Dowagiac artist, resort owner bring murals to Sister Lakes

Published 8:50 am Tuesday, August 6, 2019


SISTER LAKES — Sharron Ott has a favorite character in her newest mural — a giant sunset winged, green butterfly peeking out from behind the green leaves of a pink flower.

A conversation between Daniel Mcginnis, the owner of Bed-no-Breakfast Resort, and Ott, a local Dowagiac artist at Sweet Thangs Cafe in Sister Lakes, resulted in several murals being painted in the area, including the mural with Ott’s favorite butterfly.

Mcginnis and Ott had started up a conversation, during which Ott mentioned her work as a painter, and Mcginnis mentioned needing a mural painted on his back fence at the resort. After contacts and ideas were exchanged, Ott quickly got to work and ended up painting a 48-foot long by 6-foot high fence at the resort. She also painted Mcginnis’ pontoon boat, garage door, a neighbor’s garage door and two mailboxes. Ott was also asked to help with interior design elements and the beautifying of rooms at Bed-no-Breakfast Resort, 92811 County Road 690, Dowagiac.

Ott, who has been painting for 46 years and has created more than 100 murals, graduated with a degree in painting from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. In 1984, Ott started professionally selling, exhibiting and doing commercial painting.

“I’ve done 50 restaurants, five churches and then this is my second guest house,” she said.

After understanding Mcginnis’ vision of daisies and butterflies, Ott worked in his color theme of yellow and blue.

“Then I decided to work in my version of anime,” Ott said. “It’s really the first time I’ve done anime. I pride myself to do any style of any medium. I just thought it fit the place.”

After completing the fence, Mcginnis asked Ott to also paint the sides of his new pontoon boat.

“He got the pontoon boat so when people come to the lodging they can also rent a boat, and he will put it in any lake they want,” Ott said. 

For all of her murals, including the paint used on the boat, Ott selected colors in exterior house paint so they could withstand outside elements. She also focused on painting the themes of Sister Lakes.

“The theme we are trying to have is the lakes, the nature, the beauty that surrounds us here in Sister Lakes,” said Ott as she pointed out the blue in her mural on the fence, which represents water and wildlife.

Ott, who now teaches painting and drawing classes at the Krasl Art Center in St. Joseph and at the Cass District Library, enjoys painting because of the way it challenges her.

“It’s all I’ve ever done,” she said. “Every time I paint, I’m challenged.” It’s always hard.”

Because Ott has a formal education in art, she chooses to incorporate physics, optics and math in her lessons.

After her painting of the town, Ott, who is from Dowagiac, is happy to see art being brought to the Sister Lakes area.

“Mcginnis is doing a wonderful job of bringing the arts to Sister Lakes,” she said.

In addition to mural and interior design work, Ott also helps paint theater sets. Overall, she said she uses her art as a communication device.

“I like to speak with color and images,” Ott said, as she showcased her colorful murals around town.