June 25, 2024


Super Art is Almost

Michigan’s muse: Leelanau County’s beauty inspires robust art communities | News

Editor’s note: This article was published in Grand Traverse Scene magazine’s June 2021 issue. Pick up a free copy at area hotels, visitor’s centers, chambers of commerce or at the Record-Eagle building on Front Street. Click here to read GT Scene in its entirety online.

Rolling sand dunes meet turquoise waters. Vineyards form pleasing pastoral patterns. Farmhouses and fish shanties. Stunning sunsets. Leelanau Peninsula is a feast for the eyes. Not surprisingly, it also inspires and nourishes its art communities. A number of outdoor events are on the summer calendar geared for both artists and art appreciators. Watch a professional paint in real time, peruse a summer morning art fair or try your creative hand at capturing Leelanau’s many moods. Let Leelanau be your muse.


The Northport Arts Association (NAA) will host a variety of art exhibits throughout 2021.

From May 28 through June 12, Arts of Our Members serves as a “thank you” to NAA’s members, according to NAA Arts Administrator Tara Stoffel.

“We allow everyone in our membership to submit up to three works of their art, free of charge, and then we organize it,” Stoffel said.

She said the exhibit will be viewable both in the Village Arts Building, located at 301 Mill St. in Northport, and online at NAA’s website — northportartsassociation.org.

From July 9-11, Gene Rantz Art Show features paintings by landscape and nature painter Gene Rantz.

“He has years of experience, and it’s actually an exhibit that he organizes and rents the building for,” Stoffel said, alluding to the Village Arts Building.

From July 27 through Aug. 3, the Village Arts Building and NAA website will house an exhibit of paintings from 2021’s Plein Air Paint Out, an annual event that sees an assortment of painters working their easels around Northport.

“Plein-air painting literally means painting out in open air,” Stoffel said. “We actually get artists from around the country, mostly from around the state though, that come out and find different locations outside to paint — beaches, nature, different landscapes, townscapes even … And then we invite the community to come and look at the pieces.”

A corresponding Wet Paint Sale will also take place from 6-8 p.m. on July 23 and July 24.

From Aug. 13-29, Starry Night Exhibit will be viewable at both the Village Arts Building and NAA website, after an opening reception from 6-8 p.m. on Aug. 12 at the Willowbrook Mill, located at 201 Mill St. in Northport.

“The Starry Night gala is going to be something unique that we haven’t done before,” Stoffel said. “They’re going to have a really nice evening with dinner and viewing of some of the art that’s going to be available before the exhibit is able to see it … It’s kind of like the premiere of the Starry Night pieces.”

From Sept. 5-19, Northport Photo Exhibit will be on display at both the Village Arts Building and NAA website, after an opening reception from 6-8 p.m. on Sept. 4 at the Village Arts Building.

“It’s a really great exhibit that’s been going on for a while with the organization, that’s organized by some folks that are really passionate about photography,” Stoffel said. “They do a wonderful job — like last year, we had quite a variety of sizes and matting options available for folks that wanted to buy photography online. So they’ve really taken that niche and expanded it in a way that I don’t think we would have been able to without the help of photographers.”

Stoffel said the exhibit usually features photographs from a variety of genres, including nature, wildlife and cityscape.

From Oct. 15-24, a Village Art Building Anniversary Exhibit will be shown at both the Village Arts Building and NAA website, with an opening reception from 6-8 p.m. on Oct. 15.

“The Anniversary Exhibit is going to be similar to our Arts of Our Members show,” Stoffel said. “We invite our members again to submit their work for free and display that work. And when the current climate calls for it, we like to do a potluck with that as well for the members.”

For the exhibits that don’t currently have listed times, Stoffel said times will be chosen as the dates draw near, with information available on the NAA website. However, she said noon to 4 p.m. on weekdays are generally a safe bet, adding each event has the potential for having a uniquely specific time.

Glen Arbor

Glen Arbor Arts Center (GAAC) has “tons” of art exhibits and events planned in 2021, with many of them outdoors, according to Sarah Bearup-Neal, gallery manager at GAAC.

Beginning in May, Bearup-Neal said GAAC will unveil the work of its 2021-22 GAAC Outdoor Gallery exhibitor, viewable for free 24/7. She said the year-long exhibition features five paintings by a single artist reproduced on 5-foot by 5-foot aluminum panels and installed on GAAC’s west and south exterior walls.

From May 3 through Aug. 31, Bearup-Neal said a small exhibition of watercolor paintings will celebrate the work of the late Amy L. Clark-Carels, in the GAAC Lobby Gallery.

From May 28 through Aug. 19, Food Is Art / Art Is Food will be on display in the Main GAAC Gallery.

“Visual artists throughout time have found food a rich, inspiring subject,” Bearup-Neal said.

“Food Is Art / Art Is Food takes an expanded view of the subject. This juried exhibition of 2-D and 3-D work explores food as a metaphor, a design element, an art-making material and how we feed and nourish mind, body and soul.”

This summer, GAAC’s 6ft Apart Art Series features three pop-up exhibitions on June 26, July 24 and Sept. 11, with rain dates of the following day for each respective date.

Bearup-Neal said each pop-up exhibition features the work of eight visual artists who will demonstrate what they do and create work around the GAAC.

“The Artist Pop-Ups will take place at the GAAC and turn the front yard, grove and parking area into open-air exhibition venues,” Bearup-Neal said. “It was developed in response to the challenges posed by COVID-19. Practices such as social distancing will be built into 6ft Apart Art events and offer a safe alternative to traditional indoor art activities.”

Additionally, Bearup-Neal said each pop-up exhibition will be accompanied by free live music on GAAC’s front porch, with instrumental-jazz group Glenn Wolff Trio on June 26; acoustic-jazz and contemporary artists Luke Wolanski and Dalton Sala on July 24; and acoustic and contemporary music by Glenn Wolff and Windy Ridge on Sept. 11.

From July 24 through Aug. 27, Bearup-Neal said GAAC’s Clothesline Exhibit is an open-air exhibition of small work.

“This year’s theme, wild friends, challenges makers of all skills to create an unframed painting, drawing, photograph or collage on a single, 5-inch by 7-inch sheet of paper around this theme,” Bearup-Neal said. “Each work will be placed in a sealed plastic envelope and pinned to a clothesline in front of the GAAC building.”

From Aug. 27 through Oct. 28, Bearup-Neal said juried exhibition Everyday Objects answers the question, “What happens when an artist gets her hands on a common everyday object and begins to reimagine it?”

Bearup-Neal said all exhibits and events will take place at the GAAC, located at 6031 S. Lake St. in Glen Arbor.

“The GAAC is moving art outdoors,” Bearup-Neal said.


The Old Art Building (OAB) in Leland has several art shows scheduled this summer, according to Executive Director Becky Ross.

From June 24-27, the Art of the Garden will be showcased in the OAB, featuring paintings from members of the Leland Garden Club.

“They have a garden tour that weekend, and we have painters paint their version of their garden,” Ross said. “And all of those works of art are for sale.”

On July 10, Artist Market showcases up to 65 different artists and artisans on the OAB’s front lawn, including painters, potters, jewelers, weavers and sign makers.

“There’s a little bit of everything,” Ross said. “It’s an artists market. And everybody has their own tent, and they sell whatever it is that they wish to sell that day. It’s very popular.”

From July 23-28, Ross said the OAB’s annual show Art Leelanau features art from usually 90-100 different artists from the Leelanau Peninsula.

The OAB is located at 111 S. Main St. in Leland.

Also in Leland, Mainstreet Gallery operates on a seasonal basis, with its main time being from May through October, according to Curator/Manager Cece Chatfield.

She said Main Street Gallery showcases art in the form of painting, sculpture, woodturning, metal sculpture, driftwood sculpture, decoys, glass and ceramic.

“We specialize in regional landscape,” Chatfield said, adding most of the artists are from Michigan, especially Grand Traverse County and the Leelanau Peninsula. “We try to have a broad range of interpretation of the natural beauty here in the area. I’d say nature-based art is the broad category. It’s a lot of landscapes, florals and creatures — things like that.”

If COVID-19 restrictions allow, Chatfield said Main Street Gallery will weekly featured artists on-site at the gallery this summer, doing demonstrations, workshops, artist talks, or just hanging out.

“We’re located on the river in Leland, so we have a beautiful setting, and a lot of our artists like to hang out in the backyard and set up their easels,” Chatfield said.

From May to October, Main Street Gallery is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday. Main Street Gallery is located at 307 S. Main St. in Leland. ■