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Artists mentor students through program

Region 2 Artist Mentor Grant Winner of 2011 Raven Clark is shown with her mentor Malisa VanMaasdam (foreground) at the print studio of Bemidji State University. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Young artists are encouraged to attend an informational meeting about the Region 2 Arts Council Artist Mentor Grant program with winners of last year's grants and their mentors. The meeting for students in grades 9-12 with talent and a passion for the arts and their parents will run from 5:30 - 7 p.m. Thursday at the Headwaters School for Music and the Arts, 519 Minnesota Ave. NW.

Artist mentors Jake Baggenstoss, Malisa VanMaasdam, Al Belleveau and Nicholas Jackson and their student mentees will be talking about their experiences this past year. The meeting is also for area artists who wish to participate in the program, which allocates money to the artist for one-on-one mentoring or teaching and a stipend for supplies.

This past year, VanMaasdam worked with Raven Clark in printmaking. They were fortunate to be able to use the facilities at the Bemidji State University Print Shop.

"This year has shown me that teaching may well be the field I would like to enter," said VanMaasdam. "I already teach dancing and have some private art students as well as teach workshops at HSMA."

Nationally recognized sculptor and mentor Al Belleveau also expressed his satisfaction working with TrekNorth senior, Ivan Smith.

"It was a time for sharing," said Belleveau.

Smith also voiced a strong positive attitude toward the experience of working in sculpture at Belleveau's studio in Puposky.

"I have been making art (sculpture) for as long as I remember," said Smith. "I have finished three projects this year and expect the largest one to be in this year's Bemidji Sculpture Walk and also in Wadena. In the fall, I will attend college in Vermillion and study art, especially sculpture."

Terri Widman said the program was no longer in existence, due to lack of funding, when she started as executive director of Region 2 Arts Council.

"The Arts and Cultural Heritage (Legacy) Fund helped us to revive a very important mentor program for young artists in our five-county region," Widman said. "This mentor program provides training for the next generation of artists by working with established professional artists in the area. Of course, a student may also opt to attend an arts workshop or class instead of working directly with a mentor."

Program Coordinator in the Bemidji Region 2 office, Laura Dehler-Seter, said the opportunity allows students to learn how to write a grant, present their work for review and also explain or perform for a panel. It is a good experience that they will build on in the future.

"We had 26 applicants last year, and we awarded nine young artists with a grant," said Dehler-Seter. "We have so much talent among the young people in each of the five counties served by Region 2, which is perfect because we also have many gifted adult artists who are interested in sharing what it means to live an artist's life."

Region 2 Arts Council serves Belrtami, Clearwater, Hubbard, Lake of the Woods and Mahnomen. Any student or interested artist mentor is invited to attend the meeting. Please RSVP by Tuesday by sending an email to or calling (218) 751-5447 or (800) 275-5447.

If unable to attend, an application may be downloaded from the website.

The deadline for applications is April 11, 2012. Applicants will be notified of the date for the in-person interview by a panel at a time and place yet to be determined.