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God-given ability on display at Grand Haven church gallery

• Jun 2, 2018 at 5:00 PM

Sy Ellens always wanted to be an artist, and he made it happen, step by step, and with a lot of work and patience.

Some of his works make up the new show, “In Retrospect — the artistic journey of Sy Ellens,” in the Atrium Gallery of the Second Christian Reformed Church, located on the corner of Robbins and Sheldon roads in Grand Haven.

A public reception for the artist will take place this Sunday at 11:30 a.m., following the church’s 10 a.m. worship service.

Ellens believes that all people are created with individual and unique talents. God gave him the ability and desire to draw, so he has been doing just that for as long as he can remember. From the time that he was a young boy sitting in the barn in McBain, drawing dogs and cows and horses and making things from wood, he knew that he could not be happy unless he was doing something creative.

Even though he was working as a house painter and decorator, doing artistic designs for as many people as he could, he felt that he wasn't doing as much art as he wanted to do.

Five years after high school, he entered Kendall School of Design (now Kendall College of Art and Design) in Grand Rapids. Upon graduation, he worked as a commercial artist in Kalamazoo. He soon become disenchanted with designing milk cartons and cookie boxes. With the encouragement of his wife, he enrolled at Western Michigan University to earn a degree for teaching art.

Following nine years of teaching art at Kalamazoo Christian High, he moved with his family to Nigeria, where he taught art for three years at the Vandeikya Government Teachers College. This experience gave him respect, appreciation and interest in other cultures and the environment. Subsequently, he traveled to many other countries, including the Middle East, Turkey, Europe, England, Scotland and, in the summer of 1992, he and his wife spent seven weeks teaching in China, and again in 1997.

As a result of these experience, his paintings are found in many private collections in Canada, Nigeria, Netherlands, Germany, England, Switzerland, Italy, India, Poland, Hungary and the U.S. He is also represented in corporate collections such as those of Upjohn, Allied Capital and Mall City Containers of Kalamazoo.

His paintings, both large and miniature, have been accepted and received awards in many national and international juried art shows. Included among many awards and shows are the following: American Watercolor Society High Winds Award, National Watercolor Oklahoma, Western Colorado Watercolor Society, United Pastelists of America International Juried All-Media Show, American Artists Professional League at the Salmagundi Club of New York.

The gallery is open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 9 a.m. to noon Fridays. The exhibit will be displayed through August.

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