This Finnish River Boat (Hamalainen vene), made with traditional Finnish woodworking and boat building skills, is on loan from the Finnish American Heritage Center for the Copper Country Community Arts Center's Art from the Kalevala: Boatlore group exhibition coinciding with the City of Hancock’s Heikinpäivä mid-winter festival. (Photos courtesy Copper Country Community Arts Center)
HANCOCK -- The Copper Country Community Arts Center presents Art from the Kalevala: Boatlore, a group exhibition coinciding with the City of Hancock’s Heikinpäivä mid-winter celebration. The exhibit features boat-themed art by 16 local and regional artists, as well five paintings and a wood carving from the Finlandia University’s Finnish American Heritage Center Archives. An additional piece of significance, a full sized Finnish River Boat, has been added to the exhibition, on loan from the Finnish American Heritage Center in Hancock.
The boat and the boat-themed artwork will be on display through Jan. 28. A public reception will take place from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 28. Finnish style refreshments will be served.
The Finnish River Boat (Hamalainen vene) was made as part of Michigan State University Museum’s Michigan Traditional Arts Apprenticeship program by the late Elmer Johnson, master artist, and his apprentice David Paavola in 1991.
Johnson grew up in the Lake Linden area and was taught by his parents and grandparents how to build Finnish-style boats. In 1956 Johnson began a woodworking business in Lake Linden. In the 1970s, his childhood interest in traditional boat building was rekindled and he built them annually for over twenty years.
Elmer Johnson met David Paavola through involvement in the Hanka Farmstead, a local historical site that preserves Finnish cultural traditions common to the area. Together they used traditional skills in woodworking and boat building to construct this boat. The curved keel is carved from a continuous piece of pine with a decorative knob on the bow end.
Art from the Kalevala: Boatlore
Art from the Kalevala: Boatlore is on exhibit in the Kerredge Gallery of the Copper Country Community Arts Center in Hancock through Jan. 28, 2017.
The Kalevala is a 19th century work of poetry compiled by Elias Lönnrot from Finnish and Karelian oral folklore and mythology. It is regarded as the national epic poem of Finland and is one of the most significant works of Finnish literature. For this exhibit, artists submitted work related to boats and passages from the Kalevala in mediums including photography, fiber art, assemblage, painting, and pastels.
This bas relief wood carving by Chassell artist Wilmer Savela is one of the works on loan from the Finnish American Heritage Center for the exhibit.
Artists taking part in this year’s exhibition are Bob Dawson, Toivo Salo, Tammy Gajewski, Rod Waara, Cynthia Coté, Madhura Mehendale, Stephen Smith, Paula Jacobs, Bryan Lowney, Leona Blessing, Kanak Nanavati, jd slack, and Phyllis Fredendall. The exhibition includes a selection of boat-related artwork from Finlandia University’s Finnish American Heritage Center Archives. Works on loan include paintings by Mabel V. Mustonen, Sigfred Silberg, Koski, and Rankin; a block print by Kathleen Johnson Oettinger, who was part of the Finlandia University Gallery’s Finnish American Artist Series; and a bas relief wood carving by Chassell artist Wilmer Savela. Some of these were early Finnish American artists living in the Copper Country; others were directly from Finland.
Exhibitions are supported by a grant from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts. The Copper Country Community Arts Center is located at 126 Quincy Street in Hancock. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Friday 10 a. m. - 6 p.m. and Saturdays 1 p.m. - 5 p.m. For more information call 482-2333 or visit the website www.coppercountryarts.com.