Letters

Letters 05-23-2016

Examine The Priorities Are you disgusted about closing schools, crumbling roads and bridges, and cuts everywhere? Investigate funding priorities of legislators. In 1985 at the request of President Reagan, Grover Norquist founded Americans for Tax Reform (ATR). For 30 years Norquist asked every federal and state candidate and incumbent to sign the pledge to vote against any increase in taxes. The cost of living has risen significantly since 1985; think houses, cars, health care, college, etc...

Make TC A Community For Children Let’s be that town that invests in children actively getting themselves to school in all of our neighborhoods. Let’s be that town that supports active, healthy, ready-to-learn children in all of our neighborhoods...

Where Are Real Christian Politicians? As a practicing Christian, I was very disappointed with the Rev. Dr. William C. Myers statements concerning the current presidential primaries (May 8). Instead of using the opportunity to share the message of Christ, he focused on Old Testament prophecies. Christ gave us a new commandment: to love one another...

Not A Great Plant Pick As outreach specialist for the Northwest Michigan Invasive Species Network and a citizen concerned about the health of our region’s natural areas, I was disappointed by the recent “Listen to the Local Experts” feature. When asked for their “best native plant pick,” three of the four garden centers referenced non-native plants including myrtle, which is incredibly invasive...

Truth About Plants Your feature, “listen to the local experts” contains an error that is not helpful for the birds and butterflies that try to live in northwest Michigan. Myrtle is not a native plant. The plant is also known as vinca and periwinkle...

Ask the Real Plant Experts This letter is written to express my serious concern about a recent “Listen To Your Local Experts” article where local nurseries suggested their favorite native plant. Three of the four suggested non-native plants and one suggested is an invasive and cause of serious damage to Michigan native plants in the woods. The article is both sad and alarming...

My Plant Picks In last week’s featured article “Listen to the Local Experts,” I was shocked at the responses from the local “experts” to the question about best native plant pick. Of the four “experts” two were completely wrong and one acknowledged that their pick, gingko tree, was from East Asia, only one responded with an excellent native plant, the serviceberry tree...

NOTE: Thank you to TC-based Eagle Eye Drone Service for the cover photo, taken high over Sixth Street in Traverse City.

Home · Articles · News · Art · Char Brickel
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Char Brickel

Al Parker - May 23rd, 2011
It’s easy to see that artist Char Bickel is serious when it comes to joy and fun.
“It’s good to keep in touch with that childhood joy,” advises the smiling Northport resident who creates evocative, handsome shadow boxes of painted silk and cotton fabric that is painstakingly cut and glued. “I loved making art as a kid and I still do.”  
Paying homage to collage, Bickel’s works draw their inspiration from the nature that surrounds her in Leelanau County and most of her works include images of animals – rabbits, fish, birds, and most noticeably, bears. In fact, her haunting image of a Juggling Bear has become synonymous with her work, appearing in a variety of her shadow boxes.
“There’s something about the shape of bears,” she says. “I’ve been doing the Juggling Bear since 1992. It’s sort of a logo for me now. To me, it reflects that you should handle parts of life in balance and joyfully.” 
Bickel’s shadow boxes begin simply with white silk that is screen printed with splashes of color. Then she cuts and glues the silk into images as simple and subtle as bears flying kites or ponies romping on a beach. The scenes may seem other-worldly, yet are rooted in the familiar. Take a closer look and you’ll see sturdy stitching linking a stone to the beach or fixing the moon in the sky.
“I like adding detail,” she says. “I like to start with a strong image first, then see something else and something else, adding details.”

AN EDUCATION
Bickel grew up near the shores of Lake Michigan in Muskegon and realized early on that art would play a major role in her life. After graduating from the University of Michigan with a fine arts degree in painting, she earned her MFA in fibers from the Cranbrook Academy of Art.
Before Bickel and her husband Steve Wetherbee moved to Northport in 1991, she taught art classes at Lansing Community College, The Center for Creative Studies, and Wayne State University. A year later, she opened Zoon Gallery (later Char Bickel Gallery) which highlighted her works in Northport for a decade before closing in 2002.
With an interest in young artists, Bickel has also taught in both Northport and Suttons Bay public schools.
She creates her shadow boxes in a studio at her circa-1890 white farmhouse atop a hill. It’s filled with all varieties of her creativity, plus the works of many of her friends and contemporary artists. On display are pieces by Angela Saxon, Sue Brightheart, Steve Toornman, Meredith Krell, Charla Khanna, Chris Roberts-Antieau, Doug Racich, Melanie Steffes and others.
Over the years, Bickel’s pieces have been displayed in dozens of galleries nationwide and the focus of several solo exhibitions, including at the Slusser Gallery at the U-M and the Ann Arbor Art Association. Many private and corporate collections include her creative works. Locally, she’s been featured at Kejara’s Bridge in Lake Leelanau and Parallel Arts in Northport.
On June 24, she’ll be the featured artist for the annual Suttons Bay Artwalk. 

SHADOW BOXES
Fans of Bickel’s work will want to be aware of her new series of 10x10-inch shadow boxes that she’ll be displaying this summer. Each will focus on a single nature image – usually a fish, bird, rabbit, frog, horse, bear or other creature. 
She’s also been busy collecting sand samples from a variety of northern Michigan beaches and plans to include tiny bottles of different sands in upcoming works.
“Art is food for the soul,” explains Bickel. “When you contemplate art, you mirror the artist’s experience; you are in touch with the universal creative imagination that breathed life into the picture. The animals and mysterious ladies who visit my pictures have also visited my dreams. They are wise, shy presences whom I try to depict in a respectful, poetic way, using a satisfying yin/yang combination of collage and painting.”
That poetic chord resonates with Sue Ann Round, owner of the Michigan Artists Gallery where 40 to 50 of Bickel’s works are always on display. 
“I would definitely say she’s a poet,” offers Round. “It’s very common for her to write a little something on the back of a piece that often brings someone to tears.”
 
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