Art takes many, many forms

Joshua Vissers/Daily Mining Gazette Artists, volunteers and owners of the The Village Gift Store, holding their work. Left to right, Karen Kautto, Barb Knapp, Amanda Rinkinen, Bill Steinhardt, Don Perrow and Payne Chassen.

L’ANSE — The new Village Gift Store in L’Anse is open for business, even as it continues to be worked on.

Blacksmiths Payne Chassen and Bill Steinhardt purchased the former Mind’s Eye photography shop next to the Village 104 Collective — which Chassen ran solo — at the beginning of the year.

Since then, they have been busy moving, renovating and growing their business, which now includes the work of 29 local artists.

Chassen and Steinhardt charge relatively little compared to many artist outlets and galleries, which charge as much as 40%, according to Chassen. She only asks $1 per day and two shifts a month of volunteer work manning the store. Artists get to keep all of the proceeds from sales of their work. More artists sign up all the time, according to Chassen.

Amanda Rinkinen is a recent addition to the store. She has taken photos of the Northern Lights for years.

Joshua Vissers/Daily Mining Gazette Brian Welsh, an intern from KBOCC working with The Village Gift Store, in front of the walls of the shop bathroom. Welsh also painted a wall near the store checkout, and is collaborating with contest winner Rion Maki on a mural for the outside wall of the store.

“Until this shop opened I had nothing to do with them,” Rinkinen said.

Now her work is on display above the mantle in the Village Gift Store’s front room. Rinkinen said working with Chassen and Steinhardt has been a great experience.

“They’re just awesome people,” she said.

Barb Knapp has been working with glass for almost 20 years. A few years ago, she started fusing glass, too. She also teaches classes at the store, which has two glass kilns.

Karen Kautto displays a selction of her hand drawings and paintings at the store, too.

Joshua Vissers/Daily Mining Gazette A couple of April Emblad’s work of “pebble art”, made from stones found along the shore of Lake Superior.

Don Perrow has been turning wood into plates, bowls, bottle-stoppers and more for more than 25 years. His wife Cookie volunteers at the store to cover his requirement for displaying his work.

April Elmblad displays her pebble art — small stones combined with ink lines to create images.

“Everything is hand-picked from the shores of Lake Superior,” Elmblad said.

Paty Morrison displays signs with hand-painted quotes and sayings, beechwood art, and refinished antique furniture.

Ben Bakewell and Eli Hildenbrand of VanderWest Builders have been working at the store since February, refinishing rooms, hanging new drywall, and — on Thursday — building a light table for the stained glass classes taught by Knapp.

Joshua Vissers/Daily Mining Gazette Ben Bakewell (right) and Eli Hildenbrand of VanderWest Builders working on a light table for stained glass work.

“The hard work, these guys do,” Chassen said.

In the front room, the carpenters built shelving above a mantle (which they also built) around an electric fireplace, which Chassen and Steinhardt then gilded.

“We just love how this big wall incorporates everything,” Chassen said, motioning at the large wall above the mantle, covered in a myriad of artwork.

The classroom space hosts classes ranging from tai chi and vocal lessons to ceramics and woodcrafts.

Above the shop and classroom space, the owners are working to refinish three short-term rentals. They’ve also stocked bikes and kayaks available for rent, with a new ramp behind the building to bring them in and out.

Joshua Vissers/Daily Mining Gazette The view from new windows that face northeast in the short-term rental units above the store, overlooking the waterfront park and Keweenaw Bay.

Soon, they’ll turn the old Village 104 Collective space into and ice cream and sweets shop, run just like the gift store.

You can contact the Village Gift Store via Facebook or call 906-524-2000 for more information.

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