The Vibrant Art Scene in Chelsea





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From Amy Grambeau

Chelsea’s world-class art scene used to be a local little secret, but now it is recognized throughout the state and nationally for delivering top-notch art fairs, music festivals, art galleries and performing arts.  With the historic architecture as a backdrop, the small, charming city provides residents and visitors from all around with an enriching experience in the arts.

The following list is a snapshot of some of the amazing attractions and offerings for the arts in Chelsea this year:



Sounds & Sights on Thursday Nights (June 7th – August 16th, 6:30 – 8:30pm) a weekly music festival, Sounds & Sights, on Thursday Nights, attracts visitors from all across Michigan. Downtown is buzzing with live music on every street corner, featuring both well-known and new musicians and entertainers. The event features blues, folk, jazz, rock, and comedy.  It’s a fabulous event for groups of friends, couples, or even an outing with the grandkids. For a complete list of this year’s lineup, visit chelseafestivals.com/soundsights/.

Sounds & Sights Festival Weekend (July 26-28) an annual summer event, which began over 30 years ago, and is a highlight of summer, attracting visitors from all over the state. The two day, three-night event features a live music and social tent, indie art market, kids’ entertainment and activities, a classic car show, and so much more. This year the festival will also be showcasing several world-renowned chalk artists on July 27th and 28th. Visit chelseafestivals.com/soundsights/.

Harvest Art Market (Sat., September 29th, 10am to 4pm) this annual fall event began in 2008, and is held in the Maples Room at Silver Maples Retirement Neighborhood at 100 Silver Maples Drive.  It’s the best little art market west of Ann Arbor and east of Kalamazoo.  It features a “market mix” of wares created by more than 25 artisans that are creating in so many types of media: vintage fare and folk art, glass and mosaics, watercolor, pottery, mixed media, funky and fashion jewelry, food art & edibles, fiber art, photography…and so much more.  Visit silvermaples.org

Silver Maples’ Gallery 100: The Gallery 100 at Silver Maples Retirement Neighborhood is a showcase for local artists to display their talents and works of art. Residents of Silver Maples and the surrounding community delight in seeing a diverse selection of art showcases ranging from watercolor, photography, stained glass, fiber arts and heritage quilts, to mixed media, unique dolls, and even vintage Hondas. It’s managed by Lois DeLeon, a resident of Silver Maples since 2007, who is using her passion for art and experience in art curating to add to the unique amenities that are available at Silver Maples Retirement Neighborhood. Showcases turnover every two months which means you’ll want to visit often to check the new work. Open to the public. Visit silvermaples.org

Kaleidoscope Concert Series (September through April) This popular concert series began in 2009 and was made possible through a three-year grant from the Chelsea Community Foundation and the Community Foundation of Southeast Michigan which stipulated that community support would be needed for subsequent years.  Thankfully many community members and businesses saw the value of the concert series and pledged support for additional years. Concerts are held in the Maples Room at Silver Maples Retirement Neighborhood and run from September through April each year.  Musical performances vary from big band, folk, and swing, to light pop and jazz. Open to the public. Visit silvermaples.org

Purple Rose Theatre Company: Founded in 1991 by Chelsea native and acclaimed actor, Jeff Daniels, The Purple Rose Theatre Company has grown from works being performed in the humble “Garage Theatre,” the used car and bus garage owned by Daniels’ grandfather, to its major renovation in 2001. Audiences travel from miles away to enjoy the quality, professional productions offered at affordable prices in historic downtown Chelsea. Visit purplerosetheatre.org

Live Music in Chelsea: There are many local venues featuring fantastic live, local music every week of the year in Chelsea.  Check for scheduled artists performing at:  The Alehouse Brewery (http://chelseaalehouse.com/news-events)

The Rumpus Room (https://www.therumpusroomchelsea.com)

Cleary’s Pub ( https://www.clearyspubchelsea.com/)

Zou Zou’s Coffee House (https://www.zouzouscafe.com/events/)

Chelsea Chamber Players: This organization provides live music concerts to the people of Chelsea and surrounding communities.  Additionally, they enjoy coordinating educational experiences for the various communities through workshops in schools and summer music camp opportunities. For a list of upcoming performances and more information visit chelseaschamberplayers.com

Things to look forward to in 2019:

Sonic Sundays (January and February): The Chelsea District Library hosts this wonderful music series annually, the first two months of the year; a must do for next winter. These six, hour-long concerts take place on Sunday afternoons in various venues throughout Chelsea, including the Chelsea Library, Chelsea Alehouse, and at Silver Maples Retirement Neighborhood. Half of the concerts are specifically targeted to appeal to a young audience, but all performances are family friendly. Visit chelseadistrictlibrary.org/sonic-sundays/

Chelsea Painters Art Fair (June):  2019 will be the 46th year the Chelsea Painters Art Fair will be held (on the second full weekend in June). Known as the area’s premier fine arts fair, it attracts visitors from not just the local area, but Ohio and Indiana, too, and features work from 25 highly accomplished artists.  Visit chelseapainters.com/blog/art-fair/chelsea-painters-art-fair.html

To learn more about art, music and events in Chelsea, visit Chelsea’s community events website at ChelseaMich.com. There you will find the latest happenings from live music and theatre to author visits, farm tours, sculpture walks, and much more.

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Seth Kinker

Reporter/Digital Media for The Sun Times News

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