseum.org

Ada Lowell 5 cinema

www.adalowell5.com

Candlestone Resort

www.candlestone.com

Hubbert’s Kettle Corn

www.hubertskettlecorn.com

 

Litehouse,Inc

www.litehousefoods.com

Red Barn Market

www.redbarnmarket.biz

River Edge Bed & Breakfast and Gathering Place

www.riveredgebnb.com

Golden Law Offices

www.getmyssi.com

 

 

Copyright © story and photos by Emma Palova