The Twisted Fish is as unique as its name, inspired by the whimsical sculpture that bedecks the center of its gardens.
The gallery on South Bayshore Drive in Elk Rapids represents more than 50 artists, mostly local and regional, with original fine art and several award-winning pieces within its nearly 1,700 sq feet of display space.
Two years ago, owners Bob and Charlie (Charlotte) Streit bought the property that was previously home to the a floral emporium called Through the Grapevine. For years Charlie bought flowers from the shops cutting garden. In the summers before Twisted Fish opened Charlie and two young gardeners transformed the grounds into sculpture gardens that are home to 18 pieces, from a metal arch with two swings, to the signature Twisted Fish piece.
Another notable aspect of The Twisted Fish is the space it offers to display large paintings and to show several works by the same artist. You can see the artist at his or her best through the diversity of the pieces, Bob says.
We strive to include pieces in the gallery that become centerpieces of rooms, not just accessories, Bob said as he pointed out the 3x5 Charles Murphy abstract painting, rich with reds and blues; and the more subdued, but equally as impressive in size, Jerry Gates oil painting.
Many galleries are tempted to become craft gifts shops because of the cost of doing business and space considerations. But we want to stay true to fine art and the artists, he said.
Elk Rapids resident Royce Ragland has become a regular at the Twisted Fish during the last couple of years.
I love the combination of the gallery and the gardens, and it is an absolutely beautiful sight from the highway a perfect addition to the village, she said. Ragland shops for flowers frequently and art often, but sometimes just stops in to enjoy the ambience, which is exactly what Charlie said she hoped for when planning the gallery.
I want this to be a place where people simply like to be, Charlie said.
Its a visual treat, says artist Charles Murphy of the gallery, who has been working with the Streits for about a year.
Perhaps most important to artists, Murphy said, is the way the Streits lead customers through their gallery, rather than letting them fend for themselves while they are viewing the art.
They are energetic and pull customers into the artists work either by providing information about the particular process or background about the pieces, he said. Most galleries dont offer that.
The gallerys Artist on the Porch series, which began last year, is another example of drawing customers into art processes.
Its a joy to see people come alive as they watch the beauty others create through art, Charlie said. And it inspires them to try a project.
Starting this July the circa 1900 farm house adjacent to the gallery will host an artist-in-residence who will be available to mentor, teach and work on art at the gallery.
The sculpture garden may come alive with music with their Garden Gazebo Sundays, where Charlie envisions violinists; harpists and musicians of all kinds performing their musical art live for visitors under a future gazebo that along with the gardens - will be dedicated to Bobs parents and the residents of Elk Rapids.
And the flower shop - which already hosts well-attended arranging workshops - will continue to inspire through recent collaborations with the local botanical society and the Elk Rapids Garden Club.
But their vision will not be complete without what Charlie calls the big dream. The Streits are exploring plans to build a barn-like structure on the property that will become a stage for the work of performing artists.
We want to spread beauty and art of all kinds as far as we can, Charlie said. With that goal as the centerpiece of the visual feasts the Streits prepare for their visitors, the table is perfectly set.
Visit the Twisted Fish Gallery Monday through Thursday 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Friday 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., Saturday 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Sunday noon 5:00 p.m. Or visit them online anytime at www.twistedfishart.com.
Elk Rapids: Art Beat epicenter this Saturday
Elk Rapids makes its bid for some of Northern Michigans acclaim as a destination for fine arts this Saturday, June 4 with an Art Beat event uniting three galleries.
The Blue Heron, Mullalys 128 & Twisted Fish galleries have joined forces to offer artful activities throughout the day from 10 a.m. - 8 p.m. The day offers a chance to meet the artists, take in a demonstration and enjoy refreshments.
Those looking for quality artwork have learned that Elk Rapids is now the location to find a variety of creations by very talented artists, said Barb Mullaly, owner of Mullalys 128. She says the Art Beat tour is designed to boost Elk Rapids art profile, including that of her own gallery, which features the work of over 400 artists.
Following is a rundown of what to expect:
Dealing exclusively in the works of over 100 all-Michigan artists, The Blue Heron Gallery on Ames Street will offer demonstrations by six watercolor artists as well as a drawing for a Dan Reszka limited edition print.
Mullalys 128 Gallery on River Street will host a meet-the-artists event along with a mixed media demonstration and a silent auction.
The Twisted Fish on Bayshore Drive hosts a meet-the-artists event, a mixed media presentation and an hourly drawing for a gift certificate..