On a clear day… 

Ann Mikolowski
May 16, 1940 — August 6, 1999

The Chinese written character for "eternity" contains within it the one for "water," intrinsically linking up the ideas of "flowing" and "forever." One of Detroit’s truly poetic artists, Ann Mikolowski – among her many original projects – painted waterscapes that glow with a sense of endlessness and quiet enlightenment. She made pen-and-ink drawings out of thousands of tiny dots that gave her subjects – country roads at sundown, forest vegetation in early morning light, a row of empty wooden lawn chairs overlooking a stretch of hedges, waves and sky in Nova Scotia – a kind of hushed, timeless presence.

In contrast, Ann’s renowned miniportraits were inspired by her own Polaroid snapshots of artists, musicians and poets, her colleagues in the international struggle for beauty and compassion. Thus, they’re a kind of instant record of scenes of creativity that once thrived, and still do, in Detroit, Grindstone City, Ann Arbor, New York, wherever her travels and imagination took her.

For the past three decades, Ann also collaborated with her husband, poet Ken Mikolowski, on the Alternative Press, devoting their energies to the publication of work by adventurous visual artists and writers in the form of broadsides, postcards, bumper stickers, bookmarks and chapbooks. It was a project that connected them with some of North America’s most creative minds, and gained them the respect of critics, collectors and curators both here and abroad.

The Oct. 7, 1998, Metro Times cover story featured Ann’s paintings as well as her courageous discussion of her ongoing struggle with cancer. For more than a decade after the initial diagnosis, she continued to produce images that combine wonder and an understanding of the world that resounds like a bell.

On Monday, Aug. 2, Ann’s fervent wish was realized when her son, Michael, and his wife, Laura, gave birth to a son, Anton, and she was able to see him. Then, on the morning of Aug. 6, Ann passed away in her own home, serene as the horizon in one of her own waterscapes. She is survived by her husband, Ken, her son, Michael, and her daughter, Molly.

George Tysh is Metro Times' arts editor. E-mail him at gtysh@metrotimes.com

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