Ladies and Gentlemen,
I'd love it if you would like to record your fond memories of that metal working school, weird stories of things that happened at that metal working school, realizations you had while attending one of our classes or workshops, epiphanies you experienced while enjoying that metal working school and whatever else comes to mind that you'd like to share.
Please email your written comments to: We'll post them here on this blog to share with everyone.
This is a great way to mourn our loss and celebrate our accomplishments.


There's a friend in California..

I did not get to take a class (yet) as I was busy running my own millworks. That said, and with 35yrs of being a shop rat behind me...when I walked into Smart shop...
I was blown away. Hardly anyone can put such a facility together in decades...and to have the sculpture garden, gallery, and community all in one place is a feat of epic wonderment. I am not sure what my highest compliment I can pay to a fellow shop rat is Holly...but you have it!

The openings were great, the facility a treat. One fond memory my (then 10yr old) daughter and I will always have, was on a quiet morning...going to pick up, or drop off some art work with Nathalie Winans & co. It was Easter & we brought confetti filled colored eggs. We hid them all over the garden, and when they all were hunted down...we had an egg war & littered the place, and ourselves, with confetti. A totally happy day! 

Best regards Holly & co ;}

Michael Klem

Holly's Mom has a bit to say.

As Holly's Mother I recall very well the opening of the original that metal working school.  What a thrill!   The community came out in droves filling the parking lot to overflowing within the first hour.  They bought lots of artwork and brought energy into the project.  It was electric.  I've watched Holly work endlessly and sacrifice everything to have her vision realized of helping people make art.  When she suffered the extreme disappointment of losing the lease on the building of the original that metal working school it seemed that it was over.  But Holly was determined to continue and applied all her ingenuity to create something even better.  Wow, she succeeded solely with her own intellect, business acumen and lots of help from friends and a supportive community.  That metal working school grew into something bigger than life.  You don't do that without artistic intellect, a good business head and teaching ability.  I was excited when the business was reorganized with the intent of making it possible for Holly to do more artwork and less management.
I cannot begin to describe the impact this has had on Holly and will have on each person she has touched. When you know Holly, you have been exposed to a force that changes your life.  I'm confident that she will find new ways to reach out and share her special talents and she will land on her feet because of who she is and the skills and abilities that she has developed.  It is just so very tragic to see that metal working school close; not just Holly but the whole community loses with closing such a dynamic organization.


What a loss for the kalamazoo area. The art work that come's out of that metal working school are outstanding. I myself own a piece of art work, by Holly
Fisher and I treasure it dearly. You need to see this work and need to back it operation. Holly Fisher, Took all the risks. It is now time for the city of Kalamazoo to step up and find a way to keep this shop open!!!!!!!
Angie Miller


From Paul Sizer

From Jim Draze

Goodbye Smartshop

Over the winter, spring, and summer of 2006 I decided to treat myself to metalwork. A ‘turning-60-gift’ to myself. Thus began an “internship” at that metal working school. Holly’s first question was, “what do you want to do, create, produce?” Work without a vision, a tangible end result, was unacceptable. I had decided to create plant hangers, for the front of a house, in Kaleva, Michigan, where Deanna and I would live beginning in 2007.

That two word statement, ‘plant hangers,’ began a process: a crude sketch, a final corrected sketch, a full size chalk drawing on a metal layout table, sketches of the individual parts, selection of materials, welding lessons, lessons on the forge, creation of a jig to bend and form parts, and the work to create my plant hangers. All that interspersed with mistakes, straightening, and reforming metal.

During my year in that metal working school I became intoxicated with the aroma of hot metal and coal smoke. I listened for the sizzle and crack of a welder; learned to love the ring of my hammer on metal, and, looked for just the right color in hot metal drawn from a forge, ready for the hammer.

At the end of the year, I left with my finished projects, and moved Up North. Plant hangers now help dress the front of our house. A table, metal base and birch top, holds plants near an east window. The rebar plant trellis, our first class project, holds summer plants and Christmas decoration.

Recently, an artist, a writer, told me that to produce something, “one must enter into the crucible.” I look back on that metal working school as a crucible. My work pales alongside that of Holly and the metal smiths I was privileged to work alongside. I enjoyed creating my meager objects, and especially enjoyed the process: from idea to sketch, selection of materials, forming metal, finishing, and final product. During the process, I observed artists at work; observed the fruits of skill, training, vision, and attention to detail. It was fun. I fondly remember learning how to color hot metal with crayons.

It’s sad that that metal working school is closing. Institutions must tend to business, keep the books balanced, assure that money is well spent, avoid endless debt. Holly must find her next place. I wish you well, Holly. And, Kalamazoo’s Art Hop will be just a bit less exciting with the loss of that metal working school's  lovely touch of artistic chaos, tinged with the smell of hot metal and the ring of hammer on metal.

From Melanie..

My first visit to the SmartShop was also my first date Alex Drummer, who was an intern at the time. He had told me about the Shop, and as a former metalsmith and current artist, I was very curious about the place.  We met at the Shop and he gave me a tour, even though it was closed for the day.  The shop was was dark and empty, but I could almost hear the sounds of the roar of the furnaces and the hammering of metal, and I definitely felt the presence of great work and ideas that happened in the space.  I was impressed with the machinery and the tools and metal everywhere and was even more impressed when I met Holly.  She was full of energy and life and was excited about Alex and his work.  I loved how supportive she seemed with him and her other interns and students.  I had a feeling that SmartShop was a pretty awesome place to work.

As Alex and I continued dating, I visited the SmartShop many more times, during my visits to Kalamazoo to visit him from my home in Detroit.  I always looked forward to our trips into the Shop while I was in town.  One afternoon at the Shop, watching Alex experiment with a pewter pouring into one of my ceramic molds, I saw the love for metal in his eyes for the first time, and I felt the encouragement of Holly and the staff and other interns.  I fell a little in love in that moment, not only with Alex, but also with metal and with the SmartShop itself.  I cherish that special moment, and it is an integral part of my early memories of the relationship that has grown between us.

I attended a few Art Hops and enjoyed the evening music and party atmosphere in the Shop.  I mingled and chatted with artists and patrons in the gallery while nibbling on snacks.  I loved the short time I spent at the SmartShop, and I am sad to see it go.  I am sure that many others share the same kinds of  happy memories that I have.  The many students and interns who spent time in the Shop have grown and learned over the years, and that degree of inspiration is an amazing thing.  Holly and her unique vision are to be celebrated and respected.  Thank you, Holly, for sharing the SmartShop with the world!

~Melanie Brooks~
Earthenwood Studio

Please post:

When I came to your first shop on Pitcher Street and talked with you about taking a welding class, I got so excited!  A woman in her 50's thinking I get to do some new and exciting.  The first pieces I made in welding class are proudly displayed at ours and friends homes...even the horse sign that looks like a donkey, but my friends display it with pride!  I loved the first Art Hops when Rick and his partner would show up in the Big Red always created a ruckus!  When you moved to the new center, the Art Hops were the "BEST OF TOWN" always something wonderful happening...the throw a bottle in the lower level, what a great release for the week!  The time you used the guns to make a new and awesome peace sculpture.  That night my best friend asked me to take a blacksmith class with her, the best memories were made with the help of you and your Smartshop!  It can't be true, we don't want to see it go, it's to beautiful, my heart is so saddened for you and for the Kalamazoo Community it will live on, so many wonderful memories! 
Love you,
Phylllis & Rick


Kendra Stetser Rowe
anyone interested in creating an artist compound or a night club? or, heck, how about anyone want to buy it and CONTINUE THE SMART SHOP??!!!
Ladybug Alive
My heart is broken. Wow. Never saw this coming. Keep your head high hun, you did great and are a very successful woman...I am going to go cry now. And start a protest.
Eric Schmidt
Yeah, this is sad. I created their first logo, always had sentimental value to me.

Smartshop was always the last stop on every Art Hop for as long as I can remember. Great place to see music too (thinking of the Soulfuel DJs and Blue Dahlia).

Gonna miss you, Smartshop. Holly, thanks for all your hard work and what you did for the Kalamazoo art scene and the community. Best of luck.
LaLaesha Yerden
Shocked and saddened at hearing this turn of events.
This economy has hit us artists all hard, but we will still prevail. It may be in our attics and garages but we won't disappear will we?
You will return - we can all feel it!

This is certainly one of my favorites, Intern Alex Drummer, in Pirate Costume, explaining his work to a gallery guest.

Here's one you can post:

Holly, I am so incredibly sad to hear of SmartShop's closing. All the great Art Hops, all the great bands, the great live forging (in prom dresses, no less) and the outstanding welding workshop where I set myself on fire. You calmly patted me out, and said "That's okay, at least one person does it every workshop. Now we've got that out of the way." You literally loaned me the shirt off your back, turned me around, and sent me back to play with Lola the MiG welder. I'll never forget that, nor will I ever forget the great time I had making scrap metal sculptures. I only wish that I'd been able to take many more classes with you.

Be as well as you can, kind friend, and hope for that miracle.

Jane Irwin

The Latest Comments by SmartShop Fans.

these are posted with the author's permission.

Amy Lynn Crabtree Campbell
It is criminal that SmartShop Kalamazoo is closing down. With all the half@ss things I see funded in this town, county and state, how the hell do you justify letting SmartShop Metal Arts Center cease operating because of fiscal concerns? For shame. That's all. For shame.

Doug Mitchell
...this saddens me to NO end...