BEMIDJI -- No matter where they came from, artists at Saturday's 52nd annual Art in the Park had interesting stories to tell.
The signature Bemdiji art event, hosted by the Watermark Art Center and Paul Bunyan Communications, brings together artists of all mediums to showcase their work. Watermark Art Center Executive Director Lori Forshee-Donnay said this year’s event brought in between 75 to 100 artists. Typically, Art in the Park has around 4,000 visitors come to enjoy the art show atmosphere throughout the two-day event.
“Art in the Park turns into kind of a destination weekend,” said Forshee-Donnay.
For many artists such as Bob Hendricks of Silverfish ‘n’ Things in Forest Lake, new beginnings brought he and his wife, Lana, to their art and their business ideas. They have been coming to Art in the Park for 10 years making items out of silver.
“When you get laid off or told that they don’t need you anymore, ya gotta find something to do,” Hendricks said.
Hendricks remembers how it all started, too. When Lana brought home a fish shaped mobile one day, he knew he could craft a better looking one. He has since found himself making silver memories out something a little unexpected -- forks, knives and spoons.
Aryn Kern of Long Shadow Woodworks in Little Falls agreed the success her business started with something small and unexpected. She said her husband, Courtney, sparked a passion for making cutting boards when he would take home wood from a cabinet store he worked at that was otherwise going to be burned. After losing his job, he continued his work, making everything from cutting boards to pizza cutters out of wood that were too nice to go to waste, she said.
“We saw a sign for an art fair and we thought “What is an art fair?”,” Kern said. “That was back in 2006, and we have been doing art shows ever since.”
Shelby Bork started her business, Bork’s Botanical Creations, to develop a variety of traditional skills within her own art style. She has been participating in art shows for about two years. Her booth had hand drawn henna tattoos, naturally dyed silk scarves, clay turtles and shells and a large amount of drawn greeting cards and prints.
Bork goes to school in southern Missouri and is from there originally. She is visiting the Bemidji area for the summer. She decided to showcase her art at Art in the Park because she said she loves it here and the environment fit right.
”It means absolutely everything -- I am really bad at online businesses and creating that kind of stuff,” Bork said, adding communities with art-related activities are a big draw for her in the summer.
Forshee-Donnay thinks the success of this event is what keeps people coming back year after year.
“It is part of that art scene that Bemidji is known for,” Forshee-Donnay said.
Art in the Park will continue Sunday, July 21, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Library Park, located across from the Watermark Art Center at 505 Bemidji Ave N.