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Painting the Past

Like clockwork, summer's approach is always marked here in Charlevoix by certain sights around the city. Whether it is the return of the sailboats to moor in Round Lake Harbor or the many fisherman trying their luck along the channel, the signs are all over that summer has come to Charlevoix.

During the summer, a small army of artists from around the region descends upon Charlevoix to make our lighthouse, harbor, or Mushroom Houses the subject of their latest artistic masterpiece. Charlevoix's rich artistic history is explored in the Charlevoix Historical Society's new exhibit Painting the Past at the Historic Train Depot. Some of the local artists featured in the exhibition are as colorful as their works of art.

Irene Harsha-Young was not only an accomplished water color painter, she was also married to the Wizard of Boulder Park, Earl Young. Irene was instrumental in Earl's buildings, as she would often use her gifts to draw up construction plans for Earl's work crew, translating Earl's whimsical visions into more buildable projects.

Rosa Nettleton was one of the most prolific artists to ever call Charlevoix home. Longtime Charlevoix residents can still remember walking by Rosa's Burns Street home and witnessing the rather odd sight of a full-sized, fully-dressed mannequin seated on her front porch; many of Rosa's paintings were of beautifully costumed Victorian women and she used the mannequins as models. Her paintings are only one of the many reasons that Rosa is remembered today; she was also a poet, costume designer, seamstress, sculptor, and historian.

Wayne Belding's pencil illustrations of Charlevoix are well known around the city, but throughout his career he was primarily employed as a commercial artist. Wayne designed several logos for different organizations. When the City of Charlevoix commissioned him to design a wordmark in the 1950s, Wayne designed his most famous logo, the curving "Charlevoix the Beautiful" that can be seen on city signs. Some of Wayne's prints are available for purchase at the Charlevoix Historical Society.

These local artists and many more are featured in the new "Painting the Past" exhibit at the Charlevoix Historic Train Depot (307 Chicago Ave.) This exhibit is open to the public and free of charge. Some of the works of art are being publically displayed for the first time. "Painting the Past" is open until July 6th, Wednesday through Sunday, 12 – 4 pm.

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