TRAVERSE CITY — It’s difficult to not care about water when you live in Michigan.

That universal passion for the Great Lakes inspired the theme of an exhibition at Higher Art Gallery, said Shanny Brooke, gallery owner and director. The show is the first of what Brooke hopes will become an annual fundraiser for various local organizations.

“This is my first year doing this and I felt like something pertaining to the Great Lakes would be something everybody cares about,” Brooke said.

The beneficiary of this year’s show, Artists for FLOW, is the organization For Love Of Water.

“I ended up going with FLOW (as the beneficiary) because I feel like they’re really fighting hard and the whole thing with Enbridge and the pipeline — we need them doing what they’re doing,” Brooke said.

Enbridge’s Line 5 carries 23 million gallons of crude oil and natural gas liquids daily between Superior, Wis., and Sarnia, Ontario. Part of the line — in place since 1953 — cross the bottomlands of the Straits of Mackinac. The Canada-based owner, Enbridge, has a plan to relocate the infrastructure into an underground tunnel.

Environmental advocates, tribal representatives and elected officials across the region have come out to oppose the continued flow of petrochemicals in the Straits — with or without the tunnel.

The exhibition, which features 26 pieces from 19 artists, opens to the public Oct. 12 and runs through Nov. 5 during the gallery’s regular business hours.

Tickets for an Oct. 11 opening night event sold out earlier this week, Brooke said. More than 100 tickets were sold, with proceeds exceeding $3,000 — all of which goes to FLOW, she said.

All artwork is for sale with price tags ranging from $200 to $3,600, Brooke said. FLOW gets a portion of art sales — 20 percent opening night and 10 percent through the rest of the show, she said.

“We were just absolutely so honored to be selected as the beneficiary for this particular event,” said Liz Kirkwood, FLOW executive director.

The money FLOW receives will be used to launch the organization’s Art Meets Water campaign, “a platform for artists of all (mediums) to share their love, their passion, their sorrow, their deep messages and hopes for the future of our lakes for our children and the legacy that we will leave behind,” Kirkwood said.

Whether the world as it is today will exist in 20 years is a personal concern of Carol Greilick, one of the exhibition’s artists.

Greilick said she likes to use her photography as a way to challenge longstanding or established perceptions and offer alternative views.

Her piece in the show uses frozen water and local plant life, she said. The metaphor she hopes to convey is that there are important things frozen in polar ice caps and elsewhere on the planet, Greilick said.

“As a photographer, I have a personal goal of having an impact on people’s viewpoint,” she said. “So I’ll be interested to talk to people and find out whether or not my work and the metaphor that I used actually was successful.”

“This is my first year doing this and I felt like something pertaining to the
Great Lakes would be something everybody cares about.” Shanny Brooke, gallery owner

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