In 80 hours, over the course of three weeks, Little Marais artist Mary LaBerge painted a mural on the side of the Bay Area Historical Society Building, located at 80 Outer Drive in Silver Bay.
Mary LaBerge has lived in Little Marais her whole life, and has “been with Jerry LaBerge since 5th grade.” LaBerge has quite a legacy with local history – she and Jerry graduated from one of the biggest classes in Silver Bay, and their fathers originally moved to the area to help build Reserve Mining.
“When I was little, I could draw pretty good, but when I tried to color or paint it, I messed it up,” LaBerge says of her early artistic endeavors. “My mom said I should just paint like Bob Ross.” When her children were young, LaBerge was a stay-at-home mom, and painted in oils. “Starving artists need other jobs,” LaBerge relates, “But I decided when I was ready to retire, I wanted to support myself doing what I love to do.” She began holding painting classes at local businesses to “help them out.” Teaching led LaBerge to expand her artistic skills: “In or-der to teach these classes, I had to learn how to paint in acrylics.”
In 2011, LaBerge painted a large mural in Beaver Bay, visible to northeast-bound travelers on Highway 61. Her canvases include boulders, garage doors, moose antlers, saw blades, “and canvas, of course.”
LaBerge calls the mural on the Bay Area Historical Society building her favorite painting. “They let me paint whatever I wanted. Well, they wanted the plant there.” She included the Silver Bay Marina in her mural “to give it color.” The Edmund Fitzgerald is coming in on the mural, because LaBerge’s brother Kenny was a cook on it. Kenny also drove the train, so LaBerge “painted him on the train.” Five of her six brothers worked at the plant. “I guess I have a lot of history in Silver Bay. I know a lot of people in this town, in fact, I grew up with the mayor, Wade LeBlanc, who asked me if I could paint this mural.”
Lovin’ Lake County and Best of the North Shore donated funds for the mural. “Being a lifetime Silver Bay local artist, I feel very honored to show the beautiful area we live in, and the history of this great town,” Mary LaBerge concluded.
The Bay Area Historical Society will be closing soon for the season, but the mural will remain a bright spot welcoming visitors throughout the fall and winter.