Verna Bartnick is a sculptor in bronze, direct metal and fused glass, who makes pierogies and egg noodles on the side for her restaurant, The Old Mission Tavern. Verna and her husband Art purchased the property with two garages on Old Mission Peninsula in Traverse City, Michigan in 1976. One became Verna's studio; the other eventually became the restaurant. They later added the Bella Galleria gallery.
Today, this establishment, the Bella Galleria and Old Mission Tavern, is widely known for its Fine Art and Fine Food.
Verna Bartnick creates her sculpture in the Bartnick Studio located next door to the Tavern and Galleria. In this studio, Verna has produced major commisions that can be seen in schools and churches nationally.
The circle and the mother and child are frequent themes for Verna's sculpture. This is seen in her several dance-circle sculptures, her cut-steel metal dance circle shown as logo in the banner of this page that stands in the garden behind the gallery, and in her sculptures of Hagaar and Ishmael. Verna has a profound association with the people of the world, the downtrodden and forlorn, that shows up in her work, an example of which is "The Anawim". A major recently completed work is the life-sized sculpture in bronze titled "Time To Let Go", a depiction of a father with his son on a bicycle, letting go. It is displayed on the TART bicycle trail where it passes through the Traverse City Municipal Marina.
Hagaar and Ishmael
At the unveiling of "Time to Let Go" in November of 2005, Verna expressed some of the feelings associated with her work. "'Time to Let Go' is the theme of parent as teacher, parent as protector, nourishing and finally the life-giving act of letting go. The sculpture speaks about all these realities that we experience as parent and child and we recognize them as good and noble. Art is about being human. The mother and child is an ancient theme that reflects on the love and becomes visible in the art form."
Her interest and study of comparative religions and philosophy has found her uniquely prepared to address matters of faith as strong elements for art forms. In Traverse City her work may be seen at St. Francis Church (St. Francis, and Stations of the Cross), Temple Beth El (Tree of Life) and at Northern Michigan College Biederman Building (Bust of Les Biederman), as well as "Time To Let Go". Her commisions are exhibited up and down the east coast of the United States.