Letters

Letters 05-02-2016

Facts About Trails I would like to correct some misinformation provided in Kristi Kates’ article about the Shore-to-Shore Trail in your April 18 issue. The Shore-to-Shore Trail is not the longest continuous trail in the Lower Peninsula. That honor belongs to the North Country Trail (NCT), which stretches for over 400 miles in the Lower Peninsula. In fact, 100 miles of the NCT is within a 30-minute drive of Traverse City, and is maintained by the Grand Traverse Hiking Club...

North Korea Is Bluffing I eagerly read Jack Segal’s columns and attend his lectures whenever possible. However, I think his April 24th column falls into an all too common trap. He casually refers to a nuclear-armed North Korea when there is no proof whatever that North Korea has any such weapons. Sure, they have set off some underground explosions but so what? Tonga could do that. Every nuclear-armed country on Earth has carried out at least one aboveground test, just to prove they could do it if for no other reason. All we have is North Korea’s word for their supposed capabilities, which is no proof at all...

Double Dipping? In Greg Shy’s recent letter, he indicated that his Social Security benefit was being unfairly reduced simply due to the fact that he worked for the government. Somehow I think something is missing here. As I read it this law is only for those who worked for the government and are getting a pension from us generous taxpayers. Now Greg wants his pension and he also wants a full measure of Social Security benefits even though he did not pay into Social Security...

Critical Thinking Needed Our media gives ample coverage to some presidential candidates calling each other a liar and a sleaze bag. While entertaining to some, this certainly should lower one’s respect for either candidate. This race to the bottom comes as no surprise given their lack of respect for the rigors of critical thinking. The world’s esteemed scientists take great steps to preserve the integrity of their findings. Not only are their findings peer reviewed by fellow experts in their specialty, whenever possible the findings are cross-checked by independent studies...

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.

HOW I GOT STARTED

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.

THE STORY BEHIND MY ART, MY INSPIRATION

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.

WORK I’M MOST PROUD OF

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!

YOU WON’T BELIEVE

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.

MY FAVORITE ARTIST

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.

ADVICE FOR ASPIRING ARTISTS

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.

MY WORK CAN BE SEEN/PURCHASED:

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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