We often talk about the uniqueness of a community and the importance of leveraging those assets regionally. Well, the Keweenaw Peninsula is an outstanding example of doing just that by highlighting its history, through its art. By taking advantage of the rich resources in the region such as copper, driftwood and beach stones, artists are able to translate the past into exquisite pieces of art. They have locally connected through their artwork to highlight their rich heritage and define the region as a mecca for artists.
The Keweenaw Peninsula is only one of many places where there are active artist communities in the Upper Peninsula. The U.P as a whole has a rich enclave of artists, making it an attractive tourist destination. With help from the National Endowment for the Arts, an Upper Peninsula Art Map has been created to guide travelers on an art trail of galleries and studios through the U.P. A total of 126 venues are included with the heaviest concentrations in Marquette, Escanaba, Houghton-Hancock, Calumet and Menominee. There are other galleries along U.S. 2 and still others off the beaten track.
Bringing history alive through art and creating local connections through artwork, brings home, once again, the importance of arts and culture in helping to define the kind of communities we want to create in the 21st century.
Colleen Layton is Director of Policy Development for the Michigan Municipal League. She can be reached at 734.669.6320 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.