Category Archives: Gramma Doors

Doors in Marquette, Summer 2007

Wright Street Doors, Blossoming Door, Photo Copyright Kim Nixon 2007

Wright Street Doors, I Got My Eye On You!, Photo Copyright Kim Nixon 2007

Wright Street Doors, We Three, Photo Copyright Kim Nixon 2007

Had a doozy of a migraine last night! As I have promised to always create while expereincing a migraine, I headed to the studio to re-work some doors. These were captured last summer on the newly paved Wright Street extension project using my DXG 5.1 digi camera.

Marquette, Michigan was home to two public art installations, the Grandma Doors in Marquette’s Mattsson Lower Harbor and these inspring and artful doors. Both projects, I believe, were under the guidance of Artist Mary Wright who is well known for major public art projects. In Hancock, Michgian, there was another Grandma Door exhibit.

I plan to do a series of posters and gift cards from the Summer of 2007 Door Series.

More Gramma Doors, Marquette Michigan

The Gramma Doors are down in Marquette. They came down with the help of NMU students with shovels and ratchets. Each door was attached to metal posts that were cemented into the ground. The metal brackets were donated and the metal returned back to the company that made them. I heard the cement would be recycled as well. People could reclaim their doors. If you want to see more Gramma Doors, this week in Hancock nearly 100 doors are on display Friday, October 5, 2007 from 6-8pm. There will be food, music and prizes. Family and friends will be standing next to the doors to lend further insight as to their ancestors.  I found this information at There is also another link that I came across–it has no information but has a slide show of doors in Hancock. If you happen to be in the Keweenaw you can visit this site for more information.

The hardest part about finding information on the doors is that you need to look under two different spellings: Gramma and Grandma.

I have a great interest in Community and Art. I am in awe of how a large scale art installment can change the landscape in which we live. It affects our sense of place, and in the case of many of Mary Wright’s projects, it strengthens heritage. I believe it also enriched the harvest this fall. This project brought excitement to many and showed how rich, vibrant and alive both Marquette and Hancock’s communities are.

The Saturday the doors started coming down in Marquette, I visited the Lower Harbor, the community gardens in Park Cemetary and the farmer’s market at The Commons building dowtown. I watched community work, play, gather, harvest, and grow in their interactions.

This summer the birth of my grandson, Liam, has me focused on growth and creation. How will he see me over the years of his life? Hopefully not as the Angry Grandmother.

I talked with a Grandmother who was picking up a door her grandchildren crafted. On it was a bathtub, the old antique procelain tub with feet. The background was a cheerful yellow. Bubbles floated on the air.

I want to be the gramma who knows about clouds and trees. The gramma who takes her grandchildren camping and kayaking. I want to help little hands make their own books, and sit listening intently to thier stories in a garden. A garden with chinese lanterns, morning glories, silver dollars and giant sunflowers. Green beans climbing poles. Pumpkins escaping the fences.

I want to be young with them (grandkids) and full of discovery, everyday. This summer we (Mike and I) planted Little Liam a red maple tree. I am plotting out a new garden that will allow him to hide from tall adults. We shall have tiny sandwhiches with no crusts, and learn about tea, herbs, bees and honey.

 I have decided the world is full of doing, creating, teaching and learning. I want to learn much from Liam. I want to watch my daughter become mother as I become grandmother.

I have many more doors to share. But I think I will save some to post this winter. When we need to remember the warmth of grandma and her cookies.

The Close of Summer

The close of summer comes with the close of two art exhibits in Marquette. The Gramma Doors and the doors that lined the new Wright Street extension. The doors on Wright Street had doors with personal imagery and words of a positive nature like Joy, Heal, Grow! They lined the new walkway and then spiraled in a field. These doors often exhibited the enthusiam for life and expression. This exhibit was also the work of Mary Wright who has inspired and organized countless public art exhibits including FinnFest Chairs.

The Wright Street extension now connects from Presque isle Ave. to lakeshore Blvd. This is an area of town where people used ot go to a coffeehouse called Emma Joes. It is a way to get to the bike path that goes out to Presque Isle island. It borders the University’s land where football and socccer practices are commonly held. When the extension went it and curved to Lakeshore Blvd. The space was so empty and devoid of landscaping. It was a great placement for these colorful doors.

Lighting was not always perfect for these door shots. I meant to get back out at differing times of day and let the opportunities pass. I know some of the artists for these doors and they span vast age ranges. Vibrant. Alive. 

How will the landscape look now? Without doors? With the snows to come? Will it leave emptiness? Or a vision for what comes next in Marquette, for community and artists? If you have had a community art installment in your town please leave comment on how it affected you.

According to the TV6 News last night, “Officials from the Marquette Country Convention and Visitors Bureau credit the Gramma Doors with an increase in tourism this summer. “

Gramma Doors, Hancock Michigan

These are doors waiting to be painted outside the Finnish Heritage Center in Hancock. They are part of the “Gramma Doors Exhibit” which is happening in Marquette and Hancock, Michigan. While I was traveling in the Keweenaw I spent time visiting the doors of Hancock and was interviewed by a downstate woman. We exchanged information and I hope to hear how her project went, soon.

I have tried to find some background information on the “Doors” project and have not had much luck, yet. I hope to gather more information. Normally, I would have been off chasing nature photos. But I came down with a migraine the second day of my trip and stopped in Hancock at a coffee shop and rested for over an hour–then, finally motivated and migriane knocked back a few notches, I headed out on an overcast afternoon to see what I could in the town of Hancock.

I have a soft spot in my heart for the town of Hancock. I stayed at the Copper Crown Hotel (Hancock, MI) every other weekend for almost a year while attending massage school in Paavola. At the end of the school year we held our “clinicals” in the Finnish Heritage Center.

The “Gramma Doors” and another door project which I will post later, have left me curious to public art installations and how they change a community. I am going to see about doing some coverage on these events.

The woman who interviewed me asked if I had given much thought to what my “future” grandchildren would put on my door–that was when I surprised her with the fact at 43 I am a grandmother and have even been writing on the subject of “Becoming Grandma”. Also I shared that I was the in the area to contemplate my future as mother and grandmother and how that pertained to my art and what I want to accomplish in the coming years.

After touring the doors, I met my son, Randy for dinner. I traveled across Portage Canal Lift Bridge, to Houghton for a visit and dinner at The Library. The photo you are viewing was taken on the day before–a brighter clear day. Randy attends Michigan Technological University. I was surprised how hungry I was even with the remainders of a migraine. I went back and took at look at Randy’s room make over completed this summer. He lives with 6 other housemates on College Ave. We only had a short time to visit, as later that evening was the Gypsy Pie Society gathering at Northwind Books.

Secret Garden

As part of my recent trip to the Keweenaw, I stayed overnight with Carol Rose and got to visit Keweenaw Krayons. While staying with Carol I did some gardening and had the opportunity and pleasure to snap some photos. I was using a borrowed digital camera not my usual Fuji Disposable with Flash. Being that I get good color with the Fuji I was worried about these garden shots. My own digital does not seem to have enough memory to take the rich colored photos. I am pleased with this shot.

Carol founded Keweenaw Krayons and has involved the youth with Gardening. Be sure to check out the information on Guerilla Gardening.

My stay with Carol was wonderful. I had the chance to ponder the art in my life. Where I would like to see myself take art in my own community. And ponder how I can create opportunity for others and myself.

After leaving Friday morning, at Carol’s urging, I visited a wonderful store in Calumet called, Beadazed. I picked up some copper beads, an abalone shell piece I hope to wire wrap, and a hunk of rose quartz.

I also dropped in on the Copper Country Community Arts Center. Attened a Gypsy Pie Society gathering at Northwind Books. We had five in attendance, all particpants had made the trip from Marquette which is why we call ourselves gypsies. I find these journies feed my creativity and are a commitment to community with other writers and artists. I have needed this sense of belonging.

I had a chance to visit the Granma Door installation in Hancock and was even interviewed by a downstate writer after snapping the following photo. I was taken in by the open sign to the community center and the grandma doors themselves. Hancock, especially strikes me as a community that fosters heritage and art. In Marquette, we also have the Grandma Doors on display in the Lower Harbor (more on doors later).

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