Madeline Island School of the Arts (MISA) was conceptualized and created on the historic Sandstrom Dairy Farm by Charlie Meech. Charlie was an investment banker in London for over 30 years, before returning to the US and making his way to La Pointe, WI on Madeline Island where he spent the summers of his youth. Home again.
The night I arrived on the island, Charlie took me to the Beach Club for fish tacos and shop talk with a Superior Lake view. He talked about living in London, (one of my favorite cities) starting out as in investment banker and going on to build the largest indoor tennis center in the city. He told me he was inspired to do so because it rained too much in England for his tennis liking. At one point Richard Branson wanted to be an investor in the project, Charlie recounted with a smile. Not knowing who Branson was, Charlie told me that he turned him down.
I talked about my art education at Syracuse University, how I accidentally got started teaching, that being perpetually cold is what led me from New England to Orlando, and my current hectic travel to teach schedule. It seems we could both relate to a not so beaten path.
Mr Meech had a vision for his Madeline Island School of the Arts, he traveled the country investigating similar models like the Hudson River Valley Workshops and Sedona Arts Center before building his own on an island in the middle of Lake Superior. They have a four month season at MISA. The lake freezes, the passage becomes impossible by ferry. There is an air ice boat and eventually an ice road, not exactly reliable for workshop students.
The Island sure is beautiful and inspiring in the summer.
A Magical Place
I had the amazing opportunity to teach a five-day Paper Paintings Collage Workshop at MISA this week. To quote friend and fellow artist/creative writer Quinn McDonald “You will find this place to be magical.”
And I did.
Everyone at MISA is incredibly friendly, offering a warm welcome and meeting just about every need of the art students and guests here. There are thousands of fresh baked cookies, water, soft drinks, snacks, and more available 24-hours. From Charlie and Jenna, to the office staff, to Ceili and Lydia, the sisters who made every meal in The Barn special..this place was picture perfect.
I stayed in The Farmhouse–the only original building on campus. This two story house, with its’ wrap-around porch and apple orchard in the back, is where instructors stay. I had the three-bedroom place to myself this week, taking advantage of a full kitchen and laundry facilities.
On-campus lodging is steps away from the studios and dining area, and is adjacent to the apple orchard and meadow. Students can choose to stay in a shared room with bath en suite, a private room with shared bath en suite, or a private room with a private bath en suite.
Amazing Studio Space
The Milk House has two light filled workshop studios with expansive prairie meadow views and plenty of space for students to spread out and work. The studios are open 24 hours a day. Students often rise early or stay up late, returning after dinner to work into the night. I could see the light on in the Milk House from the Farmhouse kitchen long after I had tired out.
Something for Everyone
MISA often offers workshops simultaneously including fiber arts, mixed media, plein air painting, studio painting, quilting, creative writing and photography. This week I had the pleasure of meeting Tony Sweet and Susan who were teaching a photography workshop. One morning I tagged along on a 5:00 am shoot, which provided a sunrise palette over the lagoon at Town Park.
The photography students joined us in the Barn for meals and some came over to the workshop studio to check out what the collage students were doing. It was fun to share. Donna, in my class, came to MISA with her husband who took the photography workshop. What a great way to spend the week.
Another photo opportunity was the boat trip to the Apostle Islands arranged by the folks at MISA and available to all students, photography and collage included. We departed the La Pointe Marina at about 5:20pm and headed out toward Devil’s Island for incredible views of two lighthouses and the ice carved caves as the sun went down. This boat tour is offered weekly, definitely add it to your workshop experience and do pack a sweatshirt!
Local Art and Music
La Pointe offers an Art Walk on Wednesday nights. I went down to check out the local talent with my students. We had a nice time looking at paintings, pottery, and jewelry (and listening to live music) between the main two or three galleries in town. After all that shopping, we had to grab some local fish chowder. Refueling for another night of working late.
I’ll Be Back Next Year!
It was hugs all around on my last day yesterday, knowing I’ll be back next October made saying goodbye bittersweet. And WHY did I agree to October? I must have been thinking in terms of New England fall foliage. “You’ll have to glue the leaves back on the trees in October,” Charlie laughed. “I’ll build you a snow ramp from the front steps of the farm house to the Milk House.” Thanks Charlie.
Anyone got a coat I can borrow?
This week five of my fifteen students were what we call repeat offenders. What a fine compliment that is. Thank you, thank you! With any luck I’ll see some of you again at MISA or maybe somewhere new…
for being a part of
My Art Journey,
For more information on my workshops visit my Facebook page for a complete listing of classes. No Facebook account required.