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Best of state artists come to Bemidji

Judy Lee, from left, and Mary Melchior, both of Bemidji, and Annette Mackenroth of Maple Grove, Minn., offered "that it is a privilege of see all the fine artists from around the state" Saturday at the Artists of Minnesota show at the Hampton Inn & Suites. Pioneer Photo/Patt Rall

The theme of the Artists of Minnesota Spring Show, "Dream, Create and Inspire!", is a fitting title of an organization which strives to give its members every opportunity to explore their creativity through workshops, newsletters and judged shows of their work.

Members of Gallery North and the Northern Artists Association worked tirelessly to bring the spring show of the statewide organization to Bemidji on Saturday after an almost a 20-year absence. Local artist Terry Honstead was chosen to design the poster and program for the show. The Hampton Inn on the shore of Lake Bemidji is hosting the show which is also made possible in part by a grant from the Region 2 Arts Council through funding from the Minnesota Legislature.

Bickey Bender and Betty Porter of Park Rapids, two of the visiting artists, said that "this is an ideal place for the show, it is all in one place and it is very nice."

Artists in all stages of development are invited to display their works in two shows per year. This spring more than 100 of them enjoyed being together in a comfortable setting to take workshops and have their work judged by a world-class painter, Natalia Himirska.

The workshops offered to the members were given by nationally recognized watercolorist Jane Freeman, local mural painter Maureen O'Brien and Barbara Pinc, known for her wet method pastels.

On Saturday morning, Freeman spoke on values and composition by incorporating slides of famous artists and demonstrating their award-winning work and how they achieved the results.

"It was a pleasure ... I love to teach about how to make a good painting especially when people want to learn," said Freeman.

The Saturday afternoon demonstration was given by O'Brien, who is widely known throughout the area for her nature scene murals. She showed how to build the textures of birch bark and forest floors with acrylic paints using brushes and palette knives.

There were people waiting at the door early Saturday morning even though the public viewing didn't start until 1 p.m. This was the first chance for them to look at the paintings, meet the artists and vote for the People's Choice Award. Many of the pieces which represent an array of media including oil painting, acrylics, mixed media, watercolor, glass, woodcarvings and rosemaling will be for sale throughout the show.

Saturday evening, a banquet was held for AOM membership when the winners were announced in the different categories.

Himirska said that "it is a great responsibility (to judge a show) and I have a respect for all of the artists. It is always hard to choose because some of the differences are very small."

The winners were:


Intermediate, "Beyond the Meadow" by Sherri Wagner of Brainerd; Advanced, "Hutchinson Power" by Diane Jandt of Apple Valley. Still Life/ Floral-Intermediate, "Nature's Kaleidoscope" by Kathleen Sovell of Minneapolis; Advanced, "Orchids" by Karen Wolf of Apple Valley.


Intermediate, "Always Aware" by Carol Lundeen of Dassel; Advanced-"Bear Buddies" by Adele Beals of Owatoona.


Intermediate, "Cannonball Blossom" by Bonnie Crouch of Edina; Advanced, "It's About Time" by Linda Frisell of Alexandria.


Intermediate, "Whimsical Hostel House" by Colleen Hilts of Bemidji; Advanced, "Magic Glass Round Plate" by BeverLee Olson of Lake George.

Super Gold

"Mountain Music by Kathy Gustafson of Bemidji.


"Millie" by Marijo Waldera of Stillwater.


"Oasis" by Lisa Stauffer of Duluth.

Mini Show

"Summer Birch" by Lisa Stauffer of Duluth.

Dream Theme

"Illusion" by Leanne Bourcy-Petersen of Elk River.

Best in Show was won this year by Don Mondlock of St. Cloud with his "Lake Study 2."

The show will be open to the public 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. today. This morning, Pinc, a teacher at Red Lake County Central, in Plummer and Oklee, who demonstrates at pastel conventions for Ampersand (pasteboard company) will share her layering methods of using watercolors, masking fluids, and wet and dry pastels with the members. The deadline for voting in the People's Choice Award is 1:30 p.m.

The show is best described by Himirska, "Painting is not the picture, it's a window to a different world ... that ambiguous world which is beyond language. I can just give you a sense of feeling and then you interpret it personally."