in-Progress – Door County Pulse

Behind the scenes with the artists of the Ellison Bay Spring Art Crawl

When we visit an art gallery, or any other small business that features handmade goods, what we see hanging on the walls or sitting on the shelves is the finished product, polished and perfected. 

What we don’t see is the work that went into it. But that work, and the mess that comes along with it, is part of the beauty of a piece of art. 

So for the 2024 Ellison Bay Spring Art Crawl, let’s celebrate the half-finished. Here’s a rundown of this year’s players with pictures of their works-in-progress. 

If you want to see what their finished work looks like, you’ll just have to pay them a visit. The art crawl will take place May 18 and 19, 10 am – 5 pm.


Clay Bay Pottery 

11650 Hwy 42 

David and Jeanne Aurelius’ mutual love for nature is reflected in the hand-thrown pottery and tiles that populate their gallery, alongside original paintings and woodcuts. The two co-owners have been welcoming customers to their Ellison Bay shop for 48 years as of 2024. While Jeanne Aurelius’ work is largely representational, David Aurelius works more abstractly, making hand-built vases, serving platters and bowls, and decorative vessels and tiles. Here, Jeanne Aurelius works on her wheel; employee Kris Franzke sands pottery in preparation for firing.

The Clearing Folk School

12171 Garrett Bay Road

According to Clearing founder Jens Jensen, “Instruction at The Clearing is non-competitive – there are no credits, no grades, no degrees, no pitting of one student against another.” Instead, discussion, reflection, nature study and hands-on work have guided students throughout the Clearing’s 89-year history. During the art crawl, visit the bookstore and take a tour of the 128-acre lakeside property – and if you run into the organization’s executive director, Michael Schnieder, wish him a happy retirement this June. Here, a Clearing student’s watercolor palette leftover from a recent class is a work of art in its own right.

Gills Rock Pottery

12020 Lakeview Road

Co-owners Judy and Thor Thoreson have been making art together since they met in a college pottery class. In 1979, the pair took to Door County to operate a gallery there in the summers – and 45 years later, it’s clear that venture was a success. In the gallery, the pair features their own hand-thrown pots alongside artisan table linens and woodenware, with a goal to make the business itself a work of art. Here, Thor Thoreson works at a potter’s wheel. A decorative dish is painted with slip – liquid clay with colorants. Once it’s painted and bisque-fired, it’s glazed and returned to the kiln for a final firing. 

Turtle Ridge Gallery/Boutique

11736 Mink River Road

Photo courtesy of Turtle Ridge Gallery/Boutique.

From handmade leather bags to natural-fiber clothing to artisan jewelry, Turtle Ridge’s boutique has everything you need to have your art and wear it too. In the gallery, you’ll find mixed-media paintings, encaustics and etchings by gallerist Mary Ellen Sisulak. Her encaustic pieces incorporate hot wax and water-soluble encaustic paints to create fine details on textured surfaces, while her mixed-media pieces use leather stretched over a wood panel rather than a traditional canvas, allowing the artist to manipulate the surface. Here, Sisulak works on one such piece.

Rob Williams Studio/Gallery

753 Isle View Road

Photo courtesy of Rob Williams Studio/Gallery. 

Gallerist Rob Williams finds himself continually inspired by the area’s natural beauty, from the soft rose skies in the evening to the brilliant colors of the autumn leaves. He’s been immersed in this landscape since 1990, when he bought a summer home in Ellison Bay, and he translates it onto the canvas with oils, using vivid colors and partially abstract shapes. During the art crawl, you can see one source of his inspiration first-hand as you take in the seven acres of woodland on which his studio/gallery is located. Here, Williams stands with a painting-in-progress. 


Island Orchard Cider

12040 Garrett Bay Road

Photo courtesy of Island Orchard Cider.

In 2005, Island Orchard owners Bob and Yannique Purman bought a Washington Island orchard and started planting 200 dwarf apple trees. The literal fruits of their labor have paid off, with the orchard increasing in acreage, trees and cultivars every year since. 

The cidery’s range isn’t limited to apples. Their frothy 2024 vintage of pear reserve cider, available now, was created by pressing the pears at peak ripeness. Island Orchard then cold-fermented the juice before fermenting it again in bottles for three months. The resulting cider is a fan favorite thanks to its light, spring-y taste. Here, Island Orchard production manager Diego Anderson measures the pH and sugar content of some cider.

Kick Ash Coffee

12001 Mink River Road

Photo from Kick Ash’s Facebook page. 

Founded by husband-and-wife team Carol and Chris Ash and housed in a renovated church, this artisan market and gift shop is filled with everything from books to wine to kitchen accessories. While you peruse the gift shop, grab a cup of coffee, some small-batch granola or a gluten-free goodie to enjoy. Here, a batch of granola is in the works.

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