Friday, September 10, 2010

Gary McDowell, Congressional candidate, visits Houghton County Dems

State Representative Gary McDowell (center, standing), Democratic candidate for Michigan’s First Congressional District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, greets Houghton County Democrats at their headquarters in Houghton during a brief visit on Aug. 29, 2010. (Photos by Keweenaw Now)

By Michele Bourdieu


SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. -- State Representative Gary McDowell (D-Sault Ste. Marie) took to the airwaves this week with the first television ad in his campaign to represent Michigan’s First Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. The ad introduces McDowell to those northern Michigan residents whom he has not yet had a chance to meet in his travels across the sprawling district that covers nearly half of Michigan's landmass.

"These past few months I have had the privilege of meeting with and listening to people in every corner of this district, from Bay County to the Keweenaw, and look forward to continuing to do so over the next eight weeks," McDowell said. "This first television ad helps provide those whom I have not already served in the state legislature or had a chance to meet an opportunity to learn more before casting their vote in November."*

McDowell entered the Congressional race after First District U.S. Congressman Bart Stupak (D-Menominee) said last April he would not run for re-election. McDowell ran unopposed in the Democratic Primary and will face Republican candidate Dan Benishek in the November 2 election.

Recently McDowell -- accompanied by 110th District Michigan Rep. Mike Lahti (D-Hancock), who is running for the State Senate -- visited with local residents at the Democratic Party Headquarters in Houghton. Each one praised the other, noting they work together in Lansing and have become friends.

110th District State Rep. Mike Lahti, second from left, who is running for State Senate, joins State Rep. and Congressional candidate Gary McDowell in urging Houghton County Democrats to talk to their neighbors and reach out to undecided voters during the last few weeks before the Nov. 2 elections. Also pictured here are Jane De Martini, left, and Jacob Davis.

"I just can't tell you how important it is to get Mike in the Senate," McDowell said. "Mike is without question one of the hardest working, most honest, forthright individuals I know."

Lahti had similar praise for his colleague in the Michigan House of Representatives.

"Gary is a hardworking straight-shooter," Lahti said. "He's a man of his word. He works hard for his district."

For the last four years, Lahti added, McDowell has been chairman of the House Appropriations Committee on Community Health, which has the largest appropriations budget other than school aid.

"He really fights for the disadvantaged regarding community health funding," Lahti noted. "I sit next to him in the House and I have a lot of respect for him."

Both candidates encouraged Democrats to talk to undecided voters about the issues for the coming election.

"Since the (2008) election, it's the independents who have really moved away from us (Democrats)," McDowell said.

Both he and Lahti pointed out that, despite the criticism, the stimulus money voted by the Michigan legislature has had positive effects, including support for much-needed infrastructure, broadband, investment in the auto industry and an increase in manufacturing jobs.**

McDowell expresses commitment to Social Security

Social security is an important issue for McDowell, and he has recently talked to senior citizens all over northern Michigan about his commitment to a program that has meant survival for many families.

"We had great support (from seniors)," McDowell said. "Social Security allows them to retire in dignity."

McDowell noted his Republican opponent, Dan Benishek, would like to do away with Social Security.

"He doesn't need Social Security, and he doesn't believe anybody should," McDowell noted.

McDowell recently accused Benishek of pulling the wool over the eyes of northern Michigan seniors by hiding his plan to eliminate Social Security, an important government program here in Michigan's First Congressional District, where 26 percent of all residents receive Social Security benefits.

Gary McDowell speaks with Clarence McDonald, chairman of the Western Upper Peninsula United Auto Workers Retirees during McDowell's visit with Houghton County Democrats on Aug. 29.

"I am absolutely committed to protecting Social Security for today’s seniors and future generations, which is why I pledged to oppose any and all efforts to privatize Social Security, reduce benefits or raise the retirement age," McDowell said. "Dan Benishek can’t say the same because he has been and continues to be a strong advocate for fully eliminating Social Security, even going as far as to call the program a disaster."

McDowell on defending the Great Lakes

Asked whether he would follow Bart Stupak's policy of defending the Great Lakes, McDowell told Keweenaw Now he has supported the legislation opposing drilling in the Great Lakes. He is also opposed to diverting water from the Great Lakes for irrigation or bottled water.

"I feel very strongly that the Great Lakes water belongs here in the Great Lakes Basin," McDowell said. "It should not be diverted to other parts of the country or overseas."

As for the issue of sulfide mining near Lake Superior, McDowell agreed with Lahti's position. Both candidates believe northern Michigan needs jobs that the mining may bring -- as long as the mining is done according to Michigan's recent regulations governing non-ferrous metallic mining.

"Mining has been part of our heritage in the UP," McDowell said. "We need those middle class jobs, but it has to be done properly and safely."

McDowell added he feels the laws are strict enough and were voted unanimously by all stakeholders involved, including the environmental community.

"They (the mining companies) have to follow the laws. If they don't follow them they have to face the consequences of the law," he said.***

The Green Party candidate for Michigan’s First Congressional District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, Ellis Boal of Charlevoix, says he disagrees with McDowell on the sulfide mining issue.

"(McDowell) says Kennecott's metal sulfide mine at Eagle Rock ten miles from Lake Superior must have adequate safety plans. I say it should just be stopped," Boal says on the FAQ page of his blog.****

McDowell said he is in favor of green energy jobs for northern Michigan.

"These are the jobs of the future in northern Michigan ... creating fuels that are clean and sustainable, and the jobs would be created right here because the source of that fuel (wood for biomass) would be here," he said.

Asked whether he would support wind energy in Lake Superior, McDowell replied, "I have an open mind about it. I haven't made a decision on it."

A lifelong hay farmer, McDowell said he supports small farms, locally grown food and small businesses.

"We just passed legislation in Lansing helping small farmers," he noted. "If you create a job just for one family, you help sustain communities in northern Michigan," he noted.

Learn more about Gary McDowell by visiting his Web site.

* Click here to view McDowell's first campaign ad.
** See our March 17, 2010, article, "Federal stimulus money funding Hancock projects could total $15.9 million."
*** In July 2010, before the Primary election, Gary McDowell appeared to agree with Bart Stupak that the $17 million assurance bond put up by Kennecott does not provide nearly enough funding to address the damage that the Eagle sulfide mine could create. McDowell was also quoted as saying the company should pay for needed oversight. See the July 2, 2010, article by Eartha Jane Melzer in the Michigan Messenger, "McDowell: Kennecott mine must have adequate safety plans."
**** Click here to read Boal's comments on both Benishek and McDowell and the philosophical differences that inspire him to run against both.

North Wind Books, Portage Library host "U.P." author, film producer Sept. 14

HANCOCK -- Ronald "R.A." Riekki, author of U.P., the best-selling novel published in 2008 by Ghost Road Press, will visit both North Wind Books in Hancock and the Portage Lake District Library in Houghton on Tuesday, Sept. 14.

Ron Riekki, author of the best-selling novel U.P. (Photo courtesy Finlandia University)

With Riekki will be actor and producer Steven Wiig, who is planning to shoot a movie in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula based on Riekki’s book.

Riekki will discuss and sign copies of his book from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 14, at North Wind Books. Riekki and Wiig will present the book U.P. and their ideas for the movie at 6:30 p.m. the same day at the Portage Lake District Library in Houghton.

Set in Marquette County in 1989, the novel is a complex tale of friendship and brutality. U.P. is the story of four teens immersed in an ugly world, one whose threat of violence is always simmering beneath the surface.

"R.A. Riekki's distinctive characters and their poignant quest for freedom is a swan song to lost youth, redefining the traditional coming-of-age story," says a description of the book at amazon.com.

In the novel, four boys tell four distinct narratives that converge into a harrowing and heartbreaking whole.

Riekki and Wiig, both Negaunee, Mich., natives, attended Northern Michigan University. They are making appearances throughout the Upper Peninsula to spread the word about the book and movie in a grass roots campaign to give readings and gather support. During their U.P. travels, they are also scouting filming locations and hoping to meet locals who want to act in the movie. Their promotional tour is being documented on Facebook at facebook.com/u.p.movie.

Riekki has an M.F.A. in Theater Arts/Playwriting from Brandeis University, an M.F.A. in Creative Writing/Fiction from the University of Virginia and a Ph.D. in Literature and Creative Writing from Western Michigan University. His work has been published widely, and he has been awarded several writing and journalism awards.

Steven Wiig was encouraged by actor, writer, and director Sean Penn to start acting and was cast in the films Into the Wild and Milk, where he became immersed in the world of filmmaking. Throughout his career he has worked on films, videos and documentaries and also worked full-time on the road and in the recording studio with the multi-Grammy-award-winning heavy metal band Metallica.

Steven Wiig, actor and producer, hopes to make a film based on Ronald Riekki's book U.P. (Photo courtesy Finlandia University)

Both the novel and U.P. merchandise will be available for purchase at each event.

North Wind Books is located in downtown Hancock at 435 Quincy St. For additional information about the book signing, please contact North Wind Books at 906-487-7217.

Portage Lake District Library programs are free and everyone is welcome to attend. For more information, please call the library at 482-4570 or visit www.pldl.org.

Calumet Public Library announces events, new hours

CALUMET -- The Calumet Public Library announces two events open to the public on Wednesday evenings in September and October.

On Wednesday, Sept. 15, Friends of the Calumet Public Library will hold their monthly meeting at 5:30 p.m. in the Library. The meeting is open to all. Darryl Pierce, superintendent of the Public Schools of Calumet-Laurium-Keweenaw (CLK), will meet with the Friends of the Calumet Public Library to discuss changes in library services necessitated by budgetary concerns and will update us on future efforts to secure funding for the library. All are welcome to attend this important meeting.

A meeting of the Wish List committee will follow the monthly meeting.

On Wednesday, Oct. 13, Red Jacket Readers invite the public to join them at 6:30 p.m. for a discussion of the entertaining book, A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail, by Bill Bryson.

Even if you've never considered hiking the 2,100-mile trail stretching from Maine to Georgia, you are sure to identify with elements in this humorous sketch of Bryson's (middle-aged and out of shape) experience. This discussion will be led by Jane DeMartini, and refreshments will be served. (Bring your favorite trail mix!) Multiple copies of the book are available in the library, so start reading today! (Local booksellers have copies of this modern classic, if you'd like to purchase a copy of your own.)

Beginning Monday, Sept. 13, Calumet Public Library hours will be as follows:
  • Monday -- 8 a.m. - 4 p.m.
  • Tuesday -- 8 a.m. - 6 p.m.
  • Wednesday -- 8 a.m. - 7:30 p.m.
  • Thursday -- 8 a.m. - 6 p.m.
  • Friday -- 8 a.m. - 4 p.m.
(In case of bad weather, when school is canceled, all library programs are canceled.)

TREES to perform Sept. 13 at Portage Lake District Library

HOUGHTON -- Lindsay Tomasic and Jesse Fitzpatrick of TREES will perform a free concert at 7 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 13, at the Portage Lake District Library.

Lindsay Tomasic and Jesse Fitzpatrick of TREES will play acoustic music at 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 13, at the Portage Lake District Library in Houghton. They will also entertain from 4 p.m. to 4:50 p.m. at the Upper Peninsula Folklife Festival in Marquette on Saturday, Sept. 11.*

Copper Country natives, Lindsay and Jesse have been crafting original songs and creating fine acoustic music since the early 1970s. Songs performed on traditional instruments and infused with intricately woven vocal harmonies make the earthy sound of TREES just get better with time!

CDs will be available for purchase after the concert. Their new album, One Voice, is being released on Datolite Records this month. Watch for it!

*Editor's Note: The TREES duo will also perform from 4 p.m. to 4:50 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 11, on the Song Stage at the Upper Peninsula Folklife Festival, sponsored by the Beaumier Heritage Center. The festival will take place on the lawn in front of the Don H. Bottum University Center and the DeVos Art Museum at Northern Michigan University in Marquette. Admission is free to the public, though donations are appreciated. The festival begins tonight, Friday, Sept. 10, with the Funky Folk Dance, featuring Conga Se Menne at 7 p.m. and the PasiCats at 8:30 p.m. (note time change). Click here for the schedule.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Carnegie Museum celebrates Centennial with historic, educational displays

The Carnegie Museum in Houghton is celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Portage Lift Bridge with a historic exhibit. Click on photos for larger versions. (Poster courtesy Carnegie Museum)

By Chad Girard*

HOUGHTON -- When one walks into the Carnegie Museum without an appreciation for the past, they see an aged building, peeling paint, and faded pictures on rough backdrops. Below the surface there is original structural timber older than most humans. This timber silently speaks to a century of hard work and history.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Carnegie Museum, located on the corner of Huron and Montezuma in Houghton. The building was originally constructed as a library in 1909, funded by a $15,000 grant from Andrew Carnegie and opened to the public on Feb. 18, 1910.

Elise Nelson, Carnegie Museum director, said the historic landmark has great importance to the community.

"This community has become more sensitive to historic buildings and restorations," Nelson said. "We are recognizing the importance of honoring history and reusing materials. A great deal of energy was put into this building over the years."

Recent Carnegie Museum exhibits of historic photographs and documentation celebrate not only the centennial of the museum itself but also other historic commemorations, including two important anniversaries.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Portage Lift Bridge connecting Houghton and Hancock. This exhibit is located directly across from the main entrance behind the library’s original reference desk. Included in this display is an image gallery reconstructed by Michigan Tech’s Dr. Kris Mattila of the Civil Engineering Department. Historic photographs are accompanied by a video about the building of the engineering feat that joins these two communities.

Included in the Portage Lift Bridge 50th Anniversary exhibit is this bridge model made by Jessica-Rae Marcotte, a sixth grader at Dollar Bay Tamarack City Elementary School. Jessica-Rae was a National History Day finalist in the competition held in Dearborn, Mich., Apr. 24, 2010. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

"Senter of the Copper Country -- the Story of the Atlas Powder Co. of Senter, Michigan" is another centennial exhibit in the museum. To the right of the museum entrance is an in-depth look at Atlas Powder Company formerly located in Senter, Mich.

The Carnegie Museum's exhibit on Senter, Mich., includes this display about the Atlas Powder Co. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

From 1910 to 1960 the Atlas Powder Company produced dynamite for the nearby Copper Mines. While the company was in operation for 50 years, the town of Senter that it established is celebrating 100 years this year. Created by Bill Haller, author of Atlas Powder, Senter, Michigan 1910-1960, and John Backman, this exhibit details the layout and production of the factory and company town that was spread throughout 200 hundred buildings across a 1,800-acre compound near Dollar Bay, Mich.

This Feb. 1953 Daily Mining Gazette Photo from the Michigan Tech Archives is displayed in the Senter exhibit at the Carnegie Museum. It shows an Atlas Powder Co. shell truck with Andrew Gazetti driving and Ray Sved on the back of the load. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

Atlas had a close connection with the local mining community, providing blasting charges used in the copper and iron industries. A related display, created by a local student, is shaped like a stick of dynamite, engaging viewers interested in the history of the explosive tool.

"Stories from the Woods," a multi-media exploration of the storytelling traditions of the Upper Peninsula, returns to the Carnegie for the month of September. Created by and on loan from the Beaumier Heritage Center at Northern University, this exhibit looks at the story traditions of the Upper Peninsula. Nineteen interpretive panels are accompanied by five audio stations featuring recordings of stories and songs collected in the U.P.

This poster announces the current "Stories from the Woods" exhibit at the Carnegie Museum through Sept. 30. (Poster courtesy Carnegie Museum)

In the museum's lower level are exhibits about local plant ecology and an area designed to engage visitors, particularly children, in active learning. During the monthly "Science Saturdays," additional activities or demonstrations are presented. The current display, which focuses on electricity and magnetism, will be open through September 30.

The interactive displays on electricity and magnetism on the lower level of the Carnegie Museum are available to families and young visitors through Sept. 30. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

One new exhibit planned for this fall, on the lower level, will be the Fourth Annual Gingerbread House in preparation for the holidays. Children and their families are invited to contribute to the play-house-size creation by bringing small items, including candy, to "glue" onto the building.

An exhibit on Victorian Spinning Optical Toys helps children learn about historic precursors of the movies. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

Many of the exhibits in the museum as well as the materials in the displays have resulted from local residents’ research and hard work. Though the building does not provide direct income for the community, it is a resource in the sense of attracting people to the area and educating about the community’s history.

This display of Copper Country Native Plants is part of the Carnegie Museum's permanent collection. (Photo © 2010 and courtesy Chad Girard)

The Carnegie Museum’s operating hours are from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesdays, 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Thursdays and 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday. Admission is free. Parking is available in a lot behind the building, or in the City lot across Montezuma Street.

For more information please call 482-7140, or email history@cityofhoughton.com.

*Editor's Note: Visiting reporter Chad Girard was a student in David Clanaugh's summer journalism class at Michigan Tech.

Michigamme Highlands Walk renews spirits

By Steve Garske*

The day started with introductions and information about the walk. Click on photos for larger versions. (Photo © 2010 and courtesy S. Garske)

MARQUETTE -- It was hot and windy as about 30 people from across the Upper Peninsula and northern Wisconsin met on the Wolf Lake Road near Humboldt in Marquette County Michigan on Saturday, Aug. 28, 2010. Our goal was to see part of the gravel road that "Woodland Road LLC" (a limited-liability corporation headed by Kennecott Eagle Minerals Co.) has proposed turning into a mining haul road, and to visit some of the beautiful back country along the North Country Trail.

After Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve Executive Director Emily Whittaker updated us on the status of the "Eagle Mine," we followed the existing road north. The road runs past a smattering of houses, which soon give way to forests, wetlands and streams. Soon the pavement gave way to a two-lane gravel road and then a single-lane gravel road. After traversing several hills and valleys and crossing Voelkers Creek, we reached the Dead River.

Lunch overlooking the Dead River basin.(Photo © 2010 and courtesy Rod Sharka)

A short walk up the hill brought us to the North Country Trail. Heading east along the trail, we were soon treated to a couple of great views of the Dead River basin and beyond. As you can see, the Dead River is actually brimming with life! Everyone enjoyed the gorgeous view.

View of the Dead River basin and Michigamme Highlands from the North Country Trail. (Photo © 2010 and courtesy Nancy Garske)

As we soon discovered, this part of the North Country trail traverses a wide range of habitats. At first the trail led through lush northern hardwood forest, followed by groves of white pine and hemlock, and then a grove of upland cedar. One of the more unusual plants we saw along the way was northern holly fern. This distinctive and beautiful fern occurs across Canada and in the Rockies and reaches the southern edge of its range here. Other botanical gems included compressed oatgrass, bristly sarsaparilla, and Braun’s holly fern.

Fronds of northern holly fern. (Photo © 2010 and courtesy Christine Saari)

Eventually we reached a big, steep hill covered with hemlock, white pine and red oak, where we saw a patch of a western disjunct plant called tall bilberry. (Simply put, a western disjunct plant has its main range in the western US, while it also grows in the Great Lakes region, with a gap in between.) This blueberry relative often reaches a height of three feet, with berries about twice the size of common blueberries. Unfortunately, by the look of things this patch didn’t produce a single berry this year! Still, just seeing this plant that had been stranded in the UP after the last ice age reminded us of the time scale that the earth operates on, as compared to the scale that we humans usually do.

On the way back the discussion turned to various topics ranging from mushrooms to wetland plants to getting in a swim after the walk! And of course the proposed haul road.

The "Kennecott Expressway"(as some call it) would have cut through some of the most remote, wild country in Michigan. From the mine site on AAA Road, it would have run 22.3 miles south through the heart of the Michigamme Highlands to the town of Humboldt, where a rock crushing facility is being built. During the comment period for the road, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which oversees state enforcement of federal wetland laws, cited numerous objections -- including Kennecott's mis-statement of the road's true purpose; failure to seriously consider alternative routes; and the large impact the road would have on wetlands, streams and wildlife. With the strong possibility that the EPA would deny the permit, Kennecott withdrew its application on May 7, 2010, just before the deadline for a decision.

If the proposed haul road were ever built, it would have an even bigger impact on the land than the mine. In the end, the public may have a significant say in whether or not such a road is ever built. Perhaps it is time to start thinking on the timescale of Mother Earth, rather than relying on the same old short-sighted thinking that has brought the world to the troubled state it's in today.

*Editor's Note: The guest author of this article, Steve Garske, is a botanist who has studied plants in various areas of the Upper Peninsula and Wisconsin.

Finlandia Gallery to hold closing reception for Carole Harris's "Improvisations" exhibit Sept. 9

Dancing in the Streets, 2010, by Carole Harris. (Photos by Keweenaw Now)

HANCOCK -- "Improvisations," an exhibition of handmade quilts by Detroit artist Carole Harris, is featured at the Finlandia University Gallery, located in the Finnish American Heritage Center, Hancock, through Sept. 11, 2010.

A closing reception for the artist will take place from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 9, at the gallery. Harris will present a lecture at 7:15 p.m. The reception is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.

Harris will be on the Finlandia University campus Sept. 9 to 11 to work with the university's Fiber Arts and Fashion Design majors.

Filled with saturated color and complex patterns, the dense layering of patterns and the repetition of materials that Harris employs in her non-traditional quilts and tapestries are evocative of the rhythms, energy and movement found in African and African-American music, particularly blues and jazz.

"I try to think of my work as the visualization of the music that inspires me," notes Harris.

Rhythm-a ning, 2009, by Carole Harris.

Harris's visual vocabulary comes from a mixture of traditional quilt patterns and her own imagery, impressions and experiments. Her art is composed of hundreds of richly colored fabrics which are cut, overlaid, appliquéd, pieced and quilted.

"Quilts are like paintings, full of color, texture, and design," Harris says. "I try to create energy in both a spontaneous (improvisational) and an organized way -- much as a jazz musician will take a theme and riff on it until it is unrecognizable, while always maintaining control."

Harris's work has been exhibited in museums and galleries nationally and internationally, including the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.; the Museum of Art and Design in New York City; and in Europe and Japan.

Harris earned her B.F.A. degree in interior design at Wayne State University. She is president of Harris Design Group, LLC, an interior design firm which she founded in 1976.

Harris also has a strong commitment to community service, education and arts advocacy. She has served on the boards of Inside Out Literary Arts, African Renaissance Theatre, Pewabic Pottery, Wayne State University Board of Visitors, and the Board of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Detroit Institute of Arts.

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

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

High winds, waves, power outages hit Eagle Harbor Sept. 3

By Michele Bourdieu

EAGLE HARBOR -- Lake Superior greeted Labor Day Weekend visitors with high winds and rain on Friday, Sept. 3 -- a sudden change from sunny, hot weather in late August. Keweenaw Now captured a few moments of the storm near the Eagle Harbor Lighthouse.

video

Lake Superior's waves crash against rocks along the shore near the Eagle Harbor Lighthouse in Keweenaw County. (Video clip by Keweenaw Now)

Despite power outages that affected several Keweenaw communities in both Keweenaw and Houghton counties, the Eagle Harbor Lighthouse Complex -- including the restored Lighthouse, the Commercial Fishing Museum and the Maritime Museum with shipwreck displays -- remained open and welcomed visitors.

Volunteers from the Keweenaw County Historical Society, which maintains the Lighthouse and museums, were available to give explanations and answer questions.

The Lighthouse, museums and exhibits are open in September and October from Noon to 5 p.m.

For more information visit the Keweenaw County Historical Society Web site.

See also our new slide show with photos taken in Keweenaw County on Sept. 2 and 3, 2010.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Updated: New exhibit features furniture from recycled bikes

HANCOCK -- Marquette artist Andy Gregg makes functional, eco-friendly furniture from salvaged bike parts. His product line -- including chairs, tables, barstools, coat racks and mirrors -- is modern and stylish with an urban look. An exhibit of his work opens on Tuesday, Sept. 7, at the Copper Country Community Arts Center’s Kerredge Gallery. A closing reception will be announced later this month.

Cynthia Coté, Copper Country Community Arts Center executive director, displays artist Andy Gregg's Milano Lounge Chair, made of recycled bike parts. In the background are some of Gregg's photos, also part of the exhibit that opened today, Sept. 7, in the Kerredge Gallery. Behind Cynthia is a photo of County Road 510 in Marquette County. At left, the large photo is the Final Stage of the Tour de France in Paris, 1992. (Photos by Keweenaw Now)

The artist, who has a fine arts degree in photography, was inspired by designers and architects such as Mies van der Rohe and Charles Eames. In 1994 Gregg was hired to start Blackstone Bicycle Works in Chicago. Its mission was to rescue bikes out of the waste stream and teach inner-city youth how to repair them. In exchange, the kids not only learned job skills, but they also had a chance to earn a bike. During that eight year stint, Gregg soaked up inspiration and a commitment to recycling and had a steady supply of materials. In addition to his furniture, the exhibit includes Gregg’s photography -- featuring gritty daredevil bicyclers, street savvy kids with bikes and other subjects reflecting the artist's interests.

Andy Gregg's description of this photo reads as follows: "The Salmon Trout River, running clear, empties into Lake Superior 9 miles downstream from a proposed SULFIDE MINE. The river and lake are under immediate threat by the Kennecott Mineral Company's Eagle Project, proposed to be located directly beneath the river."

Supported in part by a grant from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, this exhibit will run through Oct. 2. The Community Arts Center is located at 126 Quincy Street in Hancock. Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. For more information call (906) 482-2333.