To the Back of Beyond

Our third day on the road started out with trying to find someone who could fix a chip to our windshield that occurred on our way from Detroit to Dewitt. No one was available within a reasonable amount of time in the Petoskey area and as far as we could tell from the upper LP, no one in the UP ever gets one! After fruitless phone calls (by the indefatigable Theresa), we opted to head back to Traverse City to the nearest Belle Tire, as most of their locations provide this service. We got there around 10:00 am to learn that the Traverse City Belle Tire is one of the few that does not do chip repair but they could refer us to someone else. Who could give us an appointment in about three hours! Being the sort of person I am, I opted not to spend three hours waiting for a chip appointment and we headed back to Petoskey and points beyond.

Twisted Fish, Elk Rapids, MI
The good thing about all of this is that we were able to hit a few galleries in the Elk Rapids and Charlevoix area we had not been able to visit the day before because we were running so late after dropping off the pieces for the Art and the Garden Show at Art Center Traverse City. Our first stop was Twisted Fish Gallery, recommended to me by my friend and client, Lambro Niforos. This is an eclectic and sophisticated gallery featuring work in so many media, set within a property featuring a beautiful (sculpture) garden - Theresa and a I had a great time wandering around inside and out, taking in the beautiful weather and the unique art. The fact that those two pieces had been accepted to the Traverse City show seemed to pique Charlotte ("Charlie') Streit's interest, so you may see some of my work there yet! Look for the gallery near the Elk Rapids water tower, just off of US 31.
Pat Curran and Dan Reszka of
Blue Heron Gallery, Elk Rapids

Next we stopped at Blue Heron Gallery on Ames in Elk Rapids, where we met Pat Curran, one of the owners. Pat and I had a really great conversation about my work and my design agenda (flexibility and versatility over rigidity and control - really!) Pat led us around the gallery - which is much larger than the exterior suggests - and shared some of her favorite artists and pieces with us. She also let us see some of her husband, Dan Reszka's, beautifully spare landscape vignettes in watercolors and inks - still in progress, which is always a treat - there's nothing more interesting for me than to get a glimpse into another artist's process. We really enjoyed our visit with Pat and I'm hoping at least one or two of us - Don, Chris, Tim, Melanie or I - might be able to fit into their world.

Pushing onward, we stopped in at Bier Gallery, again, just off of US 31, in Charlevoix. We had the chance to visit with Ray Bier and see some of his son, Tyler's, beautiful functional pottery - really solid design complemented by superior glaze selections and techniques - so much so that Theresa purchased one of his pieces! We both had tours of the studio space, with four kilns - including a really huge four-foot oval; I was experiencing kiln envy!

Crooked Tree Arts Center, Petoskey
With Theresa still in the driver's seat, we headed back to Petoskey to visit the Crooked Tree Arts Center, fervently recommended to us by Sue Ann Round of Michigan Artists Gallery in Sutton's Bay. Having parked the car, we hoofed it to the Art Center, passing the Northern Michigan Artists Gallery (featuring only Northern Michigan Artists, most from around the Charlevoix/Petoskey area) on our way. Just approaching Crooked Tree is amazing - located in the old United Methodist Church, built in the late 19th century, the building has been lovingly converted to a multi-use space featuring both fine and performing arts, classes and other events. Their current show features Artists of Mackinac Island - Theresa and I both really liked the tapestry piece of birch trunks and leaves. There we met Lucy, who was both enthusiastic and helpful. She took my portfolio CD and gave me the Visual Arts Director/Curators card; while checking to make sure the CD worked, found herself eagerly scrolling through all the images, finally expressing the fact that she would certainly put a word in on my behalf. Finally, she performed the vital service of recommending a couple places to eat. We finally ended up at Roast and Toast (we had wanted to go to the Twisted Olive but they had closed for the day) for soup and sandwiches. Look for the portraits hung high up on the wall - they depict the restaurant's staff!

Trotting back up the hill to the car, I took over the driving. Holiday weekend tourists had, by then (4:00) started accumulating so getting out of town was a slow business; once we got over the Mackinac Bridge, we made good time. I wasn't sure I'd be able to do the rest of the drive, but wanted to try as Theresa had put in a good six hours (broken up by our stops, but still). A small handful of dark-chocolate-covered cherries mad the difference and we pulled into the Travelodge in Houghton shortly after 9:00. Dinner at the Ambassador Restaurant - artisan pizzas, great beers (including selections from the only microbrewery in the UP (Keewenaw Brewing Company) and a unique interior made for a great end to the day.

Today we carry on to Calumet and the Vertin Gallery, thence to Copper Harbor. We'll probably start our way back home across the top of the UP as well. Have a great day and stay tuned!