See our right-hand column for announcements and news briefs. Scroll down the right-hand column to access the Archives -- links to articles posted in the main column since 2007.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Finnish American Heritage Center to celebrate Finnish Independence Dec. 6

HANCOCK -- The Finlandia University Finnish American Heritage Center will host its 92nd annual Finnish Independence Day program at 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 6.

The program celebrates the anniversary of the date Finland gained its independence in 1917.

This year’s program features a variety of local performers, and the City of Hancock ’s Finnish Theme Committee will announce the 2010 Hankooki Heikki honoree. The Hankooki Heikki recognition is bestowed annually upon a person whose commitment to preserving and promoting Finnish culture in the area goes above and beyond "normal" efforts.

In addition, two giant himmelis created by Milwaukee-based artist Ernest Hensersky will be on display.

Following the program, the Kivajat Dancers, a local children’s traditional dance troupe, will provide a Finnish coffee table.

Now a member of the European Union, Finland was part of the Swedish realm for 600 years until 1809 when it became attached to the Russian empire. In 1906 Finland acquired its own national parliament, and on Dec. 6, 1917, a Russian revolution prompted Finland to declare herself independent. The Russian government recognized Finland’s independence Dec. 31, 1917.

Traditionally, Finnish Independence Day is a solemn remembrance of those that made freedom possible for Finland. In recent decades, however, celebrations often include fireworks, parades and celebratory cakes decorated with the blue and white Finnish flag.

For information, please call 906-487-7549.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Celebrate First Friday in Calumet with art, holiday music

"Late Winter," Linocut (reduction), McCafferty Rudd Studio, is part of the Winter Gallery Exhibition opening Friday, Dec. 4, at the Vertin Gallery in Calumet. (Photo courtesy Vertin Gallery)

CALUMET -- First Friday in Calumet, Dec. 4, will offer gallery art exhibits and music events, some of which will continue on Saturday, Dec. 5, to coincide with the Poor Artists Sale at CLK Gymnasium (Calumet High School).*

Vertin Gallery opening for Winter Gallery Exhibition

The Vertin Gallery will host an opening reception for their Winter Gallery Exhibition from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 4. The public is invited and refreshments will be served. This exhibit of new work by the artists currently represented by the Vertin Gallery will continue through Jan. 6, 2010. The Vertin Gallery is at 220 Sixth Street in downtown Calumet.

Ed Gray Gallery to hold reception, Open House

The Miskwabik Ed Gray Gallery will host a Christmas Show, a juried, all-media open show, with a reception from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 4. The Gallery, Studio and Miskwabik Press will also welcome visitors to an Open House Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 5-6. The Gallery is at 109 Fifth Street in Calumet. Call 906-337-5970 for information.

Copper Country Associated Artists to celebrate 50th Birthday

Copper Country Associated Artists (CCAC) will celebrate their 50th Birthday with a Scherenschnitte event from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, Dec. 4, at the CCAC Studio/Gallery, 112 Fifth Street in Calumet. Scherenschnitte is a German name for the ancient art of cutting paper into decorations, which can include silhouettes, scenes, cards, Christmas items and many more possibilities.

Christmas tree made through the paper-cutting art of Scherenschnitte. (Image courtesy Copper Country Associated Artists)

German settlers brought this folk art to colonial Pennsylvania during the 17th and 18th centuries. The public is invited to join artist Millie Little and transform a simple piece of paper into a holiday keepsake. (Bring a pair of small scissors if you can.)

In addition, as part of the birthday celebration, CCAC member-donated works of art will sell for $50 each, and some for smaller amounts.

Calumet Art Center to host Holiday Music Concert

The Calumet Art Center will host a double program at their Holiday Music Concert on Friday, Dec. 4. Jan Dalquist will play the pipe organ from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Monica Rovano and Friends will offer Christmas Carols from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the Art Center. Musicians will include Monica Rovano, piano and voice; Julia Feeley and Dave Moorehouse, violin; and Ethan Arten, guitar. The concert is free and open to the public. Donations are welcome.

The Calumet Art Center is at 57055 Fifth Street. Call 906-281-3494 for information.

Tamarack Trading Co. to host events Dec. 4, 5

Tamarack Trading Company, 300 Fifth Street, Calumet, will be hosting two events this weekend.

The talented duo of Heaven Hawkins and Tony Laux, on guitar, entertain regularly at the Tamarack Trading Co. art events. (Keweenaw Now file photo)

Friday night, Dec. 4, will be the scene of live music with Heaven and Tony -- an eclectic mix of folk, rock and blues. Refreshments will be served.

At 2 p.m. on Saturday afternoon, Dec. 5, artist Stuart Baird will unveil his latest wood carving at Tamarack Trading Company. Baird recently presented a carving of the Michigan state bird -- the Robin -- to Governor Granholm.

One of Stuart Baird's wood carvings on display at the Tamarack Trading Co. In the background is a photo of Baird with Governor Granholm and his sculpture of the Robin. (Keweenaw Now file photo)

Baird's artwork is masterfully done and often looked upon as a taxidermy mount. It needs to be touched to realize its a painted woodcarving. We look forward to his next creation. Refreshments will be served.

*Read about the Copper Country Arts Council's Poor Artists Sale.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Keweenaw Symphony, Michigan Tech Concert Choir to perform "Messiah" Dec. 5 at Rozsa

HOUGHTON -- The Keweenaw Symphony Orchestra, the Michigan Tech Concert Choir and noted soloists will perform George Frideric Handel's "Messiah" at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 5, at the Rozsa Center.

Soloists will be Ann Campbell, Lara Neves, Charles White and Gregory Campbell. Joel Neves, music director of the Keweenaw Symphony, will conduct.

The 63-voice choir, under the direction of Susan Byykkonen, and Neves' select 41-member oratorio orchestra have been polishing Handel's work, including "Every Valley Shall Be Exalted," "The Glory of the "Lord," "All We Like Sheep," "Worthy is the Lamb," "Hallelujah" and more.

The most recent performance of "Messiah" at the Rozsa Center was in 2005.

For more details, visit the Michigan Tech Visual and Performing Arts Web site.

Bruce Niemi to exhibit sculpture at Finnish American Heritage Center

HANCOCK -- The 19th Annual Contemporary Finnish American Artist Series, hosted by the Finlandia University Gallery from Dec. 3, 2009, to Jan. 3, 2010, features the work of Wisconsin sculptor Bruce A. Niemi in an exhibit titled, "Heavy Metal/Graceful Forms" (Raskas Metalli / Sulavia Muotoja).*

The artist Bruce A. Niemi. (Photo courtesy Finlandia University)

An opening reception for the artist will take place at the gallery from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 3, with an artist talk beginning at 7:15 p.m. The reception is free and open to the public; refreshments will be served.

At age 12, Bruce Niemi was introduced to welding by his father, a self-taught abstract sculptor and ornamental iron artist. Niemi was fascinated and his passion for sculpting began.

Niemi’s art, ranging from small pedestal pieces to larger wall and free standing sculptures, is characterized by an uplifting positive nature.

"My faith in God, the power and beauty of nature, and the energy and balance of dance are the driving forces behind my art," notes Niemi. "It would be safe to say if you studied my art you would know my heart."

Agape Love, 5'3" x 3'4" x 10" -- Stainless steel, by Bruce A. Niemi. (Photo courtesy Finlandia University)

Niemi’s stainless steel and bronze sculptures create the illusion of movement and transform the abstract into visual statements waiting for the interpretation of the viewer.

"My purpose is to stimulate and exercise the mind of you, the viewer, as well as create a sculpture that compliments the environment that it shares," says Niemi. "Aesthetics, balance, energy, harmony, meticulous craftsmanship, structural strength, durable materials, and public safety are all built into the piece."

All these components are present in Niemi’s recent commission, a memorial for five students killed in 2008 on the campus of Niemi’s alma mater, Northern Illinois University (NIU). Niemi says it was a rewarding and humbling experience to be selected to create the memorial. Foremost in his thoughts while designing the sculpture was finding a way to help the parents of the five students heal.

His sculpture, titled Remembered, consists of five intertwining components that form the shape of a flame.

"I see hope. I see something pointing skyward. I see ascension. I see five elements in that sculpture," says Michael P. Malone, vice president for university advancement at NIU. "Once you look at the interconnecting triangles, or flames, it really starts to add meaning to that site in a way that only art can."

For 21 years Niemi has worked as a full-time sculptor. He has created 28 large-scale public sculptures located across the United States and has exhibited in numerous solo, group and juried exhibitions. His work is included in 20 corporate collections.

Niemi received a bachelor of fine art in sculpture at Northern Illinois University in 1981.

He has been on the Finlandia University campus this week working with art and design students.

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., Wednesday 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday 12 p.m. to 4 p.m., or by appointment.

*The Finlandia University Gallery will be closed from Dec.23, 2009, to Jan. 3, 2010. Please call 906-487-7500 for more information.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Reception for Skyler Ross, Jessica Spear Dec. 3 at Reflection Gallery

HANCOCK -- The Finlandia University Reflection Gallery is hosting a dual exhibit from Dec. 1, 2009, to Jan. 11, 2010, featuring paintings of Jessica Spear and photographs by Skyler Ross.

An opening reception and artist talks will take place from Noon to 1 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 3, at the Reflection Gallery in the Jutila Center. The reception is open to the public; refreshments will be served.

Photography by Skyler Ross (Photo courtesy Finlandia University)

Skyler Ross, a Graphic Design major in the Finlandia University International School of Art and Design, uses Photoshop 7.0 to alter photographs digitally. In his photographs, he hopes to "capture the natural elements of everyday life... take the ordinary and give [it] vitamins."

Jessica Spear, a junior-level Finlandia Studio Arts student, uses color, texture and collage to create large scale paintings overflowing with color and texture. Spear is involved in the local art community and works at the Copper Country Community Arts Center as a gallery helper.

Painting by Jessica Spear (Photo courtesy Finlandia University)

"My work is mostly about my love of color, line, and collage and how these work (or don’t work) together," Spear explains. "Spontaneity plays a huge role in my art. Paint splashes and brush strokes are often the result of letting the paint do what it wants to do."

Spear’s fantastic use of color sprung from an experience in eighth grade. She explains, "the first time I saw ‘Green Marilyn’ [by Andy Warhol], I was hooked on that green or shades of green." She says she also enjoys using variations of purple, since purple is "the color of perfect spirituality and creativity."

Spear notes, "I am continuously inspired as I learn about different artists, their techniques and philosophies. I think art is a window for people to look into that provides vital information for understanding each other, our culture, and ourselves."

Skyler Ross enjoys manipulating what already exists, even if it is just taking a blue and making it a brighter, more saturated blue. He notes that he enjoys using bright saturated colors or very dark muted colors.

Through his work, Ross "wants the art to make you ask yourself questions. Whether it is asking yourself about your own life or just questioning life itself. It’s about emotion behind or what is in the photo."

The Reflection Gallery is located on the second level of Finlandia’s Jutila Center campus, Hancock. For additional information, contact Yueh-mei Cheng, associate professor of studio arts, at 906-487-7375 or

Arts Council to host 33rd Annual Poor Artists Sale Dec. 5

CALUMET -- The Copper Country Community Arts Council celebrates its 33rd Annual Poor Artists Sale from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 5, at the CLK Gymnasium in Calumet. This year’s sale offers the work of over 50 artists, including 10 that are new to the event, along with the return of many long-standing favorites.

Shoppers will find handmade jewelry, pottery, wreaths, ornaments, baskets, functional and decorative wood art, blown glass, stained glass, rustic furniture, rugs, art clothing and accessories, fiber art, candles, soaps, paintings, photography, gift baskets and much more.

Shop and visit with friends in a festive atmosphere and enjoy homemade baked goods at the hospitality table.

Copper Country Suzuki students will perform at 1 p.m. Renew your Arts Council membership (or join for the first time) and take advantage of a preview shopping hour for members only from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.

The Poor Artists Sale is put on by the Copper Country Community Arts Council and is a benefit for the Community Arts Center in Hancock. For more information stop by the Community Arts Center at 126 Quincy Street in Hancock or call (906) 482-2333.

Portage Library to host Great Gingerbread Hunt Dec. 2

HOUGHTON -- Grade school children are invited to follow clues and join the fun in The Great Gingerbread Hunt at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 2, at the Portage Lake District Library in Houghton.

The event will begin with a reading of the classic folktale "The Gingerbread Man," after which the great scavenger hunt will begin. Participants will follow clues to find the characters from the story throughout the library. Clues will lead children from the old woman to the old man to the pig to the cow and all the characters until they’ve found the fox. After the hunt, kids will decorate gingerbread man cookies and make a gingerbread man book to take home.

This event is sponsored by the Copper Country Reading Council and the Portage Lake District Library. Students from the Education Department at Finlandia University will assist with this event.

Library programs are free and open to all. For information, you may call the library at 482-4570 or visit

Monday, November 30, 2009

Class on "E-Z Fitness" to be Dec. 2 at Jutila Center

HANCOCK -- Do you struggle to spend a daily hour at the gym? Sometimes feel too tired to move? Want to reduce holiday weight gain?

"I know my own answer to all these questions is 'Yes,'" says Kate Alvord, "and that's why I've researched and learned about alternative approaches to fitness."

Alvord will be talking about these alternatives, and ways to address all the above questions, at her Optimal Wellness class, "E-Z Fitness: Methods to use when you don't or can't exercise," beginning at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 2, in Room 324 at the Jutila Center in Hancock.

The one-hour class will cover the following:
• practical advice from experts who believe you can get fit without long sessions at the gym
• ways to enhance fitness -- without getting out of bed
• non-dietary tips and tricks to keep holiday weight gain to a minimum
• and more.

The Jutila Center (aka the old hospital) is at 200 Michigan Street in Hancock. The class is $10 at the door.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Sen. Carl Levin interviewed on "Face the Nation" Nov. 29

CBS -- Michigan's Senator Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, spoke on "Face the Nation" (CBS) today, Nov. 29, 2009, concerning the anticipated troop increase in Afghanistan. President Obama is expected to announce the increase in an address to the nation this Tuesday, Dec. 1.

Interviewed by CBS News' Harry Smith, Levin said whether President Obama gets Democratic support for the increase "depends on the purpose of the mission and whether additional Americans there would help build numbers in the Afghan army."

Read the CBS news article on Sen. Levin's statements and see also the accompanying video.

Portage Library to host Holiday Storytime Dec. 5

HOUGHTON -- On Saturday, Dec. 5, the Portage Lake District Library will host a Holiday Storytime at 2 p.m. as part of the Downtown Houghton Holiday schedule of events. All children are invited to come and listen to winter tales and take home a holiday treat.

Presentations at the library are free and everyone is welcome. For more information, call the library at 482-4570 or visit