With a variety of locations for artists to display their work or teach classes – such as Art Reach of Mid-Michigan in Mount Pleasant, Studio 23 in Bay City, and Imagine That! in Midland – as well as an assortment of “do-it-yourself” art shops, the Great Lakes Bay Region is becoming a nurturing hotbed for artistic talent. Below is a glimpse at a few Mid-Michiganders who are putting their talents and love of art into action.
When it comes to art, Tyslicky is a little bit of a rule-breaker.
“I kind of enjoy doing things that people don’t think you can – like mixing colored pencils and graphite,” she says.
She draws just about anything that inspires her – her family, animals, items she finds outside; however, much of her art is inspired by rocks. Combining wood burning and colored pencil, she crafts one-of-a-kind pieces of art depicting beautiful stones; she fashions wire-wrapped jewelry from polished rocks she picks up; and, she creates detailed colored pencil and graphite drawings of rocks that appear so realistic you’d think you’re underwater seeing the sunlight glint off of them yourself.
Tyslicky says that when she sits down to create a piece, she has an idea of where it will go, but remains open to artistic shifts.
“I mostly draw in very detailed, realistic type stuff, but I do it in such a way that I let accidental process take over,” she says. This artwork by Julie Tyslicky will be featured in Bay City on the Rail Trail for the next two years.
Two of Tyslicky’s pieces from a collection titled “Journey of Stones” will be featured in Bay City’s “50 Artists.”
“They choose two of the drawings. One gets put in the Studio 23 50 Artists show in October. The other gets reproduced and put out on the Rail Trail for two years,” Tyslicky explains.
In addition to creating art, Tyslicky also teaches at multiple locations across Mid-Michigan. Just as she enjoys bending the rules with her own art, Tyslicky enjoys teaching her students the rules so they can bend them too.
“I like to center on teaching people how to use their tools so they can go out and do their own experimental processes,” she says. “Once they know how to use the tools, it’s pretty much limitless on what you can create.”
To find examples of Tyslicky’s work and keep up with her latest creations, look her up on Facebook.
Tiahrt’s passion for woodworking began a little later in life, after he retired. Now, after doing it for about eight years, the 76-year-old says he could do it all day, every day.
“I love it; it’s so relaxing,” Tiahrt says. “You get nervous, you get upset, you go out there - and it’s quiet. You see something you’ve done. It’s total relaxation for me.”
Tiahrt is a nature-lover at heart, and that comes through in his artwork. He primarily works with antler and wood that can be found in Michigan, which he harvests himself and uses to create keychains, pens, bowls, cribbage boards, and other items.
Frank Tiahrt demonstrates how one of his hand-crafted pens works.To craft a single bowl can take upwards of a year, says Tiahrt. The process begins by finding the perfect tree and cutting the logs from it, putting wax sealer on the log and doing a rough turn to shape the bowl until it’s about 1 ½ inches thick. At that point, the bowl goes into a paper bag with wood shavings and sits in the basement for about a year. This process helps ensure that the bowl won’t crack once it is thinned out and finished. After a year, the bowl can be turned again, sanded, and finished.
For Tiahrt, the wait is worth the reward of seeing his creation come to life, though.
“[I enjoy] being able to take a log and make it into something useful and, in my opinion, beautiful,” he says. “Being able to show the grain - to me - it’s striking to see how the grain looks from the tree into a bowl.”
Tiahrt’s work can be found at ArtReach of Mount Pleasant.
VIRGINIA “GINNY” CRANDALL
When you walk into Crandall’s home, it quickly becomes apparent what her medium for creating art is: fabric. From beautifully crafted pillows on her couch to artistic wall hangings to quilted fabric boxes, there are hand-crafted fabric creations at every turn. Crandall even turned her coat closet into a storage area for sewing materials since she spends the winters down south and no longer needs the space to store coats.
“I’m a fabric artist is how I like to put it,” says Crandall.
Crandall’s passion for fabric art took off after she retired from teaching in 1999; however, she has always has an interest in it.
“My mother was a sewer and I grew up with fabric,” she says. “So, rather than paper, I’d rather use fabric.”
While she creates everything from table runners to pillows to journal covers, Crandall’s specialty is creating what she calls “sheer fabric collages” with ice-dyed fabric that she makes herself. Virginia Crandall looks through a few of her sheer fabric collages.
The collage is a free-formed picture created from various types and layers of fabric that comes together to create a small wall hanging. Crandall sometimes embellishes these wall hangings with buttons or hand-sewn beading as she sees fit. The ice-dyed fabric is – in short – created by immersing fabric in sodium carbonate water, then removing it from that mixture and covering it with ice. Once it’s completely covered, it is sprinkled with dry procion dye. As the ice melts, the dye disperses, resulting in a one-of-a-kind tie-dye pattern.
“No two pieces are the same,” Crandall says.
She takes her art on the road to various Craft Shows. It can also be found at ArtReach of Mid-Michigan and Imagine That! in Midland.
Space planned to be an artist when she went to Kendall College of Art and Design after high school; however, she didn’t plan to have a career in pottery.
“I was a commissioned portrait artist,” she says.
That changed when her son decided he wanted to try out pottery. Space’s cousin worked at a pottery studio, but wouldn’t allow her son to be in the studio without his mom present since he was young at the time.
“She said, ‘Well you can’t just sit there.’ She gave me a lump of clay and a book with instructions to make an ocarina (a clay whistle),” Space says. “And I made the final cut for the hole and I blew into it and it made a sound. Everyone in the studio stopped and my cousin ran over and said, ‘I couldn’t get that!’ So, I knew I was stuck.”
That was about 20 years ago.
“I can’t stop,” Space says. “I stopped doing pencil portraits.”
Kathryn Space works with license plates to create one-of-a-kind pottery.Now, Space creates a variety of pieces; but, one of her specialties involves a technique that she stumbled upon using license plates in which she lays the license plate on a sheet of clay and rolls it through.
“I get a raised image of the plate in the clay,” she explains.
At that point, the clay goes through its first firing process. Then, Space brushes it with glaze, after which she gently wipes off the raised areas with a sponge, creating an almost metallic look on the license plate imprint as the clay body gets darker during the second firing process.
Aside from creating pottery, which can be found at ArtReach of Mid-Michigan, Space also owns Space Studios in Midland. There, she teaches and has a Glaze Bar for the public to come in and paint their own pieces, which are crafted by local potters.
While their mediums of art may be different, all four of these artists are united by a common reason for creating it: passion.
“When you’re in the creative line, nothing else matters,” says Space. “You’re just enjoying this flow of creativity flowing out of you, through your hands, and it’s not even like it’s you doing it.”