Les Cheneaux Islands Art Gallery

By Abby Bell 

Next to the only traffic light in Hessel, Michigan resides the Les Cheneaux Islands Art Gallery, owned by local artists Diana and John Grenier.

Artists Diana and John Grenier pose in front of a gallery wall of Diana's oil on canvas paintings.
Diana and John Grenier in the Les Cheneaux Islands Art Gallery

Diana’s talent runs the gamut from watercolor and pastels to oil paintings, but she is renowned in the local community for two decades of posters created for the annual Les Cheneaux Islands Antique Wooden Boat Show and Festival of Arts. Each poster is an oil-based painting featuring the event’s showcased boat of the year.

Posters for the past two decades of boat shows are displayed at the Les Cheneaux Islands Art Gallery. Diana’s talents shine in her gallery – her original paintings capture the soft blues of the water in the Les Cheneaux Islands, the changing aqua tones as the water depth deepens and the darkening mahogany on the antique wooden boats as the sun sets over the islands. Each poster tells a story of the boat show event, but the original painting tells a story of a talented artist with a mastery of her work and a deep love for the natural beauty of the Les Cheneaux Islands.

Diana Grenier smiles in front of her oil on canvas painting of antique wooden boats in the Les Cheneaux Islands.
Diana masterfully crafts the 2023 Les Cheneaux Islands Antique Wooden Boat Show and Festival of Arts poster.

“I photograph the featured boat on the water in the desired lighting condition and use those pictures as painting inspiration,” states Diana, who takes about a year to design and paint the event poster.

John is a sign painter who specializes in gold-leaf. While Diana paints, John designs a custom font that pairs with the boat’s era — their teamwork results in a custom poster combining the modern world with the bygone past.

The boat show posters are the Grenier’s most well-known work, but John and Diana recently completed a custom branding job for the Mackinac Island Boat Company that mesmerizes the viewer. The 180-degree panoramic painting shows a view from the Mackinac Bridge to the Grand Hotel, featuring multiple ferryboats. Adoring each ferryboat is John’s handcrafted font, displaying the name of the Mackinac Island Boat Company. The painting is on display at the Mackinac Island Boat Company’s St. Ignace office, and the custom font is used in the company’s branding.

A wooden boat with the words "Morning Glory Harbor Spring" in gold-leaf.
John is a talented sign painter specializing in gold-leaf.

Diana and John encourage those interested in pursuing a career in the arts to learn the basics first. The pair encourage future artists to attend workshops and practice their skills.

“The most important thing is to paint every day,” John states.

For more information visit lescheneauxislandsartgallery.com.

Diana Grenier's oil painting of the Mackinac Island Ferry Boat Company's boats in the waters of the Straights of Mackinac. Mackinac Island is seen in the background and a rendering of the Mackinac Bridge spans the left-hand side of the painting.
Diana's mural for the Mackinac Island Ferry Boat Company.