Wednesday, January 09, 2008

"Wilderness is ..." exhibit to open at Omphale Gallery Jan. 11

CALUMET --The Omphale Gallery in Calumet will host an opening night reception for "Wilderness is ..." -- a community exhibit by artist George Desort -- at 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 11.

While completing an artist's residency at the Porcupine Mountains in August 2007, Mr. Desort began gathering contributions to a project titled "Wilderness is..." Visitors to the exhibit will have the opportunity to participate in this project by expressing their thoughts on wilderness using available art materials and 4 x 6 inch postcards. Hundreds of these postcards have already been completed by individuals around the country and will be on display at the Omphale Gallery and at

This is one of hundreds of community contributions to George Desort's art project, "Wilderness is ..." (Photo © 2008 George Desort)

Mr. Desort's exhibit also includes a piece of artwork exploring the recent botulism e outbreak in the northern waters of Lake Michigan. A two-minute video of a long-tailed duck stricken with the bacterium will also be shown throughout the evening.

The opening night reception will include refreshments as well as opportunities to purchase Mr. Desort's work and to support local preservation efforts.

A short film, "Wilderness is..." -- with an introduction by wolf biologist John Vucetich -- will be shown at 7:30 p.m. on opening night. The film explores the different philosophies of wilderness among park visitors to the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park. The film is available for viewing during gallery hours as well.

A wilderness advocate displays his sign for the "Wilderness is ..." project. (Photo © 2008 George Desort)

The exhibit will be held through Feb. 29. Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. The Gallery phone number is (906) 337-2036.

For more information, please visit or contact George Desort at (906) 523-4771 or

"New Year; New Beginnings" opens at Vertin Gallery Jan. 11

The Back Wall at the Vertin Gallery features paintings and a reading/visiting table. (Photo courtesy Keweenaw Krayons)

CALUMET – The Vertin Gallery, located on the corner of Sixth and Oak in Calumet, welcomes the New Year with a new diverse platform of art works from the Upper Peninsula. An opening reception for all of the gallery artists, "New Year; New Beginnings," will take place from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 11.

Music will be provided by the Cat’s Meow featuring Brian Parmeter, John Munson and Greg Wright. Light refreshments will be provided.

The Cat's Meow includes, from left, local musicians John Munson, Brian Parmeter and Greg Wright. (Photo courtesy Keweenaw Krayons)

Pablo "Pig" Casso, Keweenaw Krayons’ traveling Piggy Bank, will be making a guest appearance.

"We are excited about Pablo being invited to this New Year celebration," stated Keweenaw Krayons’ director, Susan Hallwachs. "The Vertin also supports us by carrying our line of greeting cards. All this helps to keep our doors open and our programs free
or low cost."

In addition to the gallery space on the main floor, the second floor of the Vertin houses artists' studios. Tom and Leona Blessing are two of the current artists occupying this space.

"Having a studio in the Vertin has been very productive for me," Tom stated. "It has given me a place away from the distractions of home to write, edit and draw. The openness and light on the studio floors would be impossible to duplicate anywhere else."

Blessing has been writing and publishing poetry for over 25 years. His work has appeared in several anthologies and many magazines including Passages North, Modern English Tanka, Modern Haiku, Ocho, MiPoesias, Thunder Sandwich and From East to West.

"When I first began taking painting lessons in 1997 I never thought I would be able to work in a place as wonderful as the Vertin studio," Leona Blessing said. "The light here is fantastic. I wish I could spend more time painting."

Artist Leona Blessing works in her studio at the Vertin Gallery. (Photo courtesy Keweenaw Krayons)

For additional information about the opening reception, the artists, available studio space and more, call the Vertin Gallery at 337-2200.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Lahti encourages communities to apply for recreational grants

LANSING -- State Representative Mike Lahti (D-Hancock) advises local governments in the Western Upper Peninsula to take advantage of recreational grants offered through the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The funding is designed to help communities enhance their outdoor recreational opportunities and facilities.

"There are a lot of great things about the Upper Peninsula, but it's our untold natural resources that make us so special," Lahti said. "Recreational tourism plays a huge role in our economy; and, by strengthening our trails and parks, we will bring more people and more dollars into our communities."

Communities have until March 1 to apply for grants through the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). The LWCF is a federal program, administered by the National Park Service and managed by the DNR in Michigan. The program provides funding assistance for state and local outdoor recreation needs, including development of outdoor recreation facilities.

Types of development projects that are eligible for LWCF funding include non-motorized trails and riverwalks, skate and spray parks, playgrounds, athletic fields, picnic areas and other types of outdoor recreation. Roughly $1 million in LWCF assistance is available annually.

"This is a great opportunity for local governments to enhance recreational opportunities in their communities," Lahti said. "I strongly encourage local leaders to take a look and get involved."

Grant application materials can be obtained from the DNR Web site at For more information, call at (517) 373-9125.