Northern Michigan Arts and Culture

Essay: Bag of Pretzels

Feb 19, 2021

At the grocery store, I pick up orange juice and cat food and a few other essentials. I’m on my way to the check-out when I see my husband’s favorite pretzels. I know that the bag at home is almost empty and yet I hesitate.


'Never Ending Story, Spider Man's Eye' by artist FreindsWithYou.
Dan Wanschura / Interlochen Public Radio

The Dennos Museum Center in Traverse City is a lot noisier than normal. That's because it's now home to 10 blow-up sculptures, each inflated by air pumps.


A skier weaves in between trees at Mount Bohemia in the Keweenaw Peninsula. During a normal winter, 'Boho' can get upwards of 300" of fresh snow. But due to a lack of snow this year, the resort finally just opened this week – its latest opening ever.
Michigan Snowsports Industries Association

Warmer winter temperatures are causing snow totals in many areas around the Great Lakes to drop dramatically. Scientists say a warmer climate means cold and snowy winters will likely become more and more unreliable.

That leaves snow enthusiasts and businesses that depend on the snow, scrambling to try to adapt.

  

Gretchen Carr / Interlochen Public Radio

A group of neighbors in Traverse City have turned an annual holiday light display into the spot to feel some Christmas spirit. This year, they began collecting money for those in need. 

  

The 45th Annual Vasa Festival of Races in Traverse City has been canceled due to COVID-19.
Roger Hagerman

The 45th annual North American Vasa Festival of Races has been canceled due to COVID-19 concerns. After exploring other options, the Vasa board unanimously voted on Tuesday night to call off the event.


The Grand Haven lighthouse and waves get a good dose of what Todd and Brad Reed call, "magic light" during a November storm in 2015.
Todd and Brad Reed Photography

For most people, November isn’t a great time for a day at the beach. But Ludington photographers Todd and Brad Reed aren’t most people. They dream of capturing Lake Michigan at its gnarliest.


Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore unveiled its new mobile visitor center recently.
U.S. National Park Service

Sleeping Bear Dunes is hitting the road. In celebration of its 50th anniversary, the national lakeshore is rolling out a 'mobile visitor center.' The idea is to bring a little bit of northern Michigan to those who haven’t had a chance to experience it.


Ellie Harold’s migration inspired art installation, “Birds Fly In: A Human Refuge,” is on display at the Oliver Art Center in Frankfort through Sept. 11, 2020.
Diane Frederick

In 2017, artist Ellie Harold was stuck in traffic in Atlanta. There was road rage all around her, and she started feeling it bubble up inside of her too. She asked herself, “Wouldn’t it be great if people could just have a place to go for a time out?”


From left to right, David Chown, Laurie Sears and Miriam Picó released a new album recently called, 'Live at St. Andrews'.
Lancaster Photography

A trio of Traverse City artists are out with a new album called "Live at St. Andrews." It features David Chown, Miriam Picó and Laurie Sears during a 2018 show at St. Andrews Presbyterian Church in Beulah.


Art from U.P. artist Katie Eberts is featured on a billboard on U.S. Highway 2 in the Upper Peninsula. The billboards went up last month thanks to the non-profit, Save Art Space.
Dan Wanschura / Interlochen Public Radio

After crossing the Mackinac Bridge and heading west on US Highway 2 in St. Ignace, I’m looking for something I was told would be just outside of town.

 

Believe it or not, I’ve come to this part of Michigan to look at a billboard.

  

In the mid-19th century, a persuasive Mormon leader named James Jesse Strang led hundreds of followers to Beaver Island in the middle of Lake Michigan. Then he declared himself the King of Earth and Heaven.

 

That’s the story author Miles Harvey tells in his new book, The King of Confidence - A Tale of Utopian Dreamers, Frontier Schemers, True Believers, False Prophets, and the Murder of an American Monarch.

 


Interlochen Center for the Arts President Trey Devey
Interlochen Center for the Arts

Summer is going to look and sound a lot different at Interlochen Center for the Arts this year. The usual cacophony of music coming from students practicing their instruments all around campus will not happen.

 

Last week, Interlochen canceled its traditional summer arts camp experience due to COVID-19 concerns. Instead, the summer camp will transition to online, virtual instruction.

 

Michigan Legacy Art Park in Thompsonville remains open despite the coronavirus pandemic.
Michigan Legacy Art Park

If you want to look at art during the coronavirus pandemic, your options are pretty limited. Art museums and galleries are considered non-essential businesses and are closed across the state until at least the end of the month.

That’s why Michigan Legacy Art Park in Thompsonville is uniquely positioned at a time like this. It’s outdoors and visitors have plenty of space to socially distance in the park’s 30 acres. 

From left to right, Katie Larson, Michael Dause, and Sav Buist make up The Accidentals.
Dan Wanschura / Interlochen Public Radio

The Accidentals kicked off another tour last night with a sold-out show in Leland. The Traverse City band had a unique request for the 150 people in attendance — help pick the songs for their next album.

Voters will decide the next public art display in Traverse City.

Tonight, five local artists will pitch ideas for a public art display downtown near the Boardman River, and audience members will vote to decide the winner. The Traverse City Arts Commission is hosting the event.

Essay: Rude Driver

Nov 29, 2019

It’s early morning and I’m driving the speed limit on a two-lane highway, feeling relaxed and grateful for the lovely weather.  Then a guy in a pick-up truck appears behind me, hugging my bumper and crowding me with his impatience.

Unable to wait, he finally roars past me on a curve and I shake my head.  What’s the big hurry? I wonder, my mood of peacefulness replaced by fear and anger.

Essay: Bake Shop

Nov 15, 2019

Judy’s mother comes in the door carrying a flat white box that she sets on the kitchen table.  “Help yourself,” she says and collapses into a chair.

Her pale pink uniform has “Evelyn” embroidered over her heart.  Inside the box are dozens of jelly donuts, Danish sweet rolls, cinnamon twists, and cupcakes.  I wait for Judy to go first but she’s not interested. 

She has leftovers like this every day because her family owns a bakery.  I wish my family owned a bakery.  I pick out a cinnamon twist. 

Essay: Personal Space

Nov 1, 2019

In my yoga class, I watch fellow students as they lay their mats out on the floor.  Most are courteous and respectful of neighbors but others unfurl their mats with authority, taking up twice as much room as they need. 

And I think about the idea of personal space, how much is enough.  I prefer the corner by the window in my yoga studio and if someone else gets there first, I’m vaguely offended.  That’s mine, I think, knowing it’s not.

Essay: Perfect Features

Oct 25, 2019

When I was fourteen, I decided that my nose was funny looking.  Juggling two mirrors, I would examine my profile—and there it was:  plain as the funny-looking nose on my face. 

Not a movie star nose but a little tipped-up number with no dignity or elegance.  How humiliating.  So, during most of my ninth grade year I sat in class with my finger holding down the end of my nose.  I don’t know whether anyone noticed this odd behavior.

Essay: Morning Despair

Oct 18, 2019

On some mornings, I roll out of bed wondering why bother?  Everything seems useless or scary or overwhelming.  Maybe I should just give it up and pull the covers over my head.  “Existential despair,” a counselor called it once.  Anxiety about the purpose of life.

Essay: Half-Done Bacon

Oct 11, 2019

Every morning my father fixes his own breakfast.  When I arrive at the kitchen table, he is already standing at the stove in a white apron, taking orders.

“Anyone want bacon?” he asks.  “Eggs?”

My brother and I always refuse, not liking Dad’s undercooked bacon or the way he makes the eggs.  He calls them “scrambled” but he just cracks them on the grill and stirs them around a little—leaving jiggly patches of raw egg whites.

“I’ll have one piece of bacon,” Mom says and puts it on top of her toast.

Essay: Greta

Oct 4, 2019

Years ago while at a conference in a big city, I purchased a teddy bear for my young daughter which she named Greta.  She was a particularly charming bear, I thought, with soft brown fur and deep brown eyes, and she soon accompanied us everywhere, riding in grocery carts and sitting at the table in a high chair.

Essay: Gift Certificates

Sep 27, 2019

A while ago, my husband gave me a gift certificate to one of my favorite restaurants, a little hole-in-the-wall place called the Blue Heron in Traverse City.  They served the most remarkable food—elegant salads and hearty breakfasts—and I loved going there with friends, installing ourselves in a cozy booth and taking our time.


Essay: Clothes Pins

Sep 20, 2019

On a bright summer morning, I walk out to the back yard and hang my towel on the line.  Then, in a moment of gratitude, I stop to consider the clothes pin.  It’s just two pieces of wood in a coil of wire—but how efficient!  How simple and elegant and endlessly useful!


Essay: Child Abuse

Sep 13, 2019

Before I became a parent, I was sure that people who abused their children were other kinds of people.  I couldn’t imagine harming a child and was confident I never would.


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