2010-07-17 / Top News

Manoogian Mackinac Art Museum Opens

By Rebecca Jaskot

The crowd at the grand opening of the Richard and Jane Manoogian Mackinac Art Museum socializes outside the Indian Dormitory on the warm summer night. Many guests viewed the museum before and after the ceremony. The crowd at the grand opening of the Richard and Jane Manoogian Mackinac Art Museum socializes outside the Indian Dormitory on the warm summer night. Many guests viewed the museum before and after the ceremony. The new art museum at Marquette Park will be a place where local artists can show their work, where Mackinac State Historic Parks can chronicle the history of Mackinac, and where children can learn, said Richard Manoogian during the dedication of the Richard and Jane Manoogian Mackinac Art Museum Wednesday, July 14. The event featured a ribbon-cutting ceremony, a first-look at the museum, and a large crowd that came to celebrate.

“This museum will be a dynamic and living part of this community,” said Phil Porter, director of Mackinac State Historic Parks, which adds the new facility to its exhibits on the Island and in Mackinaw City. It is housed in the old Indian Dormitory, built in 1838 and once housing the Island's public school.

Elizabeth Pollie stands with her award-winning painting, “Island Life.” It won the purchase award for the Manoogian Mackinac Art Museum, and she received $5,000 from the Mackinac Arts Council. Her painting was chosen above 58 other entries and will remain a permanent part of the museum collection, displayed on the middle level. Elizabeth Pollie stands with her award-winning painting, “Island Life.” It won the purchase award for the Manoogian Mackinac Art Museum, and she received $5,000 from the Mackinac Arts Council. Her painting was chosen above 58 other entries and will remain a permanent part of the museum collection, displayed on the middle level. The tri-level museum displays art pieces from early Indian gatherings to modern expressions of Mackinac life, based on a theme of how Mackinac has inspired artistic creation through time.

“For those of you who have had a chance to already enter the museum, I'm sure all you can say is 'Wow!'” said Mackinac Island State Park Commission Vice-chairman Dennis Cawthorne. “This is a fantastic addition to the community, a fantastic addition to the arts world of Michigan.”

Members of Mackinac Associates, the friends group supporting educational programs of Mackinac State Historic Parks, got a sneak peek of the museum an hour before the opening remarks, and the museum was opened for touring to the general public after the ribbon cutting.

Helen Wolfgang (left) with artists featured in the new Richard and Jane Manoogian Mackinac Art Museum, Tim Leeper, Richard Wolfgang, Diane Springel, and Molly Carroll. (Photograph by Jill Sawatzki) Helen Wolfgang (left) with artists featured in the new Richard and Jane Manoogian Mackinac Art Museum, Tim Leeper, Richard Wolfgang, Diane Springel, and Molly Carroll. (Photograph by Jill Sawatzki) The permanent collection features Native American fine and decorative art; 18th century maps of the Great Lakes region; historic paintings, drawings, etchings, and photographs; Gardiner hand-tinted prints, and a contemporary gallery. The oldest piece of art is a poetry fragment found during the excavation of the Indian Dormitory in 2009, which is 1,200 years old.

The finished museum, said Curator Steve Brisson, is the product of many people, most of them park employees, who contributed their own areas of expertise to plan, construct, and promote the new museum.

Jane Manoogian, Richard Manoogian, Mackinac Island State Park Commissioner Laurie Stupak, Comission Vice-chairman Dennis Cawthorne, and Phil Porter, director of Mackinac State Historic Parks, cut the ribbon to officially open the Richard and Jane Manoogian Mackinac Art Museum Wednesday, July 14. Jane Manoogian, Richard Manoogian, Mackinac Island State Park Commissioner Laurie Stupak, Comission Vice-chairman Dennis Cawthorne, and Phil Porter, director of Mackinac State Historic Parks, cut the ribbon to officially open the Richard and Jane Manoogian Mackinac Art Museum Wednesday, July 14. “It is just amazing what it takes to create a building likes this,” said Mr. Manoogian, following the long list of people Mr. Brisson recited.

The contemporary exhibit features 38 pieces with Mackinac Island as the subject, which were submitted by more than 20 Island artists. Each piece was submitted with a statement explaining how Mackinac inspired the artist's creation, which is hung along with the artist's name in the gallery.

Elizabeth Pollie was honored for her painting “Island Life” as the winner of the purchase award and received a check for $5,000 from the Mackinac Arts Council. In a contest sponsored by the Mackinac Arts Council, she beat 58 other entries, and her painting will remain a permanent part of the collection in the museum. The painting was also made into a poster to represent the museum.

MaryAnne Wilkinson (left) stands with Kate Levy and Don “The Duck” Andress in front of Ms. Levy's photograph, “Duck at Home.” Ms.Wilkinson chose the photograph as “Best of Show” for the contemporary gallery that features Mackinac artists. Ms. Levy has two other photographs displayed in the gallery, and her artistic statement says, “My photographic anthem to Mackinac is ignited by the ironic dialogue between past and present, which unfolds on this Island...It is through this lens that I photograph Island residents, unexpected landscapes, and truth-bending narratives, flattening time with depth of field.” Mr. Andress has a cedar walking stick on display at the museum. A similar piece of his work is at the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. MaryAnne Wilkinson (left) stands with Kate Levy and Don “The Duck” Andress in front of Ms. Levy's photograph, “Duck at Home.” Ms.Wilkinson chose the photograph as “Best of Show” for the contemporary gallery that features Mackinac artists. Ms. Levy has two other photographs displayed in the gallery, and her artistic statement says, “My photographic anthem to Mackinac is ignited by the ironic dialogue between past and present, which unfolds on this Island...It is through this lens that I photograph Island residents, unexpected landscapes, and truth-bending narratives, flattening time with depth of field.” Mr. Andress has a cedar walking stick on display at the museum. A similar piece of his work is at the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. Kate Levy was announced as “Best of Show” for the contemporary exhibit, beating 37 other pieces. She was presented an award by MaryAnne Wilkinson, art scholar and curator from Northville, who judged all of the art pieces. Ms. Levy's painting “Duck at Home,” features Don “The Duck” Andress, who is a descendant of Chief Mackinac.

Island resident Kelly Dorman poses with her contemporary art piece, “Cycling.” Her artistic statement says, “Cycling is a rotating herbarium, a beaded representation of botanical forms observed through the seasons, as well as homage to our most prevalent form of transportation - the bicycle.” Island resident Kelly Dorman poses with her contemporary art piece, “Cycling.” Her artistic statement says, “Cycling is a rotating herbarium, a beaded representation of botanical forms observed through the seasons, as well as homage to our most prevalent form of transportation - the bicycle.” “Out of all these great works, that particular one seemed to me to bring together all these ideas that you deal with as Islanders,” Ms. Wilkinson said. “Both the Native American heritage, the contemporary artists who work here, and the private life of an artist that we're allowed to just see a little bit of. It's a fascinating portrait and very, very sophisticated for such a young artist.”

The museum also offers an area to encourage new artistic creation in the Kids Art Studio in the lower level. The studio gives children the opportunity to do hands-on art projects daily. The studio will also be used after hours by the Mackinac Arts Council for classes.

The grand opening ceremony marked the finishing of a two year project for Mackinac State Historic Parks, in which time the Indian Dormitory was fully remodeled. The museum was funded by the Richard and Jane Manoogian Foundation, spearheaded by West Bluff cottagers Richard and Jane Manoogian.

“I think the real test,” Mr. Manoogian said, “was when I came over here for the first time a few days ago with my family members, including two grandchildren, nine and six years old, and nobody knew who we were and we just walked into the museum, and I couldn't believe how wonderfully the building had turned out, how very nice and wonderful the people, the summer staff, were working in the building, and we went downstairs to the do-it-yourself art center and the young children were there for over a half an hour doing drawings and paintings. So, really, that's what the building is all about, and it just really made me feel wonderful.

“Janie and I have been fortunate enough to be Islanders now for over 20 years,” he continued, “and we think this is a magical place. I think it's magical because of the island itself and the people on the Island.

“So to have a place where the artists that we have on this Island

and it's amazing how many wonderful artists we have can show their work, and the children, both visiting and the school children, have a chance to learn more about art, now have a place to go, just makes us feel very, very proud to be part of the magical island family.”

The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. through August 21 and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. between August 22 and October 10.

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