Introducing: The Artist’s Corner

I am currently a bi-monthly column contributor to my city’s newspaper, the New Richmond News. The name of my column is, The Artist’s Corner. Each column presents some of my personal reflections on art, creativity, etc. and an up-close featured local artist.

Here are a few of the first three columns to get you going…


Artist’s Corner #1: All Art is Local & Josie Coen

Gregarious greetings! Welcome to The Artist’s Corner. Herein you will learn about interesting happenings in the local art world — and it’s a delightfully alive world at that. Our city underground is populated with writers, painters, sculptors, musicians, on and on into ad infinitum. Did you know that? Well, if the answer is ‘not really’, here is my hope that this column may inform, entertain and inspire you! Well, first thing is first – the thought of the day, courtesy of your ever deranged, local creative:

All Art is Local.

It is the responsibility of the average citizen, that microscopic specimen which composes the nation, like a particle to an atom, to keep art alive.

It is often said that all politics is local, and so it is. Likewise with all education, culture, religion, etc. If the United States of America is a living body, it is the people whom make up its vital parts: the legs, feet, arms, hands, torso, and head. If any of these conglomerations of the people should become afflicted with bouts of apathy and shirk their cultural duties, the bodily health of the country shall suffer, as if from disease.

We must, at a local level, continue to support the funding of music and art classes within our public schools if we are to expect a future nation truly appreciative of creative expression and the arts. We must find ourselves resolute to live and breathe the arts within our own daily lives, just as a citizen may read this newspaper and upon discerning the information, cast his or her vote in an upcoming election. In short, all art is local!

Speaking of local art, I believe it’s time for this week’s…


Today we are meeting with artist Josie Coen, a photographer. Josie lives a mere stone’s throw from our fair city and specializes in macrophotography (pictures of people or things skillfully taken from an extremely up-close perspective). She kindly invited me to her home and allowed me a peek at some of her work. Immediately, I noticed her photographs tend to communicate a vision not commonly apprehended by the average sight-seer. Her photographs of delightfully vibrant orchids, dangerously beautiful purple thistles, a bumblebee hunkered down collecting nectar, the in-depth intricacies of a tree trunk, and other assortments of diverse natural wonders reveal to us mysterious worlds which are always here and yet rarely ever witnessed.

Josie’s incredible pictures of real things in nature make us stop and ponder if what we are seeing is in fact, real. I highly recommend everyone go and experience Josie’s macro-photographs for themselves. One may have a chance to do so on September 7th at Amery Ale Works in Amery, WI, from 7 to 10 PM. This will be a creative extravaganza, as there will be three whole floors dedicated to art. Josie’s pictures will be on the first level, writers and poets will read aloud their writings on another, and finally a painter will be showcasing his work on the top floor. You certainly won’t want to miss this Artful Evening!

My dear fellow citizens of New Richmond, I hope you have enjoyed reading this week’s column and shall leave you with a quote from Kurt Vonnegut, which I hope inspires you to pick up a pen, brush, camera, or whatever the creative medium may be:

“Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possible can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.”



Artist’s Corner #2: The Artist Within & Steve Mireau

Hello to all and sundry! Welcome to your city newspaper’s most unconventional column, courtesy of yours truly. Did you know the most beautiful thing about being an artist is that anyone can be one?

No, I’m not lying! There are approximately 360,000 people born into this world every day; every one of them is born an artist. You may recall that when we were young we always drew pictures, made up stories, and created whole marvelous worlds out of the fabric of our own imaginations, often within the comforts of our own back yards. Only instead of calling it ‘art’, we called it, ‘play’.

Society, for whatever reasons, has a nasty habit of killing off the artist not long after he or she emerges from the confines of the crib. Our culture instills within us an adaption to one particular way of life, which desensitizes us to nearly everything. We get so caught up in the complicated web of our worldly humdrum that we forget to appreciate the little things, such as a pretty sunbeam on the carpet, a flower, or even a PB & J sandwich. This process of desensitizing is undoubtedly a blow to the creative instincts. For if life is perceived as merely average and mundane, what reason is there to be an artist? What could there possibly be to express?

Yet if human beings were to open their minds to a slightly expanded degree, they would realize that our existence is mysterious, wondrous and beautifully absurd. A child does not need to be told these things. It is only we adults whom could use the reminder now and then. For a child is always busy exploring the curious world around him, expressing himself with paintings, drawings, or whatever the creative medium may be.

If everyone upon the planet is born an artist, then everyone (if they so wish to) can potentially become one again. One must simply put in the time and dedication. True, there will always be someone whom is better at painting, writing, or playing piano than you …but there will never be an artist exactly like you, now or ever. The artist’s soul is his finger print.


Today’s local artist is Steve Mireau — a painter, musician, inspirational role model to many, and above all, an excellent human being. Steve and I go back some years. Oddly enough, we met at a funeral. We played our guitars and sang songs together with a few other musicians after the procession and have remained friends ever since. It was the best funeral I’d ever been to.

Steve performs for the public regularly, and has released his own album of original songs. The name of that album is, “Traveling”. On that album, Steve sings, and plays the guitar and harmonica. Even more impressively – he does it all from his wheelchair, as he is paralyzed from the upper chest down. He has limited movement in his arms, and no finger function at all. He performs masterfully. This is one example of an artist whom has certainly put in the due time and dedication to his art.

In addition to performing original music, he is also a very talented painter. Steve paints a variety of subjects, including beautiful landscapes, vibrant abstracts, and gorgeously rendered female nudes. Care to view or even purchase some of these marvelous creations? Just hop on down the bunny trail that is Knowles Ave. and stop in at the Ink Junki Fine Art Gallery here in New Richmond. One may also visit Steve’s website, for further information.

I will sign off with a quote from one of the greatest painters of the 20th century: “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” – Pablo Picasso.

I suppose that some of us (and this includes Steve and myself) just end up beating the odds. Perhaps we are blessed with a magnificent screw-loose. Perhaps when one creates art, the odds are with you, no matter what…




Artist’s Corner #3: The Pitcher & Jenna Wojan

Welcome back to The Artist’s Corner! To kick off this week’s column, here are a few thoughts from your local creative:

Imagine the creative mind as a tall pitcher. The pitcher becomes full, drop by drop, with ideas and sensations gathered from our experiences throughout the day or week. Inevitably, the pitcher becomes so full that it is soon overflowing! Ideas are running over the sides and it is required that one empties the thing in its designated area so as not to waste such a precious resource. So we turn to the canvas, the blank page, or the molding clay and get to work with pouring it all out. Not a drop from the Creative Pitcher is wasted, if the artist can manage it.

Soon enough we become emptied and satisfied, an emotion not far removed from something post-coital. Then a slight anxiety may ensue — “What if I remain forever emptied?” the artist asks him or herself. Yet sure enough, drip by drip, the pitcher collects its contents, often unbeknownst to us. Just by living our lives and engaging with the world, the Creative Pitcher becomes full to overflowing once more. The artist must get back to work!

This week’s featured local artist seemingly creates from a pitcher that teems from the brim…


Today we meet graphic design artist and natural born creative, Jenna Wojan. Jenna and I chatted over Bloody Marys’ this past Thursday, discussing everything from art and creativity to books, authors, and horror films. The thing which one notices about Jenna almost immediately is that she’s one of the coolest, most down-to-Earth, kind and open-minded people you’re ever to meet.

Jenna’s art is bold, striking, and bound to shake you up. It is art that is not for everyone, but only for the open minds whom will appreciate original aesthetics and a style that does not conform to status quo convention. Her art showcases an authentic and inventive mind that is not afraid to make one feel things at a visceral level.

Jenna utilizes imagery taken from fashion magazines, 1950’s pin-up girl calendars, old photographs and stills from classic films to create new visual worlds for the viewer to become immersed in. Her keen eyes, creative intuition, and expert knowledge on the elements of graphic design all play a part in the creation of strikingly surrealistic collages. Within each piece, one is instinctually drawn in by a perfectly balanced display of color, texture, tone, and movement.

My girlfriend and I have one of Jenna’s collage prints proudly displayed at home. You can too, by viewing her online portfolio ( and purchasing one of her modestly priced artworks! In my humble opinion, the world could use more creative, genuine human beings like Jenna Wojan.

As per the tradition, I shall sign off with our inspirational creative quote of the week:

“Everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” – Sylvia Plath.


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