GLEN ARBOR — Leelanau County artists Jane Ditri, Mary Fuscaldo, Candace Petersen, Sue Quinlan and Barbara Reich followed in the footsteps of Canada's most famous painters when they traveled to Wawa, Ontario to paint the landscape in the plein air style.
The 2016 trip was inspired by The Group of Seven, also known as the Algonquin School, a collective of 20th-century artists formed to paint the Canadian wilderness. Three years after their own adventure, the Leelanau County artists will display their work in "The Cats on the Prowl: A Superior Adventure.” The exhibition opens with a reception with the artists today from 6-8 p.m. at the Glen Arbor Arts Center.
Ditri said the group calls themselves “The Cats” because Fuscaldo always said trying to find time to paint together was like herding cats. However, the five of them set aside nearly a week for the trip to Canada.
“The fun is in the doing,” Ditri said. “All of us paint in pastel — that’s what brought us together. We painted everyday and talked about our efforts to capture the spirit of this land of rock, water and forests.”
Ditri, who visited Wawa previously, said the women found a lot in nature there to paint — even the vegetation, like moss stuck to rocks.
“I fell in love with the scenery,” she said. “It has waterfalls, beautiful rivers and Lake Superior is gorgeous. We don’t have many waterfalls in Lower Michigan, so it was a treat. There was a lot of black rock, too.”
She said her main takeaway from the experience was learning to reconnect to her surroundings.
“It was mainly the ability to be communing with nature,” she said. “There were no people wandering through; we were there alone. We came away a lot more peaceful and had time to just be out there.”
GAAC Gallery Manager Sarah Bearup-Neal facilitates a “Talk About Art” with The Cats at 11 a.m. May 16. She said the event covers how landscape painting evolved.
“I want to talk to The Cats about their adventure and their process, but also the whole conundrum of landscape painting,” Bearup-Neal said. “The Group of Seven changed the way Canada represented itself visually.”
The conversation, Bearup-Neal said, also aims to highlight how climate change impacts the landscape.
“People want to be around beauty, natural place, but we also have a higher responsibility to support these sites,” she said.
“The Cats on the Prowl: A Superior Adventure” runs through May 26.