The art of Melissa Hronkin

The art of Melissa Hronkin

Yesterday I stepped out the front door and headed north with my good friend Catherine towards Calumet, Michigan.  We ventured towards the Vertin Gallery to view an exhibit by Ontonagon artist Melissa Hronkin called “Wintering–Into the Hive”.

What a lovely reception ensued!  But first, may we backtrack to the city of Hancock where Catherine, Karen and I shared a dinner at a Gemignani’s Italian Restaurant?  If you visit, please try the wild mushroom stuffed ravioli topped with marinara sauce.  Very delicious, indeed.

Afterwards we decided to walk the three or four blocks to another art reception at the Copper Country Arts Center.  The thermometer announced 15 degrees, later followed by a  frigid 14 degrees.  I don’t know about the other two ladies, but I was freezing.  My feet felt like icicles and it seemed necessary to dance every other step in order to keep warm.  (The others weren’t dancing, strangely enough, simply walking calmly down the sidewalk like it was a balmy 23 degrees.) 

After the interesting exhibit of paintings, ceramics, photography and other pieces (such as shoes displayed with fur and feathers and other oddities….including a shoe created to be a mini golf-course tee) we began our trek back towards the cars.  Karen suggested we walk slower, rather than faster.  What???  She calmly explained that when we tense up, or hunch our shoulders in the cold, we actually start to feel colder because our muscles are contracted.  I tried to relax.  Strangely enough, it seemed to work.  I suddenly felt much warmer.  For at least ten seconds, anyway.

We drove another fifteen miles to Calumet to the Vertin Gallery.  What interests me lately is the way people create art from nature.  How they take sticks and stones and bark and feathers and wax from beehives and create incredible works of art.

They’ve stepped outdoors and looked around with an artist’s eye and discovered ways to make new beauty from nature’s materials.  Melissa raises bees; she utilizes the wax from the hives to make lovely pictures.  Although I don’t have the technique written down in exact proportion (so you can copy with wax from your own bee hives) I believe she blends wax and other ingredients, and then applies these over photographs and original artwork. 

I did ask Melissa if it was acceptable to take photos; she agreed.  She seems a lovely person, as well as a talented artist.  She spoke briefly to the group at the reception about the way bees winter in the hive.  Apparently, the Queen slumbers at the center of the hive.  The drones are kicked out in the autumn, eventually starving or freezing to death as winter approaches.  The worker bees surround the Queen, keeping her warm, taking turns at the colder outer rim of the cluster. 

How much thought do we bring to the wild animals wintering over in the northwoods?  We might ponder the bear in his den, the snakes burrowed deep in the earth, the deer curled in the cedar swamp.  I had never before considered bees, and their survival during the six months of winter in our cold climate.

The honeybees have been endangered recently; we have reason to hope they make it through the long winters in the hive.  They pollinate at least 90 different kinds of crops and make it possible for us to munch on apples  during summer months.  One third of our diet comes from bee-pollinated plants.  Shall we say a prayer that the bees winter well in their hive, that the Queen remains protected, that they will live to buzz in our gardens and meadows?

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