Good news for those who want to beat the winter blues! Patrons of the arts in Merrill and the surrounding area will have the opportunity to celebrate the talents of area artisans on Feb. 8. The sixth annual Artisan Showcase will be held from 1-5 p.m. in Assisi Hall at Bell Tower Residence at 1500 O’ Day St. in Merrill. The event will host artisans in quilting, jewelry making, pottery, painting, wood carving, photography, basket making, fiber arts and more. This year’s show features artisans from Merrill, Wausau, Tomahawk, Minocqua and Irma.
A featured artist this year is Susan Van Sleet, who is new to the show but not to the artistic community. Susan is a native of Merrill and was frequently tagged “classroom artist” as a grade school student. She attended Holy Cross High School from 1962-1966 where her artistic talents were nurtured by Sister Mary Hilda. After high school, art courses were taken at Edgewood College, Madison and U.W. Marathon campus. At Marathon campus she studied with Dick Dahl and mastered the art of figure study and portraiture sketching while exploring modern art and a variety of mediums. However, realistic painting became her sole focus and led to exhibiting and selling paintings at art festivals in the seventies, eighties and early nineties. As a resident of Wisconsin Rapids and Antigo she also enjoyed teaching adult and children’s art classes.  
In 1993 she took a break from painting, after meeting the daughter she had placed in closed adoption, 27 years earlier. That meeting led to her recently published book, “Mary and Me Beyond the Canvas; An Extraordinary Story of Adoption, Loss and Reunion.” The book will be available for sale at the show. Three years ago she resumed painting and admits to a new desire to make a canvas come alive. It has been 20 + years since participating in an event such as the Artisans Showcase.
This year, adding to the ambience of the show, piano music will be played throughout the afternoon on the hall’s Steinway Grand by four local pianists.  
A new addition to the event is the On-Site Raffle, which will allow attendees to vie for several art works donated by participating artisans. Those attending are invited to buy tickets for the raffle, at the show, for $1 a ticket or 6/$5.  
The public is invited to join the artists, whose special talents will be celebrated from
1-5 p.m. at Bell Tower in Assisi Hall on Feb. 8. A $5 admission will be charged and will include the show and wine and cheese and other refreshments. It is an enjoyable and relaxing show and offers the chance to pick up one-of-a-kind artwork by local artists. All profits go to Bell Tower Residence for debt reduction.