Welcome to Idlewild: The Black Eden of Michigan

Reception & Talk Sunday, February 1 at 1:00pm
Exhibit on display January 9 – February 28
LOCATION: Artworks, 106 N. Michigan Avenue, Big Rapids, MI

Idlewild Club House

PICTURED: Resorters at the Idlewild Club House, ca. 1926. Photo courtesy of Ben C. Wilson.

Idlewild, located in rural northwestern Michigan, holds a special place in the nation’s segregated history. For many years, this “Black Eden” was one of only a few resorts in the country where African-Americans could vacation and purchase property. From 1912 through the mid-1960s, Idlewild was an active year-round community and was visited by well-known entertainers and professionals from throughout the country. At its peak it was the most popular resort in the Midwest and as many as 25,000 would come to Idlewild in the height of the summer season to enjoy camping, swimming, boating, fishing, hunting, horseback riding, roller skating and night-time entertainment. When the 1964 Civil Rights Act opened up other resorts to African-Americans, Idlewild’s boomtown period subsided but the community continues to be an important place for vacationers and retirees. Idlewild also holds special meaning as a place for younger generations of African-Americans seeking to learn about their heritage.

This exhibition, created in collaboration with current residents and scholars of Idlewild, consists of handsome, free-standing photographic interpretive banners and a reproduction of an Idlewild history quilt by Michigan quilter Deonna Todd Green. It traces through words and images the development of the Idlewild community from its inception in the early twentieth century to the present day. It glimpses beyond the often told stories of Idlewild’s entertainment scene during its resort heyday period to tell the full story of a community that has survived the challenges of historical change.

Chris Kjorness, ArtWorks Director of Educational Programs and jazz musician and historian, will talk about the rich history of jazz music and musicians at Idlewild at the reception on Sunday, Feb. 1.

Exhibit: Welcome to Idlewild: The Black Eden of Michigan

“Welcome to Idlewild: The Black Eden of Michigan” is now in our second floor gallery, thanks to funding from the Michigan Humanities Council and Big Rapids Festival of the Arts (FOTA). The story of Michigan’s role in the history of segregation and in the development of an African-American sense of community is told in the exhibition.

Idlewild, located only 30 miles from Big Rapids, holds a special place in the nation’s segregated history. For many years, this “Black Eden” was one of only a few resorts in the country where African-Americans could vacation and purchase property. Continue reading →

Elsie Vredenburg Quilt Exhibit

van quilt 150wTustin quilter Elsie Vredenburg exhibits 25 years of Hoffman Challenge Quilts in the Artworks Gallery from June 6 to July 25, 2014. The exhibit illustrates Vredenburg’s interpretations of fabrics selected by the Hoffman Fabric Company for its annual competition. The challenge is to include a recognizable amount of the year’s fabric in the body of the quilt that must have a perimeter between 72 and 160 inches. Judging is based on originality, creativity, and workmanship.

Vredenburg is known for her quilts that depict lighthouses. The artist said that lighthouses appeal to her graphically “because they stand tall in contrast to the horizontal lines of land and water. Symbolically, because they represent safety for those on the seas, and because they point upwards toward God.” Several of her lighthouse quilts will also be on display.

Smithsonian Exhibit – The Way We Worked

postal workersTuesday, Oct. 7 — Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014.

Opening Reception: 5:00-8:00pm, Friday, Oct. 10.

Between the mid-1800s, when 60 percent of Americans made their living as farmers, and the late 1900s, work and the workplace experienced a transformation. The Way We Worked explores the social changes that have affected the workforce and work environments over the past 150 years. The exhibit features photographs that show how immigration, gender, ethnicity, class, and technology affected workplaces and the workforce.

The exhibition will open Tuesday, October 7, 2014 at Artworks, 106 North Michigan Avenue, in Big Rapids. The exhibit and reception are open to the public with free admission.

The exhibition is divided into five sections:

  • “WHERE We Worked” explores the places Americans worked, from farms to factories, mines to restaurants, as well as how race and gender often determined roles and status.
  • “HOW We Worked” examines the effects of technology and automation on the workplace with images of people on assembly lines or using their tools of trade.
  • “What We WORE to Work” looks at the way uniforms serve as badges of authority and status, and help make occupations immediately identifiable.
  • “CONFLICT at Work” looks back at not just the inevitable clashes between workers and managers over working conditions, wages and hours, but also how social conflicts, such as segregation, have influenced the workplace.
  • “DANGEROUS or UNHEALTHY Work” features many of the photographs taken by social reformers hoping to ban child labor, reduce the length of the work day and expose unsanitary workplaces.

The exhibition draws from the National Archives’ collections to tell this compelling story. It includes songs, hard hats and other features that make this exhibit family friendly. Along with The Way We Worked, Artworks is presenting exhibits about Big Rapids’ logging history and work in public safety. We are also pleased to present paintings from artist Paul Collins’ America at Work series, sponsored by the Ferris State University Fine Art Gallery. Some of the workshops, music, films, and other events related to the exhibit are listed below.

Please visit The Way We Worked Schedule for a complete list of scheduled events and updates, and The Way We Worked Resources for Teachers for a list of sites that provide useful educational resources.

The Way We Worked has been made possible in Michigan by the Michigan Humanities Council. The Way We Worked, an exhibition created by the National Archives, is part of Museum on Main Street, a collaboration between the Smithsonian Institution and State Humanities Councils nationwide. Support for the Museum on Main Street has been provided by the US Congress. Support for The Way We Worked in Michigan has been provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

And special thanks to our local partners:

Great Lakes Books and Supply
Ferris State Fine Art Gallery
Big Rapiods Community Library
Hanchett Manufacturing
Ferris_Political Engage Program_CoBrand Wordmark_2013-250x86
Fifth Third Bank logo
City of Big RapidsBig Rapids Public Safety

Museum Tour partners: Bergelin House, the FSU College of Pharmacy, the Jim Crow Museum, the Mecosta County Historical Society, and the Old Jail

Cathy Johnson
Bob Garrells
Barb Bazan
Doug Fonner
Shirley Lerew
Lolly Nichol
Sylvia Palmer
Artworks Board and Staff

Secret Mantra by Le Quoc Viet

the artist viet
Exhibition Dates: April 4 – May 30, 2014
Opening Reception: April 4, 2014

“Secret Mantra” is an art installation about the loss of the root language of Vietnam and everything that entails. The art of Le Quoc Viet focuses on history through the representation of ancient calligraphy as a metaphor. The images reference mantra pillars from Dinh Dynasty and are applied on illuminated fabric lanterns.

secret mantra bannersThe Indochina Arts Partnership conducts programs of cultural development and artistic and educational exchange between the United States and the countries of Southeast Asia, with a primary focus on Vietnam.

Founded, in 1888, to foster cultural understanding through shared art, the non-profit IAP has produced two widely traveled exhibitions (As Seen by Both Sides and An Ocean Apart) of modern work by Vietnamese and American artists. The Partnership has sponsored residencies in America for more than one hundred Vietnamese visual artists, writers, and teachers.

Secret Mantra by Le Quoc Viet is sponsored by the Ferris State University Art Gallery.

Art Attack

2014 art attack logoMarch 2014

Artworks is proud to host the 24th annual Art Attack exhibit. Art Attack is an area-wide event that features selected works by students in grades K-12, and includes participants from Big Rapids, Chippewa Hills, Evart, Morley Stanwood, and Reed City public schools, as well as from Crossroads Charter Academy, St. Peter’s Lutheran school, and the M.O.I.S.D. Communications program.

Bobcats to Bobwhites

Nature & Wildlife in Art
Painter Randy Hendricks, Taxidermist Jan Van Hoesen, and Classic Bird Prints by M. Bernard Loates

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Feel the difference, see the difference at Artworks Upper Gallery beginning Friday, November 8 between 10 AM and 5:30 PM. A feature of the new exhibit is a touching area with real animal skins and horns and tusks. Meet Randy Hendricks on November 13, Wednesday, between 6 and 8 o’clock. The public is invited to hear the artist presentation at 6 pm. Followed by the reception ending at 8pm. The exhibit, artist presentation and reception are free of charge. Catering is by Pere Marquette of Reed City.

The intriguing work of painter Randy Hendricks, taxidermist Jan Van Hoesen, and classic bird prints by master printer M. Bernard Loates of John James Audubon’s work bring a wide variety of art for all to enjoy. The Card Wildlife Education Center, Ferris State University Art Gallery and Artworks have collaborated to bring the works of artists Jan Van Hoesen, Randy Hendricks and Ferris’ “After Audubon” Collection to Big Rapids. The main exhibit is in the Upper Gallery of Artworks. Additional pieces are in display cases in FLITE and Williams Auditorium on Ferris State University’s campus. “Bobcats to Bobwhites: Wildlife in Art” runs from November into January.

Have you ever wondered what it takes to capture the wild and turn it into art? Well, Jan Van Hoesen does exactly that with her taxidermy art. Van Hoesen is a world champion taxidermist who creates breathtaking mammal mounts that possess an astounding realism. She is recognized by her peers as one of the top taxidermist creating custom small mammal displays.

Randy Hendricks, born in Grand Rapids Michigan 1959, grew up on a small farm. “I feel that growing up in the country helped me develop a real love for the created world says Randy, “the hours I spent playing in the woods and exploring gave me a basic understanding of the outdoors it also helped develop an appreciation and love for all of creation.” He is primarily self-taught and began painting professionally in 1982. He currently lives and works out of his studio in Howard City, Michigan. Randy has received several national awards and recognition in prominent art magazine editorials.

Finally, “Bobcats to Bobwhites: Wildlife in Art” features another unique form of animal art. The “After Audubon” Collection, which is a traveling exhibit by Ferris State University, features a collection of prints by M. Bernard Loates of John James Audubon’s originals. “After Audubon” is a part of the Ferris’ collection and is a recreation of Audubon’s plates “Birds of America” collection.

Creatures Great & Small; The Rich Tradition of Oaxacan Art

oaxacan-art250WBy Artists Jacobo & Maria Angeles
September 10 – October 31
Opening Reception 5-7PM, September 16

Jacobo and Maria are among the most highly regarded artisans in all of Mexico producing exquisitely carved and painted alebrijes that are in great demand by collectors throughout the world.

The carved wooden animals have an uncanny lifelike but abstract quality, and the painting – well, you must see it to believe it: elegant designs are executed in unbelievably minute and precise detail, using traditional Zapotec motifs and stunning natural colors. The colors are from natural ingredients grown in the Oaxacan countryside.

Work will also be shown in the display cases in the Kendall College of Art & Design, Federal Building and Ferris State University FLITE & Williams Auditorium.

Abeel and Van Antwerp Exhibits

July 2 – September 8

abeel-heron250wElizabeth Abeel
Elizabeth has a BA in Fine Arts from St. Lawrence University. For her, batik has been a process of experimentation and fascination that seems to just keep growing. “Each piece is a suspense. I’m always on the brink of controlling the process and of the process controlling me.” This struggle in process captures the quiet moments in nature, which are her main focus in subject matter, and breathes a unique life into each piece. Elizabeth demonstrates a command of this difficult process that is particularly evident in the amount of detail found in each of her batiks. Her work has not only won many awards, but has been published in Fiber Arts Design Book Two, a book devoted to excellence in fiber design.

Elizabeth’s work can be found at the Bier Gallery in Charlevoix, Michigan and in numerous art shows throughout the Midwest, including the Ann Arbor Summer Art Fair.

fans6-250wGlen Van Antwerp
Glen Van Antwerp is a master Cedar Fan Carver. This traditional carving style turns a solid piece of cedar into a delicate fan. It remains a single piece of wood. Glen learned the craft from his father and grandfather. He has refined his skill for half a century and is passing it on to his children and grandchildren.

Fan carving flourished in Europe for untold generations before immigrants brought it to Michigan lumber camps in the 19th century. Some old-time lumberjacks had rough reputations but most were family men, away from home for the winter. They spent long evenings sitting around a stove—singing, carving and telling stories. Glen’s grandfather Elmer was a third-generation Michigan logger who learned cedar fan carving in the camps. Later, he taught Glen’s father, and later yet they both taught Glen how to carve fans. In turn, Glen has taught the art to his own children and grandchildren.

Glen lives near Tustin, Michigan on property that has been family land for more than a century. He harvests Northern White Cedar from his own land, using windfall timber and saving living trees for future generations. His favorite carvings come from the deeply weathered wood of old split-cedar fence posts.

He received The Michigan Heritage Award from the Michigan Traditional Arts Program in 2001. Glen has been a guest artist at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, The National Folk Festival, The Michigan Festival and many similar events. His work has also been displayed in various galleries and exhibitions, and featured in several books, including “Hands Across Michigan” by Alan R. Kamuda, “The Traveler’s Guide to American Crafts” by Suzanne Charmichael, and “Crafts of America” by Constance Stapleton.