Tuesday, January 8, 2008

27th Annual Juried Photo Exhibit

Crooked Tree Arts Council
Petoskey, MI
January 12 - March 1, 2008

Petite Portal Point

Opening this January 12th is the 27th Annual Juried Photo Exhibit at Crooked Tree Arts Council in Petoskey, Michigan. I’ve shamelessly inserted the above photograph, which I took while on a paddling vacation to the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore last summer. Fortunately the photo was accepted into the exhibit and I’m greatly flattered. The opening is on January 12th, from 2 to 4 pm, and the show runs through March 1. I enthusiastically encourage everyone to take it in; there are some truly beautiful works this year. And this show has motivated me to go forward and develop a photography website to get my work out there, so look for further development of this website here in the near future.

But my real reason for posting this (honest!) is to trumpet another virtue of the town of Petoskey, Michigan. With a relatively meager population of under 10,000, and removed from the perceived cultural refinement of the Southeast Michigan area, Petoskey does remarkably well representing the arts. Within the city there are no less than six fine arts galleries, and in the adjacent locales of Bay Harbor and Harbor Springs, the number increases to eleven. This, in addition to the numerous stage acting and musical performance organizations in the area. The Crooked Tree Arts Council (link on right) could probably tout their virtues better than I, but they serve as the anchor for the arts pursuits in the region, serving the public out of a beautifully restored an important historical fixture in the heart of downtown. It’s own facilities include two galleries, a performance stage, studios, workshops and administrative offices. Crooked Tree holds some wonderful events, providing funding for the center and a venue for local individuals and organizations to perform and shine. Some of my past favorites have been performances by the Civic Theater, some great films, the annual “D’Art for Art” event in July, and the juried photography exhibit. Some features I’d like to catch down the road are cooking workshops, the “Day Away” trip – a visitation of regional galleries like the Art Institute of Chicago; and almost any of the featured concerts, plays, and art displays.

It’s just another of the many reasons I love living in the Petoskey area.

'Tis the Season!

The temperatures have dropped, the jet stream is nestling into it's winter pattern but the lakes are open and warm. The lake effect snow machine that blankets the northern part of the state in a downy-white quilt has begun blowing.

One of the things I cherish most about living in Northern Michigan near the water is the change of seasons. Of course, people almost everywhere in the U.S. experience the transition. But in this region, the change is dramatic, more akin to turning a page between chapters of a book, rather than a slow 'fade-in fade-out” of a film. The fall colors usher in the transition from summer with vivid colors, colors that use the rolling hills and blue lake as a canvas to paint a seasonal vista unique to Northern Michigan. After the leaves are all but gone, winds increase further, days shorten significantly, and the steely waters begin brooding. For over a week now, I've driven through town every day to see an agitated gunmetal gray bay, full of closely stacked waves anywhere from three to eight feet, obscuring the marina breakwall and light in white clouds of spray and rolling in hurried formation into the east and southern shores of the bay.

Once the patterns shift to winter weather, lake effect snows begin. Cold fronts dropping across the warm lake pick up moisture and deposit it as snow along windward regions adjacent and inland from the lake. Meteorologists say about a fifteen-degree difference in temperatures is required to generate the conditions (obviously with air temps well below freezing). When these ingredients exist, even in the absence of an organized storm, the recipe can create widespread snow across entire regions or within surprisingly isolated areas. One can sit at a coffee shop in Petoskey, with overcast or even partly sunny skies, and look across to the north side of the bay to a heavy snowfall. Sometimes, with no snow falling in town, the other side of the bay is completely obscured by snow. During the beginning of winter, the temperature difference between water and air is great enough to keep us in almost-daily doses of fresh white stuff.

With the arrival of winter and the lake effect snow machine, in an area with three ski resorts in a thirty-mile radius, comes the anticipation of ski season, which commonly begins Thanksgiving weekend. Running shoes and road bicycles pass skis and snowshoes on their respective transitions into and out of hibernation in basements and attics. Snowplows are mounted, snowblowers and snowmobiles are tuned up, winter tires go on, and glinting bright lights of all colors begin to appear, tempering the cold, dark evenings with the promise of the coming holidays. And the words of seasonal greetings spoken to each other in the crispness of winter become visible in the form of cartoon-cloud puffs of frosty steam.