The Art of Winter: Creators replenish, rejuvenate in off-season

Like many local residents, Door County artists are meeting a second winter of COVID-19 with a combination of concern, varying degrees of self-isolation and some sense of weariness and fatigue. But the pandemic is also an opportunity to focus on making art. For some, it’s alone in the studio; for others, it’s a mix of in-person or remote collaboration.

Several artists collaborated last year – sometimes in person, sometimes remotely. Sally Everhardus, Deborah Rosenthal and Mynn Lanphier created drawings, emailed them to the others and then had a three-way phone call once a week throughout the fall and winter.

“We plan on maintaining that over the winter,” Everhardus said in an email. “Great to keep the pressure up on making art and then catching up on the phone. None of us liked Zoom.” 

Cheryl Stidwell Parker of Baileys Harbor plans to spend two or three days a week painting in the farmhouse where she holds her annual portrait exhibition – depending on the driveway condition.

“I am thinking it will be better this year because most people stayed by themselves last year and didn’t interact,” she said. “I had a little group who did a critique every month in each others’ homes.”

Shan Bryan-Hanson, an art curator and painting instructor at St. Norbert College, is doing a painting a day for 30 days – inspired by butterfly conservatories and Dutch floral painting – and she invites others to join her.

“Rather than paint butterfly houses themselves, I wanted to lean toward this idea by creating paintings of floral arrangements, which are similarly carefully crafted reproductions of nature, with butterflies and other insects in them – looking toward the traditions of floral paintings in art history for inspiration,” she explained by email. (Some of her delicate, nature-inspired paintings are on display in the Door County Community Foundation’s gallery through the end of December.)

Ginnie Cappaert

Ginnie Cappaert, a painter who runs an eponymous contemporary-art gallery in Egg Harbor, plans to paint steadily throughout the winter.

“I had such an awesome year throughout all my galleries, and I am low on inventory, so I have pretty much locked myself in my studio, and I’m glad to be there,” Cappaert said of the eight galleries across the county where her work is shown, including her own. 

She will drive out to Santa Fe for the month of March, as she has done for years. She rents a place with a large studio, takes her paints and boards in her van, and settles in to work. Because her paintings are done in multiple layers of oil and cold wax, she usually has five to 10 works going at one time so that she can maintain her momentum while the layers dry.

Dan Cross, an artist who also runs Idea Gallery in West Jacksonport, will kick off the winter of work with a two-week intensive studio with five other artists, including Ginnie Cappaert. All will work in the gallery, which gets stripped to the walls. Then for the rest of the winter, he will work on his own creations: digital paintings and mixed media using textured cement on cradleboard or canvas. He figures he can paint into April, when he begins preparing the gallery for the season.

Dan Cross with a textured-cement painting.

Around the county, artists are making plans but leaving room for change, depending on health alerts. Nancy Sargent said she will continue painting throughout the winter.

“I meet with my sister, Andrea Jauquet, and paint in her workshop once a week,” she said. “I try to make it a habit of attending a Zoom critique sponsored by Peninsula School of Art on the first Friday of every month.”

Rebecca Carlton at Juddville Clay has been working on a piece about the world’s languages for several years. During December, she has been using a studio with a high ceiling at Peninsula School of Art to assemble it and work out the bugs. She’d like to exhibit it at the United Nations or perhaps the Planet Word Museum in Washington, D.C. 

Given the latest news on a surge in COVID-19 cases, she and her husband, Tony Staroska, plan to stay isolated, as they did last year.

“I don’t know if it’s more paranoia or legitimate, but you just have to keep working,” she said.

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