Francis A. Silva, Schooner Progress Wrecked on Coney Island on July 4, 1874, 1875

Francis A. Silva was an acclaimed marine painter, often associated with Luminism, a style of American landscape painting characterized by effects of light in landscapes, through using aerial perspective, and concealing visible brushstrokes. In the painting, Schooner Progress Wrecked on Coney Island on July 4, 1874, this seemingly simple seascape contains complex commentary over man’s relationship with nature.

Silva was interested in the idea of nature’s power over humans. The battered hull of the sailboat Progress lies stranded on the beach on Independence Day, serving as a symbol of a failed attempt to conquer nature. In sharp contrast, the ship in the distance, with its bold sails under full wind, sails unharmed.

Here, nature and fortune work in tandem, randomly choosing who, and what, will succeed. The scene accurately depicts the remains of the lost schooner Progress.

According to contemporary newspaper accounts, there was a violent storm in the New York area on July 4, 1874, which certainly would have been responsible for the destruction of the ship.


Henry Ward Ranger, The Clearing, 1908

Henry Ward Ranger devoted his career to depicting the New England landscape in a conventional and naturalistic manner. He specialized in depicting wooded forest interiors, usually lush spring or golden autumn scenes, in which glimmering light filtered through the treetops.

A conservative who valued traditional methods, technical ability, and craftsmanship, his technique was noteworthy for its rich color and thick, textured paint. Fusing his knowledge of European art with an interest in American subjects, Ranger created distinct landscape paintings that conveyed a deep sense of history and an image of a pastoral way of life that was vanishing as America changed from an agrarian to an industrial society.

In The Clearing, Ranger depicts a small section of forest. Here, sun dappled leaves dot the slender trees. Utilizing loose brushstrokes to achieve a soft haziness, Ranger conveys an intimate connection to nature.

The exhibit “Visions of American Life: Paintings from the Manoogian Collection, 1850-1940” is on loan from Detroit Institute of Art from April 5 – May 23.


Artists are encouraged to enter their art in the annual Bonifas Arts Center Membership Show. This year, the show will run from June 7 through July 5, with an Opening Gallery Reception on June 7 from 7 to 9 p.m. with awards announced at 8 p.m.

The Bonifas Membership Show is open to all artists age 18 or older who are current members of the Bonifas Arts Center. If you are unsure if your membership is current, or if you would like to join, please call Kate at 906-786-3833.

Download Application »

Only original works may be submitted. All work must be the artists’ own design and original in concept and execution and not previously exhibited in the Bonifas Gallery. Works in any medium, traditional or experimental, qualify for entry, with no size limitations. All works on exhibition will be insured while on the premises.
All artwork must be brought in to the Bonifas during the following dates: Tuesday, May 29 through Saturday, June 2, and during Bonifas hours: Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Thursday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

A $15 nonrefundable entry fee for up to two entries will be due at the time of drop-off. (Diptychs and triptychs count as one entry.) Art can be picked up on July 6 and 7.

The Honorary Judge this year is artist and owner of Rocky Shores Pottery, Vicki Shirley. Shirley has been a practicing artist for nearly 50 years, working primarily with clay, but also with paper, paint, found objects and other materials. She started Apple Tree Pottery in Pelkie in 1973, and continued it in downstate Okemos until 2000. In 2000, she moved to the Ford River area on Lake Michigan, and has run Rocky Shores Pottery since then. Besides her studio work, she has taught pottery classes for many years, both in her studio and at the Bonifas Arts Center, and participated for several years in the Waterfront Art Festival.

The following prizes will be awarded: First Place — $250; Second Place — $150, and two Honorable Mentions — $50 each.

In addition, a new category awarded for the first time is Featured Artist Award: This award gives the winning artist the experience of a solo show, more visibility and potential sales opportunities. The solo show will be Aug. 3 – Sept. 6 in The Studio Gallery of the Bonifas. This is the ideal opportunity for the artist with a body of work to reach new audiences and gain valuable exposure.

Other awards include the Escanaba and Gladstone City Hall Awards in which selected artwork will be on display at the City Hall.

Finally, the winner of the Barb Symon Scholarship will be awarded at the Opening Reception on June 7 as well. Applications for the Barb Symon Scholarship are currently being accepted through May 22. This $200 scholarship is offered to encourage further study in an artists’ field of arts or crafts through workshops or classes.

“We are looking forward to this year’s Bonifas Membership Show. It is a wonderful way to reunite the community – artists reconnect and the viewing public is able to meet, and we expect it to be as successful and well-received by the community as past years’ shows,” says Gallery and Regional Projects Director Pasqua Warstler. “We encourage our member artists to enter their work and to connect to their fellow artists for encouragement and to share ideas.”

Gallery exhibits are sponsored in part by National Endowment for the Arts, The Addison Foundation, with patronage from The City of Escanaba, along with Bonifas members. E-mail Kate Oman for more information on the Bonifas Membership Show.


George Loring Brown, Niagara Falls at Sunset, 1861

Born in Boston, George Loring Brown traveled to Europe to study painting, often returning abroad throughout his life. Working as an illustrator and painter, he created landscapes inspired by his surroundings in New England as well as his memories of Europe.

Brown’s expansive view of Niagara Falls captures the majestic, untamable power of the country’s landscape, conveying a distinctively American spirit and identity. The artist was part of a generation of painters that celebrated the grandeur of American nature as a means of asserting a national identity distinct from Europe.

The exhibit “Visions of American Life: Paintings from the Manoogian Collection, 1850-1940” is on loan from Detroit Institute of Art from April 5 – May 23.


Party in the summer with the annual Benefit for the Bonifas: Cadillac Summer. This fun event will be on Saturday, May 19 this year at the Quality Inn, located at 2603 N. Lincoln Rd., Escanaba.

The evening’s festivities will begin at 6 p.m., and the fun will wrap up at 11 p.m. Benefit for the Bonifas tickets are $50 each and can be purchased at the Bonifas.

Along with wonderful food, drinks, a silent auction, games, door prizes, and dancing to music by the Cadillacs, the evening will feature the drawing for the Bonifas Annual Spring Raffle. Event Sponsors of this important fundraiser for the Bonifas include Delta County Credit Union, VanAire, Inc., Roy Ness Contracting and Sales, Inc. and Patrick Lindow of Edward Jones.

The Bonifas Art Center is still selling tickets for its Spring Raffle. The raffle features the following prizes: First prize—Faith Hill and Tim McGraw Soul to Soul Tour concert tickets in Green Bay, Wisconsin, an overnight stay in De Pere, Wisconsin at the Chateau De Pere, and a $100 Visa gift card; Second prize--$500 Meijer gift card; Third prize—Amazon Echo Show; and Fourth prize—Amazon Echo Dot.

“Your attendance at this event and purchase of raffle tickets not only puts you in the running for awesome prizes, but also helps the Bonifas continue its mission throughout the year by bringing in gallery exhibits, youth programs, classes and events,” said Bonifas Events Coordinator Staci Berg.

Raffle tickets can be purchased for $5 each or 5 for $20 at the Bonifas, Leigh’s Garden Winery, or White’s Exxon.

The Spring Raffle is sponsored in part by Meijer, Chateau De Pere, and DSTech.


What great support! The GFWC Escanaba Woman's Club donated $1,500 to support youth programs at the Bonifas.

Mary Gail Blasier presented the HUGE check to Bonifas Executive Director Sue Roll.

Support of businesses and civic organizations is very important to us. It is greatly appreciated.

John F. Francis, Still Life with Wine and Fruit, 1863

John F. Francis was one of the leading still-life painters in mid-nineteenth century America, and Still Life with Wine and Fruit is considered one of his finest.

The painting includes bottles of wine accompanied by an arrangement of glasses; a blue and white pitcher trimmed with gold; a glass of water (commonly served in the best houses by the early nineteenth century); a plate of cheese; a basket of fruit partially covered with a fringed cloth; an elegant knife; and oyster crackers and nuts strewn over the cloth-covered table.

A variety of textures evoke the sense of touch—cool, brittle glass; moist cheese; crumbly crackers; hard nuts; soft fabric—and the cheese and opened oranges appeal to the sense of smell. A warm palette of yellows and tans, darker browns and oranges is offset by the light blue of the pitcher and trim of the fringed cloth.

This lavish array of abundance suggests a special occasion or a display of luxury that not everyone could afford.

The Detroit Institute of Art exhibit "Visions of American Life" is on display through May 23.


Thomas Moran, The Great Cave, Pictured Rocks, Lake Superior, Michigan, 1873

During the 1800s, artists found significant meaning in landscapes like Michigan’s Pictured Rocks on Lake Superior, and would travel to capture their beauty.

Thomas Moran journeyed to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to produce a series of sketches and illustrations on the shore of Lake Superior, and throughout his career would periodically incorporate the Pictured Rocks landscape into his paintings. The distinctive cliffs were layered with meaning for the painter, a result of their beauty and literary associations.

The poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow set his epic Song of Hiawatha - a poem relating the fictional adventures of an Ojibwe warrior named Hiawatha and the tragedy of his love for Minnehaha, a Dakota woman - at the same site, inspiring Moran’s visit and the painting The Great Cave, Pictured Rocks.

In this painting, Moran captures the dramatic cliffs at Pictured Rocks, likening the arch of the cave to a gothic cathedral.

Near the shore, travelers disembark from wooden boats after paddling across the turquoise waters as a rainbow emerges in the mist above. In capturing this stunning and distinctive Michigan landscape, Moran asserts the unique character of the nation through its natural beauty.

The exhibit "Visions of American Life: Paintings from the Manoogian Collection, 1850-1940" is on loan from Detroit Institute of Art from April 5 – May 23.


A unique series of art classes: Art Scene — Painting a Michigan Wildlife Mural, will be offered for free from June 8 - 25. Students from local junior high and high schools in eighth through twelfth grades are invited to discover their inner Michelangelo and help to create a beautiful mural on the wall of the DNR building on U.S. Hwy. 2.

The kids will be guided through the project by experienced instructor and artist James Finlan, and assisted by art students from Bay College.

Students will practice their drawing skills, along with large scale and detailed painting skills, and will learn important lessons in perspective and teamwork.

The group will meet between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., though the schedule is flexible. Students are asked to register by calling the Bonifas at 906-786-3833 by May 1.

A general meeting will be held at the end of May, with more details forthcoming. This mural project is being sponsored by the Michigan DNR.

The DNR is looking forward to the mural
"We are very grateful to the Bonifas Arts Center for their support to partner with the Finance and Operations Division of the Department of Natural Resources to do this venture.

"The mural will represent what the outdoors has to offer in this beautiful area that we live. We hope that motorist and tourists driving by, and customers of the Escanaba Service Center will view and enjoy this outside mural for years to come.

"We are very fortunate to have such devoted and passionate local artists working on this project."


linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram