Niel Haapala: Illustrated Alger County Small Histories


Aug 06 2010 - Sep 26 2010

Niel Haapala: An Illustrated History of Louds Spur and Other Small Histories from Alger County

Alger County resident Niel Haapala spent much of his working days in the logging camps, where he learned to carve wood and paint from a German prisoner of war. However, it wasn’t until Niel retired that he found his artistic calling. This exhibition will feature paintings and wood carvings the artist made to share stories, jokes and local history. Held in conjunction with the U.P. Folklife Festival and the Beaumier Heritage Center at NMU.

After emigrating from Finland in 1914 at the age of five, Niel Haapala spent most of his youth and working life in the logging camps of Alger County, Michigan. One of these central Upper Peninsula camps, Louds Spur, operated for approximately thirty years at the turn of the century before closing down when the wood supply was exhausted. Haapala continued working in the logging camps, where in the 1940s a German prisoner of war taught him how to carve wood and draw. However, it wasn’t until Niel retired that he found his artistic calling, creating numerous drawings, paintings, ceramic and wood sculptures. This exhibition will feature many pieces made to share stories and local histories, drawn from a sharp memory and a charismatic sense of humor.

This exhibition and related programs are presented in conjunction with the Upper Peninsula Folklife Festival. The Festival is presented by the Beaumier Upper Peninsula Heritage Center at Northern Michigan University and is supported, in part, by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Hourly Schedule

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Woodcarving demonstration
by Stuart Baird (Calumet, MI)
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