Claire Wittlieff Feature

Tina Vivian showcases art exhibit in town




Walking into the Alma Community Art Center, one is immediately aware of how they are welcomed into a space. Tina Vivian, a retired costume designer from the Alma College theater department and local artist, has opened her show titled Wide Open Air: Summer 2023. 

Vivian, who joined the ACAC in 2020 in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, was intrigued by the renovations of the center and was contacted by fellow local artist, Diane Clise, to get involved. Since then, Vivian has been involved in selling her artworks as well as the works of other people, teaching classes and helping with community events. 

“This is all volunteer run. We don’t have any paid people and we do a lot. We have classes, we have the ceramics studio and we have the retail space. We’re open three days a week and we host special events. We help with Arts United on the [Alma College] campus,” said Vivian.

Before Vivian was a costume designer in the theater department, she worked with various art mediums, earning a master’s degree in printmaking and developing her painting skills as an undergraduate student. For Vivian, the Wide Open Air exhibit is a return to a medium that she holds great passion for. However, Vivian acknowledges the gratitude she feels for her years of costume designing and her appreciation of living a creative life. 

“I have this whole new thing that’s opened up and it’s very rewarding to just be a part of a group of artists,” said Vivian. 

This show consists of paintings from Vivian’s travels over the summer, with some locations including the Leelanau Peninsula, Beaver Island, numerous rivers and even a ranch in Colorado. 

The paintings range from April 2023 to October 2023. Vivian accomplished this by carrying her supplies in a backpack and capturing landscapes on canvases. All of the pieces were finished in approximately two hours and are referred to as “Plein Air” paintings. 

“Plein Air painters vary in their methods and reasons for facing the exposure of the natural world in all its splendor as well as its bugs and rainstorms and wind,” said Vivian. 

“Our materials are as different as our personalities. Some paint for the experience. Some paint in preparation of more accomplished paintings that will eventually be composed in the controlled atmosphere of the studio,” said Vivian. 

As part of Tina Vivian’s exhibition, she included people who contributed to the artistic process in creating these works, namely newfound friends and fellow artists who also created plein air paintings, ACAC, her children and her husband, Robert Vivian of the Alma College English department.

“It’s been one of the most moving periods of my life to see Tina commence her plein air painting this past summer, which has resulted in a truly magnificent show. She just had to reassure me (several times) that some of her paintings were not for sale because they belong in my study. I hate to sound selfish, but it’s true. She’s the most versatile artist I’ve ever known,” said Robert Vivian.

Wide Open Air: Summer 2023 will be on display at the Alma Community Art Center from now until Tuesday, Nov. 21. A reception in Vivian’s honor will be held at ACAC on Saturday, Nov. 18 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Students and community members are greatly encouraged to visit the exhibit during the reception or during ACAC’s operating hours, which are Tuesday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

Leave a Reply