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Welcome to the Ontonagon Artist Collective!

Updated: May 30, 2023

Greetings from the shores of Gitche Gumee! For those who don’t know what or where Gitche Gumee is, it is what the Native American Nations call The Big Water aka Lake Superior. We are from a small village in the westernmost part of the Upper Peninsula, called Ontonagon. Fun fact it is the only place on earth with that name!! Legend has it that a young Native American girl was washing her bowl in the river, and she dropped it, losing it in the strong current crying out “Nind Onagan”! “Lost Bowl!” I can see how she could easily lose her bowl in our chocolate milk river. Yes! It truly does look like chocolate milk.

ontonagon artist collective

Our claims to fame are many; that chocolate river, the gorgeous wild Porcupine Mountains with fabulous hiking, skiing and Music Festival (voted best State Park in the nation for 2023!), picturesque Lake of the Clouds, and fabulous sunrises AND sunsets over Gitche Gumee and lest I forget, our National Treasure, our gigantic copper rock sitting in the Smithsonian to this day!

And let me not forget our people, we are one of the original melting pots as people flocked to the area from all over the world to search for that abundant copper in our area. Warm friendly and inviting is the vibe up here.

My name is Kate, and this is my very first blog post. Eeeeks! Nervous?? You Betcha! What the heck am I doing thinking that others will want to read about me and the other fabulous gals that have a passion for the arts and our village? Well, we have an OVERFLOWING amount of passion for the arts and this place we call home, and we want to share it with you.

I hope you will follow our journey as we take the plunge into the world of nonprofits for the arts. Follow us as we chronicle our ups and downs in making art a priority for our small town. I, and 4 others started this organization in September of 2023. Meeting each other for the first time on a whim when I put out a post on social media looking for people interested in the arts and artistic opportunities for our small town. At first only two showed up but then we held another meeting and 3 more showed up, then 8 or 9. It is always hard to put yourself out there with a dream, but I did find my tribe!

We saw that it was going to take a village to bring more art to our area. We wanted to be inclusive of all that could contribute or benefit from what we were trying to accomplish, hence collective. We decided that we would call ourselves Ontonagon Artist Collective, OAC for short. In hindsight, we probably should have used a shorter name!! We were off and running, the ideas that flowed from those initial get-togethers were astounding! So much enthusiasm and creativity just washed over each of us and filled us with optimism and excitement.

The group is dynamic and ever-growing with a new board director joining our ranks just a couple of months ago. Welcome Jill! (We have room for more if interested!!) Each of us brings to the table a wealth of differing life experiences and talents that make OAC stronger and wiser and unstoppable.

In fact, in our first four months, we hosted several events: a street chalk art event for Maxwell Days, and a scarecrow building activity at the fall festival in Greenland very own first-class chef “Coco” offered a well-received baking class and created a smashing inaugural gingerbread house building- decorating contest. We host an exercise class weekly; led by roller derby queen Tisha, our President. Body Flow is suitable for all ages, sizes, and shapes, a get-together that builds stronger bodies and strong community connections. We can’t wait to bring it back outdoors in June, it’s always better exercising by the water! We also host a monthly book club that explores books about the UP and beyond. Cherri has made it a welcoming, inviting respite for friends and soon-to-be friends to gather. All this could not have been made possible without the mad skills and tenacious spirit of Gladdie, who undertook and promptly jumped through any hoop that was thrown her way to get us our non-profit status. Hurray! We are official!

Our goal for this blog is to keep you updated on what we are doing, hoping that you will join us sometime by partaking in an event, or by volunteering at an activity we host.

We are partnering with the Village of Ontonagon, and other non-profits in the area to bring

you fabulous programing that will enrich all our lives. We want to see Ontonagon return to a vibrant, bustling, charming community of yesteryear.

Our blog will be about watching our journey as we try to navigate the growth of our organization, info about the arts and artists in our area by showcasing their works in public places, Jill has already secured our location at a local coffee shop so we may highlight an artist-of-the-month. We are still looking for our forever home so that we can hold classes and have a gallery. (If you know a space that would be perfect let us know.)

We will be sharing what we learn about the executive challenges of a non-profit, gathering ideas from our readers of the blog of what they would like to see by way of programing in our community, getting local artists noticed by people that come to our area. And of course, to beg for money by people that have a giving spirit and wish to see more arts in the world.

Upcoming blogs will include individual introductions from our board members, artist topics such as “Is it art or a craft?” “Why art is so important to the financial health of a community?” some art terminology that trip many of us up like “Is it modern or contemporary, abstract art?” We hope that it is an informative and joyful spot to spend some time with us.

Well, that is all for now. Please follow us on social media and share with anyone you think might like to hear more about us.

Take care, until we can meet on the shores of Gitche Gumee, where friendships are made, and passions can flourish.

-Kate Globensky, Vice President

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