Saline's Owen Wittekindt Awarded Artist Residency At Mackinac Island

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Owen Wittekindt is going to Mackinac Island this summer. Wittekindt, a resident of Pittsfield Township, has been awarded a two-week residency courtesy of Mackinac State Historic Parks’ Art in Residence Program (AIR).

Begun in 2019, the AIR program was established to promote the creation of artworks inspired by Mackinac Island. Applicants can opt for a two or three-week residency, where they receive free lodging for the duration of their stay.

Owen Wittekindt in his studio. Image by Rebecca Wittekindt.

Before the pandemic, Wittekindt worked as a substitute teacher, and currently continues to assist his wife with her business, Bee Present Honey. Prior to moving to Pittsfield Township four years ago, he performed improv aboard cruise ships for a decade. “As a performer, I had a fair amount of downtime, and I spent a lot of that drawing,” he recalls. “It was a fun way to pass the time.”

That’s where he started stippling.

Crispness is what attracts him to the stippled mark: an ultra fine tip pen his preferred tool. Each drawing easily consists of hundreds of thousands of dots. “The dots were easier for me than line,” Wittekindt stated, “ and there are times where it’s almost meditative. A drawing can take a while, but it lets me focus and relax at the same time.”

Detail of "Pascal the Chameleon," from the from the Ann Arbor Creature Conservancy. Image courtesy Owen Wittekindt

Animals dominate his subject matter, and he’s been drawing them from an early age. His passion to represent the likeness of reptiles and other creatures attracted him to the sciences. It eventually led to a degree in biology, and a few years working in bio-chem labs.

Wittekindt is the second resident from the area to receive a residency on Mackinac Island. Katherine Downie, who serves on Saline’s Art and Culture Committee, received a residency during the program’s inaugural year in 2019. 

“It was awesome,” exclaimed Downie. “I had my bike and explored the island every day.”

A year after Downie completed her residency she was required to give a work of art to the collection at the Mackinac State Historic Park. 

“The collection has a lot of things,” noted Kathy Cryderman, Executive Administrative Assistant with Mackinac State Historic Park, “manuscripts, postcards, coffee cups.” 

Given the range of artists accepted into the residency program—which includes writers and musicians in addition to visual artists—that means the range of works given are equally as varied. 

“One artist wrote a play!” Cryderman said about recent works added to the collection.

Along with donating a work in the next year, Wittekindt will be required to give a talk or demonstration. He noted he will likely give a talk that focuses on the history of pointillism—the Impressionistic approach created by artists like Georges Seurat and Paul Signac—rather than a demonstration. His work is, after all, created with a fine pen, magnifying glass, and thousands of tiny dots. 

“Because my artwork takes a long time to do, it can be pretty boring to watch.”

Wittekindt’s residency on Mackinac Island runs June 7—20.

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Hi Readers! We'd like to begin a series of profiles about artists within the community. We don’t want to just limit it to the traditional media of drawing, painting, and sculpture. We'd also like to include fiber, glass, wood turning, digital media, installation, video, sequential art, poets, writers... you get the idea. But we need your help! Pitch us an artist in the community to profile at salinepostart@gmail.com Let us know what they—or you… you can pitch yourself—are up to in the studio, and out in the world. The goal is about one profile a month: we can’t guarantee we’ll write about everyone, but without your help, we won’t be writing about anyone. Send us those pitches, and thanks!

Binti the Giraffe at the Toledo Zoo. Image courtesy Owen Wittekindt.
Barred Owl from the Leslie Science and Nature Center. Image courtesy Owen Wittekindt.
Bedhead the Porcupine, at the Ann Arbor Creature Conservancy. Image courtesy Owen Wittekindt.
Owen Wittekindt in his booth at Art in the Park in Plymouth, 2019. Image by Rebecca Wittekindt.
Owen Wittekindt at work. Image by Rebecca Wittekindt.
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