Weekend in an antique gas station

If you’ve been following me for a while, you may remember this place–it was originally a gas station, then became a victim of neglect, then was resurrected as a nostalgic tribute to the 50’s gas station. It has now become the site of the “Dino Project” (look closely to see the Sinclair dinosaur on the roof) whose aim is to provide an art space for the benefit of the entire community. Cass Area Artists held a show here last October, and we did it again this past weekend in conjunction with the Village of Cassopolis, Michigan, which sponsored a concurrent art walk.

We had work from 13 artists and artisans filling the garage space and also were lucky to have our own sugar source in the person of local baker Phyllis who supplied artists and visitors with a copious array of cookies, muffins, and bread.

Cookie lady (and a lot more). Anybody for a rhuberry (rhubarb and blueberry!) muffin?

I’m just going to hit the highlights here because 13 exhibitors is a lot to talk about and if you know me, you know I’m not going to write a really long blog post except under duress!

It was a good day for kids as a local 4-H group huddled around wood turner Neil Benham’s table. First let me show you the lovely work he does–and mention that Cass Area Artists is going to raffle off one of his gorgeous bowls at our summer show on July 20–and I won’t say that I’m exactly “stuffing the ballot box” but I really want this bowl so I bought a couple dozen tickets for myself.

Neil’s turned wood. I love his business card holder!

Fourteen 4-H kids learned a lot in just a few minutes.

The kids learned about various types of wood and the patterns each produces, how a lathe is used to turn the wood, and the care of the wood after it becomes a functional object. They were really astounded by the smooth velvety surface of a finished piece.

A couple of our Cass Area Artists members chose to do some on-site demos for the show. One of our purposes as an organization is to bring an understanding of how an artist actually works to the community at large. People can be intimidated by something they know little about, but a demo usually opens up the opportunity for questions and education.

Sharron set up an easel in the corner of her space and painted all day!

China painter Diane worked with the tiniest brushes known to man…I didn’t ask her, but I’m pretty sure that’s a deviled egg plate she is putting the most delicate of painted flowers on.

Diane does more than paint–she creates the most intriguing “drums” I’ve ever seen. They’re made from natural gourds, with the drum head on the larger ones made of hide and on the smaller ones of a synthetic material. The size and shape of the gourds, along with the type of drum head, determine the pitch and reverberation characteristics of each one. They each have a long metal spring-like tail embedded in the drum head. So…you ask…what the heck do they sound like? You shake them instead of beating them! They aren’t called “thunder drums” for nothing! The large ones rumble and throb and the smaller ones crack and spit and whine! How quickly or hard you shake them will also change the sound. I would put up a link to the sound but I couldn’t find any that sounded as good as Diane’s drums!

Thunder drums!! They’re kind of hard to see, hanging from their display tree. So I circled them for you.

One of my favorite artisans is Diana (we have a lot of “D” names in the Cass Area Artists group–but bear with me, this is Diana with an “a”, who makes the cutest whimsical dolls on the planet). Everything is completely hand made–cut out, sewn together, stuffed, glued, and painted. At the last show I bought a bunch of hand made pumpkins from her (it was October, after all). So of course I had to buy something this time around too. All of her ideas are original, and the little mouse sitting on the trap contemplating the cheese was irresistible.

Diana and her helper Roz having a little fun. Check out the mouse next to the orange arrow, right below Diana’s hand on the left side of the photo.

So I suppose you are wondering where my work is? I put three paintings in this show, but my main “work” was really installing the paintings of all the artists. This building, as you can see, has lots of windows (yay!) but no real walls to hang anything on. So I came up with a system using small-gauge unobtrusive chain zip-tied to rails running above the windows. The paintings hang on the chains by S-hooks wrapped around very small screws on the back of the top corners of the painting frames. It’s a totally adjustable system and so far it’s worked really well for us.

The windows make the paintings look like they’re floating.

My three “floaters” are on the far left.

Early morning, just as we opened up the big garage doors. For once, the Michigan weather was perfect!


About Alli Farkas

Equine and landscape artist specializing in rural Americana
This entry was posted in 4-H, art, Cass Area Artists and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Weekend in an antique gas station

  1. Emma Cownie says:

    Oh lovely! It’s such a good looking venue (loved the dinosaur on the roof too).

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Kathy Noone says:


    Liked by 1 person

  3. anne leueen says:

    what an intriguing venue! I love it.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Nancy A Powers says:

    Interesting, fun and for sure unique! I’d love to have been there!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. rangewriter says:

    What a clever installation. You are a genius. I love those wooden bowls.


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