Toward the end of a family vacation in Leelanau last summer, I came across the piece of art on this page —“Last Swim of the Day” by Jim Heiser — at Two Fish Gallery in Leland, near historic Fishtown. With the sun prepping to set over my three teenage kids, in view just outside enjoying ice cream with my own mom and dad, the image of this little guy immersed in the subsiding day’s last cast of reflective golden pink rays resonated on a deeper, familiar level.
Months later, the Northern Michigan artist shared he purposefully tries not to paint a particular person, so others can see themselves or their own children in his work. “The colors of the Great Lakes area are unique and create distinct feelings in me,” Jim notes (page 60). “Capturing the time of day and angle of the light are also important (to reflecting the feeling of place).”
Gifted pet photographer Jennifer Waters is among the first to agree. Situated in West Michigan, she excels at uncovering something more in often-seen routines, whether it’s an exuberant lab leaping off the end of a family’s cottage dock or the outward gaze of a senior canine sitting along the lake.
“We time it just right to get that really great light,” Waters says (page 20), “and for one or two hours, we just focus on having fun, so that there is joy in the photos.”
Of course, lighthouses themselves are long-rooted sources of creative inspiration for myriad artists such as Ludington photographer Brad Reed, whose father and professional photography partner Todd Reed captured shooting 113 feet up at the top of New Presque Isle Light (page 67). But intertwined in time with these beacons’ remote, solitary beauty are the intriguing chapters of their past, which are most memorably discovered in person: “The original keepers in this picture were Bill and Mary,” notes Grand Rapids area photographer Virgil Hubbard (page 68), of the interior image he collected while staying at Sand Hills Lighthouse Inn on the Keweenaw Peninsula. “And the current keepers are — you guessed it — Bill and Mary.”
Terry Pepper, executive director of the Great Lakes Lightkeepers Association in Mackinaw City, shares he thought the popularity of lighthouses was “reaching its zenith a decade ago,” but interest throughout the state has only grown (page 36). Throughout Michigan, opportunities to revel in the sights and sites of these historic beacons are ever-burgeoning as well, from guided day trips and multiple-day chartered tours to overnight stays and an array of keeper experiences.
And while delving hands-on into the duties of lightkeepers past may be the best way to uncover the stories of Michigan’s iconic shoreline posts, making waves with a pair of oars is one of the most coveted ways of immersing yourself in the wonder of the legendary Au Sable River (page 52), or annual, myth-inspired dragon boat tradition on Lake Orion (page 30).
Whether you’re drawn to reggae in the park or blues on the dunes (page 24), a haven of peaches (page 98) or bright stars shimmering on a freshwater sea (page 104), here’s to a summer full of moments that reflect warmth year-round.
With heartfelt thanks for reading,
Lisa M. Jensen, Editor, Michigan BLUE Magazine