Letters 11-23-2015

Cheering From Petoskey While red-eyed rats boil fanatically up from the ancient sewers of Paris to feast on pools of French blood, at the G20 meeting the farcical pied piper of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue thrusts a bony finger at the president of the Russian Federation and yells: “liberté, égalité, fraternité, Clinton, Kerry--Obamaism!”

The Other Mothers And Fathers Regarding the very nice recent article on “The First Lady of Yoga,” I have taken many classes with Sandy Carden, and I consider her to be a great teacher. However, I feel the article is remiss to not even give acknowledgement to other very important yoga influences in northern Michigan...

Drop The Blue Angels The last time I went to the National Cherry Festival, I picked the wrong day. The Blue Angels were forcing everyone to duck and cover from the earsplitting cacophony overhead...

Real Advice For The Sick In the Nov. 16 article “Flu Fighters,” author Kristi Kates fails to mention the most basic tool in our arsenal during Influenza season... the flu vaccine! I understand you might be afraid of being the victim of Jenny McCarthyism, but the science is there...

Keeping Traverse City in the Dark Our environment is our greatest asset. It sustains our lives; it drives our economy. We ignore it at our peril. Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council (NMEAC) has submitted letters of concern to both the city commission and planning commission regarding the proposed 9-story buildings on Pine Street. We have requested an independent environmental assessment with clear answers before a land use permit is granted...

All About Them Another cartoon by Jen Sorensen that brings out the truth! Most of her cartoons are too slanted in a Socialist manner, but when she gets it correct, she hits the nail on the target! “Arizona is the first state to put a 12-month lifetime limit on welfare benefits.” That quote is in the opening panel... 

Unfair To County Employees It appears that the commissioners of Grand Traverse County will seek to remedy a shortfall in the 2016 budget by instituting cuts in expenditures, the most notable the reduction of contributions to various insurance benefits in place for county employees. As one example, the county’s contributions to health insurance premiums will decrease from ten to six percent in 2016. What this means, of course, is that if a county employee wishes to maintain coverage at the current level next year, the employee will have to come up with the difference...

Up, Not Out I would like to congratulate the Traverse City Planning Commission on their decision to approve the River West development. Traverse City will either grow up or grow out. For countless reasons, up is better than out. Or do we enjoy such things as traffic congestion and replacing wooded hillsides with hideous spectacles like the one behind Tom’s West Bay. At least that one is on the edge of town as opposed to in the formerly beautiful rolling meadows of Acme Township...

Lessons In Winning War I am saddened to hear the response of so many of legislators tasked with keeping our country safe. I listen and wonder if they know what “winning” this kind of conflict requires or even means? Did we win in Korea? Did we win in Vietnam? Are we winning in Afghanistan? How is Israel winning against the Palestinians? Will they “take out” Hezbollah...

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Partners in the arts; Julie Kradel & Steve Kostyshyn

Rick Coates - July 11th, 2011
Partners in the Arts: Creative Julie Kradel and Steve Kostyshyn of Blue Crow Farm
By Al Parker
Combine two different artists with two distinctive styles and the result
is one dynamic farm-based studio that’s producing eye-grabbing artwork in
Leelanau County.
Julie Kradel and Steve Kostyshyn share the airy, well-lit studio at Blue
Crow Farm, their 20-acre home on a quiet road near Cedar. While they each
have their own individual methods and techniques, the result is artworks
that are gaining a legion of collectors.
“For over two decades, my work has been exploring the relationships
between animals, their human admirers and each other,” says Kradel, whose
works are generally sculptures and tiles featuring horses, turtles, foxes,
rabbits and other animals. “The clay, being a very natural and Earth-based
medium, has allowed me a framework in which to capture these unique
Observing the creatures that inhabit Blue Crow Farm allow Kradel to
breathe realism and life into her work. They’re a constant inspiration and
reminder “to keep her work true.”
“The creative process in which my clay art is produced, in concert with an
adherence to correct bone, musculature and form, allows me to express the
joy and beauty nature’s beasts possess using a unique blend of whimsy and
precise structure,” says the native upstate New Yorker who lived in
Davisburg, south of Flint, before moving north in 2007.

Many of Kradel’s works focus on horses and their relationship with other
animals. She’s a longtime horse owner and draws inspiration from her
steed, John Henry. Her pieces are captivating, yet clever in their
simplicity and emotion. “All my life I’ve done artwork,” she says. “And
I’ve always loved horses.”
Kostyshyn has been making award-winning pottery, in one form or another,
for more than 30 years. He’s been featured in exhibitions in
Massachusetts, California, Wisconsin and Michigan.
The New Jersey native graduated from Adrian College in 1976 and worked as
a studio potter for 15 years. He apprenticed with Brumm’s Studios and Todd
Warner Studios in Charlevoix. “Todd really showed me the ropes of the art
business,” says Kostyshyn. “I learned a lot from him.”
From 1981 to 1993 Kostyshyn worked in porcelain, then crafted stoneware
with a Majolica influence from 1993 to 1997.
His focus then shifted to create mixed media baskets and vessels that
combine clay, fiber and wood. His popular, collectible works explore
texture, color, form and size that is impossible with pieces created only
of clay.
“My baskets are made with a combination of three materials – clay, reed
and wood,” he explains. “The clay is a high-fired stoneware with dipped,
brushed and poured glazes. The challenge here is to have a clear vision of
the completed basket before starting the piece.”
Using traditional wheel-throwing and hand-building techniques, Kostyshyn
finishes the clay parts first. Once he’s completed them, he’ll shape and
bend the green oak ribs for a larger basket. On other pieces, he positions
and glues reed or dowel spokes in place. This stabilizes the form for the
The final process is the weaving of the entire spoked area. He uses
natural and dyed reeds and weaves plaited and twilled patterns. He often
chooses palm, vine rattan, red osler, willow or birch bark as accents.
They lend a natural feel and texture to his works.
“I have been continually inspired to work with the vessel as form,” says
the outgoing Kostyshyn. “Breaking from the ‘clay-only’ vessel and
exploring possibilities afforded by basketry as an aft form, has allowed
me to explore shapes and textures that were unattainable to me in the

Not only do Kostyshyn and Kradel differ in their artistic styles, they
also have divergent ideas about marketing their works. Kostyshyn’s been
doing art shows for three decades and prefers the hustle and bustle of the
show circuit.
In a typical year, he sets up at 11 different shows, from Northern
Michigan to Florida. In coming weeks he’ll be at shows in Glen Arbor on
July 20, Suttons Bay on Aug. 6-7 and Charlevoix on Aug. 13. His works are
also at the Bier Art Gallery in Charlevoix and the Michigan Artists
Gallery in Suttons Bay.
“I love the travel and meeting people from all walks of life,” he says.
“One nice thing about shows is you get direct, immediate feedback (about
your work). Sometimes you get ideas from people. But I miss my farm and
it’s always good to get back.”
At one recent show, the affable Kostyshyn sold one of his works to a
couple who had a unique way to pay for his pottery.
“They had been to the same show a year earlier and decided to save their
pocket change for an entire year and buy something at this year’s show,”
he recalls. “So they put away their dimes and quarters for a year and
walked all through the show to pick something they really liked to spend
their savings on. I was honored when they picked my basket for their
special purchase.”
Kradel prefers displaying her items in galleries, including Viola’s
Gallery in Elk Rapids, Bier Art Gallery in Charlevoix and Cog’s Creek
Gallery in Traverse City. But she’s not averse to doing an occasional art
show and will be setting up in Glen Arbor on July 20.
“My life is so great,” she says with a smile. “I’m doing the thing I
always wanted to do in my life with a man I enjoy being with so much.”
Blue Crow Farm is also the home of horses Abe and John Henry, a few dogs
and recently, several Katahdin sheep. Katahdin are hardy, adaptable, low
maintenance sheep that produce superior lamb crops and lean, meaty
carcasses.  They do not produce a fleece and therefore do not require
“We have an open studio,” says Kradel. “And people are always welcome to
come out.”

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