Art Beat: Renaissance Retiree | WMUK

Art Beat: Renaissance Retiree

Feb 4, 2021

Cover of A Day At The Pond by Bill Klinesteker
Credit Courtesy of the author

What does a teacher do when he retires? Bill Klinesteker taught elementary school for 25 years, but when he left the classroom, he discovered new interests and expanded old ones.


Those interests would eventually turn into eight children’s books, a line of tee-shirts with his photographs silkscreened onto them, mobiles made from Lake Michigan beach rocks and glass, and more.

“I taught second and third grades, but for the longest time, fifth grade in Portage,” Klinesteker says. “Then I retired around 2014. I’ve always been interested in taking pictures, but I never really got into true photography until retirement. I had the time to go out and not be in a hurry. I started noticing things I’d never noticed before in places I’d been a hundred times.”

Bill Klinesteker
Credit Courtesy of the artist

Eventually, Klinesteker began writing stories to go with some of his photographs, and he wrote for his usual audience: kids. But his most recent book, A Day at the Pond, is illustrated by Dan Smith. It tells the story of a boy with a vivid imagination on a field trip to a pond.

Klinesteker began making mobiles from Lake Michigan beach stones and glass only in the past year, during the quiet of the pandemic, when he had to step away from a social life.

“I love walking the beach collecting stones,” he says. “Then I got interested in mobiles about nine months ago, and I started playing around in my basement. I’m having a lot of fun with it. So I’ve created different kinds of mobiles. Some are hanging; some are on stands; some look like solar systems. Now my basement is filled with mobiles.”

Klinesteker’s mobiles are currently available in selected shops downtown Kalamazoo.

“The pandemic has given me time to reconsider what I love to do since I can’t get out and travel and do photography,” Klinesteker says. “I’m building mobiles, writing a couple books, and walking the beach.”

Once he can move about freely, Klinesteker plans to travel overseas with his wife, collect more photographs, and create more books.

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