Ellison Bay Arts Spring Art Crawl
Taking pre-loved buildings and recycling them into vibrant, useful homes, studios and galleries seems to be a natural extension of the creative mind and there are artists in Ellison Bay who have done just that. Frugality was certainly one motivating factor. Another was that these creative people had visions of what could be done with these historic structures. They had the energy and passion necessary to make a living making art and that drive spilled over into their work and living spaces.
This year these artists decided to celebrate Historical Ellison Bay and share the histories of their homes, studios and galleries. These stories will be handed out at each stop on the Crawl.
The Clearing is celebrating it’s 75th anniversary and the list of special activities honoring this can be found on it’s website. Refreshments will be available.
“The Mission of The Clearing is to provide diverse educational experiences in the folk school tradition, in a setting of quiet forests, meadows and water. The Clearing is a place where adults who share an interest in nature, arts or humanities can learn, reflect and wonder.
This is in keeping with the goals of Jens Jensen, founder of The Clearing, who loved it as a special place where one could feel kinship with the earth and reassess one’s life.”
Directly across from The Clearing on Garrett Bay Rd is Ellison Bay Pottery, the home, studio and gallery of John Dietrich and Diane McNeil who have been making pottery here since 1974. John bought the apple packing barn of Driftwood Farms and the remodel took almost 20 years.
“Making functional stoneware or ‘Art for Everyday’ is a way of life for us here,” John commented. “It makes us happy to know people use our pottery and that’s why we go to the studio everyday.” John and Diane also create pit fired ceramics, mixing the primitive and modern together to achieve one of a kind art.
Continuing south on Garrett Bay Rd., cross Highway 42 and plan to spend some time at the next two galleries/studios. On the left is Gills Rock Stoneware and across Lakeview is Newport House Gallery.
Newport House Gallery offers unique and highly desirable handmade American folk art representing the relics of our heritage, and to offer paintings and sculptures of contemporary self-taught artists. They stock unusual and authentic antique pieces suitable for home decor as well as for the serious collector. The antiques are primarily of American origin from the late 18th century through early 20th century. Fittingly–This building was built in 1947 when the postmaster, Walter Severson built home, garage and an addition to house the Ellison Bay post office. When Mr. Severson retired, the property became a new business of designing and producing clothing for women and remained in operation until it was bought by the current gallery owners.
At Gills Rock Stoneware Larry and Judy Thoreson performed extensive renovations to the main part of the building. When they opened up one wall they found a horizontal stud on which had been placed several coins, all dated 1907. After careful consideration, when the time came to seal the wall back up, the coins were returned to the spot where they had been found and are still there to this day.
In the studio the Thoresons use traditional methods to produce an ancient craft. The result is work which is at the same time both classic and thoroughly modern. Most of the work is hand-thrown on the potter’s wheel. This process relies heavily on the skill and talent of the potter.
Next, continue down Lakeview to Mink River Rd., turn left and head over to Turtle Ridge Studio and Gallery, a studio and gallery producing original designs in leather, paintings, prints, mirrors and fiber, including recycling clothes into fashionable new designs, by artist Mary Ellen Sisulak. The gallery is constantly changing and carries the work of other selected artists as well.
The focus of Turtle Ridge is beautiful original designs and fine craftsmanship displayed in rural Door County. The gallery is surrounded by a cultivated garden, but also lies next to the Nature Conservancy, which is an endless inspiration to Mary Ellen and visitors alike.
Before John Eliason and his contemporaries settled and developed this area, the Potawatomi tribe was the last remaining original culture to be known in this area, with a settlement along the Mink River.
In 1979, 10 X 10 hemlock logs were purchased from the Neopit Indian reservation to build a French Canadian style piece sur piece log home, which is now going through a remodel.
Head back into Ellison Bay on Mink River Rd.,turn left onto Lakeview and go up the hill. On the left find Cousins Walk, the home and studio gallery of Marcy Farber. The log cabin which houses the gallery was built in the late 1800s out of Chamber Island cedar. There is an outhouse with a date on the inside wall indicating that it was build sometime around 1904. It is unique in that it has three holes: two for the adults and one for a child.
Marcy’s inventiveness and creativity leads her to paint on almost anything. And like Mary Ellen, she has begun to recycle gently used clothing into appealing new designs. Set in a cozy and peaceful spot, you might feel you’ve slipped back into a piece of old Ellison Bay.
Back downtown Ellison Bay across from the Pioneer sits a most unique building – Lindens Gallery . Once the Shepherd of the Bay Lutheran Church Lindens is a time travel to China’s past and present. Brian and Jeanee Linden and their two sons have provided a way to see and buy Asian antiques and contemporary Chinese art. It’s considered one of the premier stops in the Midwest.
The church possesses a rich history, and was formed by the merger of two very well-established Lutheran congregations in Ellison Bay and Sister Bay. They organized a congregation and were given land by P.W. Carlson upon which a church was built in 1879. John Elliason, for whom Ellison Bay was named, donated two acres for the church and cemetery and the building fund collected $265. The first building was completed in 1890.
Clay Bay Pottery, another historical landmark in Ellison Bay, is located 2 miles south. Jeanne and David Aurelius have been living and creating there since 1976. The building used as their studio is dated1887,a date found on a Swedish immigrant newspaper lining the log walls. Jeanne’s well-known Lady Vases and David’s figurative studies show they never stop growing and learning as artists. They love making functional pottery which reflects their affection for Door County and Ellison Bay.
Trilliums just popped up and that means asparagus is soon to appear. Cherry and apple trees have buds ready to burst forth with wild abandon. The artists in Ellison Bay have worked hard all winter to fill their shelves with the tried and true and something new. Many will be demonstrating this weekend and it’s the perfect chance to get to talk to these talented and dedicated artisans.