WRITER | JEANINE MATLOW
Whatever medium speaks to you, there’s a piece of art for everyone. Just ask area gallery owners what they have for those looking to personalize their homes.
In the UP, Jill Zwemer Baugnet, who owns Open Wings Pottery & Gallery with her husband Thomas, offers fine art, folk art, and local art in their creative space that has evolved through the years. “My husband and I opened with our work and a couple of friends’ work,” she says. Now they feature more than 50 artists from Michigan and beyond.
“Everyone has a different interpretation of art and craft, and that’s okay. We have a wide range that consists of fine art original paintings to what we call fine craft,” she adds.
Today, people collect pottery in a big way, including the functional wares made by the couple. Their selection includes work by other potters and photographers, with everything from small prints to canvas-wrapped images. Among the other creations are fiber arts, wearables, and nature-craft pieces made from elements like birchbark, driftwood, and stone.
Some collectors return each year for more pottery or photography. “It’s amazing what photographers can do with technology – there are so many variables,” says Jill.
Part of the charm is the thrill of the hunt. “What attracts people to us is that it’s handmade; people love taking something home from Munising when they’re on vacation,” she adds. “We’ve always been very casual and funky, but people still consider us an art gallery, and they feel very comfortable here.”
The same can be said for Dancing Eye Gallery in Northville, where owner Theresa Schierloh carries a colorful array of Michigan art, folk art, and craft. Heritage-based works like ceramics with Celtic imagery as well as geometric patterns are currently in demand. “Decorative tiles are still really popular, and people are really into locally made,” she says.
Some categories have come full circle. When her gallery first opened 23 years ago, Schierloh says no one understood the handmade stationery and limited edition prints that have become top sellers. Today, even corporate customers buy art for their clients.
Her staying power stems from the fact that her gallery has a coveted corner location and the pieces are reasonably priced. “It’s accessible, and we have affordable art,” she says.
Head west to Douglas, and you’ll find the collaborative Art on Center event each month in season. “The genesis was that we have seven galleries within walking distance and we were all doing openings on different nights,” says Michael Burmeister, who owns Button Gallery. “We’re all cordial with each other. What a great chance to get a larger group of people to see demos and artist receptions with food, wine, and cheese. It creates a lot more buzz, and it makes for a really fun evening.”
The atmosphere is warm and welcoming, and each stop is unique. For instance, Button Gallery features an eclectic mix of regional and national artists. At Mixed Media Gallery, you’ll find contemporary artists, pre-owned art, and antiques. The sophisticated look at LaFontsee Gallery is presented in an unpretentious setting, while Water Street Gallery, which represents over 60 regional and national artists, has a distinctly contemporary aesthetic.
A working studio and gallery, Mr. Miller’s Art Emporium, offers a varied selection of fine art, fun art, pottery, jewelry, and glassware by local, regional, and nationally known artists. Described as whacky but innovative, LebenArt Gallery is one of the few in the country devoted exclusively to digital art.
Lastly, The Palette, a diverse collection by artists from around the globe, features oils, acrylics, watercolors, pastels, sculpture, pottery, stained glass, furniture, and found objects.
Wherever you decide to gallery hop, there’s a piece of art waiting to be discovered. Whether you’re simply browsing or looking for that special something, you’ll be inspired by the many talents represented throughout the Great Lakes State.