Thursday, December 20, 2007

Finlandia hosting traveling exhibit Dec. 20-Jan. 31*

HANCOCK -- The Finlandia University Gallery, in the Finnish American Heritage Center, Hancock, is hosting the traveling art exhibition, "A Celebration of the Upper Peninsula as Home," from Dec. 20, 2007, through Jan. 31, 2008.*

"Calling for Other Coordinates," Mixed Media by Ingrid Blixt of Escanaba. (Photo courtesy Finlandia University)

Organized by the Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition (UPEC), and co-curated by artists Joyce Koskenmaki and Christine Saari, "A Celebration of the Upper Peninsula as Home" features eleven artists from across the Upper Peninsula whose work reflects their feelings about living here.

An opening reception for the artists will take place at the gallery from 7 p.m to 9 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 20, 2007. The reception is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.

At the reception, Jon Saari, UPEC board president, and several participating artists will give a brief gallery talk about the goals of UPEC and the role of artists in celebrating the Upper Peninsula ’s unique beauty.

The exhibit includes pieces in various media from Joyce Koskenmaki of Hancock; John Lundeen of Munising; Ron Lukey, Christine Saari, Patrick St. Germain and Vicki Allison Phillips of Marquette; Ingrid Blixt of Escanaba; Eric Munch of Calumet; Peg Sandin of Ironwood; Jan Manniko from the Keweenaw; and Rex Marsh of Sault Ste. Marie.

Co-curator Joyce Koskenmaki has a special connection to the Upper Peninsula: "My grandparents came from Finland and settled in Baraga County around the turn of the century. I was raised here, imprinted by the land and climate and grounded in family history," Koskenmaki says. "I helped curate this exhibition because I wanted to celebrate what growing up here and coming back to live here after a lifetime away has meant to me as a Finnish-American woman. It is a very special history, and this is a very special place."

"Passage Island," Ink and Watercolor on Paper by Joyce Koskenmaki of Hancock. (Photo courtesy Finlandia University)

Choosing artists who share her love of the Upper Peninsula was an easy task for Koskenmaki.

"There are many wonderful artists living in the Upper Peninsula. These artists choose to live in the relative wilderness for many reasons; chief among them is the love for place," she notes.

"The Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition," Koskenmaki explains, "is concerned about encroaching development, as well as the effects of climate change, forest fragmentation and (metallic) sulfide mining. This exhibition honors the voices of artists who love the land and feel deeply connected to it, offering their work as a celebration and an act of love and concern."

Connecting the themes of nature and home was obvious for Jon Saari of UPEC.

"Home is where we want to be most, where we have chosen to root our lives and to get to know a place deeply and broadly," Jon Saari says. "It sets man-made and natural places together: the house in the yard, the camp in the clearing, the canoe on the lake, the trail in the woods. At home, nature is familiar and approachable; and in small doses we are most at ease with it."

Saari adds the "celebration" in this exhibit is more meaningful than fireworks or partying.

"At the deeper levels, we honor what we celebrate," he says. "We honor the U.P. not because it is an easy or convenient place to live, but because it tempers us with long winters and black flies and rewards us with quiet outings in beautiful and remote places."

"A Celebration of the Upper Peninsula as Home" will be on display through Jan. 31, 2008.

*Update: Please note the gallery will be closed from Dec. 22 through Jan. 1, but will re-open Jan. 2.

The Finlandia University Gallery is in the Finnish American Heritage Center, 435 Quincy Street in Hancock. Gallery hours are Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and Wednesday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., or by appointment. Please call 906-487-7500 for more information.

Turquoise Gallery to re-open Dec. 20

HANCOCK -- The Turquoise Gallery in Hancock is re-opening Thursday, Dec. 20, with a reception from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., for an exhibition called "Scrapbook" by Sevil Soyer. The exhibition will continue through Jan. 25.

Artist Sevil Soyer, right, and her sister, Serpil Narmanli, pose for a photo together at a previous Turquoise Gallery exhibit. (Keweenaw Now file photo © 2003 Michele Anderson)

While she was away Sevil worked on a series of large paintings inspired by her friends here in the Copper Country.

"When I was in the Copper Country during the 6 years from 1999 to 2005, I met a lot of wonderful people," Soyer writes. "They were very kind, helpful and friendly. With the friendship during the 6 years, Houghton and Hancock became like a second home to me. I have unforgettable memories about these years. My last exhibition is about these people; it is a kind of diary from my life in the U.P. I dedicate this exhibition to my wonderful friends and to the people of the U.P."

The Turquoise Art Gallery is in the E.L.Wright Building (old school) in Hancock. Phone: 906-370-7332.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Sheriff Lahti collects toys for Keweenaw tots

By Carissa and Deborah Pavolich

EAGLE RIVER -- In his 10th year of collecting for Toys For Tots, Keweenaw County Sheriff Ron Lahti is once again conducting business amidst a mass of toys and other donations gathered in his office. While taking phone calls, patrolling Keweenaw County, and taking care of the Keweenaw County Jail inmates, he still finds time to help families who are experiencing the strain of tight budgets during the holiday season.

In his office in Eagle River, Keweenaw County Sheriff Ron Lahti is collecting toys for tots for the 10th year. (Photo © 2007 Carissa Pavolich)

As we entered his office this Sunday morning, he was graciously accepting a donation from a local church. This donation and other monetary donations will be used to buy gifts and necessities, such as winter jackets and boots, for local area children. Sheriff Lahti receives a list of families who need that extra bit of help from the Family Independence Agency. Along with those names, he gets clothes sizes, ages and interests of each child so he can match them up with appropriate toys. The Eagle River "Courthouse Ladies" help Sheriff Lahti do the shopping each year.

Sheriff Lahti says, “In the last ten years, this has grown. We really appreciate the help we’ve gotten, because needy children who might not otherwise get Christmas gifts will get help.”

Though many people have dropped off their donations at his office in the Keweenaw Sheriff’s Department, others have used the alternate drop-off sites at Slim’s Café and Superior National Bank in Mohawk, The Eagle Harbor Inn in Eagle Harbor, or the Bear Belly Inn in Lac La Belle. People may make donations until Friday, December 21.

Any new toy still in its packaging may be brought to one of the drop-off sites. Toys may be purchased for boys or girls, infants through teenagers. Stocking stuffers, such as candy, may also be donated. No gift of money or toys is too big or too small. They all add up. If you have any questions or would like to donate an item, you may call Sheriff Lahti at 337-0528 or email him at

Editor's Note: Carissa and Deborah Pavolich are residents of Laurium. Carissa is a fifth grade student in the CLK Elementary School, while Deborah, her Mom, teaches second grade at CLK Elementary.