2011-08-20 / People

Local Artists Known as ‘the Mackinac 7’ Show Work at Library

By Lauren Gibbons


Members of the Mackinac 7 pose together for a photograph at the opening reception for their art exhibit in the Mackinac Island Public Library. Pictured (from left) are Maeve Croghan, Pat Pulte, Kitty Hannabass, Marta Olson, Nicki Griffith, and Pam Finkel. Not pictured are Catherine Brockman and Marlee Musser. Members of the Mackinac 7 pose together for a photograph at the opening reception for their art exhibit in the Mackinac Island Public Library. Pictured (from left) are Maeve Croghan, Pat Pulte, Kitty Hannabass, Marta Olson, Nicki Griffith, and Pam Finkel. Not pictured are Catherine Brockman and Marlee Musser. Island residents who have been painting together since the early 1990s gathered their work together for an exhibit at the Mackinac Island Public Library, and hosted an opening reception Friday, August 5, in a show that will run until the end of August.

The group of artists, known as the Mackinac 7, began as a collective by going to Mackinac Island’s scenic outdoor locations once a week and painting together. While the artists don’t go out to paint in groups as frequently as they used to, members say they still feel inspired by their artistic counterparts.

“It’s always inspiring to look at other people’s work, and to see their evolution. I know that I’ve been greatly inspired by this group of people,” said artist and Mackinac Island Public School’s art teacher Pam Finkel.

Ms. Finkel describes herself as a colorist, and said members of the Mackinac 7 have given her new ideas with which to use color, as well as help her through various technical issues she’s had with some of her pieces. She said the artists in Mackinac 7 have known her for so long that they know what she’s done and the direction she’s headed as an artist, and can give her constructive criticism.

“They’ve seen my evolution, so they know where I came from and I know where they came from,” she said. “They’re just supportive – we can get together and talk about it. They understand.”

All of the artists are local, residing on Mackinac Island either for the whole year or for the summer season, and have become great friends over the years. This helps because it gives the artists an opportunity to hear constructive criticism from artistic peers they trust, said Maeve Croghan, artist and owner of Maeve’s Arts.

Members of Mackinac 7 used to paint very similarly, and have since grown apart in terms of style and artistic medium, Ms. Croghan said. This doesn’t mean the artists’ involvement in the group doesn’t influence the work of the others.

“All of us have changed so much over the years in our work. We’ve all gone in different directions – none of us really paint alike, and as the artists evolve, so does the group,” she said. “It’s really a professional group of artists. There is no amateur work in here, which makes it more interesting and fun, and good for us, too.”

For artist Marta Olson, seeing the work of her friends gets her going and keeps her on task in her art.

“It’s encouraging me to keep painting. When I get busy and I see that everyone else is still painting, it’s a great support group. It keeps us moving forward and sharing ideas, and just getting out in the woods when we can get together.”

Nicki Griffith agreed, and said being a member of the group continues to help her as she grows as an artist.

“For me, it’s just a really supportive and encouraging group. It’s just been wonderful,” she said.

Seeing all of the Mackinac 7 artists’ work together in one place is one of the best parts of being involved in the group, artist Kitty Hannabass said. Originally, their main goal for the library exhibit was to get their work together in one place where the public could look at it, and that feeling hasn’t changed.

“I love to see all of the different ways that people paint, and then I like to see all the ways people who come through to see the paintings respond to them,” she said. “It’s really very interesting. We learn a lot about each other, being in a group and doing art together.”

Pat Pulte said great art is made when the painters truly appreciate their subject, and he says that is particularly true among the Mackinac 7 painters, who all have lived in a beautiful setting they love for many years.

“You have to love the scene you’re doing. You paint what you love and love what you paint,” he said. “They’re a good bunch. We’ve been doing this for a long time.”

About 50 pieces from the Mackinac 7 artists are collected together to be in the show. The collection includes a variety of oil, watercolor, colored pencil, and abstract paintings. It will hang until the end of August in the library, and people can view or buy the works until that time.

“It’s always really nice to share our work with the community, and we’re grateful to the library for allowing us to keep showing every year and sharing what we love to do with the world,” Ms. Croghan said.

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