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Watermark hires Art Education Coordinator

Jill P. Oakes

BEMIDJI --  Watermark Art Center in Bemidji recently hired Jill P. Oakes of Bemidji as Art Education Program Coordinator, thanks to a grant from Region 2 Arts Council.

Oakes comes from a background in elementary art education, with extensive experience in art programming, including running art classes at the Rochester Art Center as well as organizing several art camps throughout the state, according to a release from the center.

In her role at Watermark, Oakes will be responsible for developing and implementing educational opportunities for youth and adults of all skill levels.

“I am beginning this position with great anticipation and enthusiasm,” Oakes said in the release. “I have always been consistently involved in the visual arts in one way or another -- as an artist, art educator, consultant and arts advocate. I am excited to put my experience to work for Watermark as I develop meaningful educational opportunities for the community. I look forward to teaching, learning and creating with everyone.”

Watermark Art Center’s new building, which opened in December, includes a nearly 1,000 square-foot education space equipped with technology, sinks, wide countertops and extra storage. A majority of Oakes’ education programming will take place here, giving attendees close access to Watermark’s galleries while they learn, the release said.

“We are very pleased to welcome Jill to our staff,” said Lori Forshee-Donnay, Watermark’s executive director. “Her talent and passion for art education will allow us to offer more substantive art classes for youth and families regardless of economic, geographic or physical barriers. The focus will be to develop a low cost, high quality, age appropriate art curriculum that will help participants develop knowledge, skill and a greater understanding of their world through art.”

Watermark Art Center is a member-supported nonprofit that has operated in downtown Bemidji since 1982. In 2017, the art center opened its new state-of-the-art facility at 505 Bemidji Ave N. Eighty-one percent of the fundraising for the new building has been achieved, but certain financial goals still remain. To give or learn more about the organization, visit