Clyde Mikkola (Artist-in-Residence, 2001)

Artwork shows a lake shore scene
"Scoville Point Bay", 28 ½” x 20 ½” watercolor, 2001

NPS/Clyde Mikkola

Isle Royale Reflection

"My residency on Isle Royale was life changing. I expect it may have been that for some of the other artists that have stayed there as well. Two profound things stand out in my mind from that experience which I will relate here.

On the Ranger III there is a dining space in the forward part of the boat that has a mural on its front wall. The painting showed two white men dressed in buckskins and carrying flintlocks, and a large number of Indians, working, wearing breechcloths and moccasins. During my residency I depicted a limner (artist) living in 1760 as a product of my involvement in an activity known as “living history”.

Since heating Dassler Cabin required you collect your own wood for the fireplace on a daily basis and I did not wish to soil my clothes I would wear a breechcloth, leggings, and moccasins myself. I was surprised to see it attracting some attention. One morning I looked out the window of the cabin and across the small bay a dozen people were seated on the side of Scoville Point waiting for me to emerge from the cabin. Several had binoculars which popped up the moment I stepped out the door. What ultimately resulted from this was a rule that no one was allowed to wear breechcloths on Isle Royale."

Clyde Mikkola Portrait
Clyde Mikkola

About the Artist

Clyde was an Isle Royale Artist-in-Residence from August 31st to September 20th, 2001. Though technically he is not a Yooper (he was born in Detroit), he grew up in Calumet and both of his parents were born in the Copper Country, so he considers himself a native. And, though he has lived out of the area at various times, when it came to settling down, here was the only place that made sense. He graduated from Calumet High School, and the University of Michigan with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree back in 1976. While he has been in and out of many fields over the years, none of which he considered a serious vocation, he was working as an artist as well. Finally, he is at a point where he works as an artist full time.

From his schooling and early on in his painting career, he did a great deal of experimentation. He was looking for the kind of work that incorporated what he believed to be elements that made a work of art appealing to him with the type of work that would leave him with a feeling of satisfaction or accomplishment. Hence, by looking at his body of work, he believes you get a fairly clear picture of what he finally settled upon.

About fifteen years ago, a friend introduced him to a hobby called “buckskinning”, as it was called at that time. The people involved clothed and equipped themselves as would people who lived during the “Fur Trade Era”, roughly 1600 to 1840. There’s a lot of leeway there, but most settled on the early 1800’s and the era of the “mountainman”. An artist living in that era was called a “limner” which is the persona he ultimately settled on. He has had several artist residencies and in each he spent the time living the life of an 18th century limner, that aspect being included in his presentations as well.

Over the years he has had a number of shows and his work is privately owned across the country. He has also taught classes in many different art mediums in several different venues locally. He has a studio in Calumet, Michigan where he lives, as well as one in his home and he continues to work daily.

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Last updated: December 26, 2019

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