Friday, April 17, 2009

Ten Top Things to Photograph or Paint in Northern Michigan

Some days I sit here in the Northern Michigan Artists Market looking around at the amazing creations by our approximately eighty wonderful Northern Michigan artists and think that I would like to have more abstract, outsider, edgy pieces. Everyone here seems to want to do landscapes, still life and nature. And I can understand that. After all, it IS beautiful here in Northern Michigan.

The great outdoors is, after all, great. Most artists who live here can't seem to help themselves. The beauty and awesomeness of it all just overwhelms us and we have to paint it or photograph it. So I guess it is not surprising that the art here in our gallery is just going to be different than it would be if this was the Big City Downtown Artists Market.

So, in recognition of the fact that Up North is the beautiful place that it is and that we will all just have to live with that, I offer as a public service to all would be Northern Michigan artists, my list of

IN NORTHERN MICHIGAN (with examples) . . .

10. Ice and Snow -- While most of the subjects in this list are hot and warm and sunny, it is important to remember that it is cold here most of the year. So we start with this shot of a ship, shot by Jack Keck in the COLD ice.

9. Barns -- Face it, barns are just plain arty, especially if, like this one photographed by Luanne Schonfeld, they are a little past their prime.

8. Flowers -- Nothing says the beautiful outdoors like flowers. This is so true that we have an irresistible urge to cut them and bring them inside with us, as in the case of this Girl with Tulips by Nicki Griffith.

7. Trees -- They are majestic, uplifting and awe inspiring, and surprisingly photogenic, like this poplar Bruce Murray calls Stretch.

6. Trilliums -- Our favorite local wildflower seems to make its way into more than its share of pieces like this Karen Kubovchick watercolor.

5. Birds -- The animal kingdom cannot be ignored. And owls are such dramatic camera hogs like this one by Kris Busk. (And I managed to slip in another winter shot!)

4. Mackinac Bridge -- For man-made attractions, the Mighty Mack is the unchallenged king of obligatory subjects for every Northern Michigan painter and photographer. Fortunately, artists can find an infinite variety of perspectives to give us fresh insights into even the most familiar objects like Gerry Pas did here.

3. Unique Downtown Storefronts -- Almost nothing makes a better subject than the shops in our favorite, friendly, chain store free, Northern Michigan downtowns, like this shop on Pennsylvania Park in Petoskey by Kurt Anderson. (I resisted the temptation to include our own Artists Market storefront here.)

2. Lighthouses -- They are romantic, historic, iconic and all those other ic's that make them such excellent subjects to represent the charm and character of Northern Michigan. There are so many well known, beautifully restored choices for this one but I like this Sam Gibbons painting of the abandoned and deteriorating Waugoshance Lighthouse in Northern Lake Michigan off the coast of Wilderness State Park.

And . . .


OK, so it is the same thing I picked for first place on my last top ten list, The Top Ten Reasons to Visit Petoskey, but really, is there any other choice? The absolute most famous, most photgraphed, most painted, most admired, most popular post card subject, most inspiring sight in all of Northern Michigan just has to be the million dollar sunsets over Lake Michigan, like the one captured here from Little Traverse Bay by Geoff Guillaume.

So there you have it, the reason I finally just have to give in and recognize that our gallery of Northern Michigan art is just not going to have as many abstract, outsider edgy pieces as I would sometimes like to see. This is who we are. This is where we are. And I admit that I love it.

Did I leave out your favorite Northern Michigan art subject? To add your thoughts, critiques or (imagine this) plaudits, click on the comment link below and share your thoughts.

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