2024 Paddles for the Marathon

Paddles For The Marathon started in 2021 as a new fundraiser for the Marathon.  The event is intended to highlight the talents of local artists through unique pieces of art created on replica canoe paddles.

The artists take inspiration for their work from the Marathon, the beauty of the AuSable River and life in Northern Michigan. The paddles were manufactured by the Wood Science Technology Program at Kirtland Community College using locally sourced wood.

The paddles will be on display in select Grayling and Oscoda businesses from June 7th through July 15th.  Starting  July 17th through August 4th, all paddles will be on display at the AuSable Artisan Village in Grayling.  The online auction site wil be open from July 21st through August 4th allowing you to bid for the paddle(s) of your choice.  Proceeds from the auction will support The Marathon’s scholarship fund.

More information about the paddles, artists and display locations can be found below.

If you would like to own one of these amazing paddles, you can bid through our online auction at 32auctions.com.  Bidding begins on July 21st and runs through August 4th.  You can access Paddles For The Marathon bidding site by clicking on the button below.  Paddles will be available for pick- up in Grayling or Oscoda, or can be shipped for an additional fee.

Click here to print a list of all paddle locations and artists

2024 Artists & Locations

Click on the artists name to see locations and paddle images

Stacy McKellip

Location: Gallagher’s Sports Bar & Grill – Grayling

This paddle was inspired by the electric buzz of excitement for the Brook Trout.  Eccentric worm markings and stylized halos create an energetic fish flank background.  This flank stands out in stark contrast to the more natural coloration of the featured Brook Trout.  

See more of Stacy’s art:

Website: www.stacymckellipstudios.com 

Facebook: Stacy McKellip Studios


Dan Feldhauser

Location: Huron Shores Artisan Hall  – Oscoda

The inspiration for the graphite rendering on the paddle, commemorates the ‘ 3rd AuSable River Canoe Marathon victory’ in 1955 for my Father, Don Feldhauser and his partner Bernie Fowler. 

Their canoe, a “white” built in Maine and was the first fiberglass canoe in the race.  In its infancy, at that time, the race was much different than the “LeMans” start used at the current races.

Depending on the number of entries, numbers were drawn from a trophy cup across the street from ”Rays Fly Shop” (now known as Ray’s) at the Grayling Chamber of Commerce office.  Canoes were put in at Rays dock and started at 15 second intervals.

In 1955–that year, my Father and Bernie drew the # 1 position and once they started, they never saw another canoe until they reached the finish line at Oscoda the next day. 

Both my Dad and Bernie were guides on the AuSable and knew the river well.  In 1954, they had won the race by the largest margin ever, 39 minutes.

The story of their 3rd victory was documented (in “order by Canoe”) in the September 1, 1956 issue of the Saturday Evening Post.  Both paddlers were among the first five inducted into the International Canoe Racing Hall of Fame in 1986.


Joann Cullip

Location: Main Branch Gallery – Grayling

This year’s paddle is created with rainbow trout in mind!  I do examine the details and colors found within trout but this paddle involves my decision to take ´artistic license’  by using colors and patterns that are more intricate and intense than natures’ palette.  One side does contain more pastel color choices and portrays trout moving along a path of swiftly  moving currents!  The other side shows brighter colors and trout intricately placed within the available space; a literal ´maze’ of trout.

**This paddle has artwork on both sides.   See addtional images on the auction website.**

Scott Rice

Location: Oscoda – AuSable Chamber of Commerce – Oscoda

Scott earned his BFA in Illustration from Kendall College of Art and Design and his MFA in Painting and Drawing from Central Michigan University.  Since 1996, he has been a faculty member for Kirtland Community College’s Art Department and is responsible for all the beginning and advance courses in drawing, painting, watercolors, illustration, portfolio and art history.

Since arriving to Kirtland, Scott has been an active member in the art community as an artist, juror and advisor.  During his time at Kirtland, he received numerous honors and awards as an artist and instructor throughout the nation; such as, Who’s Who in American Instructors, Gold Medal in Drawing: Bosque Conservatory’s Annual Realism Exhibition, Jesse Besser Museum’s Northeast Annual Art Exhibitions, Top 50 Portrait Artists: The Artist’s Magazine and Distinguished Alumni Award: Kendall College of Art and Design.

Also, during his time at Kirtland, he has helped create AAS in Foundations in Fine Art degree and 1 certificate in Graphic Design for art students: at the same time, assisted 50+ students receive a combine total of $1,000,000+ in scholarships to attend Kendall College of Art and Design and the College of Creative Arts.

If you are interested in finding the artist within you, pushing your art to the next level or learning more about Kirtland’s art programs and courses, feel free to contact Scott at (989)275-5000 ext. 300.


Cheryl Stephan-Lowes

Location:  Rolling Oak Brewing Co. – Grayling

Cheryl Lowes is an artist from Grayling, MI.  Her latest artwork beautifully captures the AuSable River Canoe Marathon route, complete with a lively trout swimming through the design.

**This item comes with custom mounting brackets.


John Knasko

Wolverine State Credit Union –  Oscoda

It is the moment where the sun begins to dip below the horizon and the only sound you hear are the paddles breaking the water in rhythmic strokes. It is the harmony between humans and nature you will see and feel in John’s painting.

2023 Paddles For the Marathon - Jan Filarski
Lisa Oliver

Location: AuSable Artisan Village – Grayling

I am a trained artist and consider myself one who experiments with ideas and the combination of materials in art.  We are an outdoor family and one of my greatest loves is nature and specifically, the water.  I was very excited to work on this paddle project and felt like delving into one of the inhabitants these water provide.  I usually paint much more abstractly but this painting is fairly realistic.  What could I have chosen to paint that is more colorful than a rainbow trout?  That was it.  And, that is what is on my paddle.

Gaye Lee-Peters

Location: Borcher’s – Grayling 

This paddle creates a visually appealing piece that celebrates the beauty and artistry of fly fishing!  It is adorned with colorful trout flies, showcasing a variety of patterns and designs.  The intricate details of the flies, like the delicate feathers and thread wraps are captured beautifully.

Terry Dickinson

Location: AuSable Artisan Village – Grayling

Terry has captured the moment a mallard duck takes to flight from the river’s water. With a great display of motion and energy, the duck launches itself into the air, leaving behind a wake of splashes. A scene you might see while on the river yourself as you turn a bend in your canoe.

Cherie Nentwig

Location:  Tait’s Bill of Fare – Oscoda

Reflections and Lily Pads

One of my favorite places between Foote Dam and Whirlpool is a little cove that is filled with lily pads.  Each time we kayak I paddle back and just sit amongst them.  It’s peaceful and so beautiful. This paddle is dedicated to my niece Lillian…aka Lily.  She graduated and will be leaving for GVSU in the fall and my greatest hope for her is that she too can find peace and beauty wherever she goes.  I don’t claim to be a great artist, but I love being able to create things that may bring a small bit of happiness to whoever may win this auction.  Thank you for allowing me to be a small part of helping with the AuSable River Canoe Marathon! Hup!!! 

Brittany Tonkavich

Location: Dead Bear Brewing – Grayling 

In the early hours of a June morning in 2021, I set foot in the AuSable River for the first time around daybreak.  A canoer quietly made her way past me; it was her daily routine, a sweet and simple one, a reminder that we rise each day to choose the life we want to cultivate.  As for me, the marathoners, and those drawn by the mystique of what lies just around the bend up ahead – we wake up to commune not just with sunrises and beautiful water, but with freedom and connection to a purpose-filled life.

This paddle is a reminder that every day is new, no matter where we find ourselves, and the choice to greet that sunrise primarily resides in our hearts and minds, not in our circumstances.  It is also representative of the dedication it takes to finish the race we’re in.  It is an encouragement to keep going, stay passionate, and bask in the beautiful pursuit of a life well lived.

About the artist:
Brittany is a bit of a renaissance woman whose art and writing are found on her Substack –somewherebyastream.substack.com and Instagram @okthisismylifenow. Commission inquiries are taken via email – btonkavich@gmail.com. She grew up “Up North”, but now resides in Pittsburgh with her husband, Zeb Tonkavich, an artisan fly rod builder.

Joe Ellison

Location: AuSable Artisan Village- Grayling

The Moon on this paddle has smiled on paddlers around the world since ancient times.  This Pacific Northwest Coast style moon is influenced by the formline designs from that area.  It comes from the story of Raven releasing the Moon from the Box of Light.  The night of the race she lights the way for all the paddlers passing among the white pines along the banks of the AuSable River.

Rebecca Hauschild

Location: AuSable Artisan Village– Grayling

I thoroughly enjoy the beauty of Northern Michigan, the excitement of the AuSable River Canoe Marathon and being a part of the Ausable Artisan Village Gallery.  I love painting Michigan wildlife and scenes from the great Michigan outdoors.

Brian Hutchins

Location: AuSable Gifts – Grayling

A design engineer in my professional life, I traded my drafting tools for a paint brush and pencils and jumped in with the fine artists at Kirtland Community College.  There it was suggested that I paint a paddle for the Marathon auction.  I have loved the AuSable since moving to Roscommon over four decades ago.  I’ve paddled its length.  The racers take hours but I took four days and a tent.  I’ve skied and hiked along its shores.  I’ve fished its waters.  I love the AuSable and this project made me reflect on what the river means to me.

My paddle-art shows a close-up view of the water’s edge along the AuSable in autumn.  A place where the water encroaches its banks.  Where colorful stones, grainy sand and the occasional leaf sit in plain sight if we are looking close. (Watercolor and colored pencil)

Kathie Troshynski

Location: Tip N’ The Mitten– Grayling 

Kathie’s paddle this year captures the energy of the autumn season.  The charming and playful time when our four-legged friend blissfully enjoys a run in the newly fallen leaves.  As anyone can see, she can paint a vision that we all can connect to.

You can see more of my art at the Lawrence Street gallery in Ferndale, MI and on our website as a member artist at lawrencestreetgallery.com.
For more information about studio art you may reach me at kathietro@yahoo.com.

Mike Williams

Location: Northbound Outfitters – Grayling

For many, if you’re not trout fishing in the fall then you’re bird hunting or the other way around.  It’s a tough call sometimes to put down the rod or the double barrel so that you can pick up the other. 

Fall is short, unfortunately.  Too short if you’re counting the good days versus those rainy, cold ones.  When the season closes, you always wish you would have spent a little more time behind a bird dog (for myself chasing that monster buck) or instead floating the AuSable for colored up Browns.  Yet we embrace the memories made with those difficult choices and promise to find that balance “next year” in what will be another season much shorter than what we all would prefer. 

The AuSable River embraces the seasons change like no other, offering up harvests in its waters and along its banks.  Migratory fish below Foote Dam, mushrooms of all kinds, fiddlehead ferns, deer, waterfowl, and of course birds of the upland nature.  The scenery provided during these times of change bring about scenes of equal value as the harvest we seek. 

Although it’s hard to find time to bird hunt during this favorite time of mine, the image of vivid leaves against an overcast sky and a bright stand of Aspen is one I have appreciated often on or near the AuSable.  The birds that have welcomed us with their evening song like the Woodcock or the spring drumming of the Grouse are now part of that scenery and our focus. 

This paddle is for the countless friends and folks I have encountered during my time in the area.  Those who actually put down the rod and use the time to instead spend with their bird dog of choice and a shotgun from times past, while tromping through our State and Federal lands.  After all, these birds offer up some of the tastiest (and prettiest) harvests the banks of the AuSable has to offer.

Paige Galbraith

Location: AuSable Artisan Village – Grayling

The robin in this piece was inspired by her recent fascination with bird watching as a result of them gathering in her front yard to eat all of her recently planted grass seed.

About the artist:

Paige Galbraith is a recent graduate of Kirtland Community College, a graphic designer at Xpress Copy Center, and a board member at the Ausable Artisan Village, all of which are in Grayling.  Her works usually focus on the delicate nature of everyday places, objects, people, and animals. 

Dylan Holberton

Location: Rolling Oak Brewing Co – Grayling 

Dylan, a talented artist from Fairview, Michigan has crafted another paddle for the Auction using a diverse range of wood and use of epoxy.  He skillfully brings a pair of chickadees to life with his meticulous woodworking skills.  The combination of wood types (pine, walnut, oak, maple) adds depth and texture to this scene.  A celebration of nature’s beauty and craftsmanship!  

Want to check out the auction?