Photography by Julie SaariMitch Blessing Grace Lake June/July 2010
Mitch Blessing grew up in Bemidji, MN., he has family here and he was educated through college here receiving his BFA at BSU. But then Mitch moved away, far far away. To quote Dr. Suess,
OH! The Places You Will Go: Congratulations! Today is your day. You’re off to Great Places! You’re off and away! You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.
and go Mitch did, he went far far away. He went all the way to Miami, Fl. He finished his schooling at the University of Miami Florida while working construction to “keep up his art habit”. Finishing school and having a baby brought the Blessing family back to MN and soon back to Bemidji. Mitch is now part owner of Design Angler, along with serving as president of the Sculpture Walk Committee. I came to know Mitch through his wife Alice Blessing who is a talented artist in the area (and a dear friend of mine). The best part of this job is getting to know so many wonderful people- maybe through his story you can get to know Mitch Blessing just a bit (or maybe a bit more than you already do)
Meet Mitch :
I remember the sounds of water, thundering and splashing in the summer, corky and crackling in winter. I recall from earliest childhood the sunburn and cutoffs as well as the frostbite and thawing toes. I’d love Bemidji through my whole body even if I tried not to. I am of here.
In High School everyone talked about what a wretched little place it is here and how they couldn’t wait to get out.. to where? St. Cloud? To the mythical Twin Cities? I didn’t need to leave, didn’t hate it here, but I did have the wanderlust of a teenager. I guess we all did and just expressed it differently. Many did leave and many came back. Bemidji has gravity.
Every time I returned to Bemidji from far off lands, a prodigal son, I would feel newly overwhelmed by the wholeness of this place, the breath of it. My minerals and water are from this ground, my paradigm, though traveled and travailed, is nestled in this little home in the world.
In the spring I soften here, and I keep my shoes off as much as possible. I drink in the water all summer. In the fall I hike around and rejoice in the musk and the departure of all the things that make me itch. In the winter I tighten and I feel like working, warming things, and feasting. The extremes of every season make each one exquisite.
Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the guy who wrote 100 Years of Solitude, and Love in the Time of Cholera, grew up in a high mountain monastery school, then spent time down in the “exotic” cities of the coast. He spoke about the positive insular quality of places that are far inland and hard to get to. Bemidji often seems “behind” in the world, and frustratingly conservative, even (like the weather) oppressive. There are many obstacles and it takes a strong person/family to live happily here. Incidentally, there are many such strong, talented, happy people here.
The warm and worldly coast is so attractive. Out there, gifts arrive quickly and easily from around the globe. Great things happen quickly every day. So do great terrible things. Most everything happens too quickly. The large interchanges of the universe are enriching, and exposing.They demand a lot of energy, a fast burn, good defenses.
Our forbidding inland home is a buffer in many ways. It reminds me of the Bozone Layer (a la Dave Larson’s The Far Side) which protects the rest of the universe from the Earth’s harmful effects. A similar layer may lie between here and St. Cloud.
If time can be slowed a little, just to let us filter the input somewhat, then here, in nearly the geographic center of North America, we may have an advantage.
Breathe in the seasons, raise a healthy family, and mediate the unceasing, uncaring stream of input, that’s what I’m trying to do here in my town, Bemidji. Thanks for asking.
All photos taken by and property of Julie Saari Copyright 2011