View Past Exhibits





Expressions 2014: 32nd Annual Muskegon Area Student Art Exhibition

March 26 through April 27, 2014

Livio DeMarchi (Italian, born 1943)
Strumenti del pittore (Paint Brushes with Pot) (detail)
Wood and ceramic, 1993
Muskegon Museum of Art Gift of the “In and Around Venice” MMA tour participants, 1993


L. C. and Margaret Walker Gallery A

Expressions is organized annually by the Muskegon Museum of Art in partnership with the Muskegon Area Intermediate School District (MAISD). A visual delight, it celebrates the artistic talents of Muskegon County K-12 students. Two- and three-dimensional artworks in a variety of media are included in the show. The art specialist at each participating school selects the pieces to be included in the exhibition, and the work is organized and installed for display by Museum staff. Expressions 2013 is sponsored by the MAISD, Old Orchard Brands, and Comerica Bank.

Meet the Artists Receptions

Join us for cookies and lemonade at receptions for the student artists. Community participation is a great encouragement to the many student artist participants and emphasizes the importance of teaching the visual arts in our schools.

Free admission.


Tuesday, April 1, 5:30–7:30 pm


Wednesday, April 2, 5:30–7:00 pm



Thursday, April 3, 5:30–7:00 pm







Buster Keaton’s Bluffton: A Graphic Novel by Matt Phelan

March 6 through May 25, 2014


Illustrations from Bluffton, My Summers with Buster Keaton by Matt Phelan

Ernest and Marjorie Cooper Gallery

Step back into local history and the heyday of vaudeville and Buster Keaton with an exhibition of original illustrations from the new, acclaimed graphic novel* Bluffton, My Summers with Buster Keaton by Pennsylvania-based artist and Newbery Medal winner Matt Phelan.

Bluffton tells the story of Henry, a young boy who befriends the most famous resident of Muskegon’s Bluffton neighborhood Actors' Colony. Tucked into the Bluffton neighborhood, the Colony was a remarkable place in the first decades of the 20th century. The nation’s vaudevillians made their summer residence here, working up fresh material for upcoming seasons and, more importantly, unwinding and enjoying Muskegon’s still-incredible lakeshore.  

Matt Phelan’s work has quickly garnered critical acclaim. The School Library Journal writes, “Phelan’s watercolors are expertly rendered and soft in focus, but pop at just the right moments, simultaneously showing the sleepiness of the town, the glamour of show business, and the energy of summer.” Kirkus Reviews states Phelan’s Bluffton is “thrilling—a spirited, poignant coming-of-age vignette and an intriguing window into a little-known chapter in vaudeville history. BLUFFTON has been nominated for three Eisner Awards (the Oscars of the Comics Industry). The categories are Best Publication for Teens, Best Graphic Album - New, and Best Writer/Artist. The award ceremony is in July at Comic Con. Copies of BLUFFTON are available to purchase in the Museum Gift Store.


Have fun and enrich your view of the era and local lore with a special family day, Buster Keaton film screenings, and an historical Bluffton walking tour.

This exhibition is underwritten by Harbor Steel & Supply Corporation. Additional support is provided by the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs with the National Endowment for the Arts.

* “a fictional story that is presented in comic-strip format and presented as a book,”





Thursday, March 6
Opening Event
5:30 pm Reception
7:00 pm Lecture and book signing by Matt Phelan
Enjoy refreshments and meet artist Matt Phelan, creator of the graphic novel Buster Keaton’s Bluffton. Free and open to the public

March 8, 10:00 am – 3:00 pm
Elephant Super Saturday
Free Family Fun Day

Stomp into the MMA for an enormous day of fun and activities. Free admission and activities are underwritten by MMA Education Partner Alcoa Foundation/Howmet.
10:00 am & 1:00pm    
Buster Keaton Films
Old-timey laughs for all ages!
11:00 am – 1:00 pm
Guided Exhibition Tours
Explore Buster Keaton’s Bluffton: A Graphic Novel by Matt Phelan with a museum docent.
11:00 am – 2:00 pm
Make & Take
Create elephant sized art with a twist.

Thursday, March 13, 12:15 pm
Brown Bag Film
Buster Keaton Documentary

(45 mins.) Buster Keaton is considered one of the greatest comic actors of all time. This film tells the story of Keaton’s career and eclectic life, which included many childhood summers spent in the Bluffton neighborhood of Muskegon. Illustrator and author Matt Phelan highlights those summers in his fictional graphic novel Bluffton, original illustrations of which are on display in the Cooper Gallery. Brown Bag Film admission is free.
Saturday, April 26, 10:00 am & 4:00 pm
Bluffton Artist Colony Walking Tour
Join local historian, Ron Pesch as he guides a walking tour highlighting the homes and hangouts of the lively group of over 200 vaudevillian actors that took up summer residence in Bluffton’s bygone artist colony. You will walk away with a new appreciation for Buster Keaton and the showbiz clan that loved Bluffton, which they considered their true home when not on the road. The tour begins at the old Bluffton Elementary School parking lot. Reservations are not required. In case of rain the walking tours will take place Sunday, April 27 at 2:00 pm. Questions: Call 231.720.2587.

Saturday, April 26, 1:00 pm
Buster Keaton Film Festival at the MMA
The MMA will showcase three classic Buster Keaton short films from early 1920s: Cops, One Week and The Boat in conjunction with the Museum’s Buster Keaton’s Bluffton exhibition. All three of the famous silent films are restored 16mm prints; One Week is a restoration by David Shepard, the world’s foremost silent film preservationist. These are the actual film prints—not DVDs. Era-specific music will accompany the films. Local historian Ron Pesch will be on hand to talk about the films, their connections to Muskegon, and answer questions.      

Film admission is included with paid museum admission:

$7.00 Adults
$5.00 Adult Students (with I.D.)

Free admission for Muskegon Museum of Art Members & children ages 17 and under
(1922) Buster accidentally gets on the wrong side of the law, and his attempts to correct his situation only get him in deeper trouble. This movie is packed with clever physical gags and surreal cinematography. The Library of Congress added Cops to the National Film Registry in 1997.  
One Week
(1920) Two newlyweds start a new life with a do-it-yourself house in a kit. Things don’t go quite as well as the instructions directed. Many of the classic films stunts Keaton became famous for were first seen in One Week.    
The Boat
(1921) Buster attempts to build a boat (The Damfino) and launch his family on the high seas. This 1921 film was directly inspired by Keaton’s summers on Muskegon Lake.  

Free Classroom Books for Educators

Each teacher that visits the exhibition with their students will receive a copy of Bluffton for their classroom, while supplies last.



Translating Reality: Representation in Glass

February 20 through May 11, 2014



Martin Janecky, Czech Republic
Hero 222.223, 2013
Hot sculpted glass
14 x 34 x 11 inches


Stani Borowski
Pulpy Whopper Den, 2012
Hot sculpted glass
14 x 18 x 12 1/2 inches


Thelma and Paul Wiener Gallery

Technical advances in studio glass have enabled artists to push the boundaries of what they are able to create, moving beyond the vessel to make sculptural objects that depict the world around us. Using blowing, casting, lampwork, and cold working, and some combining glass with found objects, metal, and paint, the artists in this exhibition have given shape to figures, interiors, animals, and still-lifes. Technique is integral to the content of the art, as the character of the glass shapes how the object is made and perceived. In the case of these pieces however, literal representation also allows the viewer to understand the form without knowing exactly how it was made.

For some works, the lightness and fragility of glass brings an airy quality to the subject matter, with slender, transparent forms merging to create figures and objects. Artist Emily Brock builds highly complex, miniature narrative scenes filled with tiny plants, figures, furniture, and architecture. Equally small in scale are the lampwork figures of Lucio Bubacco, which twist around traditional vessel forms in themes inspired by medieval theater and classic Venetian glasswork. Slender tendrils of glass form flowers, plants, and flights of bees in Paul Stankard’s technically astounding paperweights, delicate objects frozen in place by nearly invisible glass.

For other works, casting brings a sense of weight and density, with finishes that range from opaque to transparent. Wendy Saxon Brown uses a pâte de verre technique to create languid figures in fanciful interiors, their surfaces glowing but impenetrable to the eye, emphasizing their fanciful, playful nature. Tim Tate’s humorous figures and still life objects are equally opaque, their finishes soft and waxy in appearance. Contrasting this opacity are the semi-transparent candy colors of Stani Borowski and Lucy Lyon. Borowski incorporates found objects as well, emphasizing the density of his glass with metal and wood elements. The cast skull in Antoine Leperlier’s work is fully transparent, allowing the viewer to see the symbols imbedded within.

Translating Reality: Representation in Glass
is organized by the Muskegon Museum of Art, in cooperation with Habatat Galleries, Royal Oak, MI.

Sponsored by

The Robert D. and C. Corcoran Tuttle Family Fund of the Community Foundation for Muskegon County




The Sculpture of Stephen De Staebler: Elegies in Clay

February 20 through April 27, 2014



Stephen De Staebler
Two Found Legs
Fired clay, 2008
Courtesy of the Estate of Stephen De Staebler and Zolla Lieberman Gallery.


L. C. and Margaret Walker Gallery B

Stephen De Staebler (1933-2011) is an internationally recognized sculptor best known for works in clay that combine a figurative element with forms reminiscent of fragments of an ancient, yet familiar, culture. The clay, palpable and of the present, both defies time and memorializes its persistence.

The Sculpture of Stephen De Staebler: Elegies in Clay features 12 figurative worksfrom late in De Staebler’s career. Each work examines, through the fragile yet resilient medium of fired clay and pigment, the transience of individual lives against the remarkable endurance of humankind. De Staebler studied with Peter Voulkos, a renowned abstract sculptor who elevated ceramic’s categorization as mere craft into the realm of the fine arts. De Staebler, deeply influenced by Voulkos’s emphasis on clay’s organic properties and expressive potential, departed from traditional ceramic vessel-making and instead worked large slabs of clay into distinctive hand-built assemblages.

The late-career works (2005–2010) selected for Elegies in Clay are dramatically fragmented; they appear as if re-assembled from an archaeological site as pieces of a lost history. Barely recognizable sections of legs, feet, or torsos emerge from rough stacks of clay built up into elongated, elegant forms. Silent and meditative, the visitor is left to imagine if these newly created “artifacts” were once complete figures, or perhaps columns or decorative elements from a lost former civilization.

This exhibition has been organized by the Muskegon Museum of Art in collaboration with the estate of Stephen De Staebler and Zolla/Lieberman Gallery.


Thursday, February 20
Opening Event
5:30 pm Reception | 7:00 pm Lecture by Charles R. Loving: Fragility and Resilience: The Sculpture of Stephen De Staebler
Charles R. Loving will discuss Stephen De Staebler’s figurative sculptures that juxtapose the frailty and transience of individual lives against the remarkable resilience of humankind. Loving, a great admirer of De Staebler, is Director of the Snite Museum of Art, University of Notre Dame, and Curator of the Snite’s George Rickey Sculpture Archive.

Thursday, February 27, 12:15 pm
Brown Bag Film | 2012 American Craft Council Gold Medal Winner: Stephen DeStaebler
(9 mins.) This short interview gives the viewer a chance to enter into the work and mind of Stephen De Staebler. Timothy Anglin Burgard, Curator at the de Young Museum in San Francisco, and sculptor John Toki discuss how De Staebler’s work evolved and provide an inside look at his studio and favorite sculpting tools.


Exhibition support has been provided by the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, the National Endowment for the Arts, and by Blue Lake Public Radio.



--> --> -->