Tecumseh couple to showcase work at Art in the Park


Shirley and Bryan Van Benschoten, together with pottery, will display artwork at Art in the Park. Photo by Megan Linski.

Bryan and Shirley Van Benschoten are no amateurs when it comes to art. Both are skilled artists with years of practice and multiple professional credentials (as well as a long list of workshop and studio experiences). Shirley specializes in painting and Bryan is a skilled potter, working with ceramics. Shirley and Bryan’s art will be on display at Art in the Park on June 4-5. The event, hosted by Community Arts of Tecumseh, takes place at Smith Park and showcases local artists throughout the community.

Bryan’s passion for art began in the ninth grade when his art teacher, principal and father encouraged him to attend Alfred University to study ceramics.

“My art teacher saw the talent I had in clay work, and he really pushed me to go for it,” Bryan said. “I was not an academic student in school. I hated it. I wanted to be outdoors, as my father was a conservation officer, but my art teacher nourished my talents along so I got into ceramics instead of conservation.”

Both of Shirley’s parents encouraged her to create artwork, however, her father insisted she go to Siena Heights College, now Siena Heights University, to graduate with a bachelor’s in painting. “I was just going to get an ordinary day job and he said, ‘No, you’re going to college.’ I’m the first one in my family to graduate from a university,” Shirley said.

Bryan and Shirley met after Shirley’s grandparents played matchmaker and insisted they meet. “They knew we would be perfect for each other,” Shirley said. “I finally gave in and went to Bryan’s church to meet him.”

They came from different worlds; Shirley was a Tecumseh girl and Bryan had been born in New York State. However, they hit it off instantly. “The Lord played a big part in us meeting,” Shirley said.

They had a son, Elijah, who also became an artist, specializing in drawing. “We never encouraged our son to get into art, and the reason we didn’t is because we wanted him to find his own way,” Bryan said. “I saw too many kids in college that flunked out because their parents wanted them to go and I didn’t want that to happen to my boy. But he liked art.”

“He loved to draw from on infant on up,” Shirley said. “It really is rare to have a family of artists, but that’s what we are.”

While they were creating their art, Bryan and Shirley also had other jobs. Bryan worked as Master Potter at The Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Museum for 38 years, and is now teaching at Adrian College. Shirley worked for the postal service before helping to open Studio One as part of the Adrian Center for the Arts. She now serves as director of that facility.

“It was difficult having a day job at the postal service and wanting to do my artwork, but I did have a studio at home where I could work,” Shirley said.

“Being in the art field is not an easy road. You have to be persistent and go after it yourself. You can’t expect people to come to you,” Bryan said.

Bryan and Shirley are grateful to have each other as creative partners. “We’re supportive of each other,” Shirley said. “He encourages me and critiques my art, and I help Bryan by helping him to put shows together, transporting his art to galleries and maintaining his website.”

“I help her with Studio One in Adrian, maintaining the building and working on things there as well,” Bryan said.

“I cannot imagine having a partner that wasn’t involved in art or had no knowledge of art,” Shirley said. “It’s the best having him.”


Tecumseh Herald


110 E. Logan St.
P.O. Box 218
Tecumseh, MI 49286

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