The art of Macomb County

MadeInMII have been the Executive Director of the Anton Art Center for over a year and I know now more than ever, that it is a gem in Macomb County.  We have an engaged Board of Trustees, a small but dynamic staff and talented volunteers who work to put together art exhibits of all kinds, art classes for people of all ages to learn and create, and special events like puppet shows and art fairs for county residents to enjoy.

Why should people visit the Art Center?

  • Great architecture: The building itself is an interesting meld of old and new. Originally it was a Carnegie Library, built in 1904. Years before the Internet and before tax-supported libraries, Andrew Carnegie, a rich man who made millions from steel, had a big idea: to build libraries around the country so that the common man could have access to books and knowledge. His idea changed the country and we are still grateful. When the Mount Clemens Library building moved in 1969, the city listened to the pleas of our founding mothers, Bea Wright, Gretchen Thompson and Phyllis Wickens, to allow the building to become an Art Center. We have now been going strong for 45 years.

ANTON ART CENTER WINTERAfter Mount Clemens businessman Gabe Anton led a successful $5 million fundraising appeal, an addition was built in 2006 which gave us the Petitpren Community Gallery, an elevator to make the facility accessible to all, plus offices. To recognize Mr. Anton’s dedication and efforts, the Board of Trustees changed our name to the Anton Art Center.  The addition is modern by design because it had to be.  Rules for historic buildings mandate that additions be noticeably different so that people can tell the difference between the old and the new.

  • Great art: One of the biggest differences between a museum and art center is that a museum owns its art and you can go back again and again to see your favorites. Art centers and art galleries don’t own their art, but instead change the art every few months, allowing for current and often local work to be shown. Sometimes an exhibit has a theme – soon we are doing a show with art inspired by Detroit and later, a show inspired by Frieda Kahlo and Diego Rivera.  Other times there is no theme, but a judge (usually an art professor or a respected artist) builds a show based on what is submitted and decides what pieces are included. Our art varies – some is abstract while other pieces are representational; sometimes we have exhibits with sculpture, fiber, clay, glass or jewelry as well as exhibits of paintings and photography. We hold an Annual Macomb County Secondary Student Show and a biennial k–6th Student Show so that students can have their work shown in a beautiful gallery and the public can see the talent demonstrated by young people in our community.

Coming to the Art Center is free (donations are accepted, but not required). We are open during the day so that you can see the exhibits independently or you can attend during opening receptions which are often in the early evenings. Have a glass of wine and meet the artists: it’s a fun, free date night! You can come to the Art Center many times during a year and always see something different. Art can soothe, stimulate, perplex, anger, interest or encourage you. Whatever thoughts or emotions you experience when viewing the art at Anton – you will remember it.

  • Great events: The Art Center’s Christmas Market is open from Nov. 14 – Dec. 21 with over 100 artists participating. The entire first floor is transformed into a market with handmade crafts such as wreaths, children’s puppets and bird houses and fine arts such as paintings, jewelry and ceramics. A kitchen gallery includes homemade jams, jellies and candies as well as jazzy aprons and dish towels. The 2015 Christmas Market’s theme is “Celebrate” with sapphire and silver decorations to highlight our 45th Join us for the Meet the Artists Reception from 1 p.m. – 3 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 16. Prepare to be delighted…and to get most of your holiday shopping done!

The Anton Art Center is located at 125 Macomb Place in Mount Clemens.  Call (586) 469-8666 or visit and Facebook for more information.

Hours are Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Fridays from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. and Sundays from noon – 4 p.m.  During the Christmas Market, late hours will be on Friday, Nov. 21 until 9 p.m. and Thursdays, December 4, 11, and 18 until 8 p.m.

Anne Lilla is executive director of the Anton Art Center.

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