About

What The Arts Council Does…

In 2015 The Wehr Family, then owners of Mackinaw Crossings, graciously offered us a gallery and activity space in one of their empty storefronts. It was such a success that we teamed with them again in 2016 and 2017. This year the Crossings has new owners and while we will not have gallery space in that location, we hope to partner with the new owners in other ways.

Wherever we may be located we will continue to provide opportunities to participate in providing art, entertainment and educational events throughout the community in a variety of locations.

Here is just a sampling of activities we have sponsored over the years.

We sponsored four bi-weekly summer children’s art workshops with local artist Carmel Desy Peppler in 2011. This year we will be sponsoring five Children’s Arts and Crafts workshops in the Village pavilion (behind the school facing Perrot Street), beginning Thursday, June 21 from 11:00am until 1:00pm. Our Artist-In-Residence is Aliana Lee. Workshops will be held every other Thursday through August 16. Children are encouraged to bring a sack lunch, if they wish. Click here to sign up your child or call 231-436-5626.

Our first Plein Air event began in 2012 with artists documenting the beauty of the straits in oil, watercolor and pastels, judged by Sharon Tarr. In 2013 we sponsored a very successful adult painting workshop with Sharon Tarr as instructor. This year our Plein Air event will coincide with the Historical Festival at the Heritage Village August 4th and plans are in the works for adult instruction in July.

In 2013 we sponsored the “Desy Exhibit” in cooperation with the Mackinaw Area Public Library. At that time, it was our most ambitious project to date. Many owners of Mr. Desy’s paintings graciously loaned them for the exhibit curated by Carmel Desy Peppler. In addition to the exhibit, we sponsored a Saturday trolley tour of Mr. Desy’s murals that can be found in public buildings, stores and private homes in Mackinaw City.

In 2014 we collaborated with Joann Condino from Three Pines Studio in Cross Village and Mary Stewart Adams from the Dark Sky Park on the Orion Project at Mackinaw School. The Orion project was based on the story of Jack in the Beanstalk as described to students by Mary Stewart Adams in the context of the constellation “Orion”. This work went on display at the Pellston Regional Airport in June of 2014.

In 2015 we organized and presented in collaboration with the Mackinaw Area Historical Society a week long “Discovery Camp” for 4th-8th grade students, providing an outreach to young people wanting to learn about history, science and art opportunities in the Mackinaw City area. This first year the program was funded through a grant received from the Petoskey Harbor Springs Community Foundation.  This year will be the 3rd year for Discovery Camp (we skipped 2016) and over the five days of camp we will be focusing on Wilderness State Park, A Statue Tour/Scavenger Hunt in downtown Mackinaw City, Native American Day, The Coast Guard Cutter Shipwreck Museum combined with a tour of the new EMS facility, ending with Heritage Village Day. Cost for the week is $35.00 and to sign your child up, click here or contact Susie Safford at 231-373-9793.

We had three seasons of the Mackinaw Area Youth Chorale. We are currently searching for a new Choral leader. Dance Bratz continues to increase in size with classes offered by Jo Cooley in the Mackinaw School multi-purpose room. Photography workshops have been offered to 4th grade students by Greg Teysen. In 2017 MCAAC sponsored a photography contest for Mackinaw City students in various age categories, with cash prizes. We will be sponsoring another contest this fall for our area students.

The Mackinaw City Public School student’s preschool through 6th grade created their version of Vincent Van Gogh’s starry night in celebration of winter’s dark sky. The project Starry Starry Night North was a collaborative effort with MCAAC, Mackinaw City Area Library and Three Pines Studio in Cross Village. The collection can be visited at its permanent home in Pine Crest Village. Other Mackinaw City Public School art events were presented by MCAAC board members included a Loon Watercolor painting project with Indian River Artist Sheree Lincoln with the help of fellow board member Gerry Lou Kania and then President Danna Marvin. Artist Joan Condino presented a wooden spoon painting class. Gerry Lou Kania and Sheree Lincoln taught the kids how to make Marionettes from recycled Materials.

We partner with Emmet County and Pellston Regional Airport to exhibit MCAAC member’s works including photography, painting and textiles. Our most recent exhibit highlighted intricate quilts by “The Bliss Bunch” quilters with a follow up show of Photography by Lorie Axtell.  The current exhibit features watercolors by MaryAnn Moore, one of our promising artists as well as board member. This is on ongoing display of local area artists.  We encourage you to view these artistic offerings.

For seven years we have hosted an exhibit of local member’s art during Mackinaw City’s Annual Winterfest, which takes place over the third week-end in January. Our exhibit is housed in Mackinaw Clothing and Sportswear on Central Avenue which has graciously supported this project as our exhibition venue.

MCAAC provides scholarships for education in various arts related areas.  In previous years we have provided scholarships to three area students to attend the 3-day Young Americans workshop held at Cheboygan High School. Scholarships for students have been granted for famed local watercolor artist Mary Lou Peters painting classes. In 2015 we awarded $500 to a deserving art student who attended a portfolio camp at Kendall School of Art and Design in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Scholarships are available through the Mackinaw City Public Schools to any student who will go on to college to pursue the arts. Scholarships are also available to students of Dance North, a program which includes young dancers from all over Northern Michigan and is taught by our own Jo Cooley.

If you are interested in volunteering for any of our events or wish to participate on any committee, please visit our Contact Us  for more information on how to contact Joann Leal,  President of our Arts Council.

Our Board

Joann P Leal, President

Artistic Vocation: Joann was one of the original committee members, along with Cid and Ray Roth, Dick Moehl, Sandy Planisek, and Jeff Hingston, who was Village President at the time, that formed Art Vision 2011, which eventually became the Mackinaw City Area Arts Council. She is originally from Fort Wayne, Indiana although her family had been coming to Mackinaw City as summer residents since 1923. In 1987 she retired from the position of Executive Director of the Embassy Theatre in Fort Wayne to come North. Not long after, the Cheboygan Area Arts Council was looking for a full-time director and with her prior experience she was hired. Working as Director of the Arts Council and Manager of the historic Opera House gave her the opportunity to make good use of her experience in Financial Management, Fundraising, Booking Management, Volunteer training and supervision, and Community Relations. During her sixteen-year tenure at The Opera House, she also served on the board of the Michigan Association of Community Arts Agencies, from 1991 through 1999, the last four years as President.

Jo Cooley, Vice President

Artistic Vocation: Jo is a professional dance instructor and arts educator specializing in children’s and teen’s dance technique, musicality, creativity and self-confidence. She is trained in multiple dance styles, from ballet to tap, jazz to lyrical, modern and creative dance, all talents which she shares with her community. Her professional work includes being Past Owner-Director of the Tecumseh Dance Workshop for 25 years. She has planned, completed and accompanied theatre/dance tours with both student and adult groups to New York, Chicago, Toronto, Grand Rapids and Detroit. In addition to teaching she has choreographed productions for various community, school, and youth theatre groups including the Croswell Opera House, the Tecumseh Youth Theatre, Adrian High School, Siena Heights College, the Northland Players in Cheboygan, the Cheboygan Area Schools and the Bay View Theatre Arts.

Judy Churchill, Secretary

Artistic Vocation: Visual Artist; Secretary Church of the Straits

Ann Chastain, Treasurer

Artistic Vocation: Ann recently retired from MSU Extension after 27 years practice in leadership and community engagement. She continues to assist groups with strategic planning, building consensus through focused conversations and active listening, and facilitating difficult discussions by communicating through conflict. Ann has lived in northern Michigan for the past 28 years, moving from North Carolina in search for true “quality of life”, including the ever-present blue fresh waters where she enjoys outdoor MI in all seasons.

Scott Gasparich, Trustee

Artistic Vocation: Scott Gasparich grew up in Clio, Michigan where he was heavily involved in Community Theatre. He attended the University of Michigan studying music and theatre, graduating with a BA in Theatre, focused on stage management and lighting design. His career took him around the country and the world from stage managing opera in California to recruiting acrobats in China. Prior to 2015, for seven years, Scott served as Vice President of Entertainment for Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, Virginia, creating and producing shows, musicals and special events, most notably their award-winning Christmas Town. In 2015 he returned home to Michigan to be closer to family and friends and to fulfill his dream of opening a unique artisan-based shop in Mackinaw City, “Seasons of Mackinaw”. Scott was also responsible premiering the flag ship “Mystery Town, USA” family attraction here in Mackinaw City on July 1 of 2017. Whether opening renowned shows, creating new brands, showcasing art inspired by the changing Seasons of Northern Michigan, or decorating for a fundraising event, Scott finds pure enjoyment in creating unique experiences that have the ability to entertain, engage, excite and inspire.

Sheree Lincoln, Trustee

Artistic Vocation: Visual Artist; Owner of BrassWind Designs & Gallery and co-owner of Arts and Adventure PaddleSports at BrassWind Landing in Indian River, Michigan.

Danna Marvin, Trustee

Artistic Vocation: Danna has been a Michigan resident her whole life and lived in Washtenaw, Lenawee, Macomb, Oakland and currently Emmet County. She retired and moved to the Straits of Mackinac in 2001. Having earned a B.A. in Biology and Chemistry and an M.A. in Secondary School Guidance and Counseling from Eastern Michigan University, she taught middle school for four years and spent fourteen years as a high school counselor. While her two daughters were young, she established a fabric art business. Though her career choices do not reflect it, Danna has always had a passion for the arts! In retirement, she has spent numerous volunteer hours for a variety of organizations including Church of the Straits, the Village of Mackinaw City, Mackinaw Area Historical Society and currently, Mackinaw City Area Arts Council and Emmet County Parks and Recreation Committee.

MaryAnn Moore, Trustee

Artistic Vocation: MaryAnn Moore has a multi-faceted life.  She is a mother, retired Family and Consumer Science educator, historical re-enactor, lighthouse keeper, designer and seamstress, watercolor artist, hand crafter, geocacher, and a professional volunteer, serving on five non-profit boards working with youth and adults.  She has received many awards and scholarships for instructing students of all ages. She is a multiple grant recipient and has several published articles.  MaryAnn has made multiple presentations in specific areas of interest, most recently the “Art of Light House Keeping.”  She is difficult to find, as she has never learned to sit still!

Susie Safford, Trustee

Artistic Vocation: Former Arts Administrator

Keeney Swearer, Trustee

Artistic Vocation: To quote the first issue for 2018 of Curiosities, the subscriber’s newsletter for the Mackinac State Historic Parks, “Looking back at all of the major exhibit and design projects done since 2014, there are two constants: Mackinac Associates funding, and Keeney Swearer.” As Exhibit Designer, Keeney joined the staff of the Historic Parks in April of 2014, after graduating with a Fine Arts degree from Kalamazoo College. He had previously served as an intern in 2012 which was when he realized being an exhibit designer could lead to a future career. Since joining their staff, he has been involved in numerous projects including the Native American Cultural History Trail, the Straits of Mackinac Shipwreck Museum and Fort Holmes. Keeney views his most difficult project as the Sounds of the Forest exhibit on the Nature Trail at Historic Mill Creek Discovery Park.