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 · Tackling MultiMedia in a New Way
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Tackling MultiMedia in a New Way

Al Parker - May 19th, 2014  

He’s no angler, but for the last three years Leelanau County artist Stephen Palmer has been lured by fish.

Using everyday items like crutches, screwdrivers, yardsticks, thimbles, and tiny tins, the retired educator has handcrafted more than 400 of the eye-catching multi-media fish since 2012.

The whimsical creations come in two major types, either fashioned from wooden crutches or using Ping Pong paddles to form the body.

Each fish is unique, formed from a stash of wooden crutches, plus dozens of bins that hold children’s blocks, Lego pieces, screwdrivers, buttons, toy soldiers, and all sorts of other everyday items.

“Each fish has a tin somewhere in it and most of them have a screwdriver,” said Palmer, who spends a lot of time visiting thrift shops, auctions and garage sales collecting items for his works.

Working every day in his spacious home studio about halfway between Suttons Bay and Traverse City, Palmer, also a glass fusion artist, typically works on about six fish at once.


I was born in Berkeley, Calif. and raised by a poet and a painter, so it was in my blood to become an artist. One of my earliest memories is being with my mom while she painted by the ocean, using our car as an easel.

I’ve always enjoyed art. When I started taking college classes, I taught myself how to do stained glass. I made terrariums and sold them to green houses. Later I made boxes, panels and more.

My wife and I had collected a lot of old items, including a great selection of screwdrivers and an old crutch. She also had a large collection of small things she used in her artwork and had collected since she was a child.

I made my first fish about three years ago.

It was more than seven feet long and had screwdrivers for a fin. I entered it into the Michigan Fine Arts Competition and it won third place and a $1,000 prize. It also sold.

Since I really enjoyed making the fish and my first was successful, I started making others – all different kinds. And now I regularly work on both glass [fusion] and fish.


I hope people will see the connection between the use of things that might otherwise be discarded and the pollution of our waterways. An annual percentage of the sales from our fish help support environmental groups.


I love working in glass and have really enjoyed making these multimedia fish and continue to evolve my technique. This year I started making two-sided fish, which are challenging to construct, but are really special. Over the next few weeks, I will send the first of these out to galleries.

I am also proud of having 40 galleries carry my work. At a gallery in Asheville, N.C., I have a collector that purchased 11 fish last year. That’s exciting!


My wife Raenette and I are a team. While we both work on our art separately, we love spending time together and working/supporting each other in our endeavors.


Alzheimer’s disease has afflicted both of my parents. My father died a few years ago and my mother, who lived with us for about five years, is now in a local care facility. One of the things Raenette and I have been doing this year is memorizing 250 famous paintings/artists. We are up to 200 and working on completing the rest.

While I have really appreciated Rothko, Hopper, and Rousseau among others, I have grown in appreciation of many others including: Modigliani, Balthus, and Hockney.


Art is a critical aspect of a successful life. The creative spirit is an asset no matter what career students choose. Creativity spawns unique ideas; learning and improving one’s own work takes thought, care, and wonder. Art opens expression and adds dimension to the quality of life.


We have works in about 40 galleries. Most of those carry my fish; many my glass. Locally, my fish can be seen at Tamarack Gallery in Omena, Round Lake Gallery in Charlevoix and at Three Pines Studio in Cross Village.

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