Category Archives: Creative Inspiration

Creative Inspiration: Midwife to the U.P.’s Arts Scene, Anita Meyland, Ann Hilton Fisher

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Have you noticed the vitality of the arts in the Upper Peninsula? As with any example of robust health, many factors have combined over time to create this success. One woman who played a key role in this by example, educating, and organizing, is Anita Meyland.

Anita was born on March 5, 1897, to an artistic Milwaukee family. Her father, Fredrick Elke, learned how to paint frescoes, painting on wet plaster, and his work decorated many area churches.

Anita graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 1917 and became an art teacher in Milwaukee. Upon marrying English teacher Gunther Meyland in 1924, they moved to Marquette where he had been hired by the normal school, now Northern Michigan University.

Although others called Anita “the grande dame of culture” in Marquette, “patroness of the arts” and even “bohemian,” the words she most often used to describe herself were “teacher” and “dilettante.”

Anita loved to teach.

She taught art in the Marquette and Ishpeming schools. She brought a group of women painters together who met every week for eleven years, studying a new painter each week,and then learning to paint in that style. She created “The Paintbox,” a children’s program held on Saturday mornings for any child who wanted to attend. She taught adult education art classes within the school system and for the elderly residents of Pine Ridge. She’s best known for organizing and naming Marquette’s first “Art on the Rocks” show in 1950, showing the work of ten local artists, most of whom she had trained. Her work with the Lake Superior Art Association and the Art on the Rocks show earned her countless awards, including the naming of the gazebo at Presque Isle Park (the site of Art on the Rocks for many years) after her.

It’s more surprising that she would embrace the term “dilettante.” We’re now in an era that venerates specialization. The term “dilettante” suggests a dabbler—someone who never takes anything too seriously. Anita would vigorously disagree. She never stopped learning new things and never stopped sharing them.

So, in addition to her painting, Anita learned to weave, and organized an Upper Peninsula weavers group. She studied pottery, and 200 pots from her own collection formed the basis of a pottery exhibit at NMU in 1980. She learned, and then taught classes in scrimshaw, quilting, spinning, pewter, ironwork, beading, candle-making, and woodcarving.

Nor did Anita limit herself to the visual arts.

She was a charter member of the Marquette Community Concert Association, and active in the Saturday Music Club. She wrote a play for Marquette’s Centennial in 1949. A newspaper article from 1984 describes her eagerly preparing for the upcoming U.P. Young Authors conference, planning a theme based on cats—ranging from T.S. Eliott to Garfield.

What about Anita Meyland as “bohemian”? Scrapbooks from the early years of the Lake Superior Art Association include a 1963 invitation to “Vida’s Vignettes—An Evening with Vida Lautner, Artist.” The Tuesday evening event began with a reception at 8:30, followed by a talk at 9, “art and punch on the rocks” at 10:30, “the vernissage” (showing) at 11 p.m., and then at 3:00 a.m. “Comes the Dawn.”

There were people who thought the name “Art on the Rocks” was inappropriate because it suggested drinking. Anita was not inclined to change it. In a 1978 interview, she was described as “a little indignant” at the prospect of a return to provincialism in the arts, saying “I’m afraid we’re going back in that direction.”

Above all, Anita Meyland believed you should never stop learning, and never stop growing. Anita continued pursuing her multiple artistic interests right up until her death on March 7, 1995, just two days after her 98th birthday.

Ann Hilton Fisher grew up in Marquette and remembers Anita Meyland in her lovely home on Pine Street.  After a career as a public interest attorney in Chicago, she and her husband have retired to Marquette where she volunteers with the Marquette Regional History Center. This article is adapted from a presentation given at the History Center’s 2019 cemetery tour.
  

Excerpted with permission from the Fall 2020 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine. Copyright 2020, Empowering Lightworks, LLC. All rights reserved.

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Creative Inspiration: Challenges as Catalysts, Kim Nixon Hainstock

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When change happens, many of us become uncomfortable, even if we recognize and accept that the one certainty in life is change. I have worked in the Adult Foster Care industry and managed a group home for those with cognitive and physical disabilities. When a new resident would arrive, they often did not fit the written description given by former caregivers. Often, having arrived at a place never seen before, without familiar faces present, a new resident would demonstrate skills no one thought they had, as if an alarm clock had gone off, and now he or she was awake.

I always suggested to staff we roll with it and see what else might surface. How exciting to do so rather than look at the negative side and blame the people who made those meager introduction notes. Once we were told a person would not walk without guidance and assistance, and one day the person did, standing up, walking across the room, and sitting on the floor in a spot of light coming through the window. I smiled and thought, “Oh, this new resident can self-soothe. The person saw a spot of warmth and moved to it like a cat.” Others in my employ looked on with pity that this person sat on the floor; how sad.

I recognize change can be so sudden and complete that we often feel loss, and just like a special needs individual with no compass to navigate the changes before them, it often comes down to what I need in this moment. Warmth, I need warmth. I will walk across the room and achieve that. Here I now sit in a spot of sun. Magical! Change can be a catalyst for magic, and for fresh new insights on living.

Perceptions of change, as well as our coping abilities, vary and we all have differing skill sets.

Often we do not know how to confront or meet what is happening. In such situations, I like to turn to my creative skills: journaling, vision boards or dream-mapping, or creating mandalas of natural items found on walks.

Let’s look at the process of creating a dream-map or vision-board. I like to gather images and items starting at the New Moon and put them into a cardboard box—clippings from the news, old photos, and items culled from old magazines, bits of scrapbook papers, letters, cards, poems.

Then on the Full Moon, I settle into a space created for the moment. I set the stage. Spread out a blanket upon the floor. Retrieve the box of gathered treasures, scissors, glue sticks, adhesive, scrapbook paper, with an artist pad or cardboard as a base. I set an intention, say a positive affirmation, and begin the sifting process on what is rising up through these items for me. Often I am surprised that something I had clung to or felt strongly about initially does not make it through the gathering phase for my full moon collage.

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Displaying my new vision board is essential, as I do not always recognize the meaning or message in the artwork I created. I like to keep it present and allow for the true messages to come like whispers on the wind, allowing their guidance to become fully realized. I do not need to take action right away. Change is often slow. But having a catalyst to help with the sorting of meaning and story can be extremely enlightening.

Licensed Massage Therapist and Yoga instructor Kim Nixon Hainstock holds a B.S. in English from NMU, has led vision board classes at Ishpeming’s Joy Center, Essentials Massage and Yoga, and with at-risk youth, and is currently navigating change and finding ways to nurture her journey.

Excerpted with permission from the Summer 2020 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine. Copyright 2020, Empowering Lightworks, LLC.

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Spotlight On… Joy Center: Interview with Owner Helen Haskell Remien

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What is Joy Center?

It’s a charming cottage in the woods in Ishpeming that is so much more than a cottage. It’s a creative sanctuary for people in our area and elsewhere to come and play and dream and expand. People can come and participate in various workshops and yoga and dance and energy sessions, and they also can simply pay a small fee and be on their own, or be with other people, and feel safe to explore their creative dreams.

Joy Center opened twelve years ago and continues to expand what it offers. If there’s yoga, you can come early, peruse the books, create a piece of art…. It’s a beautiful place where you can connect with your biggest, highest part, and also connect with the community.

Why did you start Joy Center?

I had a seed of a dream in me thirty years ago. At that time I was wondering if I wanted to be part of the academic world, in an institution, and teach writing, or part of a place in the community where things such as writing workshops could be held in which everyone could be included.

I wrote in my journals in the early ’90s that there should be a place in the community where we can drum and sing and dance and have writing workshops, and have events like ones I loved when I went to Omega Institute and Kripalu, and that I would love to be a part of something like that.

About twenty years ago, I began encouraging people to find their own creative paths. Then in the spring of 2007, I started to feel a dissatisfaction in me, a sense of something growing, that it was no longer enough to teach writing in my house, and yoga in the basement of my husband’s dental office. And in a flash of two weeks, I spoke with my financial advisor to see if it would be possible to create something like Joy Center. I realized, “Oh my goodness, I have land behind my house, separate land on which we could build a cottage house, and it could be that place in the community.” But even then, I didn’t know that it would be the kind of place it would become.

How did you go about creating it?

It was really about claiming my power because I think my husband was scared of doing it. And I said, “I really need to see if we can do it.” Our financial advisor thought it could work, and be an asset, and he added, “I have a builder for you. He doesn’t know how good he is yet. He’s built a garage for us, and he’s awesome, and he’s never built a house yet.”

It was such a fun process working with this young man who put his heart and soul into it, and brought in his younger cousins and brothers to help. We worked together on the design. I learned so much, step-by-step in that process. It was scary to build something I knew in my soul would really be a big thing for all of us. At every step, I couldn’t settle. Though not extravagant—it’s a cottage—it was important to make the place welcoming. And it’s beautiful.

It was important to me to not settle for less than what felt like the right, soulful thing, and I think also to the builder. “I’ll make the counter tops,” he said, working late into the night. “I think you should have them. And you can collect your own beautiful rocks to put in them.” We really co-created together, him doing the actual work, and me doing the dreaming.

Why do you think Joy Center has expanded in the ways it has?

When I built it, I kept expanding my mind. “This will be a place where I will teach yoga. I will teach writing and creative workshops. And other people can offer other creative things. It will extend our home in some way when our kids come back to visit.” I think both I expanded and it expanded. I realized, “Oh, my gosh! There are so many awesome dreams people are having in the community!” And at that point twelve years ago, there weren’t the places available now offering yoga and energy work and so on.

For example, Amber Edmondson and Raja Howe knew they were poets, but didn’t know they were book binders yet. They sold a book at Out Loud, our open mike night, then began offering book-making workshops at Joy Center. And now they have their own shop in Marquette. Kerry Yost had never sung in public until one night at Out Loud, and she just blew everyone away.

People who have a dream can feel safe offering a workshop, singing a song at Out Loud or playing with something they’ve always wanted to do, and maybe later decide to offer a workshop and expand what’s offered at Joy Center, and what people do in this community, and people would love it. Early on, Joy Center took on its own life to be a safe place where people could take a seed of a dream, like I did, and allow it to blossom. Sometimes their offering stays at Joy Center, and sometimes it flourishes far beyond. And I get to play with people that way, and be the person who holds the space and is a cheerleader for peoples’ dreams.

What do people seem to like most about Joy Center?

I think people feel something when they walk into the physical building because it’s really welcoming and beautiful, and is that creative sanctuary. It was built with a really positive, high vibration. In its twelve years, I can’t think of anything that’s gone on there that isn’t high-vibe, so it just keeps building. So many kinds of things are welcomed there, so that energy just keeps growing. People feel safe to really be brave and find parts of themselves they haven’t felt before, or to love themselves more deeply than they’ve loved themselves before. I feel strongly about keeping the boundaries there safe, to keep it clear in that way.

What do you like most about running it?

Truly, it’s all of it. There is a part of me that loves all the things that are offered, and that I can participate in them. It’s brought community to me. I love being the cheerleader. It’s a soul calling. And I love playing at Joy Center. I get to go play in a playhouse!

What do you find most challenging about running it?

The marketing part is not my thing. I’d rather promote by word-of-mouth. So I found a way that feels easy to me and true to who I am with additional support from others. I spend more of my time cheering people on, encouraging them to maybe do a workshop. I may give my dear friends Stephanie Lake and Stacey Willey at Globe Printing the rough draft of Joy Center’s next brochure, or the idea of a poster, and they’ll lay it out beautifully. Stacey helps to get the word out on Facebook. For a long time, my daughter-in-law did a beautiful job of helping with that. And I love my Health & Happiness ad, and the support I get to help me with it. It’s the only place I advertise–it’s perfect for Joy Center, and goes out all over the Central and Western U.P.

What future plans are in the works?

As we hunker into our homes, and aren’t able to go to the creative sanctuary physically, my curiosity and challenge is “How will this time affect Joy Center since the place itself is such an important part of it? How can I use Zoom to make an Out Loud, and then find some richness that Joy Center does beyond these walls, or a poetry workshop by Zoom like U.P. Poet Laureate Marty Achatz did? How will this propel us into the future? Will there be a time that Zoom comes into Joy Center?

I feel like I’m in the middle of the cocoon, and I am learning. Parallel Play–we all did it at the same time and texted and sent photos of our creations simultaneously afterward. It felt like deep connection. So Joy Center has been continuing. I’ve been working on the space, giving it loving physical care. And I’m learning about technology and connecting that way, and how to still have the feel of Joy Center. It’s a beautiful space, and it’s the people and the energy, and that no walls can hold in.

How can people find out about upcoming events taking place?

They can check Joy Center’s Facebook page, and they also can contact me at helenhaskell@yahoo.com about events or if there’s something they’d like to offer here. And they can join our mailing list to receive a brochure on what’s going on, and a letter I write every two months.

Excerpted with permission from the Summer 2020 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine. Copyright 2020, Empowering Lightworks, LLC.

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Inspired by Photography, Christine Saari

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After six years of living in Cambridge, Massachusetts as a graduate student’s wife, an Austrian immigrant finding her way in a new society and, finally, a mother of two young boys, I needed something for my soul. Maybe taking art classes would do the trick?

I learned silversmithing, weaving, enameling. I liked it all, but nothing stuck. Until I hit upon photography. After I learned how to expose and develop film, I went to Austria and took photographs of all I loved there.

Upon returning to the U.S., we moved to Marquette. I immediately set up a darkroom in our tiny bathroom, and taught myself to print. By serendipity, the person who taught photography at NMU was our neighbor. When he saw my work, he suggested I take classes. I did, and I was hooked.

That was in the early seventies. It was an intense time.

I met other women photographers, and we founded Interplay: A Women’s Photographic Collective. I took workshops in Minneapolis and New York with master photographers. I entered shows and got in. I helped organize exhibits, juried, taught workshops, gave presentations.

Initially, I took black and white photographs. I loved the darkroom work and shooting specific topics. During our travels, I enjoyed photographing people. Windows and doors became favorite subjects. I documented the Austrian mountain farming culture in which I’d grown up.

Finally, I expanded into mixed media with an emphasis on alternative photo processes, and embarked on a 20-year project, “Family Album” (Using family photographs, documents, and artifacts, I created 3-D objects that told the story of my family, and the “Family of Man.”

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Now I am eighty, and production is not my thing anymore, although I still exhibit and sell occasionally. But I still love to shoot photos, and share my vision. When a friend pushed me to get on Facebook, I resisted. But by now I have found FB to be my preferred medium as a photographer. I can shoot every day, and share my work without expense, without printing, framing, and accumulating photos. I can post work and get feedback. I can work in a series, such as “Circles” or “Window Ice.” I don’t post just any pictures. I work on my posts, and have developed a following.

So, what inspires me when I photograph?

Sometimes it is the light. Sometimes it is color. Sometimes it is pattern (shadows, or tree branches, or architecture). Sometimes it is subject matter (Lake Superior, the ice, flowers, faces). The possibilities are endless! It is always a journey of discovery.

On the same walk from my house to my studio, I can see a myriad of different subjects to photograph. Things look different, depending on the weather, the time of day, the time of year, my mood. The sky, the light, the trees are never the same! Sometimes I get excited because the familiar looks different, sometimes because I see something I have not seen before. Sometimes I can’t help photographing the same thing again, year after year. Leaf prints on the sidewalk, the first green growth, ice formations, sun rays in my kitchen.

What I get out of shooting is that it makes me look and see. “You have such an eye,” people will say. But I think it is just practice, the practice of looking. And when I look, I find beauty. Beauty in the most ordinary thing right in front of me, beauty to share. I don’t want to keep all this beauty for myself. I want to share it. And shooting photos with my phone, and posting the results allows me to do that!

Christine Saari grew up on an Austrian mountain farm. She studied English and German in Austria and the U.S. As a journalist, she reported for Austrian media. In the U.P., she wrote for MM and Midwestern media, and published documentary photographs with her writing.

Excerpted with permission from the Spring 2020 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine. Copyright 2020, Empowering Lightworks, LLC.

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Creative Inspiration: I Know You’ll Be Okay, by Gala Malherbe

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Cold snow squeaks under tires as we turn into the empty parking lot after dark.
We wonder where everyone could be, think briefly of an entire city choosing other things.
I reach high into roof box, deliver skis and poles to arms smaller than my own.

We stoop to connect boots, fumble to connect mittened hands, breathe the tight cold air of night.
Light poles illuminate white alley through trees. Glistening tracks lure us from brightness to dim
and back again. I follow you, watch you enter and exit each puddle of light, each stretch of darkness.
Our skis swallow reflection, our poles punch rhythm beside us.

Silent, we stride, scale familiar grades, own this space, this secret time. The memories intertwine:
the morning we swished through ankle deep powder, sliced first tracks into palate of freshness,
the time, winter still young, we skirted around dirt, skated across ice, too eager to stay home,
the chocolate chips we pulled from pockets, frozen solid, chewing palmfuls as we rested.

I remember carrying you on my back, your weight pulling me as you bobbed from side to side,
the way you squealed from your perch as we descended, grunted with effort as I climbed,
the way your sister skied ahead as I fiddled with your pack and wasn’t afraid of the darkness,
of the forest, of herself, the way her small song parted colossal hemlocks and pines.

I taught you to mount the hills yourself, legs spread leaning. My hand on your bottom
holding you steady, an awkward pair, we trudged to the top. I held you tight under snowsuit arms,
steered us down, our bellies dropping, your miniature skis floating over snow between mine.

Tonight, we pause at the top of a hill. You step from the edge and let yourself go.
I watch your perfect silhouette glide and shrink into the night, beneath stars and moon,
beneath my giant love for you.

Gala Malherbe lives in Marquette, MI.  She enjoys writing about her children, her connection to nature, and the struggles and resilience of the human condition. 

Reprinted with permission from the Winter 2019-2020 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine. All rights reserved.

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Creative Inspiration: Music to Our Ears & Lives, by Kevin McGrath

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Whether you’re listening to the wind dance through the leaves or the song of a robin while sitting under a tree,

or perhaps the rhythmic caw of a resident crow, music is and has always been around for those willing and able to allow themselves to appreciate it. Even the thunderous beat of the big lake during an autumn storm creates a percussive melody for those paying attention.

Taking a walk along the shoreline near Picnic Rocks in Marquette, especially during the morning hours, brings a symphony of chatter among the gulls, creating wonderful music for all to hear within a sonic breeze.

Nature and humanity’s music is available to us in all volumes, tempos, and genres. For me, it’s my fuel. It energizes me, motivates me, relaxes me, gets me in the zone, takes me to another place and time.

Most every trip I take, I look into all nearby concert venues to see if a band or musician is performing. More times than not, I’m able to include a concert in my plans. I’ve attended hundreds over the years, and they always make my trips worthwhile.

I also partake of the U.P.’s ever-growing musical offerings at local venues and festivals throughout the year, and have enjoyed many amazingly talented well-known and lesser known soloists and groups within a five-minute to two-hour reach.

I have learned to enjoy the music while dancing, but simply sitting back and absorbing it never disappoints me. They are two totally different experiences for me, and both of the charts in their own ways.

Music brings flavor and richness to my creative pulses, and keeps me moving forward with a project.

Though I prefer live over recorded, I still enjoy the secondhand option immensely. It can take me through a whole series of emotions. And with YouTube, I can put together a repertoire to my liking, knowing which pieces play on certain emotions.

I wonder about those who don’t care for music. Are they truly happy missing out on one of life’s greatest pleasures? I read recently that music uses your entire brain and is extremely healthy for you. There’s plenty of research available showing the healthy benefits music may offer each of us, such as possibly promoting heart health, elevating your mood, helping to reduce stress and relieve symptoms of depression, stimulating recall, increasing workout endurance, and more. But to me, regardless of what any leading health authorities have to say, the most important thing is to feel the benefits for yourself by opening up and giving yourself permission to go wherever the music is going to take you by listening to it at a strong, yet safe volume.

Music isn’t given enough credit in the creative process,

even though most creative people I know listen to it without hesitation when working on a project. I end this tribute to music by referring you to the chorus of an ABBA song entitled “Thank You for the Music.” May its lyrics ring through your heart and head, and inspire you to bring more music and appreciation for it into your life!

Kevin McGrath is a music lover and can be found at music festival, concerts, or other live music venues.

Reprinted with permission from the Fall 2019 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine, copyright 2019. All rights reserved.

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Creative Inspiration: The “UPsurge” in the Arts

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Have you noticed how creativity is bubbling over through myriad arts endeavors throughout the U.P.? As Marquette Arts & Culture Center Director Tiina Harris explains, “If you don’t have anything to do, it means you’re not looking. There are a lot of really dynamic choices out there-everything from knitting, painting, and ceramic classes to more pop-up, learn-to-paint options-lots and lots of art opportunities, even metalsmithing.” Harris adds, “More community members are taking art classes, whether at the university or local art center. We have a strong tradition of painting, ceramics, and fiber arts but now the sector has expanded to include more film, graphic design, and the literary arts… Everything seems to be booming.”

This boom is woven into the fabric of U.P. communities.

47 North Belly Dance, a fusion belly dance troupe based in Houghton/Hancock, has swelled to include fifteen dancers from a start of three just four years ago. The troupe performs at all kinds of local venues, including half-time at local roller derby home shows. Co-leader Allison Mills says, “We’ve seen classes grow, but not nearly as much as our audience—they’re an explosion of positivity and enthusiasm!”

And how many communities with populations under 21,000 do you know of that not only have a city band, symphony, art museum, and chorale societies, but also a professional modern dance company? TaMaMa was founded in 2016 by Tara Middleton, Maggie Barch, and Marissa Marquardson to “create innovative movement-based art and integrate it into the community… pushing the boundaries of traditional dance.” TaMaMa has performed in art galleries, art festivals, even on rock walls and in busy downtown crosswalks, as well as more traditional venues such as the Forest Roberts Theatre, where they’ll perform “Collections” in early June.

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Photo from TaMaMa Dance Company

Those up for developing their own moves can check out new options with free classes by local instructors during the Blueberry Dance Festival. Held in late July, the Marquette festival also includes master dance classes, a professional dance performance, and a dance showcase and competition.

MACC Director Harris says, “People are desiring to get together and collaborate more, and do more—there’s a new Drink & Draw group meeting at local bars. The local knitting guilds have younger members now, so people in their 20s to 80s are knitting together. The Marquette Poet’s Circle is making its mark across the entire U.P. They have readings, exhibits, and are strong advocates for writers living in the U.P. They’re doing some really interesting projects connecting artists and poets together. Our senior arts classes have a waiting list – they never used to. We’ve added a senior theater class. Eight-twelve seniors attend local theater performances and rehearsals together. Many of those taking these classes have no previous experience in the arts or theatre. Retirees are looking for something to do…. The100DayProject has increased people’s desire to pick up a new creative habit or get back into an old one.” elaborates Harris.

Local theatre groups throughout the U.P. are performing at beautiful historic venues such as the Calumet Theatre, Negaunee ‘s Vista Theatre, and the Historic Ironwood Theatre, as well as more unusual ones, such as Marquette’s boathouse-turned-performance-venue Lake Superior Theatre, and Shakespeare and Wolf’s Head Theater productions at the Ore Dock Brewing Company. Escanaba’s Players de Noc recently advanced to the prestigious AACTFest Regional competition, and youth theatre is thriving in many parts of the U.P.

Originality, a tell-tale sign of a healthy arts scene, is also blossoming.

The Vista Theatre recently went beyond tried-and true favorites with a production of “The Brain Trust,” by local playwright Bill Hager. Cindy Engle, founder of online source MarquetteMusicScene.com, notes local bands are playing more of their own original tunes. She says the number of bands overall has increased too, as well as new venues for them with more coffee shops and restaurants having live music nights.

Original poetry is shared publicly in places such as The Preserve in Marquette. Original writing is encouraged at the Marquette Poet’s Circle’s monthly workshop and open mike nights, and at U.P. Poet Laureate Marty Achatz’s monthly poetry workshops at Ishpeming’s Joy Center.

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The center’s monthly Out Loud nights foster sharing of all kinds of creative forms. Owner Helen Haskell Remien also points out, “People appreciate when a visual art exercise is a component of a retreat — yoga retreat, energy-related retreat, writing retreat, coach-led retreat. It brings a deeper spiritual depth and meaning and context to the art.  And this seems to be desired by many.”

Remien adds, “Another desire among attendees has been art offerings for kids,” which Ishpeming resident Mark Hall has begun meeting through monthly art workshops for all age groups.

Amber Edmondson and Raja Howell’s book arts workshops at Joy Center have been so popular they are now bringing their vision to reality with a place of their own—Wild Pages in Ishpeming’s Historic Gossard Building, with art and writing supplies, workshops, and locally-created books and art.

In fact, Ishpeming is experiencing a bit of an arts renaissance, with artwork and art classes available at multiple locations—Nook ’n Cranny Art Studio and UPTown Gifts, which are also in the Gossard, Rare Earth Goods, which holds informal weekly music jams too, and Inspired Art & Gifts within Globe Printing.

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Feeding that artistic flame is imperative to keeping it burning brightly, and artists are doing just that at the Marquette Artist Collective, a new group which, as their website explains, welcomes all visual artists and “strives to support each others’ creativity and the arts in our community,” with twice-a-month gatherings, plus art shows in their downtown gallery, and other local spaces. And new art studios have also popped up along Marquette’s Third Street area, offering visitors glimpses of the art-making process, artwork for sale, and art classes.

In Munising, UP~Scale Art, owned and operated by the Munising Bay Arts Association, provides a cooperative option for local and regional artisans to exhibit and sell their art, a yearly internship program teaching the business side of art, and eventually, a range of workshops and art classes. More art can also be found at businesses throughout the area.

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The Calumet Theatre, a National Historic Landmark offering symphony, folk music, jazz, opera, theatre, dance, and community events, is bringing more big names to this intimate 700-seat venue, with five Grammy award winners and nominees performing there this year. New Executive Director Marlin Lee is passionate about making the theatre a go-to for outstanding performances, and utilizing his media marketing and independent concert promotion experience to bring in even more big name acts.

At Michigan Tech, the Rosza Center is focusing diligently to provide memorable, consistent programming for all ages so that “not just kids but the entire family can come together,” explains Programming and Development Director Mary Jennings. More events are being scheduled on the weekend too, so those from other parts of the U.P. can attend more easily.

In Ironwood, non-profit Downtown Art Place (DAP) worked hard to renovate its beautiful structure alongside the Historic Ironwood Theatre with help from dedicated volunteers, private donations, grant funding, and city government. Now in its seventh year, volunteer-run DAP exhibits juried displays of work from fifty to sixty regional artists, has a complete ceramics studio plus classroom space for an array of art classes, and provides the city’s lowest rental cost to 12 – 18 artists leasing art studios there. Board President Howard Sandin also notes an increase in the number of both artists and visitors DAP serves, with tourists from each state as well as other countries in the past year.

New art galleries have sprung up in town since DAP began. Ironwood is also home to Theatre North, the oldest still-functioning theatre group in MI, the Range Art Association, established in 1954, and emphasizes music in the schools, with HIT Idol run annually for youth by the Historic Ironwood Theatre with a guest judge from TV.

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Sandin notes, “There’s a tremendous economic benefit for any area with ongoing support for the arts. For every dollar spent, $8 – $10 comes back…. The city is smart enough to know there is a real benefit to having an active art culture downtown, and has helped make buildings available.

He elaborates, “After 5 p.m., downtown Ironwood used to be dead. It’s thriving now, with nine new businesses opening in the last year, including a brewery. There’s greater enthusiasm. It’s lively now.”

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U.P. communities are also coming to life with the addition of murals. “CUPPAD (Central Upper Peninsula Planning and Development) received an Art Place grant to help create murals in the U.P.,” says Harris. “There are three or four in Iron Mountain, one in Manistique, and more in the works in Gladstone and Munising. There has been interest in Marquette as well.”

In addition to the numerous long-running arts festivals already established throughout the U.P., new ones are further livening things up—Forestville, a craft beer and music festival at the Forestville Trailhead in Marquette is now in its fourth year with almost double its initial attendance; the Upper Peninsula Shakespeare Festival and Calumet’s Dam Jam Music Festival, both also founded in 2015; Fresh Coast and 41 North annual film festivals; and five-year-old Arts Week in Marquette.

“The initial idea for Arts Week was to showcase local artists and provide opportunities for the community to participate in free and low cost art experiences outdoors,” says MACC Director Harris. “The City of Marquette contributes $1,500 plus staff time as well as revenue from the sale of ads in our program. Yet, Art Week leverages over $15,000 investment through events coordinated by groups such as Pine Mountain Music Festival, Hiawatha Music Co-op, Marquette City Band, and countless others.

People want an opportunity to experiment with something new.

The level of participation in Art Stroll has skyrocketed with 38 participating businesses this year, up from 20 when we started. There are more signature events during Arts Week now too, such as the Fresh Coast Plein Air Painting Festival,” explains Harris. “The idea is to get people outside to enjoy the natural environment Marquette has to offer. It’s an opportunity not only for artists but also for art appreciators to watch a painting happen in real time.  Now in its third year, the Painting Festival has grown and received over $5,000 in sponsorships.

There are more artist-in-residencies throughout the U.P. now also, including in Munising, Marquette, and Mackinac Island, along with long-established ones in the Porcupine Mountains and Rabbit Island. This will be the second year for Evolve MQT’s Creative Residency made possible through the Marquette Chamber of Commerce and the Michigan Film and Digital Media Office. “This year we welcomed a woodcarver, writer, and photographer. All three are well-respected in their fields,” says MACC Director Harris. “Our hope is that they share their experiences of living and working as creatives here in Marquette with the rest of the world, and connect and work with local artists too.”

Harris continues, “This area always has been a cool place to live, but now more than ever… and with that there are more creative people… I think you’re seeing more young people moving here. A recent study shows young people are moving for quality of life first rather than jobs leading their decision. I think we’ve all met people who’ve moved here because it’s an interesting place and then they try to find out how to make a living here. It’s made easier through technology and working from home.

The arts are “a bigger leader than outdoor recreation and growing faster than many industries in the U.S.,” explains Harris.

“This can be seen throughout statewide and local marketing efforts.  Travel Marquette released a video last year featuring artisans and makers, and how the U.P. inspires their work. There’s also been more support from local government. The City of Marquette gives annually to public art. Ironwood is working on an arts and culture master plan. Munising integrates public art projects throughout the downtown, and Iron Mountain recently welcomed several murals into theirs. I think that will soon be the norm in the U.P. – municipalities participating in public art, and supporting arts and culture.”

Arts in the U.P. are also benefiting by connecting across the miles. U.P. Arts & Culture Alliance (UPACA) “hosts meet-n-greets across the U.P. to hear what what’s important to people,” explains Harris, who is also chair of the non-profit. “With representatives from almost all fifteen counties, this very new group is sharing resources, connecting creatives, and advocating for the arts in the U.P.”

State and regional connections led to Escanaba’s Bonifas Arts Center’s application to host an exhibit of early American paintings from the Detroit Institute of Arts’ Manoogian Collection, which occurred last year. And experts through novices from throughout the U.P. and beyond come together to share and learn valuable information at the U.P. Publishers & Authors Association’s Spring Conference, and through their newsletter and Google forum. Out of this has come the U.P. Reader series, showcasing U.P. authors’ work.

“The U.P. has a strong tradition of arts and culture—it’s growing and it’s changing, but it’s always been there,” adds Harris.

There have been periods when the arts have been invested in more than others.  I think we’re at a high point right now, because we understand the impact arts make on both our quality of life and economy. Whether it’s an illustration on a locally crafted can of beer, or reading a book by a local author, the arts are an integral part of our daily lives.”

Reprinted with permission from the Summer 2019 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine, copyright 2019. All rights reserved.

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Positive Parenting: Nurturing Our Children’s Creativity, Joy Bender Hadley

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One of my favorite memories from my childhood was listening to my mother play the piano. I loved how smoothly her fingers went from key to key, playing each note. She furthered my interest with an interactive musical game for my siblings and me. She would play various tunes, each offering different tempos. When she played the faster music, we would dance with quick moves around the whole house. As it slowed, we would too. It was a marvelous way for my mother to introduce us to the world of music. The bonus may have been that it also tired us out eventually. This was the beginning of my love for music and dance. My mother was always finding ways to nurture our creativity. Our house always had a supply of simple visual arts materials, and no end to creative ways to keep our imaginations blossoming.

The impact of the arts on the developing brain is essential.

The brain is stimulated in positive ways while creating art, dancing, or playing an instrument. The research for this is even included in the Search Institute’s forty developmental assets for youth. These are building blocks to help children grow up healthy, caring, and responsible. The more assets our children experience, the healthier they will be—not just as young people, but as they transition into adults as well.

By introducing creative activities into our children’s lives, we can help them develop skills that will create healthy habits. The arts can support creative problem-solving as well as celebrate our individuality, uniqueness, and diversity. Creativity encourages self-expression, a way to create something from personal feelings and experiences. This can increase self-worth and self-esteem.

Though here in the Upper Peninsula we may have fewer offerings such as art museums, programs, and concerts than a larger metropolitan area,

we do have abundant opportunities to share the arts with our children in many ways. We have art galleries and art centers in many of our communities. It is my belief that children are never too young to start interacting with or in art. Bring them to an art gallery, outdoor art fair, symphony concert, or take the time to pick up books about the arts at the library and start conversations with your child. If discussing art makes you feel nervous, that’s all right. Learn with your child.

This type of conversation does not have to happen only in a gallery or concert setting, though. You know the game of lying down outside on a blanket and looking up for images in clouds. That is a creative activity that can help stimulate your child’s imagination. Point out what you see and ask your child if they see it. Then ask them to find something. Observational skills are important to your future scientist, mathematician, artist, or engineer. The arts help greatly in fine-tuning those skills.

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Studies have concluded that it’s very important to introduce art education at a young age because children are developing their critical thinking skills.

Our children fine-tune their motor skills while creating art. The cognitive processes involved in learning to draw, choosing shapes and colors, and creating detail in visual work help develop the skills associated with these tasks. The musical arts can translate into better math skills. Musical rhythms can provide a way for students to learn fractions, counting, and patterns.

We do have opportunities to meet artists, musicians, dancers, and performers in the Upper Peninsula. You know the Michigan State motto, “If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you”? Well, I truly believe if you seek creative activities in this pleasant Upper Peninsula, look about you. Here we are more likely to meet talented artists face-to-face. We are a personable group of neighbors. Ask local friends and family about local opportunities. We have galleries, art class opportunities, creative businesses, and children’s museums.

As you introduce your children to these types of skill-building creative activities, you’ll be having fun right along with your child.

Try collaborating on a painting or drawing. One of my favorite drawing opportunities as a child was having an adult draw a simple scribble on paper. Then I would take it and see if I could make an image from it. A simple figure 8 might turn into a twirling dancer or an animal. That kept me occupied for hours. The adults seemed to have fun coming up with odd scribbles just to see if I could find anything to make out of it. I did this with my own children, and you can try this too. You might ask your child to make a scribble for you and you try to make something out of it. This type of dialogue between adult and child can help to develop not only the budding artist in the youth, but also help further communication between you and your child.

Through the arts and nurturing creativity, both you and your child will have fun while developing lifelong skills and the blossoming of imagination.

(https://www.search-institute.org)

Joy Bender Hadley is an award- winning art educator working in schools and as an artist-in-residence throughout the region. She believes in the importance of art education in the development of all youth. Aurora Artworks, her art service business, offers creativity coaching for adults.

Reprinted with permission from the Summer 2019 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine, copyright 2019. All rights reserved.

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Creative Inspiration: Cultivating a Creative Practice, Ann Russ

If creativity is a habit, then the best creativity is the result of good work habits. They are the nuts and bolts of dreaming. – Twyla Tharp, choreographer and author of The Creative Habit

Do you yearn for more creativity or art in your life? Have you had an itch to make something or explore a creative idea? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you might consider doing a 100 day project.  
 
creative inspiration, creative practice, U.P. holistic wellness publication, U.P. holistic well-being publication, U.P. holistic health publicationThe100DayProject is a creativity excavation that grows a creative habit through a daily, hands-on practice of 100 days. It gives us permission to play, explore, and experiment for an extended period of time.

The100DayProject is not about making perfect or beautiful artwork; it’s about the process of creativity and developing new ways of seeing and thinking. It grows our capacity to imagine, innovate, and problem-solve. The end product – the work that gets made – is secondary to all of that.

Many people think we’re either born creative or we’re not. The100DayProject challenges that assumption with the idea that creativity is a skill that can be developed. What we practice, we get better at, right? Through practice, we develop a creative habit. Through habit, we reconnect with and know ourselves again as creative beings.

Nurturing Ourselves & Others
Artists are among the most generous of people. Perhaps inherent in the appreciation of creativity comes a deep, underlying love of humanity and our Earth. – Kelly Borsheim

Each year, The100DayProject chooses a theme for its community-wide arts initiative, now in its sixth year. The theme, which is optional, is meant to offer a nudge, a glimmer of inspiration, an overlooked opportunity for those who might be looking for that. 

We chose “Art’s Capacity to Nurture” as the theme for 2019. It was inspired by Donna Miller from Temperance, Michigan. Donna completed a 100DayProject in 2018 and sent a box of beautiful hand-crocheted project work for us to distribute as we saw fit.

Donna wanted to get out of her comfort zone and try new stitches.  She was inspired by our 2018 theme, “Mirrored Light,” and made a variety of infant hats and mitts, adult hats, fingerless gloves, and ear warmers. She wrote to us saying, “I hope you will find a place to donate them. The warmth they offer is the Mirrored Light I hope to have reflected from my heart to those who wear them.”
 
We were awestruck and humbled by her unexpected and generous gesture. We added Donna’s project work to the Chocolay Girls Scouts’ Giving Tree on display last December at the Peter White Public Library. Individuals in need of something were invited to take it from the Tree. Any items left over after the holidays were donated to foster families in the area. 

We often see firsthand how art/music/film/dance nurtures the soul, provides comfort and healing, and rejuvenates the spirit in ourselves and others. For example, one Arter* told us that the “creatures” he drew as a child were comforting presences for him as he moved through difficulties in his early life.  Adulthood pulled him away from all of that, so his 100DayProject focus is to reconnect with and draw his creatures again. 

We’ll be collecting stories from 2019 project participants later this year and look forward to discovering how their projects nurtured them and others.

Creativity is dynamic, it asserts life, frees the human spirit, conquers mental lassitude and illness, and makes real the outrageous potential of the universal imagination. – Robert Genn

Cultivating a Creative Habit
And suddenly you know: It’s time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings.  – Meister Eckhart

If you feel inspired by what you’ve read so far and are curious about how to begin, it all starts with an idea that you’re excited about exploring for 100 days. If an idea doesn’t immediately come to mind, you really don’t have to look that far.  Exploring new materials or mediums in new ways may be all it takes.

One artist loved colored paint samples and incorporated them into a daily habit of paper cutout designs. Another artist wanted to explore some materials she had an abundance of and built her project around reclaimed building materials. 

Projects don’t have to be limited to the visual arts. Poetry, writing, practicing a musical instrument or dance steps are all wonderful ideas to explore for 100 days.

Look around you. What motivates you?  What skill do you want to grow? What “off the wall” idea do you want to test-drive? What project idea has been sitting on the back shelf of your mind? What’s calling you to come out and play? There may be an idea or two there.

You don’t have to complete a piece every day. You need only to do something hands-on with your project every day. Track what you’re working on daily so you can see your progress. Journaling works great for that. So does photographing your progress.  Or simply hang your work on a wall or put it on a shelf where you can see your progress. It’ll keep you motivated – and you’ll see the thread of your project idea grow, which can germinate further ideas.

Maybe you’ll decide to do your 100DayProject first thing in the morning, or maybe later on in the day. Creating a routine or rhythm might feel clunky at first – like any new habit it may take some getting used to. Our best advice is to try and do it at the same time each day. Choose something that’s got juice for you and allows you some freedom to play and explore.
 
Simply do one small creative exercise daily, even if it’s just for five minutes, and then move on with your day. This is not about judging what you create – it’s about doing one thing each day for 100 days that nurtures your creative spirit.

Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something. — Kurt Vonnegut, A Man Without a Country

*We use the term Arters to indicate 100DayProject participants who have registered their projects on our website.

Ann Russ is co-organizer of The100DayProject with Catherine Benda. You can visit http://www.The100DayProject.com and subscribe to its newsletter for weekly inspiration and project developments. Visit http://www.facebook.com/The100DayProject for inspiration and to share images and comments about your project. Find more project images at Instagram site @thecreativepractice.

Reprinted with permission from the Spring 2019 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine, copyright 2019. All rights reserved.

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Creative Inspiration: Winter Moon Madness, Roslyn Elena McGrath

winter moon madness illustration

Winter moon madness sparkles sharply
over crusty layers of icy skyfall.
It ripples through frigid rivers
and captures cold shadows,
increasing their inky contrast
to the shining white mystery
that blurs shapes
and freezes forms.

Can color continue in this world?
Must it all be shades of dark
and light, ad nauseam, forever?

When the moon conquers our souls,
will we remain frozen,
caught up in our thoughts and counter-currents,
statues under indigo skies?
Or will we reach out,
grab another’s hand,
and dance wildly to the sound
of our own howling laughter,
kissing shadows and sparkles
’til we keel over drunk
with intoxicating, frosted breath?

I happen to have a star shine in my hand
that wears me as its amulet,
and I am proud to share its wealth
with all the wide, white world.

Roslyn Elena McGrath is a visionary artist, author, holistic practitioner, teacher, and publisher. You can find out more about her private sessions, upcoming workshops, and inspirational books and products at http://www.EmpoweringLightworks.com.

Excerpted with permission from Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine, Winter 2018-19 Issue, copyright 2018. All rights reserved.

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