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 · Eye of the Beholder Michelle Hart...
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Eye of the Beholder Michelle Hart Jahraus captures Leelanau in its element

Al Parker - July 25th, 2011
Van Gogh did it. So did Monet and Renoir.
And Leelanau County artist Michelle Hart Jahraus is an outspoken advocate
of painting outdoors, or “plein air” – especially near water. Capturing
the elusive qualities of light and landscapes are fascinating to her. She
even teaches classes in the classic artistic practice.
“If I haven’t had a day near the water, I feel unfulfilled or
irresponsible,” she says with a smile. “I feel it’s sort of a
responsibility to art.”
Jahraus, who lives in Maple City, specializes in compelling landscapes of
Leelanau County, ranging from the alluring shoreline of Lake Michigan to
weathered barns and flowering hillsides. Leland’s Old Art Building, Empire
Bluffs and venerable Fishtown are some of her favorite places and she’s
captured their charm in several works.
“I like to work from a preliminary sketch,” explains Jahraus. “Then I use
Golden acrylics, by far the best I’ve found. I never work with oils – I’m

When she’s not outside working on a landscape, Jahraus can be found
bustling around inside her studio at the Duck to Swan Gallery which she
owns and operates in downtown Cedar. She shares the quaint building with
jewelry designer Liz Saile, a talented artist in her own right.
“Of course, our busiest season is the summer,” says Jahraus with a laugh.
“And that’s when I want to be outside painting. But running the gallery is
fun, too, visiting with our customers. And we’ve grown every year, except
2009 when we had a cold, gray summer.”
Putting all her artwork out for the public to inspect was initially a
little unnerving for Jahraus. “At first I was petrified,” she recalls.
“I’m a shy person and to put my paintings out there and hear the comments,
it was hard. Now I love what they say about my paintings.”
As the gallery gained popularity, so has Jahraus whose works have
generated a handful of avid collectors. She sees the same folks coming
each summer from Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, California and the Carolinas.
They travel north to see what slices of Northern Michigan scenes Jahraus
has captured.
Last year she entered one of her works – “This Side of the Manitou” – in
the ArtPrize competition in Grand Rapids. The 65-inch by 25-inch piece
captures the sunrise and sunset of life in a compelling landscape. “It’s
my ballad painting,” she says.

Born in Pittsburgh, PA, Jahraus’ family goes back five generations in
Leelanau County. As a child her family would spend summers in northern
Michigan, sometimes along East Grand Traverse Bay, sometimes on Old
Mission Peninsula. At Wheaton College she double-majored in art and
geology, giving her a solid background for many of her landscape works
that involve craggy rocky shorelines or popular Petoskey stones.
“Rocks are some of the most popular things we do,” she says. “And
lighthouses are so popular that they sell before I can even get prints
made of them.”
Several of her works are available as giclee prints, making them available
for a price that is more economical than an original acrylic painting. She
works with Traverse City’s Scott Wilson to painstakingly produce the
stunning prints on canvas. The reproductions are limited to 100 prints.
Jahraus does her own framing, often using weathered barn wood to perfectly
capture the rural scenes that she depicts. Old tongue and groove works
great, she says.
So who are the artists who inspire her?
She’s a big fan of pottery maker Julie Chai and Leif Sporck, known for his
colorful, creative ceramic tiles. “I love Maxwell Parrish, Monet, most of
the Impressionists,” she says. “And Grant Wood. People know him for
American Gothic, but he did a ton of landscapes.”
Jahraus feels especially privileged to live in scenic Leelanau County.
“I love to be a part of preserving it,” she says. “Not only do I support
efforts to safeguard our natural environment, I also portray and document
our local beauty on canvas and watercolor paper… My passion is to portray
the shores, sands and scenes that God has created and make them available
for others to enjoy and remember year round.”

For more information about Jahraus and her works, go to
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