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...

Home · Articles · News · Art · Del Michel‘s Abstract World
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Del Michel‘s Abstract World

Rick Coates - April 28th, 2008
This weekend, Gallery Fifty will open its three-month exhibition titled “The Ways of Seeing: The Abstract Art of Jennifer Gardiner Lam, Delbert Michel and Debra Lanning.” The exhibition will kick off Saturday, May 3 with an artists’ reception from 6-9 p.m. in the Mercato (lower level) of Building 50 at The Village at Grand Traverse Commons.
Artist Delbert Michel, who spent 39 years as a professor of art at Hope College in Holland, took time to answer a few questions and offer his reflections and observations on the world of art. Michel moved to Northern Michigan in 2003 and opened up a working studio/gallery in downtown Traverse City. While he doesn’t keep gallery hours, people do track him down in his somewhat hard-to-find studio located in the alley near Jack’s Market and The House of Doggs.
Several of his works have been purchased by collectors and have found their way into private, corporate, university and art museum collections throughout the United States.

NE: When did you take an interest in art?
Delbert Michel: At a very young age I started drawing. My first hero was the illustrator Norman Rockwell. I took an interest in fine arts when I went to college. Prior to that I had little exposure to art as I grew up in a small town in Indiana -- I had not visited any galleries or art museums. At college I was drawn in by the work of a faculty member. Before I knew it, I was studying art history and various forms such as abstraction. Originally I went off to college to pursue a career as a commercial artist because I was unaware of other art professions.

NE: What inspired you to pursue a career as an art professor?
Michel: To me, teaching art is an extension of being an artist. You have to define yourself: are you a teacher/artist or artist/teacher? I think it is important to identify yourself as the latter because you are consumed by the whole idea of art and you want to share that passion. For me, teaching was also a way to make a living. Being an artist is a tough living. Sometimes I am not even sure it is good for some to try and make a living as an artist because you end up making art for someone else, instead of what inspires you. I do take on commissions, but because my work is abstract and spontaneous, there is no way I can predict what it is going to look like. The size of the work is the only specification I am
willing to accept from the purchaser.

NE: What are some of the things that inspire your work?
Michel: Everything. I tend to pick up on the culture, the landscape, the music and the atmosphere of the place I am visiting. Then I reflect on how it all connects. A lot of my current work was inspired by a trip to Peru last June. I was taken in by the culture, the music and the colorful garments and how it all flowed together.

NE: What drew you into abstract art?
Michel: There has always been a lot of built-in prejudice against abstract art work. During a short period of time in the ‘70’s I tried realism. What I learned from that was I was more interested in the abstract aspects of those works, so I got out of realism as quickly as I got into it. As an artist, you are on a journey of constant exploration and that exploration has led me to create abstracts.

NE: Does it upset you when someone says; I like your work, but it won’t go with my couch or carpet’?
Michel: (chuckling) I understand where they are coming from. No, it doesn’t upset me. Here is why I am just pleased they have made a visual connection to the work. I believe strongly that the creative part of art is not just from the artist but also comes from the observer. The observer has to bring in their own experiences and make a connection with the work of art, and when that happens they make a connection with the artist.

NE: What is your assessment of the art scene in Northern Michigan?
Michel: First, there are a lot of talented artists who live here but are not local artists. They like the culture and the atmosphere here but their works are world class and often they are afforded the
opportunity to exhibit all over the country. Overall, I think there is strong support for the arts here and we are fortunate to have Interlochen, Dennos Museum and numerous galleries and community art centers.
What frustrates me is I feel the visual arts here have lagged behind other art forms in the region, notably music. I think the work that is here is at times taken for granted because it is perceived as local, and that should not be the case. Also, I feel that we need to do more to promote Northern Michigan as a cultural destination. We have it all here, from the wineries to the galleries to the great restaurants.

NE: What are your observations from an art educator’s standpoint as to the challenges faced for students today?
Michel: The biggest pressure young artists feel is the pressure to immediately make a mark in the art world. I call it self-conscious-avant-guardism. You do something simply because you know that will distinguish you from everyone else. I believe, as an artist, the development of your mark comes in a very natural way and not forced.
To view more of Delbert Michel’s works check out delbertmichel.com. For additional information about “The Ways of Seeing: The Abstract Art of Jennifer Gardiner Lam, Delbert Michel and Debra Lanning” exhibition at Gallery Fifty visit galleryfifty.com. The artist reception will take place May 3 from 6 to 9 pm and the works will remain on exhibit through the end of July.

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