In 2013 a group of five Thumb area artists was lamenting that after the Thumb Artists Studio Tour in June and the popular Art in the Park event on Labor Day, there just weren’t many opportunities for artists to show sell work in Michigan’s Upper Thumb. So someone said, “We should just rent a place and start a co-op Port Austin Art Gallery.” Then they did; here is their story.
A Lively Outlet for all Things Creative
The Cove Gallery and Gift Shop in Port Austin is the product of that first conversation. Six years later, it has become a magnet to find arts and crafts from all over Michigan, especially the greater Thumb area. A few partners have changed over the years, but the basic concept is as strong as ever, with over 55 represented artists.
People from the area and tourists visiting the Thumb love the Arts and really want to support independent artists. The gallery is right in the middle of the action on Farmer’s Market Saturdays. The inventory is always of a high caliber and always changing, making it a great stop for browsing any day of the week.
Original works by painters, jewelers, potters, woodturners, fiber artists, glass artists, and just about every medium you can imagine are on display in Port Austin Cove Gallery’s bright, friendly studios.
The Cove’s Classes and Events
The last few years have brought some new directions. As well as the gallery and gift shop, The Cove offers classes throughout the year. It’s a great way to become involved in art-making yourself. Jewelry, clay, watercolor, alcohol inks are just some of the classes that have been taught in the ‘backroom.’ If you are interested, email Charlotte and ask to be put on the notification list for upcoming classes and events.
The Cove Location and Contact
If you have yet to visit the Port Austin Art Gallery, be sure to put it on your ‘to-do list. The Cove is open Saturdays from 10 am to 4 pm. Starting on May, 10 am to 4 pm Friday, Saturday and Sunday. For Summer, open every day except Tuesday. The gallery is located adjacent to the Port Austin Farmers Market on Lake Street. Phone: 989-738-0229, search Facebook: The Cove – Local Arts, or Email us at TheCove.pa
Port Austin as an Artist Colony
Efforts to make Port Austin a unique and welcoming destination seem to be paying off. The Detroit News ran an article in 2018 that noted that Port Austin had become an “Artistic Beacon” of the region. This series of investments by the Upper Thumb community, such as the nearby White Church Gallery in Grindstone City, and The Cove, looks to have resulted in more visitors trekking up M-53 for a day trip or to their Upper Thumb cottage for the entire summer. The Upper Thumb now hosts two of the art galleries in Michigan.
About the Partners
Background in graphic art and advertising. A watercolorist and clay artist, with the greatest emphasis in recent years on wheel-thrown, functional pottery. Laurie is active in community art projects and a member of the Thumb Arts Guild.
Dave retired from a long career as a dairy farmer and returned to an early love of woodturning. Dave has been active on the local school board, Port Austin Community Players, and currently serves as Vice President of Thumb Arts Guild.
With a background in Art Education and Project Management, a computer specialist. Lynne is a metalsmith for Whimoriginals using primarily copper, silver, and brass, with semi-precious stones. Newly appointed Executive Director of the Village Green in Port Austin.
Clay Artist & Painter
Jeanette also comes from a background in dairy farming and serving on various local boards and groups. In addition, Jeanette has a natural creative curiosity that pushes her to try new mediums constantly. Currently, she is exploring alcohol ink painting.
Neat Things to Do in Port Austin – Port Austin, Michigan is becoming the Art and Cultural Center of the region with its galleries, Studio Tour Weekend, Labor Day’s Art in the Park, and yearly Porch Concerts. But there is much more to see and do at the tip of the Thumb.
How Art, Kayaking and a Farm Market Saved Port Austin – Drive from any point south of the Thumb north toward Port Austin, Michigan to its tip, and you will encounter small towns and villages hanging on by a thread. Vacant storefronts, abandoned shops, and remnants of roadside stands abound in the formerly robust four corner rural villages common in Michigan at the turn of the last century.
Port Austin’s Unique Butterfly House and Gardens – The Butterfly House and Gardens give you a chance to see various Michigan species of butterflies up close and personal. The 30×50 netted house and surrounding gardens are beautifully landscaped, and many of the plants are identified. The butterflies are grown and collected in the late spring and raised for the summer season. Then, they are set free to migrate south as the season changes to fall.
Michigan Art in the Upper Thumb – Port Austin is becoming a draw for Michigan art and artists. Just down the road a bit from Oak Beach is an amazing site. An entire barn has been transformed into an Ark.