Paddles For The Marathon is a new fundraising event for the 2021 race.  The event is intended to highlight the talents of local artitsts through unique pieces of art created on replica canoe paddles.

A call for artists went out in February 2021 and paddles were provided on a first come first serve basis.  The artists took inspriation for their work from the AuSable River, The Marathon or just the beauty of northern Michigan.  The paddles were manufactured by the Wood Science Technology Program at Kirtland Community College.

The paddles will be on display in select Grayling and Oscoda businesses from May 27th through August 1st.  Starting on July 17th through August 1st an on-line auction site will be open allowing you to bid for the paddle(s) of your choice.  Proceeds from the auction will support The Marathon’s general operating fund.

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

Download a list of all locations

For a printable list of all paddle locations and artists click here

If you would like to own one of these amazing paddles, you can bid through our on-line auction at 32auctions.com.  Bidding begins on July 17th and runs through August 1st.  You can access Paddles For The Marathon bidding site by clicking on the button to the right.  Paddles will be available for pick- up in Grayling or Oscoda, or can be shipped for an additional $20 fee.

2021 Artists and Locations

Artist: Anna Parks
Location: AuSable Gifts – Grayling 

About This Paddle

There is nothing quite as symbolic to our nation as the flag and the bald eagle.  From the youngest of us to the eldest, we all know and respect what the eagle and flag represent.  Part of my inspiration for this piece was my grandfather who served our nation for several years.  Along with him, several people in my life have sacrificed so much to give us the life we get to live.  This life is represented best by the eagle and the flag freedom, hope, and liberty.

Artist: Cherie Nentwig
Location: State Street Station Salon  – Oscoda

About This Paddle

Hello! I’m Cherie Nentwig, I grew up paddling this river with family and friends, but mostly my Daddy.  I remember him saying, “one of these years, I want to do the marathon”.  Sadly, he passed before he could fulfill that dream.  So, in honor of the many traditions past, present and future on the AuSable River and the greatest memories of my Dad, this paddle was created.  It is my hope that many dads (and moms!) out there share this amazing resource with all of their children…the memories made out there are priceless.

~Keep paddling

Artist: Joann Hellman Cullip
Location: Tip’n The Mitten, Grayling 

About This Paddle

Joann Hellman Cullip is a Michigan artist residing in the Higgins Lake area.  A lifelong artist, she spent 34 years as an art educator in Florida, Michigan and Kentucky.  She also taught future art educators in their education methods coursework at Ashbury University in Kentucky.  Now retired, she is engaged in the joy of creating art, focused on a playful interplay of color.  Her favorite medium is watercolor, but she also shifts to acrylic paint.  She tends to create realistic imagery in an abstract interplay of both pattern and color with her compositions.  The paddlers on her piece are seen from a bird’s eye view while the view of the various pines are portrayed in the traditional point of view.  The reverse side illustrates the many forest images the paddlers view as they travel along the AuSable River.

Artist: John Huss
Location: Rolling Oak Brewing Co.  – Grayling 

About This Paddle

A Grayling native, Andy received his BFA in Sculpture from Northern Michigan University and his MFA from the University of Michigan.  In addition, he completed post graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania.  Currently residing in Arkansas, he is teaching sculpture at Hendrix College and University of Central Arkansas.  

For his paddle, he attempted to embody the spirit of all currently manufactured wooden paddles by laser printing imagery on a paddle covered with a glossy polyurethane.  About his paddle Andy said “Everyone loves a winner and everyone loves Jesus so I seamlessly merged these concepts”. 

Artist: Joe Ellison
Location: AuSable Artisan Village – Grayling 

About This Paddle

This stylized grayling is inspired by Northwest Coast formline art.  From totem poles to everyday bowls and spoons, objects were decorated with just a few shapes and often the colors red and black.

I designed this paddle to honor the heritage of the AuSable River Canoe Marathon and the fish that lived in the rivers near its namesake town.  This design was done with respect for native people who knew these rivers and this fish.

While teaching in bush Alaska schools for five years, I watched wood and ivory carvers and appreciated their art form.  As an experienced woodworker and carver, I have been a student of formline art for over a decade.

Artist: Kay Parks
Location: North Country Corner – Grayling 

About This Paddle

My name is Kay Parks and I’m from Lewiston.  I’m an art student at Kirtland Community College, and I just finished my fourth semester at the college.  When I learned about the paddle auction, I knew I wanted to do something that related to water and the river.  The legend of koi describes the fish as able to swim upstream and tells of the perseverance of one koi that continued to swim upwards through a waterfall when all the other fish turned back.  The gods rewarded this koi by turning it into a dragon, a symbol of power and strength.  To me, the koi legend reminds me to keep swimming, even if it seems impossible or everyone else has given up.

Artist: Mike Williams
Location: Ron’s Fly Shop – Grayling 

About This Paddle

Residing in Lincoln, MI , Michael teaches art and social studies at Oscoda High School.

When asked about the inspiration for his paddle Michael said, “The AuSable River’s history of the Brown Trout is perhaps one of Michigan’s greatest stories.  The tradition of it’s hatches, boats, flies and anglers speak loudly to those who still fish the same waters.”  

“The trout, the scenery and the waters of the AuSable become an obsession to those who are lucky enough to experience it, whether it is just once or for those who consider it their home water”.

“This paddle is a nod to all of these things.  Without these fish and this water, most of us would be without inspiration or direction”.  

You can view more of Michael’s art on Instagram @mikewilliamsart.

Angling Artist

Artist: Kim Diment
Location: Main Branch Gallery  – Grayling

About This Paddle

The AuSable River Canoe marathon has always been an exciting time for myself, my husband and my family.  When I was growing up I lived in Oscoda, Michigan.  We would watch the finish of the marathon there.  Now that we live in Grayling, Michigan it is fun to be a part of the marathon and watch as it goes right by our house on the River.

Not only do we enjoy watching the canoe marathon, we enjoy watching the paddlers training throughout the year.

Artist: Pam Meland
Location: AuSable Artisan Village – Grayling 

About This Paddle

Presented by artist Pam Meland is a “surreal” pencil drawing.  Surrealism, an art form that puts together real items that normally are not found together, dates back to the 1920’s.  Rene Magritte and Salvadore Dali are among the greats who made this technique famous.

Pam Meland is a retired High School art teacher who found the best part of her job teaching students to explore their imagination using the “surreal” art form.  Her love of this art form and warm childhood memories of sitting on the banks of the AuSable River, watching her father fly-fish, come together in “Fish-N-Clouds”.

Pam is a participating artist at AuSable Artisan Village and owner of Fine Line Design Apparel.

Artist: Randi Dodgson
Location: The Curator – Grayling 

About This Paddle

Wood art has a particular importance to me. As a furniture designer, I use the natural color, shape, texture, and woodgrain much like a fine artist uses their canvas and paints. It’s the nature of wood – the cellular structure and the endless possibilities of geometric patterns and contrasts created by the utilization of different species – that inspires me as an artist.

“Wood art is the tree that never dies”. For this design, I sourced local hardwood lumber. The base of the paddle is black walnut and the geometric shapes are made from red oak and white ash. I left a small amount of the bark “live edge” on the handle of the paddle to preserve some of the organic nature of the material in what is otherwise a mostly angular, geometric composition.

Although most of my professional experience has been in contract furniture, I now head the Wood Science Technology department at Kirtland Community College. My position at the college has allowed me to build traditional woodworking skills on top of my work experience in the design, development, and manufacturing of wood products. Both types of woodworking – the designing, joining, and finishing of a piece – intrigues me, as it demands the use of both the hands and the mind.

Artist: Ryan Eberline 
Location: MJ’s Salon – Oscoda 

About This Paddle

My piece is inspired by the love of my life and the shore of his home, which is located on Foote Pond. As a Native Owl, I also have spent multiple summers canoeing, kayaking and floating the mighty Ausable.  It is a part of my home and a part of me.  The colors and river water are something I appreciate and look forward to every season.  I would often venture off onto a small bayou when kayaking and this is what I would see.  All the colors, trees and sparkly sky.

Artist: Scott Thomas Rice
Location: Dead Bear Brewing – Grayling 

Scott Rice
About This Paddle

Scott Rice 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.

Artist: Terry Dickinson
Location: AuSable Artisan Village – Grayling 

About This Paddle

After an injury, this Screech Owl was rescued, rehabbed, and released in Northern Michigan by an organization known as “Wings of Wonder”.  The health and activity of these night hunters are an important element in a vibrant eco system.  This painting, with its soft and hard edges, seeks to illustrate the complexity of the contribution of birds-of-prey and illustrate the tension between its mysterious beauty and its success as a hunter.

Artist: Shawn Witherspoon
Location: Northbound Outfitters – Grayling 

About This Paddle

I love Michigan.  From our busy streets to the quiet days on the river, listening to the water run.  Every day I wake up surrounded by beauty and, as a photographer, I get the privilege to capture that beauty to share with the world.  It is a duty I take very seriously, every day I push myself to capture and share our stunning state and what it means to be a Michigander.

Artist: Gaye Lee-Peters
Location: Oscoda/AuSable Chamber of Commerce – Oscoda

About This Paddle

I have been blessed with many passions in my life, Art being one of them.  It is so magical to be able to create a piece of art and watch it change and grow until your new piece is born. 

I love vibrant colors and mainly work with watercolor and colored pencil.  However, conceiving a picture in graphite and watching it come alive is equally exciting!  Mixed media, as in this piece has become a favorite of mine.

I really enjoyed creating the artwork on this paddle.  The trout and fly represents the AuSable River, a designated blue ribbon trout stream and a fly fishing destination for many.  The paddle denotes kayaking, canoeing, the Marathon and the vivid memories of the delightful hours I personally have spent on the river.  It was an honor to do this piece.  

In life, we must always be grateful.  I am grateful for Art for through it I have discovered an appreciation of our world and its infinite beauty.

Artist: Tiffany Richards
Location: Tait’s Bill of Fare –  Oscoda 

About This Paddle

I am a local photographer and try to capture the majestic AuSable river in all four of it’s beautiful seasons through my lens.  I love the vibrant colors each season offers the river and wanted to show that in this piece.

I chose to do a four-part scene of the AuSable river in all four states to show what this mighty river has to offer, specifically ending with summer.

Artist: Loretta Hollnagel
Location: Oscoda/AuSable Chamber of Commerce- Oscoda 

Scott Rice
About This Paddle

My name is Loretta Hollnagel, and I consider AuSable Michigan to be my home.
My inspiration for this paddle was a break in the trees overlooking the AuSable river on River road, guarded by a split rail fence, giving just a glimpse of the river below.

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