ISHPEMING - The work of Ishpeming artist Kathrine (Korpi) Savu is on display a bit farther away from home than usual.
Savu's art is featured at Central Michigan University in downstate Mount Pleasant through Dec. 10. CMU's Beckwith Gallery is displaying some of Savu's best paintings, taken from the Moonshine Gallery in Michigamme, where they usually are shown.
How her art got there has Upper Peninsula connections.
Kathrine Savu poses in her Ishpeming studio recently. Savu’s artwork is on display in the Beckwith Gallery at Central Michigan University in downstate Mount Pleasant. (Journal photo by Renee Prusi)
"Arlee and Peter Tampas of Houghton were visiting the Moonshine Gallery and they saw my work," Savu said. "Arlee is a CMU alumnae and they are acquainted with Mary Ann Beckwith who is an artist from Houghton."
The Tampases had visited the new Education and Human Services Building at CMU and saw hallway space they thought would be ideal for displaying artwork. Through their efforts, that space became the Beckwith Gallery in honor of their friend who is a visual and performing arts professor at Michigan Tech University.
"Arlee and Pete recommended me to someone at Central Michigan," Savu said. "The gallery there has a new director who had notes about my work. She wanted to show my paintings."
So in July, 18 paintings by Savu were delivered to the Beckwith Gallery and now are hung there through the end of the fall semester.
"My husband (David) and I are going to go there next month to see it," Savu said. "I am just thrilled about it. I can't wait to see it."
Savu has been involved in art her whole life.
"I have been painting since I was a small child," she said. "I sketched on any flat surface I could find. I drew on birch trees. I drew on my Mom's wallpaper.
"She wasn't too happy with that," Savu laughed.
While she has worked in different media, Savu has found her niche now.
"I do mostly acrylics now. They are versatile," she said. "And they are made to be earth-friendly now. I try not to use oils as much now."
For 17 years, Savu's Fire Center Studio was located on Third Street in Ishpeming. But now, the studio is on Johnson Street, providing her a sunny space to work on her art in the upstairs of her son Warren Waters' home.
"I am still adjusting to the new space," Savu said. "This is a good space. I like to work in a small area. It's cozy."
For almost a decade, Savu's work has been displayed at Jerry and Frederike Roach's Moonshine Gallery in Michigamme.
"They are immersed in art," Savu said of the Roaches. "For me, it has been just terrific working with them."
Savu finds all sorts of inspiration for her work, but a few things in particular are the focus of her paintings.
"I have a few of my husband," she said. "And I have lots of Finnish-related work because that's my heritage.
"I like to do storytelling art," Savu said. "And I do love to do old country work. I love culture. I love history and the stories of immigrants. Those things spark my art."
Calendars were another item Savu produced.
"I did three years of calendars for fun," she said. "My Finnish heritage was reflected in the calendars. It was fun, but the only way doing that would pay would be to have them printed in China. And I refuse to do that."
In recent years, Savu has seen an evolution in art.
"Art is really changing. The old-time stuff doesn't hit well with the kids," she said. "I am trying to meld the new style with my style. It's fun, the new style. It's not weighty but it's free with lots of plants and animals. It's a fun direction for art."
Savu's son Bradley Waters, who lives in lower Michigan, maintains her website and encouraged her to start a Facebook page.
"He's my life coach. He picks me up," Savu said. "And I am starting to like the online thing. It's a terrific world and it's wonderful to be so connected."
Renee Prusi can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 253. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.