By Sue Moore
The entrepreneurial and artistic spirit runs deep in the families of Ron and Lupe Smith and Scott and Veronica Levin. They have purchased the former Dr. Bob Dornbos building at 102 S. Main Street in Vicksburg.
What they plan to do with the building has somewhat changed from their original idea. For the time being, the front walk-in area displays Lupe and Veronica’s art work, which is for sale. In a small area off the main entrance, Mary Ruple of Pet Emporium has bath lotions for pets and humans for sale following closure of her store at 108 S. Main. In what was the dental practice toward the middle and back of the building, Brittany Hovious has opened her doors as the Shear Beauty Salon & Spa.
The mother and daughter team of Lupe and Veronica have been creating art for many years. Smith paints abstracts using acrylics and is an accomplished potter. Levin creates jewelry and giclée prints with vibrant colors made with fancy ink jet printers using alcohol ink on synthetic paper. Their vision was to create a space to sell the art work while having an area where friends and customers could drop by for coffee, tea selections and coffee cake in the multi-use space. They envision wine and paint parties with no regular time schedule, just a place to get together and meet.
Smith said her kids went to high school while she went to college in Urbana-Champaign’s University of Illinois campus. She is originally from Ecuador, where she met Dr. Ron Smith, who had graduated from Vicksburg High School and Michigan State University as a veterinarian. He was serving in the Peace Corps and had his eyes on this beautiful woman who was working in her dad’s shoe store.
Lupe’s father was an entrepreneur and owned a movie theater, a shoe store and a bank building. At the same time, Ron’s parents Gerald and Lorene Smith owned and operated Smith Radio and TV store in Vicksburg, where he was raised. They moved to Vicksburg from the university, where he was a professor in the College of Veterinarian Medicine. In 2006, Ron became treasurer of the Vicksburg Historical Society and joined the Lions Club. He has been a member of the village Council since 2012. His mother had served on the Council in the 1980s.
Lupe is a gardener of great renown as she helped to start the Vicksburg Community Gardens some 10 years ago. She is a formidable cook and uses much of the produce to make exotic dishes, her daughter explained.
Veronica has been a free-lance graphic artist for many years, having taught at Washtenaw Community College while the couple lived in Ann Arbor. They came from Anchorage, Alaska where Scott was a journalist and technology guru for the Anchorage Daily News. He now works for MLive as a tech guy. They moved to Vicksburg with four-year old son, Whitman, in 2017.
Veronica’s brother, also named Ron Smith, is a software architect and has his own consulting company in the Chicago area. Lupe was from a family of 12 children, many of whom have immigrated to the U.S. Her mother is still alive, living in Ann Arbor with one of her children. She is 90 years old now and a U.S. citizen.