Tap Door County's Artsy Spirit
Explore Door County's rich arts heritage in hands-on studios, theaters, galleries and festivals.
At Hands On Art Studio in Door County, Wisconsin, gold, red and blue tiles for mosaics fill jars like jellybeans in a candy store. Owners Cy Turnbladh and Karen Ohm are used to seeing customers wander around their two-story barn with the same look of wonder that kids have when surrounded by sweets. Would-be artists choose from projects such as including fused glass, metal sculpture, mosaics and ceramic pieces.
When I visit Door County, this place tugs me as strongly as Lake Michigan sunsets; both swirl with the promise of color and pattern. At the Fish Creek studio, I've placed tiles for mosaic mirrors and used a blowtorch to create swirled glass beads. I always leave knowing I have created a souvenir that will kindle good memories. I also have a fresh appreciation for the artisans who have made this region famous for art and music that reflect the peninsula's beauty and spirit (handsonartstudio.com).
Here are more favorite Door County arts destinations:
Woodwalk Gallery In Egg Harbor, sunlight stripes through weathered barn boards and illuminates large dreamy paintings by owner Margaret Lockwood as well as other artists' pieces, like jewelry and funky chandeliers. Musicians-from instrumental trios to Celtic players-perform periodically; check the website for the current schedule (woodwalkgallery.com)
Edgewood Orchard Galleries Piles of pebbles invite visitors to stop and stack a cairn while strolling 80 acres of woods dotted with art and sculptures (edgewoodorchard.com). More sculptures-plus paintings, drawings, furniture, glasswork and jewelry-fill this Fish Creek gallery, housed in a 1918 stone fruit barn.
Peninsula Players America's oldest professional resident summer theater performs comedies and classics. Go early to grab a drink and watch the sunset before show time in the open-air theater on the wooded lakeshore halfway between Egg Harbor and Fish Creek (peninsulaplayers.com).
Northern Sky Theater A few miles north of the Peninsula Players' theater lies Peninsula State Park Ampitheater, a rustic stage beneath the stars and towering pines. It's home to Northern Sky Theater, formerly known as American Folklore Theater, which specializes in original and (usually) Wisconsin-theme musicals (northernskytheater.com).
Peninsula Music Festival Northwest Wisconsin's professional Symphony Orchestra performs nine classical concerts, including some of Hollywood's most iconic music, the opera Don Giovanni and Russian orchestra pieces. Concerts are held in August at Fish Creek's Door Community Auditorium (musicfestival.com).
Birch Creek Music Performance Center By day, advanced young musicians ages 13 to 19 are taught by nationally recognized performance artists and educators; by night students and teachers perform at public concerts. Though Birch Creek musicians perform throughout Door County, try to attend a concert on the campus, an old dairy farm with a beautiful new rehearsal hall and renovated "concert barn." birchcreek.org
DIY If Door County's creative vibe leaves you yearning to learn, check out classes at the wooded campus of The Clearing, a folk school that's been teaching the likes of painting, photography, woodworking and writing since 1935 (theclearing.org). Other solid picks: Peninsula School of Art in Fish Creek (peninsulaschoolofart.com) and The Sievers School of Fiber Arts on Washington Island, a ferry ride from the northern tip of Door County (920/847-2264).
Lisa wrote The Dakotas Off the Beaten Path. She also wrote Day Trips from the Twin Cities.