Monday, June 11, 2007

Vivi Woodcock Featured in The Graphic

The new issue of The Graphic has hit the streets in Northern Michigan and as we predicted last month, it features a story on Artist Market founder, collage and watercolor wizard and ardent booster of local art and artists, Vivi Woodcock.

The article, the second in a series by Northern Michigan Artists Market founding partner Nancy Payne, also appears in The Graphic's online edition along with Nancy's video version of the interview.

The article explores Woodcock's humble, spiritual personality and her approach to creating and appreciating art. It also looks at her motivation for helping to create the Artists Market.

Local artists are already well acquainted with Vivi, shown here in a photograph by Nancy Payne, and deeply respect and admire her for her honesty and the advice and support she has given them over many years. Visitors to the Artists Market appreciate her friendly greeting, pleasant conversation and ability to answer their questions about local art and artists as well as provide tips on local restaurants and points of interest. Now, thanks to Nancy, everyone who reads The Graphic will get a chance to meet her too.

Take a moment to stop by the Market, say hello to Vivi and take a look at some of her inspirational collage pins, cards and watercolors.

Thank you Nancy for another great peek inside the life of a local artist. We look forward to next month's profile. (We think we know who it will be but this time we're not tellin'.)

Saturday, May 26, 2007

New Public Alley Art Created in Petoskey

There has been a great deal of official and unofficial discussion around here about the need for more public art in Downtown Petoskey. Recently we saw the creation and installation of an exciting new public art project and it started without the help of any planning board, committee or art patron.

Local student Benjamin Cheney and some of his friends have created an exciting outdoor street art mural on the brick Shoppers Lane wall of Gattles (with the permission of his father who owns the store), located off of Howard Street between Lake and Bay. Benjamin explains that “the mural will never be finished,” and invites everybody to come by and “paint when you want and what you will.” He plans to have paint available during the sidewalk sales to help the public contribute.

As you can see from the photographs here, taken by Petoskey City planner Amy Tweeten [Thanks Amy for your permission to use your shots.], a lot of work has been done so far and it is a dramatic and artful addition to the previously bare wall and to the Gaslight District.

Public reaction has been, well. . . predictable. Several people, myself included, have stopped by to talk with the artists and complement their work and initiative. A few other store owners have expressed concerns that Downtown Petoskey is not the place for this urban art form, that it may offend or threaten older shoppers, that it is not in keeping with the historic nature of the area, etc. For now, the urge to be outraged and propose pages of new censoring regulations has been resisted.

Personally, I like it. With all our new Cool Cities planning carefully and painstakingly working its way through various boards and committees, we now have some spontaneous public art that should appeal to younger and hipper people we supposedly want to attract and keep here. It is in an unobtrusive location. It is on an isolated wall that should help keep any over exuberance from spreading to other locations and turning into vandalism. If it is a little threatening and unusual, then isn't that one of the functions of good art?

As for the historic character of the Gaslight District, I think if Hemingway saw it, he would probably pick up a brush or a spray can and join in!

Speaking of the historic buildings, several Downtown property owners have strong objections to one of the other Cool Cities proposals -- creating an historic district to preserve the character of Downtown. They do not want restrictions on their freedom to do what they want with their property. For them (and for historic district proponents), the Benjamin Cheney and friends mural should be another in a series of recent wake up calls. Whether it is murals on the backs of our stores or revising the fronts for more retail visibility, or tearing down old theaters, property owners will make changes. Each of us will like a few of those modifications and hate others. But each of them will change the look and feel of our Downtown. If we don't like that, we need to reopen the discussion of an historic district.

This is also a reminder that the planning for downtown public art needs to be an open and inclusive process. There are a lot of people in this town with something fresh to contribute to the discussion. If we want, fresh, inspiring, diverse public art, we need a fresh, inspiring, diverse group to work on the project.

Thanks to everyone who has or will contribute to the new mural for bringing some new creativity and excitement to our Downtown and helping it inch towards becoming Cool.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

The Graphic Goes Artsy

There is a great new arts video-column in town. It is called Artsy. It debuted this week and will appear every month in the online edition of the Graphic. The print edition, available for free on the streets all over Northern Michigan, has a text and pictures version.

The Northern Michigan artist behind this new contribution to the local arts community is Nancy Payne, a photographer (and now videographer) and formerly one of the founding partners of the Northern Michigan Artists Market. Nancy's monthly video offering will be a profile interview with a local Northern Michigan artist – one of our favorite subjects.

Nancy says her interviews will not just focus on the artists' creative works. She says she plans to show us who the artists are as people and give us a good look at the life of the talented folks who create our region's artistic treasures.

If the inaugural edition is any indication, we are in for a real treat each month. Nancy's first interview features Northern Michigan Artist Market artist Joanne Cromley.
What an excellent choice to start the series! I am a big fan of Joanne as a person and an artist. At the Market, we feature her spectacular hand-died woven tapestries, like the one pictured here, as well as an assortment of her scarves and sweaters.

I will resist the temptation to ask you to spend your time here reading what I have to say about Joanne when you could be watching the great job Nancy has done of that already. So stop reading this and go to the Graphic home page to see the video for yourself.

Way to go Nancy! Now there is another good reason to pick up the Graphic and visit their website. (Highly credible sources close to Artsy have suggested that June's artist video, already in the works, features Artist Market guiding light Vivi Woodcock.)

Monday, April 30, 2007

Planning Underway for 7th Anual Petoskey Gallery Walk, Thursday, June 21, 2007

One of our region's most popular events is just over a month away as Petoskey's downtown galleries are getting ready to present the Seventh Annual Gallery Walk and make it another unforgettable evening. At the beginning of every summer, local residents and visitors flood the streets from 5:30 to 9:00 pm to take a walking tour of all of splendor and variety of the art galleries scattered through the historic Gaslight District and view the latest artwork of the new season.

For this special evening all of the galleries host a giant, simultaneous open-house, showing off our artistic treasures and serving delicious food to hundreds of art lovers as we enjoy the beginning of Petoskey's beautiful summer together.

As you visit each gallery, you receive a colored dot to stick on a card available at all of the galleries. If you buy something at any gallery, you get extra dots. At the end of the evening, everyone gathers for a big party outdoors at the Perry Hotel. You listen to live music and enjoy the fine evening with friends and neighbors. Be sure to turn in your stickers for tickets for the drawing at the end of the evening and win art works donated by each of the galleries.

At the Northern Michigan Artists Market on Gallery Walk night, hundreds of people visit, enjoy good food, mix with friends, take advantage of an early season opportunity to buy the latest artworks and make plans to return later for a more leisurely examination of the best selection of Northern Michigan art anywhere!.

This year, we are expecting about eleven galleries to participate. The exciting thing about the Downtown Petoskey art galleries is that we are all so different. Some specialize in art from a particular region of the country or by a particular artist. Some concentrate on a particular medium or style. Of course here at the Artists Market, we present the works of great local artists from Traverse City to Copper Harbor. So plan now to hire a baby sitter and spend a night in June enjoying all that Petoskey's galleries have to offer.

If you have enjoyed Gallery Walk in the past, I know you are looking forward to seeing old friends and discovering all of this year's new artwork. If you have never attended, join us and find out why hundreds of people put it on their calendars of must see events every year.

For more information, feel free to call us at the Artists Market at 231-487-0000 or toll free at 8-777-MI-Arts (877-764-2787)

Monday, April 23, 2007

New Cookbook Features Works by Several Artists Market Artists

Flipping through the great new cookbook, Flavors and Visions, it is hard to decide whether the stars of the show are the delectable recipes or the stunning artwork by Northern Michigan artists. But then, why burden yourself with such a weighty choice? Just dive in and devour it all.

I will, of course start with the artwork. While some of the pieces are reproduced in black and white, there are sixteen pages of color shots liberally mixed through. The works shown include a flavorful variety of media from paintings to sculptures to pots and more. The works have a strong Northern Michigan flavor with a large helping of Northern Michigan Artists Market artists spicing up the mix. The NMAM artists represented include Carol Ross, Jan Luptowski, Bonnie Staffel, Deanna Hergt, Dick Cunningham, Harry Boyer and Lynn Dinning. The pictures in this post show pieces form the Artists Market by several of these artists (Carol's flowers, Bonnie's casserole, Harry's blown-glass vase) and a photo of Lynn Dinning at work in her Good Hart, Michigan, studio creating a piece of her fantastic glass.

The recipes include a mouthwatering array of tasty treats including appetizers, soups, salads, side dishes, entrees, breads, desserts and beverages. Among the recipes are some formulas for concoctions that are interesting though not edible, such as wool dies, homemade cleaning solutions and dashes of other offbeat necessities seasoned throughout to taste.

This art catalog/recipe collection is presented by the Jordan River Arts Council and is available for sale for $25 from them or at the Northern Michigan Artists Market. It is 250 pages long, deliciously illustrated and spiral bound for easy use in the kitchen.

Kudos to JRAC for putting together this wonderful tribute to the artists and culinary delights of Northern Michigan.

New Artists Market Artist Creates Watercolors from Photographs

The day after we hung Geary Hoffman's work in the Artists Market last week, a customer told me, "These new watercolors are exciting." I agree, except they are not strictly watercolors.

Geary calls his works Photographic Watercolors. They start out as photographs, drawings or, sometimes, paintings. He then brings them into his computer and uses a process he has developed over several years to manually rework the images to resemble fine watercolor paintings. The results are quite remarkable.

Hoffman's subjects include many facets of the Northern Michigan outdoors from quiet country lanes, birds and flowers to the region's beautiful and historic lighthouses. You can get a general idea of his talent and range from these pictures of some of his works but the best way to truly appreciate his vision of Northern Michigan and the effect of the unique set of techniques he has developed is to view his work in person. The Northern Michigan Artists Market has an excellent selection of Geary Hoffman's Photographic Watercolors in a range of sizes and prices, framed and unframed.

Hoffman, now lives in Suttons Bay, Michigan, just north of Traverse City, where he retired from a career as a professional photographer and graphic designer in Chicago. We are delighted to have Geary's work at The Market and we are looking forward to many more appreciative comments about these colorful expressions of our region's natural and historic heritage from Northern Michigan art lovers this summer and for years to come.

Monday, April 9, 2007

We Celebrate Spring with Three New Artists

One of the things I like about this time of year, after the skiers leave and before the summer crowd arrives, is that I have the time to sit in the Northern Michigan Artists Market and talk with artists who are interested in showing their work here. We do that all year round, but it seems to be a lot more fun in this season when we can have a more leisurely chat.

The best part is when one of those chats results in a new member of the Artists Market family. That happened three times in the last month so I have three new Artists Market artists to tell you about.

The first one is David Johns of Kalkaska, Michigan. David makes beautiful Nantucket baskets. Obviously, Nantucket is not in Northern Michigan but Kalkaska is and Nantucket and Northern Michigan have a lot in common. For one thing, we both have a lot of shipwrecks. And in both places, that lead to a lot of lighthouses and lightships. In Nantucket, the lightship keepers spent months at a time in small, uncomfortable quarters. As there were no video games in the late 1800's, they filled their days making baskets and they filled their baskets with all kinds of things. David's baskets are the classic Nantucket style with woven cane, wooden bottoms and swinging bale handles. They are extremely well made and very stylish. They come in several sizes and are definitely worth stopping by the Market to look at.

While you are here, be sure to check out the turned wood bowls by new Artist Market artist Dan Kuhn. Dan lives in Boyne City and has worked with wood for most of his life. His bowls show that long time appreciation for the living medium of wood and its many personalities. Each of his creations takes advantage of the various colors and grains of different types of wood and combines them into a highly functional and decorative piece of art.

Our third new artist is a master with wood as well. Vicki Carpenter of Gaylord, Michigan, takes wooden plates, lazy Susans, candle holders, bread boards, animals and other items and transforms them into stunning heirlooms by painting them in a traditional Scandinavian style. Her designs include flowers, horses, hearts and other traditional images. She has also painted her traditional designs on Christmas tree ornaments.

Spring is the time for new things. New grass and flowers, newborn creatures and new Northern Michigan Artists Market artists. So shake off the winter blahs and enjoy spring with a trip to the Market to see the works by our new artists -- and some of the new work of our existing artists as well.

Way to Go, John!

Northern Michigan Artists Market artist John Wijnberg
recently learned that he has been accepted by the School of the Art Institute of Chicago for this coming fall. John already has a B.F.A. from the University of Buffalo.

John paints primarily in watercolor, pastels and charcoal. His subject matter runs from human figures to Northern Michigan landscapes. He is a prolific painter and works very hard to broaden and improve his skills. His talent and dedication is obvious from the wide range of his works available at the Artists Market.

One of my personal favorite examples of John's work is his pen and ink drawing, Conversation with a Fish
pictured here. It shows a friend of the artist engaged in what I imagine to been a deep and riveting conversation about some intricate matter of philosophy.

I greatly enjoy John's frequent visits to the Artists Market to converse about life and art, often between fares in his current job as a taxi driver, a perfect gig for an artist from New York. I will miss these chats when he moves to Chicago this fall to attend SAIC, but we are very excited for him and wish him well. We know he will learn a lot and grow even more as an artist.

John, don't forget to write or visit us. We look forward to continuing to carry your artwork as you explore new directions. Good luck!

Monday, February 26, 2007

Lets Help Our Kids Stay Artists

I love it when parents bring their children into the Artists Market. I think it is great when they show them around and talk with them about the art, and especially when they ask the kids what they like.

When a young person is walking around in our gallery, I frequently ask them what kind of art they like to make and encourage them to keep doing it. Almost everyone I ask enjoys doing art, especially the young ones. Based on this careful research and years of data, I think most of us start out as artists and then lose it somewhere along the way. At some point someone told us to stay inside the lines or not to color on the table or some other DON'T.

While I was thinking about this today in the Market, a song came on and caught my attention. Doesn't it seem that when you are thinking about something with music playing, a song will come on that is in some way relevant to your musings? Today it was Katy by Tom Paxton. (At least he was singing it and I think he wrote it.) I wrote down some of the words:

Oh you might believe in miracles,
And you might believe in saints.
But you never believe my Katy
When she's playing with her paints.
For there is red upon the window
And there's green upon her face,
In her hair and in her eyes ...
But on the paper, not a trace.

I just smiled, enjoyed the moment and decided I had to share it with you.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Preserving Northern Michigan's Natural Beauty

There is still about a week left to see some of Northern Michigan's great outdoors from the warmth and comfort of an art gallery. A Sense of Place, is a breathtakingly beautiful juried exhibition featuring photographs taken on location in land conservancies in Northern Michigan.

Land conservancies are an important part of preserving the great, undisturbed woodlands and lakeshores of Northern Michigan. The photographers did an excellent job of capturing the peace, solitude and beauty of these vital preserves and of reminding us of the important work the conservancies do in making sure that Northern Michigan will retain its heritage of natural splendor.

When you visit the exhibit, don't miss the work of Northern Michigan Artist Market artist Dr. Lucien Joubert on the east wall. His entry is a "double" photograph of a stand of trees that has been reflected on a vertical axis through the middle of the piece. It is representative of the excellent vision and creative presentation that characterizes his work.

After you see the show, be sure to walk a few paces down the hill on Mitchell Street to the Northern Michigan Artists Market and view more of Dr. Joubert's photography and the work of other Northern Michigan Artists.

The show, the 26th annual juried photography exhibition, A Sense of Place, runs through March 3rd at the Crooked Tree Art Center.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

More Public Art for Petoskey, Michigan's “Cool” Downtown!

Downtown Petoskey needs more public art, preferably created by local Northern Michigan artists. This recommendation was part of a report presented to the people of Petoskey this past Monday night.

The report was the result of a study conducted by HyettPalma, a national consulting firm specializing in the economic enhancement of downtowns and older business districts. The study was supported by a Blueprints for Michigan’s Downtowns grant from the State of Michigan's Cool Cities program.

An increase in public art was one of many recommendations contained in the report, intended as a five year action plan for improving the already delightful character of Downtown Petoskey. Doyle Hyett of HyettPalma explained in Monday's public presentation of his firm's findings that he expected Mitchell Street to become the new entry route to Downtown Petoskey. He proposed
A grand entrance to Downtown at Mitchell and Highway 31, to include public art, landscaping, lighting, signage, and clear lines of sight down Mitchell Street from Highway 31.

Hyett called for more public art throughout downtown. He illustrated this portion of his presentation with a slide of one of Petoskey's best loved pieces of public art, the statue of Ignatius Petoskey that overlooks Little Traverse Bay from a vantage point near the Perry Hotel. (The statue was donated to the City of Petoskey by Robert Dau of Chicago and Bayview. It was sculpted by Pietro Vinotti of Petoskey. It is pictured here in a photograph by Northern Michigan Artists Market artist Carson Wright. )

The written HyettPalma report details the need for more public art in Downtown Petoskey:
A public art placement plan should be defined for Downtown. Public art in Downtown should be:
  • High quality and of significance;
  • By area artists, whenever possible;
  • Indigenous to Petoskey; and
  • Located, at a minimum, at the “grand entrance” to be created for Downtown at Mitchell and Highway 31, and on the Downtown Greenway [Pennsylvania and Arlington Parks].

The proposed plan for action includes numerous design, planning and business development recommendations. Northern Michigan Artists Market artists and customers will be interested in the high priority HyettPalma placed on improvements to Mitchell Street.
As was stated earlier, Mitchell Street must become a top priority of the effort to further enhance Downtown Petoskey. This should include:
  • Creating a boulevard down the middle of Mitchell Street to increase its feeling of intimacy for the pedestrian, as the City has plans to do;
  • Placing pedestrian-scale streetlights on Mitchell;
  • Adding landscaping and coordinated street furnishings – benches, trash receptacles, bike racks – to Mitchell Street, in order to make it more pedestrian-oriented and pedestrian-friendly; and
  • Creating a grand entrance to Downtown . . .

This new Petoskey Downtown Blueprint 2007 is filled with interesting and provocative ideas for improving our town. I particularly endorse its recognition of the importance of the arts to a vibrant, Cool Downtown and of the contribution of local artists in particular. I encourage everyone interested in Petoskey and Northern Michigan arts and artists to become active in the implementation of this plan and in advocating for local arts and artists.

The final written report is a specific five-year plan, which will be implemented by the Downtown Management Board, Downtown Division Petoskey Regional Chamber of Commerce and City of Petoskey staff, and volunteer committees to ensure the future of an economically viable downtown community. If you want to comment on the plan or become involved in its implementation, a good starting contact point is Becky Goodman, the Downtown Director, Petoskey Regional Chamber of Commerce, (231)347-4150.

Please click here to see and hear Doyle Hyett's final presentation of the Downtown Petoskey Blueprint Plan, presented January 29 in the H.O. Rose Dining Room of Stafford's Perry Hotel.
To read the entire written report, click here.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Winter on the Installment Plan

Some Northern Michigan Winter Notes:
  • Here in Northern Michigan, we seem to be getting our winter this year on the installment plan – a little bit each month. Today is a beautiful, bright, sunny winter day with snow on the ground. Tomorrow, who knows?

  • I guess it depends on where you are in Northern Michigan. Last week, Northern Michigan Artists Market artist Mark Klemp stopped by with some more of his incredible wooden spoons. They come in all shapes and sizes from right and left handed spatulas to long paddles (He said he developed the first paddle for a friend who needed something to stir the large vats of salsa he prepares for wholesale distribution.) and a variety of beautiful woods including cherry, birds-eye maple and curly sugar maple. Anyway, he lives in Laurium, way up in the Keweenaw Peninsula at the top of the Upper Peninsula. He reminded me that they measure the snow depth up there in feet (and yards), rather than inches, and that they already have quite a bit. Mark lives on Pewabic Street, which I thought was interesting for an artist, because of Detroit's famous Pewabic Pottery. He explained that Pewabic is a Native American word for copper colored and that therefore there are a lot of Pewabic Streets in the UP's Copper Country. Pewabic Pottery gets its name from the fact that its glazes are the green and blue colors of copper ores.

  • Of course snow is no laughing matter in the Petoskey, Michigan area either. It is a major driver of the economy here in the winter. So for those of you who don't live here, I assure you that the ski areas have plenty of snow. No matter what the weather is like where you live, get up here and ski and experience the joy and beauty of winter in the North. If you need any reassurance, feel free to check the snow conditions at our major ski areas, Boyne Mountain and Boyne Highlands and Nubs Nob.

  • Most of you are familiar with the great paintings, photographs and other works by Northern Michigan artists depicting the bay, sunsets and other Northern vistas in the summer. But we love it up here in the winter too and have the artwork to prove it. Check out the examples in this post, Northern Michigan Artists Market artists Kris Busk's breathtaking winter birds and Sandy Selden's oil painting capturing a view of Little Traverse Bay in winter.

  • Bet you Didn't know that in the Northern Michigan town of Charlevoix, they actually take the parking meters off the posts in the winter!

  • And let's not forget Northern Michigan's zany winter festivals, as distinguished from our zany summer festivals. Every town worth its name has one or more. For example, you will never forgive yourself if you miss this weekend's Annual Winterfest in Mackinaw City, featuring the memorable Outhouse Race, shown is this photograph from the event's website.

Don't miss winter in Northern Michigan!

Friday, January 12, 2007

Stop Cleaning Your Brushes !

I came across a great artist story the other day and I want to pass it along to you for a couple of reasons. One is that it gives me an excuse to tell you about the great art email newsletter I got it from but more on that later. First the story.

The artist telling the story admits to being somewhat lax with respect to all the rules one learns about cleaning brushes. From our first art experience we are generally taught to clean up after ourselves and particularly to carefully clean the paint brushes. My dad was not an artist but he frequently told me that the job is not done until the tools are properly put away.

However, I must say that many of the artists I know are not particularly fastidious. Looking at the messy condition of their studios, I sometimes wonder how such beautiful work can emerge from such a god awful mess. This little story gave me some insights into this apparent contradiction:

My bad habit goes back to an experience I had in art school. There was this chap--I won't mention his name--who spent all of his time cleaning and getting ready. He'd even clean stuff before he was going to paint--and then he wouldn't paint. He never really did. After a semester or two he got kicked out and went into dentistry.

After telling his story, the artist observed, “Brush cleaning can be just another avoidance activity. ... I feel I'm a painter, not a cleaner. I failed cleaning.”

I remember as a child getting a beautiful diary with block prints by the delightful Northern Michigan nature artist Gwen Frostic on every page but never using it because I couldn't think of anything important enough to say to write on those beautiful pages. A friend who knew me well once told me that often it is important to stop worrying about whether you will obtain perfection and just do something.

All of us need to remember, artists and those who have not yet discovered their inner artist, to stop cleaning our brushes and just PAINT!

The Artist who wrote the story is Robert Glenn. I read it in his inspiring and informative Twice Weekly Letter, which you can receive in your email inbox for free. Sign up at his website, The Painter's Keys Community.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Two NMAM Artists "Horsin' Around" in East Jordan

East Jordan is a wonderful little town on Lake Charlevoix in Northern Michigan. One of its treasures is the Jordan River Arts Council. JRAC runs a number of excellent programs out of East Jordan's former library building. It is a strong supporter of local artists and holds frequent art exhibits featuring local artists.

Its next show, Equine Devine or Horsin' Around opens Sunday, January 14th. The show includes images of horses in a variety of media. Among the participating artists are Northern Michigan Artists Market artists Joanne Cromley and Meredith Krell.

Cromley is a very accomplished and well known tapestry weaver. A true Northern Michigan artist, she moved here from Chicago ten years ago to live a more intentional life. She and her husband Micheal purchased 240 acres of abused land near Afton Michigan that had been logged off and over-grazed. They placed the land in a conservation easement, forever protecting it from development and allowing the land to begin to heal. They build a beautify energy efficient home, complete with a functoning windmill that generates electricity. Her tapestries are bold and colorful.

Krell lives in Charlevoix, across the lake from East Jordan. She is an outstanding painter and printer. Colorado Horse, one of her oil paintings appears in the show. She is well known for her linoleum block prints, many of which are available at the Northern Michigan Artists Market, including Truth Destiny Courage pictured here.

The exhibit runs through February 18 and is open daily 1-4 pm, at the Jordan River Art Center, 301 Main St., East Jordan. For more information contact curator, Sylvia Walworth, 231-599-3065.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

So what is Northern Michigan Art Anyway?

When you run an art gallery called the Northern Michigan Artists Market, people are bound to ask you the question you see in the title of this post. In fact, a reasonable person in my position may be inclined to ask himself that once in a while. As I spend many of my waking hours surrounded by thousands of pieces of Northern Michigan art, it is only fair that I take a stab at answering that question.

The easy answer is that Northern Michigan art is art done by Northern Michigan artists or art done in or about Northern Michigan, but that, while true, is hardly satisfying.

A great deal of NMA (How many times in one post do you expect me to write it all out?) expresses, presents or otherwise deals with the beautiful lakes, woods, hills, sunsets, etc. that attract so many of us to this place or keep us here despite the call of family, fortune and reason. [The photo on the left is Sunset Bench by Northern Michigan Artist Market artist Carson Wright.] On the other hand, many outstanding and well known artists in NM utterly refuse do paint, draw, photograph, carve or even imagine anything that even obliquely suggests a bay or (egad!) any solar presence approaching its surface. “Trite!” “Done that! “ Or, dare I say, “Derivative!” they disdainfully exclaim. Yet they are certainly all NM Artists and their creations entitled to inclusion as NMA.

Perhaps it is not the subject matter but the inspiration that defines NMA. I have often wondered whether there are so many artists per capita in NM because the beauty of the area attracts those who already have a well developed artistic sensibility or whether it ensnares otherwise sane people who have come her for other reasons and forces (inspires) them to become artists. Either way, does NM constitute a calling muse that is the unifying and categorizing force that defines NMA? [This painting is Out of the Void by NMAM artist Will Espey.] Surely the ubiquitous sand dunes or, in season, snow drifts do not bar the entry of other muses not of NM origin into the region and into the hearts and minds of its inhabitants. Are all NM artists somehow immune to the songs of these foreign muses and susceptible only to the tunes played by their cousins of more domestic origin? Of course not. NM Artists and hence NMA is not nearly so parochial.

To be fully inclusive, perhaps we should consider the argument of some that NMA is not a standard of subject or inspiration but one of quality. Such people might suggest that the local product is just not as good as that originating in other regions south of the 45th parallel or outside the embrace of the Great Lakes. To them I would say that a belief that the exotic is uniformly superior defies logic and experience. As for logic, such a belief would argue that pasta consumed in Italy is of lesser quality than that enjoyed in the US because it is generally made with domestic (i.e. Italian) ingredients. As for experience, a simple tour of the Northern Michigan Artists Market and the many examples of NMA contained therein will convince any honest observer of the quality of NMA.

So after all that, we return to the definition we started with. Perhaps it is not so unsatisfying after all. There is great variety in NMA. It cannot be defined by subject or inspiration or quality. Perhaps the answer really is as simple as Northern Michigan Art is art by Northern Michigan artists, in all of its variety of splendor, spirit and wonder.

A Little About the Northern Michigan Artists Market

On October 1, 2003, five other local artists and I opened the Northern Michigan Artists Market. We had been discussing the fact that with all of the art galleries in Petoskey, none handled only Northern Michigan art. Many of our friends who were local artists were bemoaning the fact that there was no suitable place to exhibit their work. The six of us decided to do something about it.

The time was right. The local art center had just completed a major remodeling project. While they were remodeling, they used this wonderful storefront with lots of large windows on East Mitchell, Petoskey's main street, as a gallery. Now that their building was ready, they were moving out. So there was an interesting space that people were used to thinking of as an art gallery and there was a group of artists looking for a place to show their work. After much gnashing of teeth, we pooled the minuscule amount of money we had available and bravely launched the Market. [Thanks to Artist Market artist Bruce Love for the photo.]

What we lacked in funds we made up for with ideals. Our first founding principal was that the Market would be “artist friendly.” We all had horror stories about galleries loosing our work, not paying us promptly (or at all without begging or threats) and being primarily about something other than the art. To minimize the chance of this happening to us, we decided that our new Market would forever (gosh, that sounded nice though perhaps overly optimistic) be owned, run and staffed entirely by Northern Michigan artists.

Next, we wanted our Market to be welcoming and friendly to customers, not in any way intimidating or pretentious. To symbolize this and proclaim it to the world, we decided to not call it “The [Something Clever] Gallery” but rather the Artists Market. Our plan was to include the broadest conceivable spectrum of creative works and artists and thus represent Northern Michigan art in as much of its diversity and variety as possible.

Anyway, here we are, three years and some months later and it all seems to have worked out rather well. Our artists do seem to find us friendly. Our initial group of about thirty local artists has grown to a rather healthy ensemble of about one hundred. We keep attracting new customers and our existing customers keep coming back and bringing their friends. (Thank you!) Along the way a few of our partners have pursued other interests. There are now three of us -- Vivi Woodcock, Susan Lange and myself, Marty Scott. Vivi paints watercolors and makes mixed-media collages. Susan is a jeweler. I make mobiles.

Most of our artists are year round residents of Northern Michigan, although some spend only their summers here. The majority live within about fifty miles of the Market -- Petoskey, Harbor Springs, Charlevoix, Walloon Lake, Boyne City, East Jordan and the surrounding countryside. Some live as far south as Traverse City, as far east as Alpena or as far north as the tip of the Upper Peninsula.

The artwork in the Market includes many media including oil, acrylic and watercolor paintings, various types of prints, photographs, sculpture, pottery, blown and fused glass, weaving, knitwear, jewelry and a wide assortment of art and greeting cards. Prices range from a few dollars to a few thousand. We have works for the casual shopper, gift giving and casual and serious collectors of Northern Michigan art. In short, the Northern Michigan Artists Market has the best selection of Northern Michigan Art anywhere!

The next time you are in Petoskey, stop in and say hello!

Welcome to This Blog -- Northern Michigan Art

In this blog, we will be discussing Northern Michigan. While anything that happens up here is fair game, we will pay particular attention to the art and artists of Northern Michigan. We will focus to a degree on the art, artists and activities of the Northern Michigan Artists Market, an art gallery that two of my friends and I own in Petoskey, Michigan. [My next post is a brief introduction to The Market.]

This blog welcomes comments from all of you. Please feel free to join in the discussion at any time and to introduce new topics. I will gently moderate the submissions and include as many as possible.

Candidly, this blog has a partially commercial purpose. I hope it will lead you to take some interest in our gallery and to visit it in person in Petoskey, Michigan, or through our website. The launch of this blog is timed to precede [hopefully by not too much time] a major revision of The Market's website. This substantial upgrade will add online shopping, a general improvement of the graphic design and overall appearance and many of those invisible technical enhancements we hear so much about in connection with the release of any software upgrade.

Those of you who know me or who have been to our Market any time in the last eight months or so know that I have been promising this upgrade for quite a while. I have learned from this experience that there are many uncertainties and delays inherent in the website improvement process and that consequently it is better and more honest to be somewhat vague about expected completion dates so I have stopped making promises.

In the meantime, our current site is pretty darn good. Of course, it gives you lots of information about the Northern Michigan artists Market [like location, hours, contact info, etc]. It also contains a complete list of our current artists and our inventory of the thousands of pieces of their works that we have for sale. Increasingly it includes descriptions and photographs of those works. It also includes our toll free telephone number so you can call us to discuss any of these works or make arrangements for purchase and shipping.

So lets get to know each other and swap tales, news, rumors and the like about life and art in God's country!