Crooked Tree Arts Center has been a hub of artistic energy and cultural activity in Petoskey for more than 30 years. The nonprofit organization’s mission—to create, stimulate, and perpetuate the arts in Northern Michigan—plays itself out in a variety of ways.  From performances and exquisite exhibits to educational opportunities there is always something happening in the beautifully restored church-turned Arts Center in the heart of downtown. During the holiday season,one such “something” is the chance to shop a myriad of Michigan artists in one spot. Crooked Tree’s fifth annual Holiday Bazaar is running through December 23, and MyNorth checked in with Crooked Tree Arts Center executive director, Liz Ahrens, to get the scoop on the indoor art fair.

MyNorth: Since this is being held at the Arts Center, I’m guessing it isn’t a typical bazaar? As in, there might be more to it than baked goods and crocheted tissue paper holders (not that there is anything wrong with tissue paper holders).

Liz Ahrens: Definitely not your typical bazaar. We have more than 70 artists from all over Michigan displaying their wares.  This is the time of year when we dedicate all of our exhibit space to show and sell artful gifts.  It is exciting for us because we have the ability to offer such a variety, and it is wonderful for shoppers because they really can find something for everyone on their list.

MyNorth: What are some of the gifts people will find at the bazaar?

Liz Ahrens: This year, I’m really loving all the jewelry.  There are some unique pieces, and there are pieces that span the age spectrum well. I just picked up something for my 12 year-old niece the other day. We also have some holiday decorations, whimsical picture frames, and these fantastic nightlights that have been flying out the door. I love how people can give gifts that are so fun and one-of-a-kind. That’s the other great thing about the bazaar; the prices range from $5 on up, so patrons have the chance to buy an original piece of art for a loved one without having to break the bank.

MyNorth:  Art is a pretty personal thing. Is it hard to buy something like a painting as a gift?

Liz Ahrens: Thanks to all the space we have dedicated to the holiday bazaar, we are able to showcase a wide range of artful gifts. In terms of something like a painting, there are a number of small paintings—for as little as $30-$40—that I think would make great gifts without being a major purchase.  That said, we’ve had a lot of folks come in and buy paintings by artists they have admired for a long time, or people shopping for loved ones who wistfully mentioned an artist’s name during one of the area’s summer art fairs. One woman said to me “I’d rather buy myself a painting by my favorite artist than receive any other present in the world.”

MyNorth: A present from Crooked Tree’s Holiday Bazaar is sort-of a two-fold gift, correct?

Liz Ahrens: Absolutely! Not only are you supporting a Michigan artist by purchasing gifts at the Holiday Bazaar, you are also supporting the Arts Center. You can pick out an original piece of art, and know that you are helping provide things like dance scholarships to our area youth. These are gifts that come with layers of goodness for the community.

Crooked Tree Arts Center is located on East Mitchell Street in Petoskey and is open Monday-Friday 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Saturdays 10 a.m.-4 p.m., and Sundays 12 p.m.-4 p.m.. The fifth annual Holiday Bazaar will be open through December 23.  For more information, contact the Arts Center (231) 347-4337 or visit