Block party shows off local artistry

Susan Roubal of Harvey works on a painting during the Thursday block party hosted by the Zero Degrees Gallery in Marquette. The event included art demonstrations, live music and a chance to view the art in the gallery, located at 525 N. Third St. (Journal photo by Christie Mastric)

MARQUETTE — Block parties can be boisterous, but the Zero Degrees Gallery’s Thursday get-together for the public was understated to allow for thoughtful perusing of the art on display.

The four-hour-long block party took place at the corner of Ohio and Third streets, just outside the gallery.

Under a sweltering sun — which fortunately did not melt the artists’ paint — the artists showed their creations and gave demonstrations to the sounds of the Just for Fun Trio, which included Monica Regis on clarinet, Patty Gagnon on oboe and Mary Margaret Wagner on bassoon.

Visitors could watch how some artwork can evolve.

For instance, Susan Roubal of Harvey worked on her “underpainting,” which she had started to lead to a finished work of flowers growing along a fence.

The underpainting was created on sanded paper with watercolors.

“It kind of helps you establish whether you like what you’re doing or not,” Roubal said.

New for her, she noted, was using pan pastels, which are made mostly from pigment that looks like intense eye shadow. She also used the stick form of pigment.

Roubal used a photo for inspiration as she created her underpainting.

“It hopefully will look better than this,” said Roubal of her work in progress, although she also displayed one of her finished pastels.

Taking part in the block party was Taryn Okesson of Tilden Township, who is the gallery’s June Artist of the Month.

“It’s usually based on experience, but these pieces are kind of like my sketchbook,” Okesson said. “I work through problems and ideas on these small pieces, or colors that came off my palette, or pick different textures together.”

Her bigger pieces inside Zero Degrees Gallery, she noted, are more representational of her work.

Okesson, who recently joined the Lake Superior Art Association, in 2020 helped work on Mia Tavonatti’s “Power of Words” mural, which is on the BeWell Marquette building at Ohio and Third streets. Last winter, she was a guest artist at Zia Gallery and a featured artist in The Center Gallery Fine Art, both in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico.

Her artist statement, found at www.tarynokesson.com, reads in part:

“I make acrylic paintings and I experiment with mixed-media elements. I am interested in the theory of biophilia: the hypothesis of the human instinct to connect with nature. I am also interested in exploring Wabi Sabi, a Japanese aesthetic that celebrates impermanence. This shows up in my work through the use of reclaimed distressed fabrics and natural ephemera.

“My goal is to apply each medium in a way that emphasizes the texture of the materials. I imagine each piece to be an amalgam of ideas and experiences funneled through me to tell a story about the subject.”

She wrote that when she was a child, she drew cats and animals, trying to capture their essence. Later, she used art to express her emotions. but returned to the “quiet” subject of nature as she became more peaceful.

“My paintings have been described as peaceful and I would like to take that feeling with me into the future through color and subject choices,” Okesson wrote. “I am looking to work larger and explore more varied materials. I am also exploring the Lake Superior shores for inspiration from home.”


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper *

Starting at $4.62/week.

Subscribe Today