Just Like Heaven / by Taylor Wade

100 years at Ox-Bow School of Art

I’m driving back from Saugatuck now, leaving the forested dunes of the Michigan coastline, rounding the southern shore of the Great Lake.

At I-90 the traffic builds and the pace thickens. 70mph turns to 80-sometimes-90 and the familiar industrial landscape returns. Steel mills, chemical plants, and refineries belch like giant robots mired on an oily beach. The pavement begins to beat with an anxious pulse, past Bethlehem Steel and the Cal Sag Channel. In the distance, the thumping Metropolis of Chicago emerges from its hazy horizon.

But behind me lays a lush green secret and hidden place, a forested Artist’s Haven called Ox-Bow School of Art. The main building at Ox-Bow is an old Inn, secluded on the banks of the Kalamazoo River. The Inn is sheltered by the massive sand dunes behind Oval Beach on one side, and a fortuitous Ox-Bow-shaped lagoon on the other.

You know how there are some places so mystical, so unbelievably cool, so authentic and so real, that you hesitate to even tell people about it because you think those people will just put it on TV and make it all crowded and ruined? Well Ox-Bow School is one of those places. And I’m telling you about it now only because I know you are an Art Lover and worthy of knowing. And you are now similarly sworn to protect the secret, so please share it only with others who are worthy.

Ox-Bow School was originally founded in 1910, by two artists from the Art Institute of Chicago. After a century of careful guidance and donations from generous benefactors, patrons, artists, and art lovers, the original Inn (which dates back to Civil War days), and 115 acres of virgin forest are preserved and transformed into a modern day compound of cabins, workshops, and state-of-the-art Artist’s studios. The entire compound is now protected under the stewardship of The School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

From, the poshest parts of the Saugatuck resort area.