2019-02-09 / News

Renovated Visitors Center Awaits Artists for New Residency Program

By Stephanie Fortino


Dominick Miller in the new kitchen in the artist apartment above the Mackinac Island Visitors Center. Mr. Miller is marketing manager for Mackinac State Historic Parks. Dominick Miller in the new kitchen in the artist apartment above the Mackinac Island Visitors Center. Mr. Miller is marketing manager for Mackinac State Historic Parks. With sweeping views of the Mackinac Island harbor and Fort Mackinac, the newly renovated and public gathering space on the second floor of the Visitor’s Center will be the perfect setting for the state park’s new Artist in Residence program. It will allow painters, writers, photographers, musicians, sculptors, composers, and creators of art in every medium the opportunity to live and work on Mackinac Island. Mackinac State Historic Parks accepted applications for the program through the end of January, and those selected will be notified by February 15.

For the past several months, the state park operations crew has been renovating the space in the Mackinac Island Visitor’s Center, which previously served as a Coast Guard lifesaving station. From its perch across from Marquette Park, the apartment has one of the best and most unique views of the Island, said Mackinac Island State Park Manager Sue Topham.

The Artist in Residence program is a joint effort between the state park, Mackinac Arts Council, and Mackinac Island Community Foundation. A jury representing all three organizations selects the artists. The state park wants the entire Island community involved in the program, which seeks to bring art and demonstrations to the public.

Each artist is required to offer a public program or workshop during their stay. The programs can be held in the meeting space adjacent to the artist apartment, at the Richard and Jane Manoogian Mackinac Art Museum across the street, or at another venue, depending on their art form.

Artists who create work in any medium were considered for the program. Each participant will reside here two to three weeks, from June 10 to October 6.

Within a year of their stay, the artists will also donate a piece of artwork to the state park’s collection. The pieces will hopefully be inspired by their experience and will ideally relate to the Island. Those works will be displayed at the Manoogian Mackinac Art Museum.

The project came together very quickly, and the renovations were mostly done in-house by the state park crew, Mrs. Topham said. The apartment is finished and the meeting room will be completed later this winter.

The apartment features a bed, seating area, kitchen, bathroom, and laundry facilities. While some of the furnishings are new, some items were donated, including a pair of armchairs that were from the Iroquois Hotel. The Chippewa Hotel also donated a meeting table that will be used in the public space.

The bed frame was actually refurbished from an old bed the state park had in its collection, which was previously used in the Governor’s

Summer Residence. The queen canopy bed was actually too large to fit in the apartment, Mrs. Topham said, so carpenters John McClure and Bill Pechta made the frame smaller. They also repur- posed the bed’s posts to make a desk for the administrative office in the Post Hospital Building.

Mrs. Topham selected the other furnishings, including stools for the kitchen counter, light fixtures, and paint color to make the space warm and inviting.

In the hallway that connects the apartment to the meeting room, two new coat racks adorn the wall. Instead of hooks, the racks feature a variety of door knobs that came from Fort Mackinac, Mrs. Topham said.

Yet to come in the meeting room are photography displays that are being developed by Deputy Director Steve Brisson, which will feature historic photographs of the building when it was used as a Coast Guard Station. The building was built in 1915 and was used by the Coast Guard until the 1960s.

On the waterside of the building, a new staircase was built that the public will use to access the meeting space. Historically there was a porch and a door there, making the addition appropriate for the structure.

The building also features a new fire suppression system, and it underwent asbestoses abatement during renovations.

The Richard and Jane Manoogian Foundation donated the funds to complete the Artist in Residence project.

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