Visitors to the Vickers Theatre, our patrons, are an interesting, diverse, and involved group of people. We want you to get to know them. Every month, our website will introduce a new individual who has enjoyed movies at the Vickers.
June 2021: Alene Valkanas
Alene Valkanas is our June Vickers patron. Alene has been a national leader in the arts advocacy and arts education movement throughout her lifetime. She began her art education advocacy as a Roman Catholic Sister in Pennsylvania teaching English and Art to high school students. Alene holds a master’s degree in arts education from the University of Chicago and a Bachelor of Arts in English from La Roche University.
After graduating from the University of Chicago, Alene took a position at the three-year old Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago as their Public Relations Director, where she “learned the skills of public relations while on the job.” According to Alene, “We needed to get more people into the museum, and saw the performing arts as a way for our guests to further enjoy and enrich their lives.” She brought music, leading avant-garde composers and theater directors, jazz and performance artists to the art galleries of the museum. During her tenure, she produced more than 500 multidisciplinary cultural events .
She later served for twenty years as the executive director of the Illinois Arts Alliance, the state wide advocacy organization. Her extraordinary contributions to national arts advocacy have been recognized with the initiation of The Alene Valkanas State Arts Advocacy Award. Specifically, she was recognized for her innovative programs and research projects, and her tireless advocacy on behalf of organizations that bring the arts to all of us. This award created by Americans for the Arts is given to one individual each year who exemplifies Alene’s spirit and advocacy.
One innovative program she inspired was bringing John Cage to the Museum of Contemporary Art to speak. Cage, American composer, artist, and philosopher, was lured by promise of a mushroom hunt in a state he said had no good hunting grounds for mushrooms. She introduced him to distant relatives in suburban Illinois and they set out on a day-long quest, picking mushrooms, dandelions and other types of plants. They cooked all, placed in containers and shared with guests who came to hear him speak the following night.
Alene was married to Jim McComb, a self-taught water colorist, well- known nationally and throughout Harbor Country. Jim passed in 2015 and was the “love” of Alene’s life. She resides in Union Pier in her home “Evergreen,” with her numerous dogs and cats.
Alene is a loyal patron of the Vickers who loves the staff, the trivia, and of course, the popcorn. She loves sharing her movie experience with other Harbor Country moviegoers like herself, often made broader by folks sitting next to her from deeper Indiana and farther north Michigan. According to Alene, “We are all there for the same reason – quality films on the Big Screen.” If you find yourself sitting next to Alene at a Vickers movie, introduce yourself. She loves to share movies and movie experiences with fellow film advocates.
Meet Jane Raymond, long-time resident of Bridgman, teacher par excellence, and community activist.
Jane grew up in the town of Saginaw Michigan. After living in many different cities in Illinois & Michigan, she settled in Bridgman to raise her daughters and begin her teaching career. Jane graduated with a Bachelor and a Masters degree in Education from Michigan State University. Jane is the “teacher” we all wish for when our children enter school for the first time. A teacher who is inquisitive herself, a life long learner and KIND. In fact, on Jane’s front lawn is a colorful BE KIND sign her grandson, Tim, made for her as a business project at the University of Michigan this past year.
Meet our next-door neighbor, Marco Chavarry, owner of Alapash, a home-decor-business, three doors north of the Vickers Theatre. Marco is originally from the district of Barranco in Lima, Peru. Today, Barranco is considered the “most Bohemian city” in the world, with beautiful colonial buildings, concert areas, galleries, and street vendors lining the city’s many plazas. Some beautiful handmade blankets and vintage rugs in his store come from the markets of Barranco. Marco opened Alapash two years ago, modeling the store after his first store in the Ravenswood community of Chicago where he had been for 10 years.
We are pleased to welcome Kathy Parker as our March patron of the month. Kathy resides in Michigan City Indiana, as do so many of our Vickers patrons. She, like others who cross the “Indiana border” to visit Michigan and the Vickers Theatre in Three Oaks, is so a part of the Vickers community. Currently, Kathy is an academic aide for a special-needs-elementary student at Queen of All Saints School in Michigan City. Her teaching experience includes special education in the Michigan City Area Schools, and classroom teacher in the Chicago Public Schools.
For February 2021, we would like you to meet Leslie Wood, a ‘movie buff’, whose favorite movie of all time is Casablanca. Leslie is a frequent and loyal patron of the Vickers Theatre.
In 2014, after years of living part-time in Harbert, Leslie and her husband Gary, made the decision to make New Buffalo their full-time home. In the short seven-year-time period, Leslie has made a lasting imprint on our community. She is on the Board of the League of Women Voters of Berrien and Cass County. She is on the Board of Neighbor by Neighbor, a social service program that links people to food pantries, nutrition and housing programs, and a myriad of state and federal programs.