Letters

Letters 07-27-2015

Next For Brownfields In regard to your recent piece on brownfield redevelopment in TC, the Randolph Street project appears to be proceeding without receiving its requested $600k in brownfield funding from the county. In response to this, the mayor is quoted as saying that the developer bought the property prior to performing an environmental assessment and had little choice but to now build it...

Defending Our Freedom This is in response to Sally MacFarlane Neal’s recent letter, “War Machines for Family Entertainment.” Wake Up! Make no mistake about it, we are at war! Even though the idiot we have for a president won’t accept the fact because he believes we can negotiate with Iran, etc., ISIS and their like make it very clear they intend to destroy the free world as we know it. If you take notice of the way are constantly destroying their own people, is that living...

What Is Far Left? Columnist Steve Tuttle, who so many lambaste as a liberal, considers Sen. Sanders a far out liberal “nearly invisible from the middle.” Has the middle really shifted that far right? Sanders has opposed endless war and the Patriot Act. Does Mr. Tuttle believe most of our citizens praise our wars and the positive results we have achieved from them? Is supporting endless war or giving up our civil liberties middle of the road...

Parking Corrected Stephen Tuttle commented on parking in the July 13 Northern Express. As Director of the Traverse City Downtown Development Authority, I feel compelled to address a couple key issues. But first, I acknowledge that  there is some consternation about parking downtown. As more people come downtown served by less parking, the pressure on what parking we have increases. Downtown serves a county with a population of 90,000 and plays host to over three million visitors annually...

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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