The River Raisin National Battlefield Park has selected three local artists for the park’s inaugural Artists in Residence Program. The artists are Darlene Belair, Brant Georgia and Brandy Gerber.
The Artists in Residence Program is offered in more than 50 national parks.
“Artists have created art in national parks since the late 19th-century, when famed Hudson River School painters captured the majestic views of our nation’s western parks,” the battlefield said. “Today, the sights and sounds in national parks continue to inspire artists in more than 50 residency programs across the country providing artists with unique opportunities to create works of art in varied natural and cultural settings.”
Programs are available for visual artists, writers, musicians and other creative media. Programs vary by park and are extremely competitive.
“During their time as Artists in Residence, artists are often invited to participate in park programs by sharing their art with the public,” the battlefield said. “Here at the River Raisin, artists Darlene Belair and Brandy Gerber have spent and continue to spend numerous hours creating beautiful murals in the Education Center that show southeast Michigan’s early natural beauty and bountiful wildlife. Artist Brant Georgia has been painting numerous flora, fauna and traditional canoe inspired paintings for the park’s exhibits. You can often find Darlene and Brandy working on their Artist In Residence artwork on during the weekdays and Brant painting in the battlefield’s visitor center during the weekends.”
“We are grateful for the hundreds of hours of work and contribution each artists’ talents are making to help educate the public about the significance of River Raisin National Battlefield Park. I congratulate Darlene, Brant and Brandy on becoming the park’s very first Artist in Residence,” Superintendent Scott Bentley said.
Belair has been an artist and crafts person for over 50 years. She is mostly a self-taught. After graduating from Summerfield School, she married Bob, they have been married for 52 years and have two children and three grandchildren. While raising their children, she attended adult education classes in art, pottery, basket weaving, beading, lost wax silver and stained glass. Belair taught craft classes through the Petersburg Branch of the Monroe County Library System and Summerfield Adult Education. She joined the Monroe Art League, where she is a past vice president and also a past president of the Monroe City County Arts Council. She belongs to Bedford Art Club and is on the Monroe County Historical Society Board. Belair designed the “War of 1812 Peace Monument,” the sponsor monument and Peace Garden for the Monroe County Historical Society. Her latest accomplishments are the US Postal Service’s “War of 1812 Cancelation Stamp” for the battlefield and the paintings of the Ribbon Farms which have been made into wayside signs along Elm Street. Since 2019, she has curated the battlefield park’s “Beautiful Bountiful Michigan Art Exhibition” and curated the 2021 Fran Maedel Tribute Art Exhibition at the battlefield. She is currently painting murals at the RRNBP Educational Center with artist Gerber.
Georgia was born in Monroe and currently studies at Monroe County Community College as a Monroe County Middle College student, scheduled to graduate in May. He plans to pursue a career in the natural sciences. He aims to assist others in finding appreciation for the biodiversity and natural majesty of their local environment. He enjoys birdwatching and has led educational nature programs at the River Raisin National Battlefield Park, the Michigan Audubon Society and the Detroit Audubon Society. His artwork has been displayed throughout Monroe County, and his pieces often feature local flora and fauna. His work highlights the habitat, geographical range, appearance and survival strategies of native fauna. As an intern at park, Georgia began painting various flora and fauna for use in interpretive museum exhibits.
Gerber resides in Ida with her husband, Craig, and their dog, Porter. She has music degrees from Northern Michigan University and Eastern Michigan University and is mostly a self-taught artist. Her art has been sold worldwide and has been featured in numerous solo gallery shows throughout southeast Michigan. She has participated in ArtPrize Grand Rapids numerous times and has received monetary awards for her exhibits. She taught at both the Clinton Art Center and the Adrian Center for the Arts. Currently, she teaches paint classes locally. She has given public presentations on her art and enjoys discussing her artistic process with others. She is also an author and illustrator. Her debut children’s book “A to Z, An Animal Alphabet of Art” is currently available for purchase through major booksellers. She is a member of the Huron River Art Collective. She has been an active volunteer at the park since June of 2020. She is currently painting murals at the park with Belair.
The park plans to have future opportunities for others to become Artists in Residence.