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The North Wind

The North Wind

The North Wind

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Willow Rasch
Willow Rasch
Features Writer

When I was around seven or eight I saw a movie that was based off of a book, which my mother helpfully informed me of. During this she also told me that the book had lot more details then the movie. In...

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Campus Cinema hosts Barbenheimer double feature
Campus Cinema hosts 'Barbenheimer' double feature
Abigail FaixDecember 3, 2023

Upper Peninsula Focus

Upper Peninsula Focus

As you walk into the Devos Art Museum, you notice a congregation of rabbits at your feet, a flock of pigeons huddled into cubby holes, and other strange tableaux creatures. Meanwhile on the walls you see starbursts of color and beings that look human; that is, until you examine them closer, when all form melts into millions of tiny ovals. The familiar has never seemed so strange.

A new exhibit opened on Monday at the Devos Art Museum featuring two U.P.-based artists. It is called Upper Peninsula Focus and this year highlights the work of Michael Friend, a painter and Scott Leipski, a ceramicist.

Since 2008, The Upper Peninsula Focus exhibit has showcased works by artists from or residing in the U.P. The pieces featured are of various disciplines, all representing the diverse forms of inspiration provided by the region. The exhibit is the brainchild of Melissa Matuscak, director and curator of the Devos Art Museum.

“I started thinking about how we could provide opportunities to artists in the Upper Peninsula who are dedicated to what they do and are doing really interesting things,” Matuscak said.

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In the Upper Peninsula, there isn’t a large urban area anywhere. This makes “people curious about how that affects how artists make work. If you’re not connected to an urban area, how are you looking at work? How are you doing your research? How are you being inspired?” Matuscak said.

The two artists selected this year share a sense of bold colors and unique, rigorous approaches to their respective media.

Michael Friend is an NMU alumnus who received a Master’s in art education and taught art and filmmaking in Michigan public schools for 35 years. His approach to painting utilizes the technique of
pointillism, making thousands of tiny dots to create a larger picture.

It’s mathematical work to create his intricate designs and create smooth gradients of color that change only slightly from inch to inch but drastically when viewed as a whole.

“A lot of people don’t believe that this is done by hand, people ask what kind of computer I do this on. There’s no computer,” Friend said.

Friend draws on his knowledge of animation in a process he calls “dotmation.” The method is a laborious one that requires patience and persistence. Friend goes into his studio in downtown Marquette every morning at 5 a.m. and puts in three hours of painting each day.

“I just let it flow, it’s like going for a ride and you don’t know where you’re going—you just do it and you don’t know where you’re going to wind up,” Friend said.

Scott Leipski works primarily in ceramics and mixed media creating work that draws from his personal experiences, childhood, superstitions and obsessions. The pieces themselves utilize color, shape and storytelling to convey a sense of nostalgia, Leipski said.

“There’s a certain reminiscence that happens when I’m at a show with my work, interacting with patrons…a walk down memory lane that I enjoy.”

Leipski was 48 years old when he left his career in retail to pursue his dream of working as a full-time artist.

Even when working full-time he spent his off hours exploring all kinds of mediums. Making art was always an underlying current in his life from the very beginning.

“I come from a background of people where if you can’t find what you want, you make it,” Leipski said.

He has lived in cities like Chicago and Milwaukee, but claims the U.P. allows him the space to truly focus on his work.

“It’s a different life. It’s a different type of focus that happens,” Leipski said.

The exhibit will run until April 9, with both Friend and Leipski giving artist talks at the closing reception on April 6 from 6-8 p.m. For more information, contact the Devos Art Museum.

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