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Emberlight's Art in the Park Combines Art with Nature

Erin Gottsacker/WXPR

A group of local artists and performers are turning Ironwood, MI into a hub for the arts.

The Emberlight Festival is bringing Broadway singers, filmmakers, creative writers and craftspeople to the Upper Peninsula this summer.

The whole thing kicked off this month.

A few miles outside Downtown Ironwood, and tucked into a corner of woods, Miles Mykkanen gives a lesson on Mozart to a group of onlookers.

Mykkanen is an opera singer turned community organizer and he’s one of many people putting on the inaugural Emberlight festival to showcase local and international arts in Ironwood.

His stage is just one exhibit of many set up along a nature path in Miners Memorial Heritage Park.

As visitors walk along the path, they’ll see collections of intricately carved wood, copper sculptures and paintings – all displayed against the backdrop of nature.

Credit Erin Gottsacker/WXPR

“That’s what is exciting me the most is we get to take a lot of different art forms and present it here right in nature,” Mykkanen says.

Emberlight’s Art in the Park display opened over the Fourth of July weekend, but it’s just the beginning of a season of performances and art shows.

Every Saturday through August local craftspeople will teach about their art, whether it’s the art of beekeeping or making natural dyes.

Then the summer will culminate with an international film festival, a world premiere of a documentary and Broadway performances under the stars.

Mykkanen says after a year without live performances and music, people realize the importance of the arts now more than ever.

“I think we’re going to come back with a blazing fire this fall and the arts are going to be more vibrant that ever,” he says. “The artists need to perform more than ever. The audiences need these experiences more than ever. I think we’re headed into a real renaissance across the world for artists and art lovers, so get ready.”

Erin Gottsacker worked at WXPR as a Morning Edition host and reporter from December 2020 to January 2023. During her time at the station, Erin reported on the issues that matter most in the Northwoods.
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