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.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Keweenaw Moments: NWC Announces 2016 Photo Contest winners

Thunder Spray by Dennis Hake of Brownstown, Mich. This photo won First Place in the North Woods Conservancy's 2016 photo contest. "I shot this scene after a beautiful afternoon walk on the beach from 5-mile point to 7-mile point," Hake says. "It was a sublime experience that everyone should have the chance to experience." (Photo © Dennis Hake and courtesy North Woods Conservancy)

From North Woods Conservancy (NWC):

The winners of the North Woods Conservancy’s 2016 "Get to Know the North Woods" photo contest have been selected! First, Second, and Third Place, plus an Honorary Category, were selected by Harvey Desnick, a well-known Keweenaw wildflower photographer.

Desnick says, "Photography is the ‘Art of the Moment’! Several things make for a great photo. Ask yourself...Is it a moment? Have I captured something that creates that feeling of wishing to have been there at that moment when the photo was taken? When you have captured one [of] those moments, your work may not be done. I look for good composition and balance. As in art, does it draw my eye around the image in a comfortable flow? Are horizons justified? Is the image pleasingly sharp and the color natural?"*

Autumn Begins, by Dennis Hake. This photo of red maple, pine, and white birch took Second Place in this year's North Woods Conservancy photo contest. (Photo © Dennis Hake and courtesy North Woods Conservancy)

Winners in the contest were asked these two questions: What draws you to the Keweenaw? What do you like most?

Dennis Hake, who took both First and Second Place, says, "I've always been attracted to the natural world, being fascinated by the myriad interconnections of life, climate and topography, and especially attracted to the wilder places. … With the decline of mining and industry, and the growth of tourism, the Keweenaw has reinvented itself as a semi-wilderness, with many, many wild and scenic vistas, the most compelling of which is Lake Superior. The wild character of the Lake, its many moods, the ever changing light, the seemingly remote 'out on the edge' nature of it is very appealing to us. And, of course, the micro-climate that it produces, the cool, damp air, makes the conifer forests of the Keweenaw possible."

Hake notes also his love of the many "sublime" water views of Lake Superior.

"The highly varied geology is so extensive and fascinating," he adds. "Natural preserves such as the North Woods Conservancy, or the Michigan Nature Association and their Estivant Pines preserve are very attractive. It is somewhat difficult to convey to others, one's attraction to the 'Lonesome Places' on our planet. Perhaps it's a wish to harken back to an earlier, simpler time."

Driftwood Beach, by Eric Stewart of Granville, Ohio, is the third-place winner in NWC's 2016 photo contest. Stewart says, "I was struck by the tranquility, the beauty of the sand and the water and ….the accumulation of driftwood. It seemed like this is a regional warehouse for the big lake's store of driftwood, waiting to be shipped out to individual beaches up and down the coast as needed." (Photo © Eric Stewart and courtesy NWC)

Third-place winner Eric Stewart also notes the attraction of Lake Superior.

"I've been vacationing in the UP my whole life," Stewart says. "I love the history, the people, the variety of landscapes and the wonderful food and beer on offer there, but the biggest draw is the most obvious one:  Lake Superior.  I've seen the lake from Lake Superior Provincial Park to Grand Marais, Minn., to Isle Royale and I've crossed it on the Queen, on a sailboat and in an airplane; but there is something special to me about Lake Superior in the Keweenaw.  … It's when I'm coming down M-26 into Eagle River or down the cutoff road into Eagle Harbor and get that first glimpse of 'my lake' that I know I'm home."

Searching the Cosmos, by Quinn Kaspriak of Cadillac, Mich. This photo, which won the Honorary Category prize, "was inspired by a friend who noticed that the light from his flashlight was very visible with all of the mist in the air from the Lake Superior waves.," says Kaspriak. (Photo © Quinn Kaspriak and courtesy NWC)

"Having a beautiful place with so much natural beauty to escape to and enjoy is what draws me to the Keweenaw," says Quinn Kaspriak. "What I love the most about the Keweenaw is the many forms of natural beauty in one place. Being able to enjoy Lake Superior, waterfalls, mountains, and the northern lights all in one place makes it very special to me."

Starting October 22nd, Copper Country Associated Artists will host a window exhibit at their gallery on Fifth Street in Calumet. The exhibit will feature the winning photos with the judge’s comments on each, a digital photo show of all 43 photos submitted to the contest, and selected photos taken by long time host at Seven Mile Point, Sandy Britton.

NWC’s contest is for non-professional photographers of all ages. It was designed to encourage the public to explore NWC’s five north woods Natural Areas -- and to have fun doing it by taking photographs that told a story of the photographer’s personal experience at the Natural Area visited. The photos were taken between Aug. 4, 2015, and Sept. 26, 2016. Submissions were accepted from May 31 to Sept. 26, 2016. Forty-three photos were submitted by 11 photographers. Photos were submitted from three NWC Natural Areas -- Seven Mile Point, Conglomerate Falls, and Gratiot River North. Photos from the Gratiot River County Park were accepted into and judged in an added honorary category. A double blind judging process was used in selecting the winning photos.

Prints in the exhibit were prepared for display by Paul Grathoff of North End Framing in Calumet. Submission assistance for the contest was provided by; poster design by Chris Kelley; printing by Copper Island Printing in Calumet; and coordination by John Dodge and Ruth Mohr. Many community businesses plus local and regional media organizations assisted in publicizing the contest. Expenses were covered by funding dedicated to the contest and separate from land acquisition donations. The contest itself was planned and carried out by volunteers, including the judge who donated his time.

To view all the contest entries, including the winning photos and comments by the photographers and the judge’s comments, please visit:

For information on NWC or the 3rd annual 2017 photo contest, see the NWC Web site.

* Click here for Harvey Desnick's specific comments on each of the winning photos.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

New exhibit by Finnish artist Mari Rantanen to open Oct. 20 at Finlandia University Gallery

Finnish artist Mari Rantanen in her studio. Rantanen's exhibit Distance/Absence opens Thursday, Oct. 20, at the Finlandia University Gallery, located in the Finnish American Heritage Center, Hancock. (Photo courtesy Finlandia University)

HANCOCK -- Finnish artist Mari Rantanen’s exhibit titled Distance/Absence will be on display at the Finlandia University Gallery, located in the Finnish American Heritage Center, Hancock, from Oct. 20 to Nov. 22, 2016.

An opening reception at the gallery will take place from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 20, with an artist talk beginning at 7:15 p.m. The reception is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.

Luminous, bold, colorful and poetic, Mari Rantanen’s large-scale paintings reflect life and culture. Her art is rooted in her interest in architecture, the places people build for themselves, and the life lived in those structures. Her goal is to make the visible more visible and to give form and color to that which is not visible. Her exploration of the history and presence of visual culture, of systems and patterns both seen and unseen and the interpretation of cultural experience fill her paintings with emotional resonance.

Distance-absence #6, by Mari Rantanen. (Photo courtesy Finlandia University)

"Through the painting process I want to create surfaces that express the more positive side of life, hope and joy, surfaces that are sensual," says Rantanen. "I want to capture the light and give body to humanity and energy. I want to paint the psychological and physical experience that comes about when something is there and is not there at the same time."

Interested in the different systems and structures that humans create for themselves, Rantanen explores the relationship between order and chaos.

"I want to organize chaos and to disturb order in my work," notes Rantanen. "I have a desire to say many things at the same time. What really matters is how well I can combine the languages of the painting and juxtapose them. It reflects our pluralist culture. There is no one truth anymore. Instead there are many parallel and layered truths. I want to make paintings that tell a story, have a narrative."

Scandinavian concretism has had a deep impact on Rantanen’s work as has American abstract geometric painting, including the early minimalist works of Frank Stella and Ellsworth Kelly.

"My work is a meeting ground for the intellectual thinking process and my emotional attitude towards it," says Rantanen. "The completed work has to satisfy both my intellectual and emotional needs."

Distance-absence -longing, 2015, by Mari Rantanen. (Photo courtesy Finlandia University)

Rantanen attended the School of the Finnish Academy of Fine Arts, Helsinki, Finland, and Pratt Institute in New York City and served as Professor at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Stockholm from 1996-2005. She has had numerous solo exhibits throughout Scandinavia, Europe and the United States and is in the collections of notable institutions including the Kaisma Museum of Contemporary Art in Helsinki, the State of Finland and numerous municipal and corporate collections.

She has been commissioned to create large-scale public works and she has received awards for excellence including the Honorary Prize of Paul Hedqvist Foundation, Sweden in 2012.

Rantanen now lives and works in Stockholm, Sweden, New York City and Tammela, Finland.

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. For more information, call 906-487-7500.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Carnegie Museum to present Jill Fisher on "Michigan's Forest Primeval" Oct. 18

The Carnegie Museum will host Jill Fisher, botanist and forest ecologist, who now works for Michigan Tech's Graduate School, for "Michigan's Forest Primeval," the first presentation in the Carnegie's 2016-17 series, Natural History Seminars -- Living in the Woods: The Natural Future of the Keweenaw. (Poster courtesy Carnegie Museum)

HOUGHTON -- Botanist and forest ecologist Jill Fisher will present "Michigan's Forest Primeval," beginning at 6:30 p. m. Tuesday, Oct. 18, at the Carnegie Museum in Houghton. This event will set the stage for the Carnegie's 2016-17 Natural History Seminars -- Living in the Woods: The Natural Future of the Keweenaw.

Refreshments and Introductions will be from 6:30 p.m. - 7 p.m. The Lecture and Discussion will follow from 7 p.m. - 8 p.m.

"Our current forests are facing major changes in the near future, yet they have faced dramatic and wide-sweeping changes before," Fisher notes. "We will examine several questions during this seminar, including:
   - What did Michigan’s forest primeval look like before and after the famous logging era?
   - What would the woods have been like at that time?
   - What pressures were in play to log Michigan's forests and what technological advances sped their demise?          

The logging era and the legacy that followed left a dynamic mix of resiliency and altered trajectories that have become our new normal. Join us to hear some answers to these questions and, as learning of history often does, learn enough to ask even more."

The following presentations will be part of this series in November and December 2016:

Tuesday, Nov. 15 -- Dr. Erik Lilleskov, research ecologist, USDA Forest Service: "Forest Fungi and the Future"

Tuesday, Dec. 13 -- Dr. Andrew Storer, professor, Michigan Tech School of Forest Resources and  Environmental Science: "What are the Threats to Trees in our Natural Future?"

Speakers for 2017:

January 17 -- Dr. David Flaspohler, Michigan Tech
February 21 -- Melissa Hronkin, Algomah Acres Honey House
Date TBD -- Evan McDonald, Keweenaw Land Trust
Date TBD -- Panel Discussion with members of the USDA Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science.

Click here to learn more about the Carnegie Museum and their exhibits and events.