By Alicia Underlee Nelson
Creative Moorhead is injecting new life into Moorhead’s art scene and revitalizing its downtown spaces. Artistic or handy people with a connection to the city are encouraged to connect with this informal and inclusive group.
“Any creative can join as long as they live, work or attend school in Moorhead,” explains Mara Morken, Creative Moorhead project coordinator. “And we’re pretty lax about what we consider ‘creative.’ A baker is a creative, a quilter, a craft beer maker, as well as all of the traditional people you associate with being an artist. There are all different kinds of makers.”
Interested parties can learn more at.creativemoorhead.org/. Morken also recommends joining the Facebook Group (facebook.com/groups/creativemoorhead) for the most up-to-date information, since Creative Moorhead posts call for submissions, virtual and in-person events and other networking opportunities on that platform.
Connecting online is especially important now, since the group has postponed an artistic showcase until after the pandemic. But that doesn’t mean Creative Moorhead hasn’t been busy. Its most recent project changed the look of downtown Moorhead.
This summer it installed public art on the sides of buildings along Main Avenue to create a socially distant, open-air Outdoor Gallery. Over 100 artists submitted their work. Nine works were chosen. The images of the selected artworks were reproduced on vinyl banners and attached to the walls of several buildings, including the Kassenborg Block, Moorhead Public Library, Ace Hardware and F-M Printing.
“The call for artists was very broad,” Morken says. “We don’t have an age limit, so it included many submissions from children and people who do art as a side business. And honestly, there wasn’t a single submission that I wouldn’t have considered good enough.”
The winning submissions include drawings, acrylic and watercolor paintings, photography, digital art and mixed media works. The exhibit showcases images of acrylic paintings by well-known regional artists like Emily Williams-Wheeler and Kim Jore, who operates Riverzen studio and gallery in Moorhead.
It also showcases the next generation. Elloise Beck was just nine years old when she created “Lake Life.” Now the vinyl reproduction of her colored pencil and pastel drawing hangs on the east wall of the Rourke Art Museum. It’ll stay there as long as weather permits.
“We are hoping that the installation will stay up through the fall and winter,” says Morken. “The initial plan was just for the summer, but they were so well received.”
The Creative Moorhead Outdoor Gallery complements other public art projects in downtown Moorhead, including a sculpture garden tucked along the train tracks east of M&H, Ace Hardware’s colorful murals and the sculptures outside the Rourke Art Museum. There are even poems written by residents pressed into the sidewalk squares. This collaborative, community connection is exactly what Creative Moorhead hopes to foster.
“Most of our art that has happened downtown has been community-led,” says Morken. “I love that it’s individuals jumping in to do it.”
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