Lines & Lyrics

Some people paint pictures with the written word. Others do so with a paintbrush in hand.

Members of the Northeast Michigan Artists Guild have taken a dual approach by melding both poetry and art into a new exhibit at the Besser Museum. Called Lines & Lyrics, the premise behind the exhibit involved members selecting favorite lines of poetry and then interpreting them through their art.

The end result, now hanging in Trelfa Gallery, features 30 works in a variety of media and accompanied with the lines that inspired them.

“A couple of years ago we did another exhibit regarding poetry and art. In that case, we selected one poem and each person was given a line of the poem to interpret,” said NEMAG member Judy St. John, who coordinated the current project. “We really enjoyed that, but we wanted more freedom, so this year we decided to let each artist select their own poem.”

Song lyrics, considered a form of poetry in their own right, also were included along with more traditional poetry.

“We thought we ended up with a really great variety,” St. John said. “Some people picked poems that are really well known and others picked obscure things. Some picked traditional songs and some new songs. Some even wrote their own poetry.”

St. John was among those who opted for the words of well-known poets, including Robert Frost’s quintessential “Stopping By the Woods on a Snowy Evening.” She completed her mixed media piece based on Frost’s work during the long winter months in Northeast Michigan. Because each artist was permitted up to three entries for the exhibit, she also chose song lyrics from a Judy Collins song entitled “Fallow Way.” It too conjures up images of winter.

Marilyn Bachelor took the Joyce Kilmer classic poem, “Trees,” and rendered a whimsical mixed media piece she called “Poetree.” The poem’s rhyming words are tucked into the branches of her imaginative tree.

Artist Stephanie LaFramboise opted to interpret lyrics from the Billy Joel song, “Allentown.” While Joel’s song lamented the closing of factors in a Pennsylvania steel town, it could just as easily apply to a shuttered factory in Michigan, which LaFramboise adeptly depicted.

Artist Mary Alice Comar penned her own verses of poetry, then created large, impactful mixed media pieces to accompany her writings. Others gained inspiration from stalwarts William Butler Yeats, Alfred Lloyd Tennyson and Robert Frances as well as Bob Dylan and even the “Star Spangled Banner.”

“Visitors seeing the exhibit have been impressed with the variety and quality of the art,” said Besser Museum Director Chris Witulski. “Many have been amazed that these are all local artists. The level of quality is really something people should come out and see.”

The exhibit will be on display now through Aug. 3, with an open house reception planned for April 25 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. The reception is open to the public.

NEMAG artists participating in the exhibit are Stephanie LaFramboise, Judy St. John, Shirley Glowinski, Marilyn Bachelor, Karen Jonker, Diane Evans, Marilyn Olree, Ellen LaCross, Mary Alice Comar, Sisty Behmer, Karen Cracchiolo, Dahris Wilson, Sharon Rickard, Jean Stewart, Kathryn Cubalo, Carol Chisholm, Dodi Lance, Polly Cook and Maureen McWilliams.