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Art, Culture & Theater

Winter Joy in South Haven: Holiday Art at the Mistletoe Market

Published: 12/6/2018 by Jonathan Davis

Tues, Weds, Fri & Sat 10am–4pm and Thurs 10am–7pm through December 22, 2018

South Haven Center for the Arts 600 Phoenix St.


Both locals and visitors know that the charm of South Haven is its spirit within every season. Spectacular for its beaches and boating in summer, the city is equally inviting for its beauty and cheer during the winter holidays.


This year that essence includes the South Haven Center for the Arts 32nd annual Mistletoe Market, two festive floors of original creations by local and regional artisans for adults and children alike. Holiday shoppers seeking keepsakes will find inspired works in diverse materials and formats:







stained glass



fiber arts



polymer clay



recycled materials







Original creations by local and regional artisans


While browsing, you may discover items such as a mermaid and her pet octopus, 3-D dragons, tiny art, hand-painted vintage furniture, driftwood sculpture, hand-spun wool hats, and salves, soaps and homegrown spices.


“It’s a truly amazing assortment of items,” said South Haven Center for the Arts Executive Director Kerry Hagy. “Hosting the market to bring such skill and imagination to the community is a high point for us each year. You really do have to see it for yourself to grasp the variety of what you can look at and choose from.”


South Haven/Van Buren County Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director Scott Reinert agrees.

“It’s quintessential small-town holiday fun,” he said. “Cool, one-of-a-kind items crafted with care – the kinds of things people will want to bring out year after year for their home holiday decorations.”


The market also features Make & Take holiday gift workshops on Saturdays. Free your inner artist painting holiday palette signs with Tipsy Brush Studio, as well as decorating wine glasses for you and a friend.



Meet Two Mistletoe Artists


The creators who contribute to each Mistletoe Market are just as intriguing as the art and food for sale. Here’s a look at market artists from both this year and last year.


Valerie Crisler (2018)



South Haven Center for the Arts member and 2018 Mistletoe Market contributor Valerie Crisler wanted to adjust her approach for this year’s offerings. A deeply inspired and tireless painter, she has featured her work at past Mistletoe Markets and exhibited her work at the arts center several times. Her art also has sold in South Haven–area shops as well a few in Indiana, her home state.


For this year’s market, rather than feature her more expensive paintings, she chose to focus on fun, smaller and more affordable items.


“I’ve included quite a variety,” she said. “I have note cards printed from my original art, some small journals, wool catnip mice [named Three Blind Mice] and several framed quilt pieces with heart-shaped beach rocks including a surprise element of beads and found objects.”



Valerie’s interest in art appeared early as inspired by her father, an artist working in oils. She went on to study art in college and received a fine arts degree focusing mainly on drawing in pen and ink.


She later returned to college to earn a nursing degree. After working as a registered nurse for 20 years, she retired and returned to her art with full vigor. She started with watercolor and continued for years, sometimes painting up to 12 hours a day. She then began working with acrylics, and she now paints with either according to her mood.


In 2017 a friend introduced her to wool and needle. Having spent much of her life sewing, and always having loved wool, she discovered a passion for that medium too.


As one influenced and moved by just about everything, she sees the Mistletoe Market as a ‘haven’ for artists and shoppers alike.


“I would encourage all to step into the Mistletoe Market this year,” she said. “There are lots of goodies at an affordable price. You'll be amazed at all of the diverse talent our area artists possess!”


Kathy Kreager (2017)


South Haven resident and arts center member Kathy Kreager had participated in the Mistletoe Market in previous years. She also has exhibited in art shows, and her work appears in several Michigan galleries; some is on permanent display in South Haven, Kalamazoo and Traverse City, as well as in private homes throughout the U.S.


For the 2017 Mistletoe Market, she was inspired by the concept of finding different metal objects and making each different from the next, so she created and donated a series of metal snowflakes.


“To me, snowflakes reflect the beauty and joy of the season without connoting any particular beliefs,” she said. “Each is unique, just as we as humans are each beautiful in our own way. I was attracted to the simple complexity of each snowflake as I made it.”


At about 15 inches, her snowflakes were slightly larger than many of the smaller pieces on display. Nevertheless, she believed her snowflakes would be original, meaningful gifts as well as a way to help raise funds for the arts center.


An array of influences have forged Kathy’s artistic style and techniques. During her years in professional social work – in which she holds a master’s degree – she took classes in welding, blacksmithing and glass fusing. Her father also was a craftsman, so she grew up creating with her hands.


“For me there is no greater thrill than to bend and shape steel into beautiful, flowing objects I’ve envisioned,” she said. “I love to combine steel and glass and tend to create things I’ve seen in nature and rework them from my own perspective. Much of what I create also has a bit of whimsy to it.


“There is something for everyone at the Mistletoe Market. All of the items for sale are handcrafted by local artists. What better way to support both the artists and the arts center than to attend and purchase holiday gifts there?”


More information about the Mistletoe Market: (269) 637-1041,


About the Author

A creative writer for many years, Jon Davis ( paints pictures with his words and captivates readers with distinctive language. He now shares his love for South Haven with us, writing about the experiences you can have only in the Haven. Jon resides in Oswego, IL, with his wife, Kristie, and two daughters. They visit South Haven often to take in the scenic beauty and spend meaningful time as a family.

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South Haven/Van Buren County Convention and Visitors Bureau
546 Phoenix Street
South Haven, MI 49090
Phone: 269 637-5252