Just past miles of rolling fields of farmland, at the northernmost tip of Michigan’s thumb, lies the little lakeside village of Port Austin. A seemingly unlikely art haven, Port Austin has developed quite the art scene. From both professional and amateur installation art, to various placemaking initiatives, Port Austin offers artistic gems throughout the community for visitor enjoyment.
Port Austin is an art scene under the radar because of the artists and aesthetes (those who love and understand art and music) that reside here. To learn more about the art scene in Port Austin we turned to a fellow aesthetes and residents, Carl O. & Brandt R. to learn more about this ever-evolving art scene. Here’s what we learned:
What is fueling the art scene in Port Austin?
More than anything, it is the people that are creating the art scene in Port Austin. Their passion for the arts and their commitment to community has served as the seed for growth. It started with the Thumb Arts Guild forming and organizing Art in the Park, then the formation of the arts collaborative/collective Mermaids Cove. The funding followed the passion. That enthusiasm spread to the wider community which took the initial seed of the idea to heart and is nurturing it along. Once Jim Boyle started the large installation art effort things really began to take off.
What makes Port Austin a good canvas?
We think that this community is ideally situated from a physical sense. Port Austin is located on the shoreline so there is the connection to water and its calming and creative inspirations. It truly is at the “end of the road”, M-53, so it is a destination. Because it is a small town you are able to personally get to know other artists and there is a strong opportunity for community engagement. Plus, a significant part of it is that there is a lack of manufacturing and agriculture. This reorients the local perspective to create experiences for tourists and travelers and with art, there will always be new work that draws people into the area. We have been working on building that effort. Creating layers of art, literally from the streets to maybe even “flying fish”, unique bike racks, to new logos for the Bird Creek Park. The goal is to create layers of surprise that delights first-time visitors and draws back those that have visited before. We want to have the art as part of the air that you breathe so that you can feel it, smell it, taste it...
What are some of the types of art you can find in Port Austin?
You can find creative crosswalks, street sculptures, bike racks, and movable chairs, in addition to the sculpture in Veterans Park, barn art projects, and many more in and around Port Austin. Beyond this, we have performance art celebrated by the Port Austin Community Players, and a monthly poetry reading called the "Bards of Bird Creek" that takes place at the Port Austin Welcome Center. Port Austin also takes part in the Thumb Studio Tour and hosts the Art in the Park event, where individuals can meet with artists and buy their work. The newest additions to the art scene in Port Austin would be the continued street art efforts, "Grid Man" and the Fifty Fish project. There's always something new in the works, so you will just have to come and see for yourself!
What do you think the future holds for the art scene in Port Austin?
The future holds great promise. With the building connections to the Detroit artist community, the construction of the new Mermaids Cove art gallery (collaborative), to the continuing success of the Thumb Studio Tour and the continued filtering in of talented, creative artists the community will evolve in new and creative ways.
Art is becoming more and more infused in this little destination town, so come see and experience the art in Port Austin for yourself!
Plan your trip:
- "American Gothic" & "Walden" by Hygienic Dress League
- Bards of Bird Creek Open Poetry Reading
- Barn Art
- "Emergency Ark" by Scott Hawking
- Greater Port Austin Art & Placemaking
- Mermaid's Cove
- Port Austin Community Players
- Thumb Arts Guild