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A weekly look at creativity, arts, and culture in southwest Michigan, hosted by Zinta Aistars.Fridays in Morning Edition at 7:50am and at 4:20pm during All Things Considered.

Art Beat: Living with art

Linda Rzoska
Maryellen Hains; installation in progress at Ninth Wave Studios

Artist Maryellen Hains can’t get enough art in her life. An artist and jewelry maker herself, she also collects the artwork of others, especially that of Kalamazoo's local artists -- even as she resists the title of collector. Ninth Wave Studio in Kalamazoo stripped the walls of Hains’ three homes and put up the work of 53 artists to share with the public. Hains says she feels like an empty nester now, but she can be found at the gallery most days to tell you about each and every work, so close to her heart.

“I was chatting with Linda Rzoska, who owns the Ninth Wave Gallery,” says Hains. “She’d been to my homes and had seen the art on my walls, and she suggested that we do a Maryellen Hains show—not of my work, but of my collection. I said fine, and she did the actual curating of it. She was particularly interested in that I had so much art by so many local people.”

A conversation with Maryellen Hains

Rzoska chose more than 60 pieces to show, Hains says. When looking through the exhibit, Hains noticed recurrent themes of birds—she is also a birder—and nudes. She also has a couple pieces up by an unknown painter, including “Woman at the Table,” and hopes that perhaps someone viewing the exhibit might be able to tell her about the mystery artist.

“My approach to selecting a work of art has been very idiosyncratic and I have somewhat of an addictive personality, I think,” Hains laughs. “I do tend to collect things without noticing that I am collecting them. I acquire things I want to live with. I surround myself with images or objects that trigger memories or connect me to something that resonates.”

A native New Yorker, Hains came to Kalamazoo to teach English at Western Michigan University in 1966 and continued teaching until she retired in 2000. At that time, she began teaching jewelry making classes at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts and began curating mixed media exhibitions of local artists.

“I discovered a community rich in scholars, activists, and artists of all disciplines, and unlike in huge cities like New York, an easy vibe and a welcoming attitude for newcomers,” she says. “Kalamazoo has always felt like home.” Visitors are welcome at the Ninth Wave Studio on 213 West Walnut Street in Kalamazoo from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, or by appointment. To schedule an appointment, call or text 269.271.3161. A virtual gallery is also available at

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