The collections continue to grow with new purchases and gifts from generous donors.


Untitled, Martin Tanner, Watercolor on paper, 1947

Gift of the Children of Bob and Lois Simon, Donated in their Memory

Known for his abstract paintings, works by Martin Tanner (1906-1968) created during the height of his career recall a plethora of styles from earlier periods including proto-Cubism and Neo-Impressionist Primitivism. Artists working in these styles included Pablo Picasso and Henri Rousseau respectively. This watercolor, however, exhibits preparatory sketch-like qualities typical of landscape painters, which suggests Tanner's appreciation for a certain degree of realism in art.


Andrew Reider Where We Live

Where We Live, Andrew Reider with Tom Osborne and Michelle McLean, Oil collage on board, 2015

Gift of the Artist


This work, an oil collage on board completed in October 2015 by Delta College Professor Andrew Reider and two students, is a tribute to the eclectic cultural history of the Saginaw area entitled Where We Live. The variety in Saginaw’s landscape in used to echo the diversity of the community’s artistic movements and cultural figures. The composition consists of both individuals who serve as anonymous symbols of cultural manifestations as well as recognizable and nameable individuals from Saginaw’s history or those who have roots in Saginaw. Among the nameable figures are Theodore Roethke, Sonny Stitt, Stevie Wonder, Lefty Frizzel, Sharrie Williams, E. Irving Couse, The Goodridge Brothers, Robert Nickle, and Eric Schantz, while the anonymous symbols of cultural manifestations include the older gentleman wearing overalls, who personifies Saginaw’s prominent lumbering history; the group of Native Americans, who represent the region’s history prior to the arrival of Europeans; and the anonymous photographer, whose concealed face symbolizes every under recognized or struggling artist working to capture the beauty of Saginaw.

In addition, various arts and cultural venues make an appearance in the mural’s background or by means of symbolic inclusion. These include the Saginaw Art Museum, the region’s foremost fine arts institution since 1947; the Japanese Cultural Center, represented by the iconic red bridge and the nearby tree hanging with colorful origami; and the Temple Theater at the Shaheen Performing Arts Center, a 1927 movie palace once dubbed the “Showplace of Northeastern Michigan.” The Saginaw River itself can also be seen throughout the mural, acting as a compositional element that both figuratively and symbolically links the various figures, locations, and events that have taken place in Saginaw throughout space and time. At the heart of the city, the Saginaw River provided a vital method of transportation for both the Native Americans and the early European settlers, connecting them to the Great Lakes and ultimately the ocean. It is also the site around which Saginaw’s rich and expansive culture developed, serving as a source of inspiration for artists, musicians, and other passersby.

Finally, and perhaps most readily noticeable, the elements of shape and color play a major role in telling Saginaw’s story. The vibrant and vivacious array of colors and the abstracted stencil-like forms of the figures enliven the piece and inject a sense of jollity into the scenes. The muted colors of the more naturalistically represented background settings also assist in thrusting the figures into the composition’s forefront, creating the illusion of considerable depth in certain sections, such as the one depicting Theodore Roethke in his canoe. However, other portions of the mural, such as the section depicting Sharrie Williams and E. Irving Couse, embrace an even higher level of abstraction, which is made possible through expertly layered fields of color placed atop and interwoven through representational imagery.