The Property becomes haven for paintings, ‘pARTies’

Lowell resident Cynthia Hagedorn used pandemic to create unique gatherings.
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Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss participated in the Leadership on Canvas program. Courtesy Cynthia Hagedorn

Cynthia Hagedorn has many titles, and she is using all of them to share her passion for painting with others on The Property, her Lowell residence.

Hagedorn is an artist, producer, educator and entrepreneur, but she has merged all those to focus on being an artist.

Last year during the pandemic, she took advantage of the outdoors and established tents on the lawn of The Property to create Lawn pARTies, which are artist-themed parties for birthdays, bridal showers and more.

Hagedorn said she has more than 40 themed artists like French painter Claude Monet and American painter Jackson Pollock that guests can choose from for their Lawn pARTies. If guests choose a Monet-themed Lawn pARTy, for example, the table settings will feature a French style for plates, cutlery, water and wine goblets, and linens.

“The emergence of the experience makes you feel that you are in Monet’s backyard,” she said. “Everything is in French style. Even some of the things on the table are things that you would see in his paintings. You’ll have an opportunity to do three or four art projects, and they are all open-ended. Everyone has their supplies. The experience is a couple of hours, and you just learn about the artists and hang out with your friends.”

In addition to hosting Lawn pARTies, Hagedorn works on different programs including Care on Canvas and Leadership on Canvas, both of which are done in her home art studio. She also hosts brunch pARTies inside her home.

The Care on Canvas program is a partnership between Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital and Make-A-Wish Foundation where Hagedorn paints with kids who are fighting cancer. They go to her art studio year-round and there is one exhibition per year where the children share their artwork with a marketplace that sells necklaces, perfumes, bath bombs and more.

The Leadership on Canvas program is about West Michigan leaders painting with Hagedorn. Some of the participants have included Grand Rapids City Manager Mark Washington, Spectrum Health President and CEO Tina Freese Decker, Mary Free Bed CEO Kent Riddle and Mike Verhulst, vice president of Rockford Construction and board chair of the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce. Those artworks have been displayed at ArtPrize.

Riddle and Verhulst both have participated in the Leadership on Canvas program and have attended a Lawn pARTy. While the programs have been beneficial to the community, they also have been enlightening to the leaders personally.

“Painting with Cynthia in her studio is ‘an experience,’” Riddle said. “The studio is completely adorned in Cynthia’s art, and it is in a very comforting and lovely forest setting, which is both contemplative and peaceful.”

Verhulst said the experience was eye-opening for him.

“Cynthia introduced me to the power of art through painting,” Verhulst stated. “Only having art classes in elementary school, I did enjoy the time as being fun and a way to express my thoughts in a youthful way. Now that I am older, I am able to do something with art that is spontaneous, has purpose, inner thought, and organic in nature.

Verhulst said he sat down with Hagedorn shared his life story with her, a conversation that he said impacted him deeply.

“The creativity that I possess is a simplified version of my personal make-up. If you strip away all material things, everyday distractions and the things that really do not matter, you find the things you’re grateful for and all the positive (and negative) things that molded you into the person you are,” he said. “I was able to do that and didn’t know I was capable of doing so. That is the power creative art and something we all possess. Whether in a group setting or as an individual, you can sit back, have a glass of wine, reflect and decide what goes onto that blank canvas. Whatever you’re feeling or want to express, is the image you’ll capture.”

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