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Finding Home Exhibition to open February 4th

The ACWL-Nuveen’s February exhibition entitled “Finding Home”, will showcase the talent of six uniquely diverse artists who have recently decided to call the White Lake area home. The artists: Nancy Armitage, Mary Jo Ernst, Denise McElrath, David and Patsy Ritter, and Kari Wilson not only found their way to this beautiful part of West Michigan they also discovered the ACWL-Nuveen shortly after moving here. The artists quickly became a part of the Arts Council family by contributing their talents through teaching, exhibiting, and volunteering their time and expertise. For some of the artists, this is the first time they have lived in the area and for others who grew up in Montague and North Muskegon, it is a homecoming. At the ACWL-Nuveen we are grateful for their talents and their willingness to share them with the greater White Lake community. The notion of “home” can have many connotations - more often than not it is meant to convey that a person is emotionally connected to the place where they live. The “Finding Home” exhibition highlights how each of these artists creatively connects and explores the world around them, skillfully translating their vision through an array of artistic mediums.

We hope that you will find your way to the ACWL-Nuveen between February 4 and March 10 to view this eclectic and stimulating group exhibition. A public reception for the artists is planned for February 4 from 5:00pm – 7:00pm. The ACWL-Nuveen – 106 E. Colby Street, Whitehall, is open Tuesday – Friday from 11:00am – 5:30pm and Saturdays 11:00am – 3:00pm.

Nancy Armitage

“My art tends to blur the lines between representational and impressionistic, attempting to give each subject a unique and colorful voice.” Nancy’s preferred mediums are watercolor and pastel, she is a member of the Great Lakes Pastel Society and former Director of Memories in the Making Art Program of the Alzheimer’s Association of Southeastern, Wisconsin. She is the originator and facilitator of SPARK White Lake a free arts engagement program for individuals with early-onset dementia and their caregivers. This program is coordinated in association with ACWL-Nuveen and the Playhouse at White Lake.

Mary Jo Ernst

MJ Ernst is a creative that wears many hats. For the past 30 years, she owned and operated a custom dress-making shop in Chicago. In addition to fashion design skills, MJ has been teaching sketching and ink classes in Chicago and at the ACWL-Nuveen for the past four years. Regardless of the medium whether it is fabric, paint, or mixed media her creations are light with a sense of whimsy. MJ recently moved back to Montague and looks forward to sharing her talent and skills with the community and encourages everyone to try something new, it is never too late!

Denise McElrath

Denise is an experienced and knowledgeable photographer whose passion for the medium started in High School when she learned how to use a manual camera and develop her own 35mm film. Her interest in photography has grown over the years to even owning and operating a portrait studio. She maintains a consistent steady practice of keeping a camera in hand while traveling and exploring nature. Denise states about photography, “It is a hobby you can love and evolve with for a lifetime.” This fall Denise started offering photography classes at the ACWL-Nuveen and has upcoming classes scheduled this spring.

David Ritter

Growing up in Ohio, David recalls that he became interested in natural history and art due to an exceptional fourth-grade teacher. This impactful encounter set the course for his life as an artist and educator. After receiving his MFA from Bowling Green State University, he was offered a teaching job at Deerfield and Highland Park High Schools in Illinois where he eventually became Chairman of the Fine Arts Program which included overseeing the Art, Music, Drama, and Dance programs. He retired from the academic community in 2004 and has dedicated his time to his studio practice, painting, sculpting, gardening, and setting up a new home in the White Lake area with his wife Patsy.

Patsy Ritter

Patsy Ritter, also from Ohio, grew up with a love for English and art. She received her undergraduate degree in English and education and a master’s in art history and an MFA in painting from the Visual Arts Program at Bowling Green State University. After graduation, she went on to teach art in numerous elementary and middle schools in Illinois. Pasty maintained her studio practice and developed her artistic skills while raising three children. She also taught visual art at the College of Lake County in Illinois and served as the Fine Arts Chairman at the Lake Forest Country Day School. Patsy worked at the day school for many years until retirement. Patsy specializes in painting using a variety of mediums and shares her husband David’s love of gardening.

Kari Wilson

Kari is an artist and educator who received her BA from San Francisco State University and her MFA from the University of Arizona. She has taught at the Northview Public Schools, Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp and is currently in charge of the education program for the Oceana Conservation District. She has also taught a variety of classes for the ACWL-Nuveen. Her primary delight as an artist is drawing and painting in both watercolor and acrylics. Her recent works draw on her extensive experience with photography to create mixed-media pieces on archival clayboard where she combines photo transfer processes and her own designs with watercolor pencils, ink, and acrylic paints. While not at her drawing board, Kari can be found exploring Michigan’s woods and waterways.


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