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A Sampling of Midwest Cabin Country ART

Simply Beautiful
By Richard Thomas
Published: April 19, 2010
Cabin owners are the patrons of regional art. If it weren’t for vacation homes there’d be a lot of starving artists out there, and if it weren’t for the artists, cabin walls wouldn’t be nearly as interesting.

Many seem to prefer rustic, hand-crafted traditional art, but even a piece made with technology (be it digital photography or chainsaws) can have an earthy folk appeal, so long as it’s a labor of love.
But why ask why? You know what kind of art you like. It’s as simple as that.
Here’s a sampling of artists whose work can make a cottage feel as inviting as an old friend.

Photo by Dave Kober
Dave Kober
Fish Decoys
Traverse City, Mich.

Collectors are passionate about Kober’s work, as he’s regarded as one of the masters in the field. Decoy carving is a tradition that dates back to the 1890s in his family. No two pieces are alike because of the distinct characteristics of each piece of wood.

Photo by George Potvin
George Potvin
Knife-maker and Blacksmith
Bark River, Mich.

Potvin started blacksmithing when he was 13, inspired by his great-grandfather’s workshop. He makes handmade knives, actually forging the steel himself – plus ornate latches, hooks, wall lamps, fireplace tools, decorative sculptures and much more. George’s wife, Maureen, runs the Ten Mile Creek Forge, Pottery, Lighting & Gift Shop, which features the works of more than 45 local artists.

Photo by Bill Vienneaux
Bill Vienneaux
Chainsaw Sculptures
Washburn, Wis.

Vienneaux’s yard and workshop is a wonderland filled with magical creatures: trolls, dragons, wizards, sea maidens, rocking horses, giant mushrooms, totem poles and anything else his imagination dreams up or a customer requests. Be sure to check out the village he created called Woodhenge.

Photo by Jim and Sue Vojacek
Oulu Glass
Glass Crafts, Stained Glass, Glassblowing Workshops
Brule, Wis.

Jim and Sue Vojacek have been in the glass business since 1967. Their famous mushroom-shaped shop has been an attraction in itself for three decades. During summers, they do glassblowing demonstrations
at Renaissance fairs and run a store in Bayfield, Wis.
Photo by Amy Loberg
Fiberwild Knit Shop
Knit Clothing, Supplies, Designs, Classes
Galena, Ill.

Knitting is in Amy Loberg’s family genes. “I picked up needles in 1990 and haven’t set them down
since,” she said. In 2004, she chucked her engineering job in Chicago and with her husband, Sean, opened shop in picturesque Galena, Ill. They sell patterns by Amy and finished products by local and Midwest knitters.

Photo by Jennifer Szczyrbak
Jennifer Szczyrbak
Driftwood Sculpture
Moose Lake, Minn.

The painter discovered a new medium in 2002 when
her husband “left me too long at the beach.” While waiting she found driftwood similar to antlers. With more pieces she laid out a life-size moose sculpture. She makes animal sculptures of all sizes – based on both her own designs and special customer requests.

Photo by Collin Clough
Collin Clough
Hand-carved Wooden Birds
Grand Rapids, Minn.

Clough grew up in the Illinois River Valley where duck decoys were almost as numerous as ducks. He started as a bus driver, but his hobby became his career. Using basswood, he carves detailed, life-size subjects – from hummingbirds to pelicans.
Phone: (218) 326-1755

Photo by Evans Flammond, Sr.
Evans Flammond, Sr.
Northern Plains Indian Art
Rapid City, S.D.

An enrolled member of the Rosebud Sioux/Lakota Reservation of South Dakota, Flammond has been an artist since age seven. His uncle, a Santee Sioux mural painter, encouraged him to carry on the tradition. He works in diverse but traditional forms: painted robes, hides and feathers, as well as war bonnets; sculptures and beading.

Andrew Knudson
Wildlife and Western-themed Paintings and Sculptures
Towner, N.D.

A former champion rodeo cowboy, Knudson grew up in North Dakota admiring the paintings of Charles Russell and Frederic Remington. Since 1993, he has painted everything from portraits to murals, using a variety of mediums including canvas, feathers, and deer and moose antlers.

Photo by Lloyd Cunningham
Lloyd Cunningham
Underwater Photography
Okoboji, Iowa

The cold, clear water of Lake Okoboji in northwest Iowa, with its high visibility, is a draw for scuba divers. For more than 10 years, photojournalist Cunningham has explored the historic treasures in its depths, from lost ships and cars to abandoned structures.
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