Kalamazoo State Theatre seeks lost painting of venue’s history

Kalamazoo and Battle Creek

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — The Kalamazoo State Theatre is searching for a painting that could reveal more about the venue’s history.  

The painting depicts the stage in its original state when the theater opened in 1927. 

Harry Phillips, the director of marketing and development, says they are hopeful the public will be able to assist in the search for information.      

“One of our team members stumbled across a newspaper article about a painting that was commissioned in the 1980s of the theater that was representative of the original theater, the original colors, the original paint scheme and the original architecture, and so we set out on a mission to try and find that,” Phillips said. 

Phillips says the Kalamazoo Gazette printed the article in December of 1983 showing the unveiling of the painting by Craig Hendrix.  

“It said that it was commissioned 18 months earlier, so that is about as much as we know about the painting and that it was based on as many photos as they could find of the original theater,” Hendrix said. 

A copy of the Dec. 11, 1983, edition of the Kalamazoo Gazette that featured a painting of the Kalamazoo State Theatre.

The staff put the request for information on the Vanished Kalamazoo Facebook page and is now working to contact the artist or his family. 

“We would love to find out who has it and where we could maybe see it or send people to see it,” Hendrix said. 

They do not know if the painting was ever displayed at the theater. 

“It might be the best representation of what it looked like,” Hendrix said. 

When the pandemic hit, a team of staff members started a new effort to learn more about the theater’s history and came across the article in their research this week. 

“We’ve been doing tours lately since we’ve been able to open to very small groups and there’s been a lot of questions that have come up that we don’t even know the answer too,” Hendrix said. 

The theater is hopeful the painting will provide more answers nearly 40 years after it was commissioned. 

“We’d love to know. We’d love to share it with the community,” Hendrix said. 

If you have any information that could assist the theater in the search for the painting, you can message the Kalamazoo State Theatre Facebook page or email info@kazoostate.com.  

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