Posted: June 28th, 2010 | Author: Julie | Filed under: East of Bemidji | Tags: artist, Bemidji, kaleidoscope, Stump Lake, This is my town, wildlife photographer | 1 Comment »
East of Bemidji
Laid back yet determined. An eye for the unseen. Melissa creates art out of the every day beauty around us. A mom who found herself after raising her family. I had a great time at Melissa’s house on Stump Lake. The fortune of nature was with us as the lake was calm and peaceful that day and the wildlife made an appearance. Getting to watch a simple picture turn into a piece of artwork was inspiring.
Can I introduce you to Melissa?
I was not born or raised here in the literal sense. I found Bemidji in 2006 and knew the moment I stepped off the plane that this was HOME.
My journey began the summer of 2006 in Owosso, Michigan where I lived for ten years with my husband and six children. Don’t be too impressed, I didn’t give birth to them all, we are a meshed family, but a family all the same and I love them all as if they were my own. Most of our family vacations were long weekends to the upper peninsula of Michigan. The only place I found solace. My heart was heavy on the trip back and my husband and I fantasized about moving to the U.P. buying a tiny cabin on a lake surrounded by forest. It was not practical and selfish for us to consider uprooting our children from the only home they could remember, so we patiently waited. The summer of 2006 marked the milestone of all children graduating from high school. It was time – our time! I was on the search for a job in the north, what I thought would be the U.P. of Michigan.
Fortunately a fairy godmother found me, and of course as fairy godmothers are, much wiser than I am, took pity upon me, and paved the way for my journey home. I had three job offers in northern Minnesota and no prospects in the U.P. My husband and I decided why not investigate. The first company did not offer enough salary so I turned it down. The second offer was from Arctic Cat. Thief River just did not feel like home. The third offer from a company not far from Bemidji seemed just right. (I know – too Goldilocks – sorry) I flew into Bemidji airport for my interview and immediately sighed and said…..HOME! I rushed to the interview, accepted their offer, rushed back home to tell my husband that I have found our paradise. Much more beautiful than what we imagined. Two weeks later I was in a manic dash to pack and start my first day of work. In keeping with my Goldilocks theme, there was a bear involved (or if you choose a Big Bad Wolf both villains are appropriate) and just over a year after my first day I left the company. Once again my fairy godmother stepped in. This, like other fairy tales has a touch of irony. The company that offered me a job when I thought no one ever would (long story and too negative to elaborate) happened to be the first offer I turned down, Nortech Systems. Forgive me for not noticing what this company had to offer, I had yet to learn that what seems like a frog is truly a prince! (Yes again with the fairy tale theme!)
The past three and half years in this little piece of heaven have been the most inspiring time of my life. I have grown as an artist, mother, wife and person. I am no longer that tightly wound woman that was ready to stress out about any issue, frazzled to the point where getting out of bed took all the energy I could muster. I turned from a puppet to a real girl! (Yes now a Pinocchio theme) Life here in Bemidji has taught me to slow down, take in the magnificent landscape and wildlife, breathe in all the beauty and diversity that Bemidji and life has to offer. So, in essence, I was RE-BORN and raised in Bemidji.
My artistic outlet has been landscape and wildlife photography. I was only inspired to take photos when I was in the Upper Peninsula, which was only one maybe two times a year for long weekends. Now I find it hard not to photograph, document, and share the beauty that envelops me, much of it in my backyard on Stump Lake. Yes I got my cabin on a lake surrounded by forest! Hmmmm… I love drinking my coffee on my deck at sunrise listening to the loons, chickadees and that friendly call of the Phoebe – PHEEBEEE, PHEEBEE. The various woodpeckers lend their percussions on the pines and a determined little sapsucker has taken up the cymbals by drumming on the metal around my chimney all the while the wind whispers through the pines. I am hypnotized into complete bliss. And NO, this is not in cartoon format with the birds landing on my shoulder and I am singing back at them this is no fairy tale – it is my fantastic life! I can’t image life could be more incredible.
I suppose you wonder if I miss my children. Well they never gave me the chance. Five out of six of my kids have moved to Bemidji, or very close to Bemidji. They love the area just as much as my husband and I do. What can I say; they inherited their good taste from me!
I have just recently found a new fairy godmother that has encouraged, supported and help make my dream of sharing my art with the world come to fruition. Christina Thorne at Bad Cat Creations is kindly showcasing my photography. It is not the average photograph. I create kaleidoscopes from my photos. It is my interpretation of the wonders of nature. I have been on a marathon of creativity and Bemidji is my muse!
And I live happily ever after!
written by Melissa Burness
Melissa’s FB page is HERE
Her Etsy page is HERE
Posted: June 20th, 2010 | Author: Julie | Filed under: Downtown | Tags: art, beaver, Bemidji, Downtown, Gaea, Minnesota, sculpture, This is my town | 22 Comments »
Bemidji Sculpture Walk.
The sculpture painting project was made possible by a grant Catie Belleveau wrote to the George W. Neilson foundation. They funded our purchase of the 10 beaver blanks that local two dimensional artists have enhanced with their unique painting styles. These sculptures will reside on the Sculpture Walk for a year and be auctioned next spring to the highest bidding individual or business who will have them grace their locations. The proceeds will be used to enhance the Sculpture Walk and 30% of the auction price will be paid to the artist who painted the beaver.
The image of the beaver was chosen by a community survey that was promoted through local media and the artist were selected by committee judging. The blanks were created by a company in Chicago called Cow Painters. We originally ordered 10 blanks but because of a delay of shipment they sent us a extra blank as a consolation. Nine beavers will be installed throughout Bemidji today with the tenth beaver coming soon, being delayed because of a death in the artists family. We have not yet determined the fate of the 11th blank beaver.
We would like to thank our down town business sponsors, The Sculpture Walk Committee, participating artists and George W. Neilson whom we are dedicating this years Sculpture Walk to – because of his foresight and philanthropy in enhancing the lives of the people in our community for many years.
Facilitation and installation are being preformed by Mitch Blessing and Al Belleveau.
Information provided by Al Belleveau
Hello, my name is Crinkle.
N 47° 28.301’ , W094° 53. 024 (City Hall)
I got that name because I spend a lot of time in the water and I get all crinkly. My best friend is Walter a Koi Fish who lives at The Wild Hare. I am enjoying summer in Bemidji after being rescued from the Evil Chain Smoking Beaver Trapper who resides 2
nd and Minnesota. While enjoying my new found freedom I have been able to check things out around here and there is a lovely tree that I am chomping at the bit for. I really want to go gnaw on it and use its parts in a dam I have been working on. This tree is located by River Wood Bank. There is yet another tree I have been eyeing on the corner of 4th and Minnesota but I don’t thing I can reach it. I hope you will enjoy spending time with me and all the others on Bemidji’s Sculpture walk.
N 47° 28.236’ , W094° 52. 955 (3rd and Minnesota)
As the sunsets in our beautiful land,
where the Mississippi is born,
the beaver stands
as the sad clown who sees
suffering at the hands of the humans
as their needs to consume
swirls in the red sea at the end of this river
May all life forms find protection
let the Earth heal and grow!
“Home Sweet Home”
N 47° 28.228’ , W094° 52. 890 (3rd and Beltrami)
This sculpture was painted to draw attention to the beavers, which are the original community builders. They create the pond where they can live, build a lodge, and raise their young, and at the same time, create a place where other animals can live and flourish as well. In my work we see them sharing their living space with several fish, a turtle, and a dragonfly. It also has several aspen leaves, which represent the beaver’s favorite food (a quickly renewed resource), and petroglyph images which represent the long history of association between these animals and humans. “Busy as a beaver” has become a cliché phrase, but in regards to the beaver, it is completely true!
N 47° 28.227’ , W094° 52. 865 (3rd and Beltrami Ave.)
This lake scene was painted by Alice Blessing using her fingers instead of paintbrushes. The resulting marks manifest in a surprising style that resembles pointillism and the impressionistic works of Claude Monet. The artist hopes that this colorful work reminds you to protect our lakes and wildlife: Don’t pollute! Don’t poach!
Jason Elliott Clark
N 47° 28.239’, W094° 52.792 (3rd and Bemidji Ave)
Using an x-ray style I have chosen to represent both the interior and exterior aspects on this beaver form, illustrating anatomical features ranging from bones, tendons, muscles, and nerves to unborn kits and even dietary contents within the stomach. These features are represented through the use of a bold formline and stylized or symbolic markings.
Deborah A Davis
N 47°28.290’,W094° 52.880 (4th and Beltrami)
Gaea means Mother Earth and God is Gracious
That the fertile earth itself is female, nurturing mankind is a belief that crosses culture, time and borders. Gaea means Mother Earth. It also means “God is Gracious,” and is one of the 52 feminine aspects of God in the Christian Bible. Gaea in mythology was a female Titan. If we could embrace the strength of womaness, celebrate it, we would become the people we are meant to be: nurturing, loving, whole.
on a side note: While painting this, the gulf oil disaster occurred… and I couldn’t help thinking, if we could incorporate this… become less gluttoness and more sacrificial, the world would be more like the home it is meant to be for us and our children.
Hug, the History Beaver
N 47° 28.162’ , W094° 52. 973 (2nd and Minnesota)
Hug, the beaver got his name from my 2 year old grandson. Hug is covered with the history of Bemidji. The information from old photos of residents, old newspaper clippings, and a written history was found on the internet. Hug is painted green for Bemidji State University, as they are green beavers. I painted pictures on him that remind me of this area. I chose a fish, an eagle, a deer and two trees. To me, they symbolize Bemidji, and the surrounding area. You can see these things from a distance. When you get closer, you can read some of the history. Up by the top of his head it tells about the post office and how Bemidji was mistakenly named “Bermidji” when the post office first opened. It was quite a lot of time and red tape to get the name corrected. On Hug’s foot are listed the mayors of Bemidji, and the dates that they served. There are many other facts to discover as you look closely at the surface. Sadly, some of the history was lost when the symbols of the area came into being. But, sad as that may be, Hug still contains many mysteries to uncover.
Paula J. Swenson
N 47° 28.425’ , W094° 52. 887 (by Courthouse)
The river and ponds where beavers make their homes inspired “River Home”. The riverbanks are lined with rocks, shrubs and small trees with larger trees in the background. Among the inhabitants of the woods are deer, bear and coyotes. The stars in the sky, the northern lights and the shoreline are reflected in the water where small mouth bass, blue gills and muskies swim. (I know bluegills are not brown and bass are not yellow but that’s how I am.) A spiny soft shelled turtle basks on a sandbar in the river.
Visitors are welcome to visit my studio by appointment. Appointments can often be arranged on short notice. Please call Paula at 218-751-6767
N 47° 28.364’ , W094° 52. 864 (5th and Beltrami)
I wanted to design something that was totally fun, with bright colors and original characters I developed that would appeal to kids. I have two young girls at home, so they had a great time watching the beaver (we named him Ed) become this big art piece. I even used some of their toys in the design and let them do some painting, so they thought that was pretty awesome.
My youngest girl liked the beaver so much that she sat on his tail and ate her cereal in the morning for a few days. Overall it was a great project to be involved with, and became something my whole family enjoyed. I hope the community enjoys the painted beaver sculptures as much as I did being a part of the experience.
I have provided the information, locations, and small photo collages of each beaver sculpture. I intentionally did not post large pictures of each one, these photos are only to serve as a teaser. I do hope that you will take the time to enjoy each sculpture up close and take in the true beauty, talent, and creativity in person. If you look carefully at the art work it is easy to forget that such beauty is placed on the shape of a beaver. A project like this just adds to my appreciation of this town and it’s artist population. It is just another facet that makes this my town.
(Please leave a comment in the box below to show the artists your appreciation. Thank you.)
A special thank you to Janet Rith-Najarain for providing the waypoints.
Posted: June 14th, 2010 | Author: Julie | Filed under: Downtown | Tags: Bemidji, Harmony Co-op, Minnesota, service, This is my town, Wild Hare | 3 Comments »
Photography by Julie Saari
Harmony Co-op Dairy Cooler
One person’s life affecting many. That is how I describe Mackenzie. As she hands over your double shot/soy/two pump/vanilla latte and the Uptown scone that could make or break the rest of your day; she is having an impact on your morning and hence your life. A smile, a kind word, remembering it is your big day, asking about an update on your last conversation, and making sure you get that specialty cheese you need for your party, one person’s life can affect many. How has Mackenzie affected your life? I know she has made me smile often.
I came here for the college; I stayed for the community. I arrived in Bemidji in the fall of 1999 in order to study Mass Communications at BSU. As I met friends and relationships evolved I tacked on studies in Art and Art History. I started working at Harmony Co-op in 2001 as an evening cashier. I fell hopelessly in love with the Co-op and all the people in it. And then I fell in love with a co-worker. Jeff, the Produce Department and a steamy summer were the fertilizers that helped my roots grow. So when the dairy manager at the time left, non-related and unaccomplished degree be damned, I stayed and started my humble beginnings as the “dairy queen”. Since I had worked at BSU as the Touche Gallerie director and assorted Art History assistant positions I was collecting paychecks from multiple jobs.
My time at BSU ran out, Harmony was a steady deal but I needed something else. So a few months after Moni & Reed opened up the Wild Hare Bistro I popped in to say that I should probably just turn up to do dishes when they were busy and maybe it would be neat if they hired me. My profession as a “professional” cook had begun. My employment there has taken me great lengths in my cooking skills, on cheese adventures to Wisconsin, catering gigs, true friendships and burns and cuts. I still do the dishes…and now I have been there for four years.
I’ve been at the Co-op for eight. Anyone reading this who knows me most likely met me while I was at work. That is what I do. I work for me, I work for my husband (Jeff) but I work for you Bemidji. I love to make you coffee and muffins. I want to hear about that cheese you had at a friend’s house while you were on vacation. I need to know how your son is doing in school. I want to see your art show. I’d love to meet your parents when they come to town for your graduation.
The deal that Bemidji and I have worked out is that we are fiercely loyal and take care of each other’s needs. I live to serve and Bemidji serves this need for me.
Written by: Mackenzie Lindahl
pics by Julie Saari
Harmony Co-op’s web site HERE
Wild Hare’s web site HERE