Colorful conservation

MARQUETTE – Patrons of the Ore Dock Brewing Co. have something special to look at while sipping their specialty brews this month.

An exhibition of artwork by Mindy Otto is on display this month at the Ore Dock, located at 114 W. Spring St., in Marquette.

Otto’s full-time job is coordinator of the invasive species program for the Marquette County Conservation District.

As with many people with an artistic bent, though, she finds time to pursue that creative side.

“My tiny stories and adventure are shared with you in the universal language of color and shadow in hopes that you might share my delight,” read Otto’s write-up at the exhibit.

It would be hard not to delight at “Portal to Narnia,” a fairly straight-on depiction of a section of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, or the more abstract “Quartz Kunst.”

“I have been painting since I was very young,” Otto said. “I’ve taken a lot of classes. I’m from Kalamazoo, so I was taking classes there.”

At Northern Michigan University, she was an art major for a time, dual-majoring in illustration and environmental conservation. Then she became more immersed on the conservation side.

But her interest in art never went away.

“I just decided to start painting again recently,” Otto said.

Acrylic is her medium.

“I love the vibrant colors,” Otto said. “I feel like I can control the paint a lot more. I’m really used to working with it, and I like the depths you can create with acrylic. You can do layers, different colors.”

It’s obvious nature and travel are her preferred subjects. For example, her Ore Dock exhibition includes scenes of Echo Lake and the Salmon-Trout River, subjects not too far from her conservation passion.

However, her art has a global appeal.

“I’ve done some world travel here and there, done some trips to South America, and I find the colors there really, really vibrant,” Otto said.

In fact, that scenery has inspired many of her paintings.

Brady! Nelson of Gladstone earlier this month viewed Otto’s exhibition.

“I like the choices of color and harmony particularly,” Nelson said, especially her use of oranges and blues.

Nelson also liked the way much of Otto’s art is an “image wrap” in which painting goes over the sides of the frame.

Otto’s work is on sale at the Ore Dock. She also can be contacted by calling 269-484-4993 or emailing mindotto@sbcglobal.net.

Christie Bleck can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250.