Feeling creative? Try a few weeks in Porcupine Mountains cabin

Francis X. Donnelly
The Detroit News

If you’re an artist who loves the wilderness, and what artist doesn’t, Friends of the Porkies has a deal for you.

The volunteer group offers an artist-in-residence program that allows people to stay in a cabin deep in the heart of the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park in the Upper Peninsula. The artists stay for two to three weeks while they explore the 60,000-acre park between May and October.

They’re then asked to share their experience through an hour-long workshop or talk, and contribute a piece of art that reflects their stay, said Sherrie McCabe, program director.

“They’re coming here to investigate the park, absorb what it has to offer,” she said. “This gives them a chance to be in the wilderness, to show people what it looks like in their eyes.”

The 11-year-old program usually picks three to five people for the summer residency, said McCabe. There’s also a winter residency, which, this being the U.P., isn’t quite as popular. The remote cabin is even more remote when the roads are buried in snow.

Applications can be found at the group’s website at www.porkies.org. The deadline is March 31.

The chief selling point for the program, which doesn’t offer a stipend, is the state park. The Porkies has lakes, waterfalls, wooded peaks and 25 miles of shoreline along Lake Superior.

It’s not a coincidence that McCabe lives 12 miles from the park.

“I can’t even tell you how wonderful it is to have the park in my back yard,” she said. “It’s a magical place, almost like when you read about an enchanted forest.”

She encourages artists to explore as much as possible before creating their art. That way, they’ll get a better feel for everything the park offers.

As for their living arrangements, they’ll stay at a one-room, timber-frame cabin on the Little Union River. The artists, who are allowed to bring one guest, will be staying at the cabin at different times.

The cabin is the picture of rustic: It has no electricity or running water. It has a propane light, propane stove and oven, and wood stove for heat. Out back is an outhouse. McCabe calls it “cozy.”

She said artists have been pleasantly surprised by the domicile, especially when compared with other cabins in the state park. It has a comfy bed, an antique Morris chair that reclines, and drapes over the windows.

But, again, McCabe encourages artists not to spend a lot of time in the abode. They should be outside, seeing everything the park has to offer.

“It’s a big park,” she said. “The more absorbing they do, the more their artwork will be inclusive.”


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Twitter: @francisXdonnell