Michigan Part 3

Charlotte and I traveled the area looking for art galleries. We wanted to see what Michigan artists were creating and, perhaps, find galleries that might be interested in carrying our own artwork. As would be expected, we found many galleries carrying art that reflected the region, with varying degrees of quality of execution. We were pleased to discover some galleries featuring high quality art.

Here is Charlotte at Sleeping Bear Gallery in Empire, MI that carried her transformed organ pipes. For Charlotte’s website, click here.

One of the largest galleries in the region is Synchronicity Gallery in Glen Arbor.

We spent a bit of time in Leland, MI, which is where I spent eight summers working to earn money to pay for my university education – an undergraduate and two graduate degrees. I waitressed at the Bluebird Restaurant, a popular, family-friendly restaurant with a reputation for great food, especially Lake Michigan white fish. It was so popular that we would stop taking reservations for weekend dining on Thursday! I worked really hard and played really hard! It was a wonderful place to work. I and the other waitresses lived in the apartment above the restaurant.

The restaurant is located on a river, so patrons can arrive by car or boat in from Lake Leelanau, an inland lake. The dining capacity has greatly expanded since I worked there.

The restaurant has been operated by the same family since 1927. I worked for Leone Telgard, her son, Jim, and daughter-in-law, Nancy. Now, one of Leone’s grandson’s , Skip, manages it. His older brother, Cris, operates a Mexican import shop in town. When I first worked there, Leone’s grandsons were seven and eleven. Now they are sixty-six and seventy! I was able to connect with Nancy, Skip and Cris and enjoyed reminiscing with them about when I was there in the 60’s.

Nancy Telgard and sons Skip and Cris.

Pictures from the mid-60’s: on the left are some of the waitresses in front of the player piano next to the jukebox in the dining room. On the right is Jim Telgard with waitresses behind the bar.

Left: L_R: Diane, me, Linda, and Nancy

Bluebird website

Leland is located on Lake Michigan and is small like other towns in the area. It has a winter-time population of 377 which grows many fold during the summer with summer residents and tourists. The commercial section of Leland takes up two blocks on Main Street. There is no stop sign or traffic light on Main Street. The harbor has been upgraded since my time there and attracts pleasure boats navigating the Great Lakes.

Leland is known for its quaint, historic fishing harbor, “Fishtown,” where commercial fisheries maintain shanties and dock their fish tugs. Many of the old shanties are now gift shops.

Once we arrived in Fishtown, Charlotte remembered that she and her late husband had stayed at the Falling Waters Hotel forty years ago.

Frames around which fishnets were strung to dry
Smoke house on the right

I used to take a hunk of bread and a beer and get fresh smoked chubs and sit on the dock and enjoy lunch. Yum!

Below is a Fishtown scene, dated 1965, that I painted. To this day, it hangs on the wall of the Bluebird.

Another art project that I undertook one summer was to make silkscreened posters. Mark Carlson, son of one of the local fishermen, and I made and sold collectable posters advertising the Bluebird and his father’s fishery. We charged $5 per poster, and after paying for expenses, we each made $50 on the sales!

Charlotte and I took our search for art into nearby counties and discovered another outdoor sculpture display. The Elk Rapids Art Walk, more modest in scale than the Meijer Gardens, is set in a woodland park. It was very pleasant strolling the trails along the beach and through woodland settings to view the sculptures.

(The orange Honda was our vehicle for the trip.)

After visiting Charlevoix, we returned to Traverse City and visited the Village at Grand Traverse Commons, a unique collection of shops, boutiques, galleries and restaurants in a cluster of cream-colored brick buildings in a Victorian-Italianate style surrounded by 140 acres of beautiful wooded grounds and a botanical garden. The buildings date to 1885 and were constructed as part of the Northern Michigan Asylum for mental patients. The main building is 1/4 mile long.

From the website: At the time of its completion, The Northern Michigan Asylum served 39 counties, including all of the Upper Peninsula, and almost immediately there was demand for additional patient rooms. Starting in the 1890s, standalone cottages  were constructed to serve the increasing patient population.

Just as Building 50 was segregated, so were the exterior cottages. Cottages to the south were for the men and the cottages to the north for the women. Cottages also provided spaces to separate patients from the larger population based on severity of condition, age or illness. For example, Cottages 19 and 20 were patient infirmaries, the “hospitals within the hospital” for patients recovering from surgery or contagious diseases.

Founding Medical Superintendent, Dr. James Decker Munson, had a very progressive philosophy regarding the treatment of mental patients.

Munson, believed If patients were surrounded by a beautiful environment, from the architecture to the campus grounds, their emotional and mental state would be uplifted. He made an effort to ensure that patients felt at home rather than trapped in an unfamiliar place. Use of physical restraints was forbidden, except for the most extreme patient situations. Meals at the hospital were served in dining rooms on fine china glazed with the State Seal atop white linen tablecloths. Fresh flowers and plants decorated dining tables & resting areas. Artwork and inspirational sayings adorned the walls of the wide hallways.

Renovation began in 2002 to preserve and repurpose the buildings. Today 30% of the project is completed and renovation continues.

Charlotte and I visited the 4 story, main building where we found interesting shops, boutiques, and restaurants on the ground floor.

It was as we began looking around that we met a delightful woman, Lucy, who offered to answer any questions that we had. She then offered to give us a tour of the upper stories of the building, which are residential, and to tell us about the renovation. We gladly accepted her offer!

These photos show you before and after views of the wide corridors.

Today, the residential units are condos, many used for AirB&B’s. Lucy invited us to see her unit, located in the attic. It was a spacious and well designed space with quality details and interesting angles. Some of the historical features were maintained like exposed brick walls.

This is Lucy in her kitchen. It had a very high, angled ceiling and skylights. She revealed to us that she was 92 years old, absolutely loved her condo unit, and her secret for good health was a tablespoon of cod liver oil daily and an exercise routine. We marveled at her enthusiastic attitude toward life!

Lucy was expecting a visit from her son and had made three batches of cookies. She insisted that we each take a cookie from each batch! We agreed that Lucy was one of the highlights of our trip!

On the return trip, Charlotte and I marveled at how well the trip had gone. We had perfect weather every day, experienced interesting art, met friendly people, had comfortable and clean accommodating, and great food. And our timing was right on – we left the area feeling we had seen everything we set out to see.

Charlotte did all of the driving, insisting that she preferred driving to navigating. I managed to get us to where we were going fairly well. I had maps on my lap and my new, first smart phone to help. I am grateful that Charlotte has a great sense of humor when it came to me leading her off track requiring U turns and backtracking on a number of occasions!

I still have the hankering to travel, just haven’t decided where next.

3 thoughts on “Michigan Part 3

  1. chewygrapenuts

    JOAN!!! This is such a great blog. I’m living it. The Blue Bird, the Asylum, your poster, all of your pics, the art, I believe that is you seated with the servers, and Lucy!!! What a great trip. So glad you are still hankering, next time count me in (please). Xoxox B

    Sent from my iPad

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    Reply
  2. Steven I Cohen, MD

    These have been wonderful. As good or even better than we’ve come to expect! Thanks for sharing and opening up the world a bit more. S

    Sent from my iPad

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    Reply
  3. andyatcoa

    These images bring back to me my time in Michigan, both in the 1940’s when my family occasionally rented a vacation house, and later in 1954 when I went to Camp Miniwanka. ag

    On Mon, Jun 28, 2021 at 7:34 PM Travels with Joan wrote:

    > JWH posted: ” Charlotte and I traveled the area looking for art galleries. > We wanted to see what Michigan artists were creating and, perhaps, find > galleries that might be interested in carrying our own artwork. As would be > expected, we found many galleries carrying a” >

    Reply

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