Saturday, May 28, 2011

Keweenaw artists exhibit works at DeVos Art Museum June 3-July 24

By Michele Bourdieu

"Winter Pond," by Zach Gayk. Oil painting. (Photo courtesy Zach Gayk)

MARQUETTE -- Works by three local artists -- Zach Gayk, Susanne Kilpela, and Catherine Benda -- have been accepted for the North of the 45th Parallel Annual Upper Midwest Juried Art Exhibition at the DeVos Art Museum at Northern Michigan University (NMU) in Marquette. An opening reception will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday, June 3. A talk by exhibition Juror Lisa Stone, curator of the Roger Brown Study Collection at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, from 5 p.m. - 6 p.m., will precede the reception. The exhibit will continue through July 24, 2011.

Gayk, NMU graduate and resident of Marquette and Bete Grise, who is also co-founder of the Keweenaw Raptor Survey, will exhibit some of his oil paintings.

Zach Gayk, artist and birder, enjoys inspiration from his Keweenaw walks. (Photo courtesy Zach Gayk)

"My paintings are inspired by the rugged forest landscapes of the Keweenaw Peninsula and mainland U.P.," Gayk writes in his artist's statement for the exhibit. "Most are largely painted in plein air, onsite at semi-wilderness locations after difficult portages of my easel and supplies into a remote location. When choosing a painting location, I try to find the most pristine sites possible, where the influence of humans on the landscape is minimal. As such, I try to capture the particular feelings evoked by entering a wild place."

Hancock artist Susanne Kilpela, who teaches ceramics, 3-D design, sculpture and drawing in the Michigan Tech Visual and Performing Arts Department, will exhibit three works of sculpture.

"From the Depths," by Susanne Kilpela. Porcelain/terracotta. (Photo courtesy Melissa Matuscak, director and curator, DeVos Art Museum)

In her artist's statement, Kilpela says water provides the inspiration for her sculptures, for which she uses a variety of media but most enjoys working with the sensuous fluidity of clay.

"From a small inland lake in Lower Michigan to the aqua-blue sea of the Caribbean to the rugged shores of Lake Superior, water has and continues to inform the direction of my life and my art," Kilpela writes. "I am interested in what lies beneath the surface of those waters -- the beautiful, organic, and strange sometimes sensuous forms, which are hidden from the casual eye. The evolution of my body of work resembles the ebb and flow of the sea. Every day the tide leaves new forms washed ashore, but these are continually derived from the same origins. This repetitive yet at the same time ever-changing rhythm aptly describes my artwork."

Susanne Kilpela assists students in her ceramics class at Michigan Tech University. (Photo courtesy Susanne Kilpela)

Catherine Benda, who lives in Atlantic Mine, says sky, land and water are a constant theme in her work.

"Over the last 25 years the most profound impact on my art has come from living on a bluff overlooking Lake Superior," she writes. "My interpretation of the lake, bays and rivers that surround me, and the vastness and simplicity of the horizon line has led me to my latest series: Sense of Place. Living in a four season area with the winter months lasting the longest, has deepened my appreciation for the landscape around me."

"Cabin and Kayak," by Catherine Benda. Acrylic. (Photo courtesy Catherine Benda)

Benda says working with diverse media -- including paint, encaustic wax, and pastel -- gives her freedom to express her changing relationship with her environment.

Artist Catherine Benda of Atlantic Mine. (Photo courtesy Catherine Benda)

"While line, form and texture are equally important in my work, it is through color that I release my true nature," Benda adds.

Here is a list of the artists in the exhibition:

Neil Ahrens (Harbor Springs, MI) • Roberta Allen (Minneapolis, MN) • Philip Anderson (Brooklyn Center, MN) • MarilynAnnin (Land O’ Lakes, WI) • Steve Bardolph (Duluth, MN) • Catherine Benda (Atlantic Mine, MI) • Clay Booth (Ishpeming, MI) • Ritch Branstrom (Rapid River, MI) • Gregg Bruff (Munising, MI) • Edwin Carter (Marquette, MI) • Elizabeth Danko (Marquette, MI) • Brent Erickson (Duluth, MN) • Zach Gayk (Marquette, MI) • Paul Goodrich (Marquette, MI) • Carla Holmquist (Taylors Falls, MN) • Andrew Jensen (Marquette, MI) • Susanne Kilpela (Hancock, MI) • Bonnie Kreger (Marquette, MI) • Michael Letts (Negaunee, MI) • David Luke (Minneapolis, MN) • Adam McCauley (Duluth, MN) • Darrin Moir (Marquette, MI) • Tamara Lee Niemi (Ishpeming, MI) • Steven J. Read (Duluth, MN) • Nicole Roberts Hoiland (St. Peter, MN) • Ann Russ (Marquette, MI) • Ellen Fitzgerald Skoro (Minneapolis, MN) • Patty Smith (Interlochen, MI) • Joe Sobel (Iron Mountain, MI) • Hope Thier (Moorhead, MN) • Jeanne Tubman (Sault Ste. Marie, MI) • Steve Wahlstrom (Marquette, MI) • Tracy Wascom (Marquette, MI) • Angela Wesselman-Pierce (Ishpeming, MI).

The DeVos Art Museum, which opened in February 2005, is located at the corner of Tracy and 7th streets on the NMU campus. It is part of the Northern Michigan University School of Art and Design and also serves as a regional art museum for the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The museum has been endowed by a grant from the DeVos Foundation of Grand Rapids.

Hours are Monday - Wednesday, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.; Thursday, 12 p.m. - 8 p.m.; Friday, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.; Saturday - Sunday, 1 p.m. - 4 p.m.

For more information visit the DeVos Museum Web site.

Editor's Note: Thanks to Melissa Matuscak, DeVos Museum director and curator, for her assistance with this article.

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