Monday, December 14, 2009

Update & Game Plan

I heard back from Pam Lorenz about what kind of support the Gwen Frostic shop can use. Apparently the bank that has foreclosed on the shop is planning an auction on January 8th, and it sounds like they are more interested in going that route than working with the current owners to pay down the debt. While I have some things I'd like to say about this, I'd rather we focus on what we can do to keep the shop open and in the spirit that Gwen founded it in, rather than point fingers and lay blame.

It looks like we are shooting for $150,000- a daunting task, certainly, but not impossible.

So, if you'd like to help, Pam has agreed to accept donations to this goal in their 'Beyond Time' account (this effort was made to bring Gwen's designs into the new generation- jewelry, throws, pillows, etc). She has also informed me that if the effort is not successful then the money will be returned to the donators.
Donations can be sent to:
Pam Lorenz, (c/o Beyond Time/Gwen Frostic Prints), 112 N. Benzie Blvd., Beulah, MI 49617

If you do decide to donate- please also consider dropping us an email at so that we can keep track of how we are doing.

Quick update

I've emailed Pam Lorenz at the shop to ask her if they are still trying to reopen the shop, and if they would be interested in taking donations for that purpose. When we hear back, then we'll have a better idea of the next steps to take.

Pam's response:
thank you so much for your support and loyalty, plus your kind words. We are very sad too, as the bank has just been unwilling to do anything we have suggested. I would be honored if you wanted to start a website like you said. Thank you so much. I would be ever so appreciated and so would the staff. we are a little discouraged right now. Thank you and Merry Christmas. Pam Lorenz

Traverse City Record-Eagle 11/13/09

Whither goes Gwen Frostic?

Popular Benzie County studio is closed -- for now


BENZONIA -- A sign taped to the door of Gwen Frostic Prints reads simply "closed."

The Benzonia shop and popular tourist stop showcases the legacy and works of the late artist Gwen Frostic, who died in 2001. The rambling stone and wood building is tucked away in a natural setting off River Road in Benzonia. But late last week, the building was dark and one end of the long driveway roped off.

It is under foreclosure, said Honor State Bank President Michael Worden, who declined to say what happens next or specify a timeline.

"(The) whole process has to work itself out," he said.

Frostic reportedly left her business to Pamela and Kirk Lorenz. Pamela Lorenz, who could not be reached for comment, was listed as president and secretary on a corporation document filed with the state in 2001. Kirk Lorenz, who declined comment, was listed on that document as treasurer and vice president of Presscraft Papers Inc., which, according to state records, does business as Gwen Frostic Wilderness Prints.

Kirk Lorenz told the Record-Eagle in September that a financing agreement tied his Brookside Inn business in nearby Beulah to an unrelated printing business he runs, creating financial problems for both companies.

The acclaimed artist's nephew Bill Frostic, who has worked at the print shop for decades, said the shop was shuttered in late October.

"We are working with the bank, trying to get something going. They don't want to close it down," said Bill Frostic. "Within another one or two weeks we should have some kind of answer, one way or another."

The shop is a cultural destination in the region that attracted more than 1,000 visitors on busy days, Bill Frostic said.

"It was the No. 1 request for information when people would walk into our offices," said Mary Carroll, president of the Benzie County Visitors Bureau and chamber of commerce. "We are confident that things will work out for the best in the long run. And, obviously, it is sort of an institution for us."

The bureau has received calls from people curious about the shop's future. Carroll said because the bureau doesn't "have any answers" it is collecting people's contact information and plans to call them back when it knows more.

Frostic's work evokes northern Michigan. Her soft and sweetly rendered designs of flowers, birds, trees and critters adorn stationery, tote bags, placemats and even mouse pads. She was also a generous benefactor, bequeathing $13 million to her alma mater Western Michigan University.

Her artwork attracted fans from all over. Penelope Olson of Benzonia has been a regular customer for years and always made a point to visit when she traveled to the area before moving here.

"It was always interesting to go to the shop, and (see) the way that the shop just blends in with the whole terrain, and go on the little nature walks and just see the area," Olson said.

She especially liked Frostic's sympathy cards, which "expressed the sentiments better" than other commercial cards. Olson often gave Frostic pieces as gifts. The art is "simple, but beautiful in its simplicity," she said.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Terribly sad news about Gwen Frostic's shop in Benzonia, Michigan...

... I was deeply saddened by this news, quoted directly from Gwen Frostic's website -
November 26, 2009
Dear Friends of Gwen Frostic:
I am very sad to tell you that Gwen Frostic Prints/Presscraft Papers was closed to the public by Honor State Bank on October 26, 2009.    The bank kept luring us to believe that we could reopen and fill your holiday orders.  Now the bank has changed their mind and will not let us go back into Gwen's building.   We have lost hope of filling all of these orders.  We are so sorry and will keep your phone numbers so we can contact you in the future if we are successful in getting out of the bank's grasp.
Again, we are very sorry for any inconvenience.  This is such a sad time for all of us.  Keep the faith and have a blessed Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!  May God bless you!  

 Pam Lorenz and Gwen Frostic staff.

My sister and I spent many happy summer in Gwen's shop, I can remember the stacks and stacks of papers and books. The amazing smell and the overwhelmingly nature-themed design (I say this because I loved it, not because I thought it was too "outdoorsy") were part of the charm the store held for me. I anticipated our yearly visit, and even though the vacation house we stayed in is long gone, I thought Gwen's shop would be around for a long time.

I was wrong, folks.

Apparently, Gwen's amazing style seems to be disappearing, fading from the wonderful earth she was so inspired by. I cannot sit by and let her shop be stripped from existence as if it never were, it meant too much to me - and I'm sure many others. It shouldn't just be a memory to the privileged few who got that chance to meet her before she died. Legacies like hers should be dutifully preserved, so that we may not lose such a genius to the ravages of time. In this digital age, Gwen Frostic's words and images could be shared by all. Please help my sister and me realize this goal.