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Studio 23 celebrates the arrival of the tall ships with a special exhibit

July 12, 2016       Leave a Comment
By: Pati LaLonde

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Craig Merchant of Grand Rapids uses nature as a muse for his artwork.
Merchant's Bay Bird fit Studio 23's exhibit theme to a tee.

Beauty - and fish - are truly in the eyes of the beholder.

Case in point - While walking down an alley one day Bay City artist Chandra Jewell spotted a pothole. But her mind's eye didn't see a hole in the ground, it saw a fish. Quickly snapping a photo, adding some other elements and welding it to corrugated metal, Jewell had a piece that fit into Studio 23/The Art's Center latest exhibit.

"I took a photo and started creating from there," said Jewell. "From that point, there is no rhyme or reason. It's a hobby, seeing interesting shapes on buildings, adding other elements and turning them into different things."

Chandra Jewell

Called the Tall Ships Exhibit, Jewell is one of 30 artists who will be exhibiting work for the exhibit, which runs from July 14 through Aug. 16.

The opening reception is 5-7 p.m. July 15 at the studio, 901 N. Water St. Coming from all over the state, each piece was chosen for its artistic merit and skillful execution, says Garrett Wedlock, curator of arts and exhibits.

"When selecting the artwork, I was looking for work that went beyond just the theme of tall ships and really looked at the experience of what it would be like to be on a tall ship for an extended period of time," said Weslock. "The works being presented take on all different kinds of themes and experiences. There will be mermaids, animals, abstracted water scenes, boats and anything else that you can think of that one might encounter while on the water." However, Jewell's second piece is definitely about tall ships.

"I was lucky enough to be out on the bay when they (the tall ships) were coming in three years ago," she said. "I didn't want to take photos like the others. I used a slower capture speed. It looks like a ghost ship. The ship looks almost blurry, looks like it is going through a fog and ghostly on the water. I added the elements from the sky and inverted them so the water looks like the sky."

The opening at Studio 23 isn't Jewell's only opening that weekend. She is hoping to have her new photography studio, located at 2145 Third St., open for business as well.

Craig Merchant of Grand Rapids will be showing a piece called Bay Bird. "It's technically a Kingfisher," he said. "But it has really long legs. I saw an image of it (Kingfisher) and modified it to my own. It's basically a bird standing in water."

Merchant, who has exhibited in Grand Rapid's ArtPrize, has been into art since he was 7 or 8 years old, working with his grandmother, who is also an artist. Growing up in the wilds of Birch Run, Merchant found plenty of places to nurture his love of nature and put that to canvas.

"Most of my work is somehow animal related," he said. "I grew up around nature." Exhibit hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday, and noon to 4 p.m. Saturday.

The Tall Ship exhibit is only one of the many events happening during the July 14-17 Tall Ships Celebration. Check it out at

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Pati LaLonde

Pati is a freelance writer with experience in all things pertaining to Bay County, Michigan.

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