Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Joyce Koskenmaki exhibit opens in Marquette

HANCOCK -- Paintings by Artist Joyce Koskenmaki of Hancock are on exhibit now through August 9 at the DeVos Gallery of Northern Michigan University in Marquette. An opening reception, with music, will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. this Thursday, July 16.

"Bear in Boat," by Joyce Koskenmaki. This is one of her new paintings now on exhibit at the DeVos Gallery, Northern Michigan University, Marquette. (Photo courtesy Joyce Koskenmaki)

Ritch Branstrom of Rapid River is exhibiting an installation in the Gallery, while Koskenmaki's work is on the walls. Branstrom is well known for his sculptures made from found objects.

Koskenmaki, who grew up in Baraga County, is known for her paintings of animals, trees and rocks.

"We learned to pay attention to changes of season, weather, where things grew, where animals lived, how they behaved, what they ate, what their tracks looked like, etc.," she writes in her Artist's Statement for this exhibit.

"Recently I painted a series which included hiding places, first for rocks, then for animals. It was about feeling safe, protecting the animals which in a previous series had served as protectors for myself," Koskenmaki explains. "I used my sketchbooks full of petroglyphs and pictographs and the notes on Finnish runes for protective markings around them. Currently I am sensing more playfulness emerging in the paintings I have just finished, such as the bear in a boat. He is having fun instead of hiding. It’s summer."

Joyce Koskenmaki exhibited her rock and petroglyph paintings at the Community Arts Center in Hancock in June 2007. (File photo by Keweenaw Now)

Koskenmaki has traveled widely, pursuing her love for Chinese landscape painting in China, for ancient rock art in the West and in Scandinavia. She looked for animals not only in zoos and wildlife parks, but even in Africa.

She returned to the Copper Country in 1998 and taught for four years at Finlandia University's International School of Art and Design. Now "retired," Koskenmaki has her own studio at the Jutila Center in Hancock, where she works every weekday and welcomes visitors.

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