By Tom Jordan
When most people think of Door County art they have an image of watercolors or oil paintings of sailboats, barns and flowers. And as beautiful as these works of art certainly are, this is not the only unique art of our talented artists. Consider that within our county you can find exquisite works crafted by wood, steel, glass and even fiber. Wood.
Michael Doerr is self-taught. "I started as a wooden shipwright. Everything else I had to learn on my own," Mike explains. His shop on County M, way past the airport, is filled with exquisite tables, chairs, desks, podiums and benches. Wood shavings fill the floor of this cozy workshop. Almost all the work is on consignment and ordered from all corners of the globe. I commissioned Mike to make a chair for my wife for her birthday. She loves it. Steel.
If you happened to catch the NOVA special a few years back on "Secrets of the Viking Sword" and something looked familiar it was because most of it happened right here in Door County. Not too far from Michael Doerr's shop you will find on County MM the barn of the blacksmith Ric Furrer. His shop is filled with giant presses that pound glowing masses of metal and kilns that are so hot I had to be across the room to take some pictures. He conducts classes attracting people from all over the country. And he just finished his second NOVA special on English armor. On a cold winter day, it feels good to be in his shop. Glass
. On a whim Jeremy Popelka will demonstrate his craft by making a glass cat right before your eyes in a manner of minutes. "But," he cautions, "it will take at least a day to cool to room temperature." Jeremy and his partner Stephanie Trenchard, a fine artist as well, have run Popelka-Trenchard Glass Shop on Second Avenue in downtown Sturgeon Bay since 2000. The little cat is just a novelty. Most of the time they are creating incredible bowls, lamps, vases and urns. Their skills are so respected that they recently were hired to teach a company in Thailand how to make glass. "Fortunately Stephanie picked up the language quickly. Very handy when you need to catch a taxi," Jeremy laughed. Fiber
. If you're driving on Highway 57, just south of Jacksonport, you'll see a sign for Martinez Studios. Wence Martinez is a graduate of the National School of Tapestry in Mexico City. Sandra is fine artist, focusing on primitive drawing for over thirty years. Years ago, someone suggested that Sandra's images would work well in tapestry. Most of the fine art weavers in Mexico passed on the challenge of incorporating her images because her designs featured subtle curves that demanded patience...except for Wence Martinez. They've been together ever since, working side by side. For the past four years they have been accepted by the prestigious show at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. (And the awards and honors keep coming in.)
Each of these artists has developed a national and international following. The next time you want to buy some art that reflects the incredible character of Door County, in addition to the fabulous oil paintings and watercolors, consider something truly different.