Saying goodbye to an old friend
Art's Corner with Miriam Pickens
By Miriam Pickens
I used to volunteer at the Copper Country Community Art Center (CCCAC) in Hancock, and there was this one painting that drew comments from everyone who saw it. It was a portrait of an older gentleman in a plaid flannel shirt, looking straight at you with a toothpick and the real brim of his baseball cap protruding from the picture. I was always worried that someone would knock the toothpick off, but that didn’t happen.
One day, an older man walked into the gallery, a friendly sort who says hello with a twinkle in his eye. I know I stared at him for at least a minute, and then announced, “You’re Paul Osmak, the man in that picture with the toothpick.”
He smiled and said yes. I was so glad to meet him. I had been admiring his work for over twenty years, since the day my daughter, around ten years old, chose a painting of his to bid on at one of the auctions at the Omphale, when it was a gallery in Calumet.
Cynthia Cote, director of the CCCAC, remembered first meeting Paul Osmak at the Omphale, back in 1992, when the CCCAC Gallery in Hancock was just getting started.
“He always participated in exhibitions at the Omphale and donated to our fundraisers there, and was a consistent member of the CCCAC,” Cote said.
As a Calumet artist, he also saw the importance of the Omphale, a Calumet Gallery, and took opportunities to support it through donations.
Paul Osmak was a born and raised in Calumet, and he worked on the Oar Boats in Lake Superior. Before serving in the military, he studied at what is now called the Detroit Center for Creative Studies. His paintings represent local scenery, and one of his favorite subjects was his church, St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church in Calumet.
He painted that beautiful building from the same view in all the different seasons, different times of the day or evening; but always with the deep rich colors and extraordinary detail that were evident in so many of his paintings.
“He tried to capture the way life felt here”, Cote said.
Osmak did have two shows at the CCCAC, and always participated in events at both the CCCAC and the Omphale Gallery. His friendly presence and generous spirit will be missed. Almost 95 years old, he passed away on Dec. 17, but his artistic legacy lives on in homes like mine, because my daughter, probably 10 years old at the time, recognized a treasure in his work.
Art lovers in the Copper Country were delighted to hear that a private donor volunteered to fund the Finlandia Gallery in the Finnish American Heritage Center. It is such a valuable resource for our community, displaying work from artists local and international.
The first exhibit of 2023 will be “Word Count” by local fiber artist Bonnie Peterson. The show will run from Jan. 9 – Feb. 15, with an artist Reception on Thursday, Jan. 26, 7-8:30 p.m..
The Gallery on 5th in Calumet will be exhibiting Winter tapestries by Beth Jukuri from Saturday, Jan. 14 until Feb. 4. Jukuri is a fiber artist from Chassell whose whimsical depictions of women having fun together in the outdoors are well known in the Copper Country. There will be a reception with the artist on Jan. 14 from 2-5 p.m..
During most of January, the CCCAC will be closed, but it will reopen on Saturday, Jan. 28 for the reception of Animal Life, Art from the Kalevala. This show runs in conjunction with the Heikinpäivä festival, the famous mid-winter celebration.
Both the Finnish American Folk School and Sew Cranky on Quincy Street in Hancock will be offering Finnish and snow themed classes for the event. Jim and Harri Kurtti will be offering a Finnish Cookie workshop on Wednesday, Jan. 25, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the Finnish American Heritage Center. The class fee is $20, and advanced registration is required. You can register online or by phone, 906-487-7549 until Jan. 22, or when spaces are sold out.
Ginger Alberti of Sew Cranky will be hosting a Snowflake Challenge from Jan. 12 to Feb. 2. Participants of all ages and skill levels can learn to sew a pattern on a black felt square with one of those cool antique hand cranked machines. These will be entered into the contest with cash and gift certificate prizes! Stop by the store for more details. Sew Cranky is open Monday through Saturday, 1-6 p.m.. The big event on Saturday, Jan. 28 will have the Tori Market at the First United Methodist Church and the Finnish American Heritage Center, and games on the Quincy Green between those buildings. It’s so nice to have all these festivities back in Hancock!