Steve Gruber

Owner, Arts on Main; Coordinator, Elkhart ArtWalk; Founder, Elkhart County Arts Alliance; Coordinator, Elkhart County Fashion Week
Current Residence: Elkhart, Indiana

I founded Arts on Main in 2013. It was a real leap of faith. We’ve been in operation for three and a half years. I think I’ve had 24 different shows in that time. I really believe that it is so important to have street-level arts programming accessible every week –– not just once a quarter or once a month. It’s so important that there be a welcoming place for people to enjoy art and for artists to sell their art.

Everybody has some tie to some kind of artistic expression. They just might not see it that way. My job, literally, is to help people see the value of art in the community. Arts can be approachable to everybody, but they need to feel invited. Communities that have a strong arts programming tend to have higher rates of voters, more volunteerism –– and, in some cities, a lot less crime. The thing is, you just have to keep trying.

My definition of success is that improvement can be seen –– and I am seeing a lot of improvement with the arts in Elkhart County. The interest in the arts is expanding. So I feel successful.

My favorite place in Goshen is 212 South 6th Street, it was the home of my grandparents. They bought this house that was abandoned for many, many years, and they restored it. From my earliest memory, we came over here every other Sunday for 20 years. My grandmother would sit out on the porch in the evening, sometimes read and sometimes knit. It was a really peaceful place, they had beautiful art, beautiful furniture. My grandfather was a gourmet, which was rare at the time, and he was really into fashion. My grandmother had been an actress in New York. She was a rebel. They were both intellectuals, both very, very forward thinking. They were very involved in Holocaust rescue. I listened to a lot of their stories, and I’m glad I remembered them. They had really amazing lives from this very house.

Editor • Liz Shenk
Photography • Ashley Ganger

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