Grand Marais Art Colony News, Grand Marais, Minnesota
120 WEST 3RD AVENUE   PO BOX 626    GRAND MARAIS, MINNESOTA 55604    218-387-2737


What's so special about the North Shore?
04/01/2011-10:40 AM

What’s So Special About the North Shore?
Biophilia: Sacred Inner and Outer Landscapes Exhibit

What’s so special about the North Shore? More than 60 local and regional artists will examine how these rocky shores and glistening lakes nurture their souls in an upcoming spring theme exhibit at the Grand Marais Art Colony, April 10 – 24. Entitled Biophilia: Sacred Inner and Outer Landscapes, the exhibit captures why the North Shore is a powerful landscape.

“We are excited to see how the artists communicate the deep sense of place we experience on the North Shore because we ponder these questions ourselves,” said Amy Demmer, executive director of the Grand Marais Art Colony and co-curator of the exhibit. The North Shore is home to a higher percentage of artists than most rural areas and every year a large number of visitors come here to soak in the visually inspiring terrain.

Minnesota naturalist and author Sigurd Olsen also mused on this subject. He wrote, “We all carry restlessness within us, an impatience with things as they are, which modern life with its comforts and distractions does not seem to satisfy.” So we search for what he called “the singing wilderness” to satisfy “the hunger that all of us have for a time when we were closer to lakes and rivers, to mountains and meadows and forests, than we are today.”

Perhaps this is why so many are drawn to the rugged landscape of the North Shore; it allows us to connect with something greater and more meaningful. However, capturing that essence enters into the artist’s realm where they can explore the intersection between the geographical environment and their inner spirituality, developing a sense of place for both the artist and the audience.

Each participating artist will work in their media of choice – paintings, photography, mosaics, sculpture, beadwork, ceramics, collage, and fiber, to name a few. The exhibit is curated by the Grand Marais Art Colony and Spirit of the Wilderness Episcopal Church, an unusual annual collaboration dedicated to using art to express the intangible.

The opening reception is at 12:30 p.m. on Sunday, April 10 and will include a performance by award-winning poet and essayist Gary Holthaus and internationally acclaimed musician Lauren Pelon called: “The Story of Music, Stories from Home.” According to Pelon, “the music and readings offer unique perceptions of the natural world, and celebrate our sense of place, community and home.” They received an Arts Tour grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board to perform their renowned program for free at the exhibit opening. “We wanted to give the audience an opportunity to experience the theme through all their senses,” said co-curator Rev. Mary Ellen Ashcroft, Vicar of Spirit of the Wilderness Episcopal Church.

The Grand Marais Art Colony is Minnesota’s oldest Art Colony and is dedicated to providing services to artists, offering art education and nurturing creativity on the North Shore. The exhibit and performance are free and open to the public and located at 120 West 3rd Avenue in Grand Marais, Minn. For more information, call 218-387-2737 or see

Lauren Pelon is a fiscal year 2011 recipient of an Arts Tour Minnesota grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board. This activity is funded, in part, by the Minnesota arts and cultural heritage fund as appropriated by the Minnesota State Legislature with money from the Legacy Amendment vote of the people of Minnesota on November 4, 2008.

Inuit Artists come to Grand Marais in March!
01/21/2011-11:00 AM

Press Release from Sivertson Art Gallery

11th Annual Inuit Premiere

Featuring David Ruben Piqtoukun and Kavavow Mannomee

Sivertson Gallery opens their 11th Annual Inuit Premiere in Grand Marais on Saturday, March 19th with two world renowned Inuit artists, David Ruben Piqtoukun and Kavavow Mannomee. “With the polar bear identified as the poster child of global warming there is a growing consciousness about the Arctic that has brought the beauty of it’s resources, creatures, arts and culture to the forefront,” says gallery owner, Jan Sivertson. “Both of these artists have experienced first hand the dramatic social, cultural, and environmental changes that have taken place in the Arctic in the last half century.” The opening weekend events at Sivertson Gallery are free and open to the public and the exhibit continues through the end of April. In addition, workshops taught by these master artists will be offered through the Grand Marais Art Colony and North House Folk School.

To escape the harsh realities of life on the arctic tundra, at the urging of the Canadian government Inuit people began leaving their traditional nomadic lifestyles to live in communities in the 1950’s. With few other economic opportunities, creating artwork was encouraged as one way for the Inuit to earn an income. Situated well above the tree line in the high arctic, Inuit artists had no access to traditional materials such as wood for sculpting or block printing. Forced to use local materials, soapstone was embraced by the innovative spirit of Canada’s indigenous people. In addition to carving sculptures, flat slabs of soapstone are used to create relief style block prints.

Master soapstone Sculptor David Ruben Piqtoukun (born in Paulatuk, NWT) lived the traditional migratory life with his family along the Mackenzie River Delta. At the age of 5 he was sent away to one of the infamous residential schools where he received “an education in forgetting” for the next 12 years. “I lost my language and Native Eskimo ways. Living in the south made my identity difficult to comprehend. I was lost between two worlds.” With original instruction from his brother, noted sculptor Abraham Apalark Anghik Ruben, he began to carve soapstone at the age of 22. “I began to explore my native roots, collecting stories from my travels home in Canada’s Western Arctic. I was fascinated by my own culture.” Nearly four decades later, Ruben’s work has been featured in many group and solo exhibitions across North America and Europe. In 1988 he was named to the sculptors Society of Canada. His work can be found in many public and private collections, including the National Gallery of Canada, parks and public spaces around Canada, as well as at Canadian embassies around the world.

“David Ruben’s work balances his concern for the loss of his culture and language with a profound optimism, rooted in the shamanic beliefs of his ancestors.” – Dr. George F. MacDonald, President and CEO of the Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation.

An accomplished and precise printmaker, Kavavow Mannomee is one of the very few Inuit artists who is trained as a master printmaker at Kinngait Studios, the co-operative print shop in Cape Dorset. Since 1959 the co-op has produced an Annual Print Collection which is eagerly anticipated by collectors from around the world. Each year artists from the community submit drawings for consideration for the annual release. Images that will be made into prints are chosen by consensus and small editions are printed. Etching, lithography, and stencil methods are used in addition to the stone cut technique, which is unique to the Inuit artists of Cape Dorset. As a master printmaker, Mannomee is one of the rare Inuit artists who not only contributes imagery, but also cuts the images into the stone block and prints editions. His thematic concerns include depictions of Inuit legends and mythology, Arctic wildlife and an interest in some of the more contemporary aspects of Inuit life. Mannomee’s imagery nicely combines his naturalist’s eye with his graphic sensibilities. His work has been exhibited since 1988, in Canada, the United States, France, Belgium, and Germany.

For more info about Kavavaow's Mannomee's Inuit Stonecut Print class click here
and for Inuit Stencil Prints click here.

GMAC Call for Snow Sculptors featured on a North Woods Blog
01/03/2011-01:48 PM

The Grand Marais Art Colony recently put out a call for snow sculptors for our upcoming Snow Carving Symposium.

Groups of 1-4 carvers are invited to participate in carving a snow sculpture at a Cook County Business.  A stipend and lodging are provided.  Some experience is necessary and groups must bring their own carving tools.  See here for more info.

Blogger Andy Wright writes a blog about all things in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area.  He featured the Call for Snow Sculptors in his most recent post.  View it here:

To participate as a snow carver, contact the Art Colony at 218-387-2737 or

CALL for ARTISTS - Biophilia: Sacred Inner & Outer Landscapes
12/08/2010-12:39 PM

Biophilia: Sacred Inner and Outer Landscapes
“Exploring the Intersection between the North Shore Environment & Inner Spiritual Terrain”

Exhibit dates: April 10 – 24, 2011
Registration Deadline: Jan. 14
Artwork (ready to hang), Artist Statement & Artist Picture DUE: March 31, 2011

Biophilia means human affinity for nature and the living world. As physical/spiritual beings, we are drawn to certain environments that deeply affect us. For many, the North Shore is that kind of landscape which roots us in something greater and more meaningful.

In this themed show and sale, we invite artists to use the media of your choice to explore the interplay between the geographical outer world and the inner spiritual terrain. Here are a few things to think about as you prepare: How does the landscape of the North Shore inform your life internally/externally? What is the sacred meaning of the North Shore landscape and why does it inspire you? How does it contribute to your sense of place, home and community?

We hope to keep the theme broad enough for a wide variety of interpretations and creativity, but, for further prompts or information, contact the Art Colony at 218-387-2737 or

Call for Artists
12/03/2010-12:32 PM

Join the Grand Marais Art Colony for a Q&A Discussion about the Grand Marais Arts Festival.

Thursday, December 16 at 6 pm at the Grand Marais Art Colony.  120 W. 3rd Ave.

Find out more information about the Historic Grand Marais Arts Festival and how you can be involved.

Contact the Art Colony with questions: 218-387-2737 or

Empty Bowls Dinner & Silent Auction - Nov. 11, 11 am - 2 pm & 5 - 7 pm
10/25/2010-03:48 PM

As the weather turns dreary, thoughts turn to warm meals and cozy evenings. Unfortunately, not all families have such luxury here in Cook County. 10% of our population receives some type of food support every month. The Cook County Food Shelf has seen an increase in usage and served 100 children and 169 adults in one month, up from 75 families per month last year. For this reason, annually, the Grand Marais Art Colony hosts the Empty Bowls Dinner and Silent Auction, a community fundraiser for the food shelf.

This year’s dinner is Thursday, November 11 with 2 servings, 11 am – 2 pm and 5 – 7 pm at the 1st Congregational UCC, located at the corner of 2nd Street and 3rd Ave. West. For a suggested $10 donation, pick out your favorite hand-made bowl and fill it with delicious soup donated by local restaurants.  There is plenty of soup and bowls for everyone to enjoy at both seatings!

The Silent Auction, which supports putting on Empty Bowls, will feature a variety of items including artist made bowls, artwork, gift certificates to local businesses and hospitality items.  Items will be available for a Buy It Now price or you can take your chances in a bidding war, closing at 6 pm SHARP!

There is still time to participate in the community events to prepare for the Empty Bowls Dinner. Join the Art Colony for Paint-a-Bowl on Sat., Oct. 30 at 1 pm to paint pre-made bowls - $5 participation fee.

We are also looking for donations for the Silent Auctionr. Donations could include a handmade bowl of any material, a piece of artwork, gift certificates or hospitality items. Please contact the Art Colony about donations – 218-387-2737 or The Art Colony is located at 120 W. 3rd Ave. in Grand Marais.

Hope to see you at this community fundraiser where neighbors support neighbors!

Outdoor Painting Competition starts THIS Friday - August 27!
08/23/2010-05:07 PM

Join the Grand Marais Art Colony for our 8th Annual Plein Air Painting Competition & Exhibition, August 27 – September 6. Set up your easel and canvas to capture the scenic landscapes of the rugged shores of Lake Superior and surrounding Northwoods in this fun and competitive outdoor painting contest.

Participants can paint anytime, anywhere in Cook County during the Competition dates of August 27 – September 2. Various events and activities are scheduled throughout the week. This year features 3 juried categories with cash prizes: Watercolor, Oil & Acrylic, and Pastel. Purchase Awards by local businesses will also be awarded, sponsors include: Grand Marais State Bank, Johnson’s Foods, Lake Superior Trading Post and North Shore Federal Credit Union.

The Competition Exhibit will hang at the Grand Marais Art Colony September 3 – 6, stop by to see “hot-off-the-brush” landscapes from established and emerging artists in various price ranges.

Contact the Grand Marais Art Colony to learn more or register for the Plein Air Painting Competition & Exhibition: 218-387-2737 or 
Or Click here to download a registration form.

Nashville Songwriter "Unplugged" visits GMAC
08/03/2010-12:01 PM

Live Acoustic Performance with Jerry Vandiver
Saturday, August 21
7 PM
Art Colony – 120 W. 3rd Ave (2 blocks up from the Java Moose)
Tickets: $9 in advance, $10 at the door

Join the Grand Marais Art Colony on Sat. Aug. 21 at 7 pm for an evening of acoustic fun! Jerry Vandiver has written classic songs that have appeared on over 16 million records including Tim McGraw’s “For a Little While” which won several multi-platinum awards. Two of Jerry Vandiver’s songs have been placed on the walls of the Country Music Hall of Fame! Don’t miss out on this Nashville classic right here in Grand Marais.

Proceeds from the concert support the Grand Marais Art Colony. $9 in advance, $10 at the door.

Contact GMAC for more info: 218-387-2737 or

Bowlful of Thanks: Fundraiser during Arts Fest for Empty Bowls
06/21/2010-12:09 PM

Bowlful of Thanks
A fundraiser for the Grand Marais Art Colony in support of the Empty Bowls Events which raises funds for the local food shelf while creating access to art and increasing hunger awareness.

Date & Time: Saturday, July 10 6 – 8 pm

Where: Birchbark Books & Gifts
(11 1st Ave. W.Grand Marais, MN 55604)
What: 9 am – 8 pm Silent Auction (item viewing)
Ceramic bowls, artwork, photography, jewelry, prints and signed books by local artists and writers One week vacation rental at a Deluxe Devil Track Lake Home and so much more!
6 – 7 pm Meet and Mingle Complimentary beverages (wine, etc.)
Desserts – Donation $5
7 – 7:45 pm How I Got to be a Writer by Learning to Draw -
A lecture and slide show by artist and writer Betsy Bowen
Donation - $10
8 pm Silent Auction concludes

This event is sponsored by Birchbark Books & Gifts as part of the Grand Marais Arts Festival. For more information, call 218-387-2315 or contact the Grand Marais Art Colony, 218-387-2737 or

Summer has arrived with New Hours and Staff!
05/17/2010-11:37 AM

The Grand Marais Art Colony is pleased to welcome Gary Atwood to our summer staff as the Marketing and Volunteer Coordinator!

Gary's position is funded by grants from the Lloyd K. Johnson Foundation and the Arrowhead Regional Arts Council! 

With the new staff time, the Grand Marais Art Colony will now be open 7 days a week, 9 am - 4 pm.  Stop by and see us anytime!  Check out our studios, pick up a 2010 course catalog or just hang out.  See you soon at the Colony!

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