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 · David Grath
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David Grath

Robert Downes - October 4th, 2010
David Grath captures the Spirit of the Land
By Robert Downes
Painter David Grath has a funny story about his earliest days in
Leelanau County.
“I came up to Leland in 1957 and was wandering around Fishtown Harbor
with no place to stay,” he recalls. “Then I found this big
hollowed-out log on the beach just south of the harbor and I crawled
in with my sleeping bag and spent the night there. The next morning,
I heard the deep chug of a diesel engine on one of the fishing boats
and I crawled out of the log to find this beautiful scene of the lake,
with the sand, sky and water spreading out before me in the dawn. I
just fell in love with the place.”
It was spiritual moments like his morning on the beach that deepened
Grath’s relationship with the water, beaches, fields and forests he
evokes in the landscapes which have made him one of the region’s
foremost artists. He calls it satori -- the Japanese Buddhist term for
This month, art-lovers will have a chance to share Grath’s sense of
satori through an exhibition of 25 new paintings at the Circa Estate
Winery in Leelanau County. The month-long exhibit is hosted by winery
owners Margaret and David Bell, who happen to be collectors of Grath’s

Eloquent and thoughtful with a sense of humor as dry as a fine merlot,
Grath, 73, and his wife, Pamela (owner of Dog Ear’s Books in
Northport) live on a seven-acre farm north of Leland near the Happy
Hour Tavern.
“It’s totally secluded,” he says. “Our house is located quite a way
off the highway, so we don’t hear any traffic. It’s like stepping back
into the 1800s. We have a stream running by our property and it’s very
His home is in harmony with the moodful landscapes he creates in his
studio/gallery, David Grath Fine Arts, located at 104 Grand Ave. in
Grath has an interesting approach to his oil paintings. It’s much in
the preparation, soaking up impressions of a landscape, to be
re-imagined back in his studio.
“I don’t paint on the scene of a landscape,” he says. “Instead, I go
to a place I’m interested in and look at it again and again -- I may
make up to 50 trips.
“Then, I take my impressions and my most salient experiences back to
my studio and I paint what I recall. If I paint on location, I tend
to be too inclusive -- adding stuff the painting doesn’t need, like
telephone wires. A good painting involves excluding what isn’t needed
and keeping what’s important.”
On that score, Grath likes the transitions between the elements that
shape the land, such as the ever-changing shape of a shoreline, or the
place a forest meets a field.
“The thrust of my painting is essentially landscapes, but also the
great forces that shape the land and the water… I don’t include
architecture, birds or people -- you’ll never find a sailboat in my
work,” he says.
“I also like that intermediate place in between that hasn’t quite
become either water or shoreline yet, such as a bog. I like the idea
of a place where the water and the land haven’t made up their mind yet
on what they’re going to be when they ‘grow up.’”

In addition to his Leelanau haunts, you’ll find Grath at his studio on
an island 50 miles north of Tampa, Florida for four months each
winter, where he is also immersed in nature.
“There are only three or four houses on the island and no condos,” he
says. “But there are huge stands of sea grass, swamps and bogs. I
produced 34 new paintings there last winter.”
By the way, you can see those paintings exhibited in wide-ranging
locales. Grath has agents in the art capitals of the world and his
work is represented in Northport, Leland, New York, Paris and London.
As for his roots, Grath grew up in Detroit and St. Clair and attended
Eastern Michigan University, U-M, and Michigan State University, where
he received his Masters in Fine Arts. He began teaching art at the
college level at the tender age of 23 (as young as some of his
students) at the University of Arkansas and at Western Michigan
“I taught for a dozen years, but then quit 25 years ago to pursue
painting full time.”
But none of that would have happened if it weren’t for another funny
story concerning his youth. Let’s end with that:
“When I was 15 years old, I had a little studio in the attic of our
home,” he says. “Well, one day we moved, and when we got to our new
home, my father said he’d thrown all of my painting stuff out in the
alley during the move -- he wanted me to become a lawyer. And I said,
‘well I’ll show him -- I will become an artist.’ I’ve been making a
living as a painter ever since.”

David Grath’s new oils will be exhibited at Circa Estate Winery
through October. The winery is located at 7788 E. Horn Road, Lake
Leelanau. A reception is planned for Sunday, Oct. 3 from 5-7 p.m.

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