Tuesday, January 9, 2007

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!

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