DeVos exhibit features artists influenced by U.P.

Lucy Hough

It’s not too late to see the work in this year’s U.P. Focus exhibition.

A closing reception for the works featured in this exhibit will take place from 6-8 p.m., Friday, Sept. 14 in the DeVos Art Museum.

The U.P. Focus exhibit is an annual show featuring art influenced by the Upper Peninsula, and this year’s exhibit includes work from artists John Lundeen and Theresa Smith.

“The DeVos Art Museum is proud to give exhibition opportunities to talented artists from the area or influenced by the area. It’s important to showcase the artists in the area for both local visitors and the NMU community,” said Melissa Matuscak, director and curator of the DeVos Art Museum. “The U.P. influences artists in the area in different ways.

Nature is always a big influence, we are surrounded by lots of beautiful scenery. There is (also) a lot of interesting history and stories about people in the U.P. that artists tell through their artwork.”

Both artists are influenced by the history and environment of the Upper Peninsula. Nature specifically influences Smith’s work. According to Matuscak, Smith’s work is inspired by the “small details of nature.”

Smith is from Marquette and has been selected for residencies and exhibitions nationally and internationally; she uses clay and iron in her work.

“Iron has a long history in the U.P., so there may be an influence there too,” Matuscak said.

John Lundeen is also a resident of the U.P.; he splits his time between AuTrain and Marfa, Texas.

Lundeen’s work is influenced by Lake Superior and also Finnish history, which is a major component of U.P. culture.

“My work has been described as ‘dream-like’ or ‘soft surreal.’ I think those are reasonable characterizations,” Lundeen said. “We live on the shore of Lake Superior, which provides a continuous inspiration with its changing moods and colors. I am also inspired by the truly imaginary, Finnish epic poem ‘Kalavala.’”

According to Lundeen, his paintings focus on composition and paint surface quality, even more so than the subject matter.

“The DeVos space is an exciting place to show. The museum has great lighting and the space needed to show my larger work. Matuscak and her staff did an extraordinary job hanging the show,” Lundeen said.

Matuscak said she feels students are often surprised by the U.P. Focus exhibitions each year.

“Sometimes I think it’s easy to think most artists in the area make very traditional work, and while some do, there are artists here working in different media and concept imaginable,” Matuscak said. “I think they will enjoy the skill that each of these artists have and the way they handle the materials they are using. There is so much texture in their work but in very different forms.”

At the Friday Sept. 14 closing reception, the artists will be available to answer questions about their work.

Also during the reception, the artist of the upcoming DeVos exhibition will be available. The next Andrew Ranville’s exhibit, “No Island is a Man,” will feature his work as the first artist in residence on Rabbit Island.

This will be an annual show at the DeVos Art Museum. Ranville has been instrumental in setting up the artist residency on Rabbit Island, located off of the U.P.’s Keweenaw Peninsula.

To learn more about the exhibit and the upcoming “Andrew Ranville: No Island is a Man” exhibit, visit www.nmu.edu/Devos.