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Benzie ABCs: Art, Bagels, and Community

A platter of bagel sandwiches from L’Chayim Delicatessen at an end-of-summer party. Photo by Christina Steele.

A Loveless night for L’Chayim

Two years ago, Ann Loveless won first place in the Grand Rapids ArtPrize competition for her beautifully quilted rendition of a sunset at the Sleeping Bear Dunes. This year, she and husband Steve, a photographer, decided to send a joint submission that would include quilting and photography—what an interesting amalgamation of talents! Excited by the prospect, I asked if we could throw a “sneak peak” preview party at our 3 Chairs Art gallery in downtown Beulah, directly across from Steve’s own gallery, State of the Art.

I wasn’t the only one who was excited by this idea; lots of people wanted to see their work before it was sent to Grand Rapids, and an end-of-summer party seemed totally fitting. So the Facebook invitations went out, the email listservs were blasted, Interlochen Public Radio announced the event, and friends were accosted in the street and told to come to the party. The date was set for Friday, September 4, and it would be a celebration on both sides of Benzie Boulevard, in our gallery and in the Loveless gallery.

But then, just one week before the big event, the unthinkable happened just down the street—a slow, smoldering fire burned and smoke damaged L’Chayim Delicatessen in the early morning hours of Saturday, August 29.

Employee Denise—who comes in at 3:30 a.m. on baking days—discovered the fire before it spread. No one was hurt, no other structure was damaged, and blessings were counted. But what a setback.

Even though L’Chayim has insurance, there are deductibles to cover and recent major investments to pay off. Not to mention that neither the Beulah location nor the Frankfort location—which depends on the Beulah location for the entirety of its bagel supply—would likely be operational for months.

Despite the peace of mind portrayed in television ads, insurance claims are a negotiation. It was clear to many of us who frequent L’Chayim that something needed to be done.

Quickly, the Loveless send-off party was re-purposed to also be a fundraiser for L’Chayim. The Facebook posts and emails were revised, and Friday, September 4, became the “Bring Bagels Back to Benzie/Ann & Steve Loveless ArtPrize Send-Off” party.

More than 500 of you came out on Friday night—500! So many people came that there was a line to get in, a line out the door in Beulah!

The night reminded so many of us why we love this community. Restaurants and caterers leapt into action. (Many thanks to Coho Cafe, Creation Farm, East Shore Market, Elberto’s, Marsha Foresman, Roadhouse, Stormcloud, and especially to Suz McLaughlin—if there were a ‘Best in Benzie’ category for “Who you want to have in the foxhole with you,” she would win, hands down—for donating wonderful food and for, in Suz’s case, staying through the evening, keeping the food and wine flow on track, and doing most of the clean-up.) Additionally, Crystal Mountain donated two season ski passes that were raffled off, concerned drinkers donated wine, Tony Viviano played free jazz piano, and the Beulah Boosters pitched in, too.

How Vicki Carpenter wasn’t hoarse after greeting each person, explaining the raffle, pointing folks to “Northwood Awakening,” the Loveless piece, and directing them to the food and wine is a mystery. Truly good sports, Carrie Fowler and Aimé Merizon thought that they were just coming to a party, but they ended up working the food and wine tables. Suz’s friend and protégé, Satomi, also worked tirelessly.

It was a good time for more than 500 guests; the Loveless piece—who can miss its 5-foot-by-25-foot mesmerizing magnificence—was celebrated and deeply admired, while other local art already featured in the gallery reminded us of the rich talent among us. Moreover, L’Chayim got great support.

This event, like so many others we’ve witnessed, was Benzie County doing what it does so well—looking out for its own.

Ann & Steve Loveless’s piece, “Northern Awakening,” will be on display at 3 Chairs Art gallery at 254 S. Benzie Boulevard until September 16. Hours are noon-5 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and catch-as-catch-can at other times. Donations to L’Chayim can be made through www.HomeTownGiving.com by clicking on “Help a Charity” and scrolling to “L’Chayim Delicatessen Fire Recovery” or by using this link http://bit.ly/1IUkSeP. Another option is to write a check directly to L’Chayim.

Feature photo: A platter of bagel sandwiches from L’Chayim Delicatessen at an end-of-summer party. Photo by Christina Steele.

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