October 2007.  "Sunset Silhouette," tapestry by Kristin Majkrzak.

Featured Artist: Gene Usimaki

The headline says “Featured Artist” so we should start with Gene Usimaki’s art. It’s the logical place. It’s what defines her, and outside of those she loves, her primary interest, and yet, from the perspective of the Arts Council and Alberta House, it’s a small part of the story.

Gene is both an artist and a craftsman. In addition to her painting, she has worked with silk screening and hand made paper, and is a long time member of the Eastern Upper Peninsula Craftsmen, the LeSault Artists Guild, the Sault Area Arts Council and the Olive Craig Gallery Board. One of the earliest members of the Sault Area Arts Council in 1969, she was one of the people who conceived of and organized the first Sault Summer Arts Festival. For many years she both helped produce and appeared in the Sault Summer Arts Festival. She has won every prize in her exhibiting categories, (most of them more than once) including the Best of Show Award, the Painting Award, the Watercolor Award (they used to be separate), the LSSU Purchase Award (no longer given), the Edison Soo Fine Arts Award (no longer given), the award for the Best Use of Color (no longer given), and the Aarre Lahti Design Award.

She won the New Discovery Award and the Award for the Best Portrayal of Light in the Algoma Fall Festival. In various juried shows in Alberta House she has won two Honorable Mentions, a Best of Show and a Third Place Award. She exhibits regularly, most recently last month with the LeSault Artists Guild and in a solo show in the Mini Gallery in November of last year. She is versatile and ever creative.

From the earliest days of Alberta House, Gene did everything. She managed the shop, staffed the office, hung the exhibits, ran errands, purchased supplies, shoveled the steps and cleaned the bathrooms. If it needed to be done, Gene was there to do it. When we were applying for grants, Gene was there late into the night helping to sort and staple and stack all the required copies. She was part of the “staple parties” for our first newsletter, way back when we were meeting at the Chamber of Commerce, and furnished illustrations in the days we had to paste them in. She has juried exhibitions and festivals and has had many years experience as a teacher. She has always been generous with her time and determined to get the job done, whatever the job happened to be. She was absolutely essential to the successful launch of Alberta House. She was also one of the first to get behind the idea of an arts auction to help pay the costs of running the arts center. The framed, original watercolor she has donated for this year’s auction is at top of the table below.

Works by Gene Usimaki
Click on a thumbnail to see a larger version.

"Superior Sunrise," watercolor by Gene Usimaki.

"Superior Sunrise," Gene's auction donation

"Fantasy in Fuchsia," watercolor by Gene Usimaki.

"Fantasy in Fuchsia"

“Moose Repast,” watercolor by Gene Usimaki.

“Moose Repast”

"Annecy Alley," watercolor by Gene Usimaki.

"Annecy Alley"

Last updated: October 1, 2007

Sault Area Arts Council Home Page 217 Ferris Street, Sault Ste. Marie, MI 49783
e-mail: saac@saultarts.org Phone: (906) 635-1312