Letters

Letters 10-20-2014

Doctor Dan? After several email conversations with Rep. Benishek, he has confirmed that he doesn’t have a clue of what he does. Here’s why...

In Favor Of Our Parks [Traverse] City Proposal 1 is a creative way to improve our city parks without using our tax dollars. By using a small portion of our oil and gas royalties from the Brown Bridge Trust Fund, our parks can be improved for our children and grandchildren.

From January 1970 Popular Mechanics: “Drastic climate changes will occur within the next 50 years if the use of fossil fuels keeps rising at current rates.” That warning comes from Eugene K. Peterson of the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management.

Newcomers Might Leave: Recently we had guests from India who came over as students with the plan to stay in America. He has a master’s degree in engineering and she is doing her residency in Chicago and plans to specialize in oncology. They talked very candidly about American politics and said that after observing...

Someone Is You: On Sept 21, I joined the 400,000 who took to the streets of New York in the People’s Climate March, followed by a UN Climate Summit and many speeches. On October 13, the Pentagon issued a report calling climate change a significant threat to national security requiring immediate action. How do we move from marches, speeches and reports to meaningful work on this problem? In NYC I read a sign with a simple answer...

Necessary To Pay: Last fall, Grand Traverse voters authorized a new tax to fix roads. It is good, it is necessary.

The Real Reasons for Wolf Hunt: I have really been surprised that no one has been commenting on the true reason for the wolf hunt. All this effort has not been expended so 23 wolves can be killed each year. Instead this manufactured controversy about the wolf hunt has been very carefully crafted to get Proposal 14-2 passed.

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
allergic.”

DUCK TO SWAN
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.

FIVE GENERATIONS
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
www.ducktoswangallery.com.
 
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