Art as an Outlet

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Rosemarie Turke in her Lansing studio.

Born and raised in war–torn Germany, local artist Rosemarie Turke began creating art as a way to release and express her emotions during her childhood years. Working alongside her uncle, who was a professional artist, she quickly developed a strong passion for her craft. Turke’s artwork has been showcased in several locations throughout the community, including a solo exhibit at the East Lansing Public Art Gallery last year. Her series of pastel paintings depicting Michigan landscapes is currently on display at the Riverwalk Theatre’s lobby art gallery. The pieces were inspired by her travels around the state and are meant to reflect nature’s calm, inherent beauty. “I don’t like to paint disturbing things. There has to be some element of peace,” Turke said. “I’m essentially a very positive person even though my life has been traumatic at times.” Turke came to America on her own when she was just 15 years old. She married a psychiatrist and for a long time focused solely on being a wife and a mother. Her husband’s career took the family all over the country, including Connecticut, New York and California, where she said she finally had some time off to start painting again. Eventually she relocated again to Iowa and earned her bachelor’s in child development at the University of Iowa. Turke’s final move landed her in Michigan, where she studied Montessori, earned her master’s at Michigan State University and settled down in Traverse City. As a Montessori director, she used her creative energy to guide her young students both developmentally and artistically. “I totally enjoyed working with the children and their parents. It took a lot of creativity but was very relaxing at the same time,” she said. Turke moved to the Lansing area in 1990 to be closer to her children and has since become a significant player in the local art community. She does a lot of pastel and oil painting, but her specialty is in Chinese brush painting, which she uses as an artful expression for whatever she is feeling at the time. “It brings me to a quiet place, which is something that we don’t have very much in our lives anymore,” she said. “It’s more of an emotional expression than an intellectual exercise. It literally shows the quiet places because the page isn’t totally filled.” Despite her recent popularity, Turke said that her artwork has always been more of a serious hobby than a career. “I don’t like to pursue it in a business sense — it’s foreign to me. I don’t have my ego involved in this,” she said. “It’s hard work, but it’s worth it if someone else likes a painting and it speaks to the person.” Turke has been passionate about art her entire life and she is now able to show and share her work as a member of Lansing’s thriving art scene. “My hope is that my viewers can relate my work to their lives, whether it be the colors, shapes or a certain place that speaks to them,” she said. “It’s what they bring to the paintings that’s important. The experience is just as personal for them as it is for me.”
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