Visualizing Keweenaw History in the Eagle Harbor Store
- Visual Arts
The Eagle Harbor Social Aid and Pleasure Club
at the former Eagle Harbor General Store in Keweenaw County, Michigan, will host a selection of innovative cultural events, art workshops and exhibitions in the summer and fall of 2016. Programs will focus on the artifacts, mementos, historical photos and ledgers in the Store’s collection as inspiration for creative responses in the arts. Keweenaw County history can be told as a story of nature, industrialization, post-industrialization, as well as the vibrant native and immigrant communities that made this rocky landscape part of the unique heritage of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Visitors to the Eagle Harbor General Store encounter this rich history in an environment shaped by memory and reinterpreted through contemporary cultural activities.
The Eagle Harbor General Store was founded in 1845 and was an important provider of groceries and dry goods to the Keweenaw area for over 150 years. During these years and though the efforts of various owners, the Store became more than just a general store, but also a repository for artifacts collected by the owners and the local residents. Items such as historic photographs, antique tools and household items, a large oar from a life-saving ship, hand carvings, and vintage toys, were displayed on the shelves above the merchandise, creating an ad hoc museum of the cultural artifacts that have shaped the collective memory of the township.
The store is now called the Eagle Harbor Social Aid and Pleasure Club, in reference to the clubs in New Orleans that sponsor Mardi Gras parades and benefit their communities. (One of the current owners is from New Orleans.) John Foley, an original founder of the Store and an active band member, celebrated his birthday every year in Eagle Harbor with a parade that marched in front of the Store.
Although the Eagle Harbor Social Aid and Pleasure Club is no longer a functioning general store, its collection of artifacts and memorabilia were preserved and are now shown in their original display cases. It is the current owners' intention to use this eclectic collection to inform the residents and visitors about the Store’s and the community’s history by using visual art as a vehicle for learning and expression. Overall, this will include workshops for children and young adults, discussions and lectures, gallery shows of artifacts and artworks, film screenings, and local musical performances.
The Eagle Harbor Social Aid and Pleasure Club presents Keweenaw history outside of an academic setting, accessible to the public through very specific activities (creating artwork, using artifacts, linking natural and cultural readings of landscapes, exhibiting artistic responses to these artifacts and landscape). The distinctive characteristic of the Store is that it is participatory; it uses artifacts and landscape in specific ways that lead to making art and contributing to a sense of place.
Professional artists and experienced art instructors Robert Ziebell and Liz Ward are the current owners and directors of the Eagle Harbor Social Aid and Pleasure Club. Robert, was raised in Michigan and is now a resident of Eagle Harbor. He is a professional art photographer and nationally-published photo-journalist. He taught photography to children, young adults, and continuing education students for over fifteen years at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Glassell School of Art. He also taught photography and video as a visiting artist at the University of Houston and at the University of Texas at San Antonio.
Elizabeth also has a long history of teaching experience with students of all ages. She is currently a full professor and chair of the department of art and art history at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, where she teaches painting and drawing. Ms. Ward developed the art component of an interdisciplinary field studies course in Western Colorado in which Trinity University students learned about history, biology, and geology through creative responses in art and poetry, an experience of particular relevance to the Visualizing History concept.
For many years, Ms. Ward and Mr. Ziebell brought students, curators, museum professionals and interested parties to Las Pozas, a surrealist garden in Mexico. Ward and Ziebell taught art and led students in creating artwork based on their experiences of the garden. Mr. Ziebell also produced an interactive virtual tour app for the iPhone and iPad based on the garden funded in part through Hatchfund:
The app for the iPad and iPhone can be found here:
Your contribution to this Hatchfund project will help launch this unique program in helping tie the humanities, history, and experience to the art making process. Through this project we will experience a new and fresh perspective of the history of the region through the ideas and talents of the participants.
More information and a program calendar for 2016 can be found here:
Thank you in advance for your help.