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Art Week kicks off

Annual celebration starts today with over 80 free events planned through Saturday

Renay Johnson, right, and Jaiden Voracy enjoy the display of nearly 130 umbrellas hanging above the Rosewood Walkway, near the intersection of Front and Spring streets in downtown Marquette, during the city of Marquette’s 2017 Art Week. This year’s Art Week kicks off today, with over 80 free events planned through Saturday. (Journal file photo)

MARQUETTE — The COVID-19 pandemic may have forced the cancellation or postponement of most summer events in 2020, but it certainly wasn’t going to hold those events back from making their grand return this year.

The city of Marquette’s annual Art Week is no exception. Slated to kick off today, this year’s celebration features more than triple the number of events that the most recent Art Week had in 2019, ranging from live music to poetry, painting, art exhibits and more.

“In 2019, we had 23 unique events,” said Tiina Morin, arts and culture manager for the city. “(This year), we have over 80.”

Morin said the spike in activity was a direct result of planning during a pandemic, which prompted organizers to get creative with their options.

“Last year was canceled, and last year everything was canceled,” she said. “So this is the largest summer event of the season since COVID. We began planning in January, but we were planning assuming that we don’t have to be socially distanced and wearing masks. What happened with that planning was that we had to get really creative, so we had to make sure everything was mostly outdoors, that we would be able to be spaced apart, and out of that creative thinking came now the biggest and most creative Art Week that we’ve hosted.

Tiina Morin

“Part of it I think is us working earlier and more creatively with our partners, but I think mostly, it’s people hungry to collaborate, to create and reconnect with each other.”

Morin mentioned the opportunity to reconnect, which is precisely this year’s theme: “Reconnect Through the Arts.”

“The turnout from the creative community to build this festival this year is overwhelming,” she said. “We have never had this much collaboration and partnership with the community. What we learned this year is that our community is 100 percent committed to this festival.”

Art Week is a collaboration between the city, the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs and the community, and perhaps the best part of it all: the festivities are free and there’s surely something for everyone.

“One of the reasons it’s so successful is because it is a kickoff event,” Morin said. “It’s free, it’s for all ages and the focus is on engagement and education. Art Week is a weeklong celebration of arts and culture and an opportunity for the community to connect with each other but also our creatives that live here. It’s an invitation to try all of the different art forms in Marquette and see what it’s about.

“If you’re someone that doesn’t usually buy a ticket to a concert, or maybe you’ve never participated in a

workshop or have gone to an exhibit before, this is like a smorgasbord, you can try anything out. I’ll try a little symphony, I’ll try a little jazz, I’ll try a little folk music, my kids could try an art class, I could try an art class, and you can maybe discover something new.”

Morin also emphasized the hands-on approach Art Week traditionally takes.

“Art Week, you don’t only attend events and performances, but you can engage,” she said. “A lot of the events are workshops, artist demonstrations, you can talk to the artists and truly connect and get to know the creative community.”

The week was scheduled to kick off this morning with the solstice sunrise opening ceremony at McCarty’s Cove just prior to 6 a.m. hosted by Bugsy Sailor, who is commonly known as an Upper Peninsula ambassador. Local poet Milton Bates was to read an original poem as the sun rose above the Lake Superior horizon.

Back by popular demand at 1 p.m. today is the “Children Paint Plein Air” event at the Marquette Maritime Museum, where participants ages 8-18 are invited to paint the scenery on the Marquette Lighthouse grounds. A history of Plein Air, a brief demonstration, single or collaborative canvasses, supports, paints and brushes will be provided, and completed canvasses will be displayed in the former Coast Guard building throughout Art Week.

An Art Week kickoff concert is also slated for 6 to 9 this evening at the Marquette Commons. It will b e hosted by the Hiawatha Music Co-op and featuring WhoDat Brass, Union Suits and The Jive Trio.

Other events this week include dance performances and competitions, pottery at the beach, a children’s instrument-making session and parade, performances from the Marquette Symphony Orchestra and Marquette City Band and more.

Weeklong art exhibits can be found in many locations throughout the city as well. Peter White Public Library will host three exhibits, including “Abandoned Photography,” “Memories of an African Safari” and “Reconnecting Through Poetry.”

The DeVos Art Museum at Northern Michigan University will host two exhibits, including “North of the 45th” and NMU’s permanent art collection. The “Maze Installation and Sister City Kites” exhibit can be found at the Masonic Building downtown.

Art Week concludes on Saturday with the Fresh Coast Plein Air Festival at noon, the Presque Isle Art Fair from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., “Reconnect Through Poetry and Music” at 1 p.m., the “Ride with Pride” car parade at 4 p.m. and the Willie Nelson Tribute Concert featuring local musician Ethan Bott and closing picnic at 7 p.m.

While organizers couldn’t officially rule it a success before it began, Morin is optimistic that this year’s Art Week is the one that propels it into becoming a notable event for years to come.

“This is a flagship event for the city,” she said. “And this year is different because I think it’s going to become a destination event. This event next year, this is going to be as big as — I think the Noquemanon (Ski Marathon) — or all of those major events that people travel here for. That’s what this is becoming. It’s really putting Marquette on the map that we’re not just a place for outdoor recreation, we’re a place for the arts. We always have been known as that, but we’re the place for all of the arts. Not just the visual (arts), but the performing arts. We’re a place for artists to live and work, and Art Week is changing how people see the U.P.”

A full schedule of events, event descriptions, locations and times can be found online at www.mqtcompass.com/art-week. An informational booth will also be available at the Marquette Commons from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day for those who are unsure where to stop next.

For more information on the city of Marquette Arts and Culture Center, visit www.marquettemi.gov/departments/community-services/arts-and-culture/ or contact its office at 906-228-0472 or arts-culture@marquettemi.gov.

For more information on the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, visit www.michiganbusiness.org/industries/mcaca/.

Ryan Spitza can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 248. His email address is rspitza@miningjournal.net.

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