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Chasing the Wind Photography: Bemidji family opens gallery to encourage youth

Photographer and engineer Brian Grund poses with his impressive display of photographs in the Chasing the Wind Gallery, located in the Freeberg and Grund Engineering office in downtown Bemidji. Pioneer Photo/Monte Draper

A new gallery in town is devoted to youth and their desire to chase the wind as part of their spiritual journey toward happiness in simple things: the love of God given freely, the understanding that "having it all" is a fleeting fulfillment and that drugs and alcohol are fraudulent friends.

"We've been having teenagers traipse through our house for years, and none of them were ours," said owner Brian Grund with a laugh. "Teenagers all struggle, and it's all in the way you connect with them. We could be sitting at home at night, and all of a sudden there's a knock on the door and there may be three, four or more wanting to hang out."

One day, when the gallery was getting set up, Grund, his son, Jacob, and Essie Wall were busy deciding how to hang the framed photographs, where to set up the racks for cards and hundreds of unframed photos when a tourist stopped by because of a sign board outside - Chasing the Wind Photography, 323 Beltrami Ave. N.W.. But what the sign does not reveal is that all the proceeds from the gallery go right back into paying for wilderness travel expenses for youth interested in "chasing the wind." Essie, the child of missionaries, was born in New Guinea and graduated from Bemidji High School this past year. As Grund was quick to point out, she is talented in photography and the arts in general. Essie works at the gallery and is also learning the craft of portrait photography. Some of her cards showing her watercolors and pencil sketches will also be on sale.

Jacob, 12, is an all-around helper in the gallery and his sister is 14-year old Emma.

Brian Grund is an engineer by trade at Freeberg and Grund Engineering in downtown Bemidji. His avocation is as a wildlife photographer. Grund is turning a former bank building at into a photography gallery space. As Grund describes it in a handout, "Chasing the wind is about taking the time to notice the incredible, wonder-filled world around us and share it with those around us through our photography."

Grund and his wife, Teresa, decided to downsize and travel with the family to far places to experience nature firsthand. The gallery houses an extensive collection of photos of animals, landscapes and forests - framed, numbered prints and unframed, cards and some with familiar Bible verses imposed upon the picture.

"I started getting back into photography three or four years ago as a way to connect with kids," said Grund who works with the youth group at First Baptist Church. "My wife and I and family are involved with the youth group there and we found that (photography) is a good way to connect with youth, teenagers especially."

Grund uses the philosophy of French author Marcel Proust in his youth work. As Proust said, "The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes."

When Grund takes a group of teens to observe familiar places in Bemidji, for example, he will ask them to look with different eyes to see the surprises that nature has in store, to notice something they have not seen before.

"I have had the time to share our love of the wilderness with some incredible young people, sharing values that the wilderness enforces daily - love, respect, perseverance, integrity, patience and humility," said Grund. "It is amazing how many of us spend the majority of our lives searching for the very love and happiness that God gives us freely - a simple gift from Him to each one of us."