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First Things

February 2024

A number of events and activities will be offered across the greater Kalamazoo community this month in observance of Black History Month. Among the events scheduled are:

  • Dr. Sian Proctor — The geoscientist, space artist and astronaut who served as mission pilot for SpaceX Inspiration4, the first all-civilian orbital mission, will give a free presentation at 6 p.m. Feb. 3 at the Air Zoo, 6151 Portage Road. Proctor is the first Black commercial astronaut, first Black woman to pilot a spacecraft, and the author of Space2inspire: The Art of Inspiration. A question-and-answer session and book signing will take place after the presentation. For more information, visit
  • Local Black Artists Exhibition — Kalamazoo Valley Community College’s Center for New Media and its Arcus Gallery will host an exhibition of works by local Black artists throughout the month. The Center for New Media is located at 100 E. Michigan Ave., and gallery hours are noon–2 p.m. Tuesday–Friday. For more information, visit
  • 10 Little-Known Facts — This exhibit at the Portage City Hall Atrium will highlight memorable moments and stories of courage in Black history. It will run from Feb. 1–March 29 and be available for viewing from 8 a.m.–5 p.m. weekdays. For more information, visit  
  • Kalamazoo History-Makers: Celebrating Black History Month  — This three-part series will showcase Black community groups and members, including Peace During War, Kenjji and Ny’Shawn Scott. They will discuss topics such as community violence reduction, local youth and art and education. The events will be 1 p.m. Feb. 17 at the Black Arts & Cultural Center Gallery, in the Epic Center; 5:30 p.m. Feb. 21 at Kalamazoo Public Library’s Alma Powell Branch; and 5:30 p.m. Feb. 26 at KPL’s Central Library.
  • History of the Frederick Douglass Community Association — Local authors Sean Hollins and Sonya Bernard-Hollins will discuss the history and importance of this organization for Kalamazoo’s Black residents. Their talk is set for 6 p.m. Feb. 27 at KPL’s Central Library.

What do ice, brews and blues have in common? They will all be celebrated Feb. 2–3 in downtown Marshall when the city hosts its annual Ice, Wine, Beer & Blues Fest.

The event will include wine and beer tastings at 10 businesses, live ice sculpting, appetizers and a concert Feb. 3 by Laith Al-Saadi, who competed in 2016 on NBC’s The Voice. Al-Saadi will perform at 8 p.m. in the Franke Center for the Arts, 214 E. Mansion St., with the Blain Luis Band opening the show at 7 p.m.

Tickets are $25–$40 for the Friday beer and wine tastings. Tickets for Saturday’s tasting and concert range from $34–$180.

To purchase tickets or for more information, visit

The Kalamazoo Institute of Arts kicks off its centennial year with a “heART pARTy” on Feb. 16.

The party, set for 7–10 p.m. at the KIA, is touted as a family-friendly fundraising event that will take a look back at the KIA’s past century and forward into its future.

Tickets for adults and teens are $50 in advance or $75 at the door. Tickets for youth 12 and younger are $25.

Admission includes desserts, dancing, a photo booth, entrance in the KIA-through-the-decades costume contest and a champagne toast (except for the kids). A “Sweetheart Gift Box” filled with KIA merchandise and love-centered items will be available for $25.

To purchase tickets or for more information, visit

You might find a bargain or two when more than 145 artists bring their overstocks, seconds and art supplies to sell at the annual Garage Sale Art Fair.

The event runs from 9 a.m.–4 p.m. Feb. 24 at the Kalamazoo County Expo Center, 2900 Lake St. Artists who work in media such as photography, ceramics, clothing, jewelry and painting will be participating.

There is a $5 entry fee for guests. For more information, visit

Exhibit highlights psychiatric hospital

Michigan’s first and longest-operating psychiatric hospital is the focus of a new exhibit opening this month at the Kalamazoo Valley Museum, 230 N. Rose St.

Kalamazoo State Hospital: 165 Years of Psychiatric Care, which opens Feb. 3, will explore the history of what is now called the Kalamazoo Psychiatric Hospital. The hospital’s history includes innovative programs such as a training school for psychiatric-care nurses, an occupational therapy program in partnership with Western Michigan University, and a colony farm system that was believed to have a curative effect on patients by keeping their bodies and minds active.

The exhibit runs through Jan. 19, 2025. Museum hours are 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Tuesday– Saturday and noon–4 p.m. Sunday. Admission to the museum is free.

Encore Magazine

Encore Magazine is Southwest Michigan’s Magazine, bringing readers intriguing images and stories of the good things, good works and great people of our corner of the mitten. Published 12 times a year, Encore in its fifth decade of serving Southwest Michigan, carrying on a historic tradition of being the premier lifestyle publication of the greater Kalamazoo area.

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