2007-09-13 / Scene

Three artists on the move

Rosemary Arnholt rarnholt@laview.net

By Rosemary Arnholt
VIEW News Editor
LAPEER —The themed “On the Move” show at the Lapeer Art Association display at Gallery 194 is gearing up to roll out of town Sept.22.

That theme is close to the life experiences of three of the dozens featured in the show. Watercolor and oil painter Maxine Fichtner, who joined the LAA this spring, is showing her work for just the second time at the gallery. She sold the only two paintings she brought to her first showing earlier this year, a feat that brought her much enthusiasm for the association and gallery.

“The opportunities it gives artists of all ilks, is fantastic,” she said.

Maxine, of New Baltimore, dabbled in art but found it hard to fit it into her life after marrying and raising a family. Then in the 1980s she became a co-owner with her daughter of a dance studio in Chesterfield Township. Maxine created the scenery and was a general “gopher” while her daughter was the instructor, she says.

Maxine retired in 1999 after 12 years with the studio, moved to Florida in 2000 and renewed her interest in art.

“I took classes everywhere” she said, including Cadillac, where she moved for awhile before settling near her daughter in Lapeer this March. In June, she saw the Lapeer Celebrates Art on the streets of Lapeer, and asked local writer Wally Green where she could take classes. He suggested the LAA.

It took several reversals in Renee Badertscher’s life to bring her photographs to the walls of Gallery 194.

And now,”When I look through the lens, the rest of the world goes away,” she says.

The Lapeer Township photographer’s work is on display because she has time after retiring this year as a teacher of homebound students for the Lapeer Intermediate School District.

Before teaching (she has two degrees) for about 10 years, she earned a master’s degree in social work which she turned into a career as a psychotherapist, specializing in grief counseling. She closed her practice after an illness though, and went into the homebound program. That career change and her husband’s death while on vacation in 1981, shaped who she is today, she said.

Renee became more interested in photography in the late 1980s, but didn’t have time to pursue it as a more than a hobby. She did travel on her time off, though, and began trading up her cameras to take better photos of her trips. That eventually led her to a digital camera for a trip to Hawaii, and while the jump from hobbyist to artist wasn’t overnight, the results are on the walls of Gallery 194.

Renee still considers herself a “serious amateur.”

“I went to workshops, and do a lot of listening to photographers,” she says. Some of her mentors include photographers Al Charnley and Dale Vronce and Dale’s wife Dorothy, who does his matting and framing.

Photographer, sculpture and art adventurer Dean Elkins has been a member of the LAA for around 15 years. His photography portfolio includes vintage cars with a focus on specific details, landscapes, travel photos and abstracts such as mirror images.

“It’s design versus chaos,” he noted.

He sculpts in wood and one work at least, includes a removable part. He’s also been known to make kaleidoscopes, pysanky eggs and lately he’s been writing music.

Elkins was raised on a Minnesota farm, spent some school time in Chicago, was in the Navy for four years, then finished college in Arkansas with a major in social sciences. He returned to Chicago for some seminary time and when he realized he wasn’t going to follow that path, began working in the shoe industry in Chicago.

It was while in the Navy that he picked up photography as a way to take travel photos. He then joined a camera club in Chicago.

In the late 1970s or early 1980s, he journeyed to Lapeer to visit an old college roommate. However, the man was tied up temporarily but rang up “someone he knew” to keep Dean occupied. That blind date was Judy Smith, an Oakdale Center employee, who became Judy Elkins in December 1983. She is now an occupational therapist in Caro and is a great supporter of her husband’s work and vision. His old college friend who played cupid lives just a few blocks away from the couple.

After moving to Lapeer, Elkins worked for nine years with an Oakland County firm that made circuit boards, then was employed by Molex until his job was eliminated, forcing him into an early retirement. In his spare time, Dean had joined the Flint Lensmen Camera club and continued to hone his photo taking skills. Just before Christmas 2006 he purchased his first digital camera, he said.

While he’s learning all the ins and outs of digital, he’s also picked up another interest, composing songs. “The crazy thing on that is; a lot of my heart is on the non-visual — a little bit of music,” he said.

For a sample, check out his website www.geocities.com/jadelapeer.

“On the Move” Rolls out of town to make room for “All in Good Taste,” which runs from Sept. 29-Nov. 3 at the LAA. “Taste” features vessels and utensils for food and drink plus kitchen and dining items or photos of items. Art works are made from glass, wood, clay, metal fiber, basketry and more.

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