The mission of Art Vision Cheboygan is to celebrate community and inspire creativity. Art Vision Cheboygan (AVC) is a the new visual arts committee of the Cheboygan Area Arts Council. Current projects are to bring more public art to Cheboygan. This community driven group will be painting the picnic tables at Gordon Turner Park and relocating Cheboygan’s infamous blue bunnies on the crumbling bunny wall to a new place at Gordon Turner Park. The goals of AVC are to bring bright, colorful interactive art to the community and to brighten up our paths along the way.
Community First: Picnic in the Park
Art Vision Cheboygan asked volunteers to help fix and paint picnic tables in Gordon Turner Park, old brown picnic tables owned by the city and worn by the wind and the water. These brilliantly unique tables were painted by volunteer artists, to bring joy and color the community of Cheboyan.
Artists include: Pat Gildner Crisa Metzger, Kristen Baggott, Candi Wanicke, Jan Ross Howell, Debbie Purtee, Mali Thomas & Elaine Brach, Cindy Hutchinson, Jean Shouder, Dennis Despain, Sheri Gerkiere, Scott Susalla, Susan Melton, Kira Boyd and the Coast Guard families. More tables are on the way!
Connecting Communities: Betty Adgate
Kathy King Johnson Executive Director Cheboygan Area Arts Council
Betty Adgate, 92, is one of the coolest people I’ve met, sea foam green eyes, sparkling intelligence and a pixie smile. I met Betty in a roundabout way, because I wanted to know more about the woman in Petoskey who is helping bring public art to Cheboygan. Lynn Turner introduced us at Independence Village where Lynn works as Life Enrichment Lead.
Betty is a lifelong artist and art teacher. Her room is filled with paintings, drawings and sketches, some finished, some in progress. Her kitchen table is covered her newest piece. She is helping Lynn design a picnic table in Gordon Turner Park, an Art Vision Cheboygan project. Many people are collaborating in this project: the Cheboygan Tribune, where Scoop Turner was a reporter for many years, Art Vision Cheboygan, Betty Adgate, photographer Lisa Dorrance and Lynn Turner, Scoop’s niece.
When I introduced myself as the Executive Director of the Cheboygan Area Arts Council Betty said, “every community needs a strong person in the arts.” This is very true. Betty makes no bones about her passion for the arts and it was clear from the beginning. She agreed to this interview for one reason only and said, “I will do this to promote the arts.”
“Art reflects our history,” she began and circled back to this vital point several times. And I knew that Betty, who taught in Boyne City and Gaylord was, and still is, a fabulous teacher.
“Can you explain that?” I asked.
“Art tells the story of the time. Man’s ability to draw and tell stories started with his safety in nature. In the beginning, people used art to survive, crude drawings to point the way to food, water and shelter. Then they used art to communicate.” Betty explained that as life became more complicated our art reflected that. As life became more abstract and removed from nature, so did art.
Betty loves old buildings, buildings with history, and she enjoys painting them. “Older buildings have character, texture and variety because people back then valued those things. A modern “ugly building” may have no character, but that is just the nature of the era in which it was built.”
“In these times, there is too much change, too fast. Modern art, commercials, computer art mirror that. A true artist can feel how the times are different.”
But there is one constant that runs through all of art from its beginning to now. And it is the reason Betty lives in Northern Michigan. One of her first memories as a child was going fishing on a beach, where she spent the day drawing in the sand.
“I like it up north because nature is always the same. Nature is constant, never changing, eternal. It is my greatest inspiration for art.”
To be continued….
Connecting Communities: Betty Adgate Part 2
Kathy King Johnson Executive Director Cheboygan Area Arts Council
I met 92 year old Betty Adgate at Indpendence Village in Petoskey where Lynn Turner is Life Endrichment Lead. I want to follow the progress Betty and Lynn are making on their picnic table project to commemorate Gordon Turner for Art Vision Cheboygan. I could have spent hours talking to Betty, and I will, because we have been invited back to Havana Nights, an upcoming party at Independence Village.
Betty asked me if I was an artist. “Oh, no,” I stammered. “I don’t draw or paint or play an instrument. And then I realized for the first time in my life (and I am getting a little old to be making these kind of realizations) that I am an artist. I blurted out, “writing is my art.”
Betty took that in stride, it all made sense to her, but I was caught in a moment of self-awareness where I’ve actually made a giant self-discovery and I’ve rendered myself speechless. I never really considered writing as an art or myself as an artist before. It has always been a job and part of the work I do.
Betty still works hard at her art, although she claims she never became professional because she didn’t want to work that hard. She’s one of those people who can actually see something in her head and put it on paper with color, shape and feeling. Watching this process amazes me.
At one point, she was looking for one of her sketches of Gordon Turner, neatly stacked in a pile of papers. When she picked up the sketch, there was a burst of color, pink, mauve, magenta, mint, sea foam, and emerald greens. I asked to turn it over.
Asters in a field. I am not shy. These are my favorite wild flowers and my favorite colors. I did not want to see this painting relegated to note paper.
“Betty, can I ask you a favor?”
“Can I have this picture?”
“It’s not finished,” she said.
“Well, I love it. I love how some of it is realism and some of it is abstract,” I said.
Betty looked closely at the painting. She took a moment to think it over before she spoke.
“There is no beginning or middle or end. So if a painting is started and someone likes it, then it is finished,” and she signed it for me.
I am enchanted because this is a painting with a secret message on the back, pencil sketches of Gordon Turner that will be going on a picnic table in the park named after him, and a burst of nature on the flip side.
When we finished the interview we asked Betty if she had time for us to meet again. She replied, “Of course, I am only time.”
And now, in the middle of a grey lake affect winter, I have wild asters blooming in my office, a bright, never ending reminder of the beautiful Betty Adgate.