Outdoor gallery shows off work by Creative Moorhead

A replica of Elloise Beck’s artwork is mounted on the east side of the Rourke Art Museum. The drawing, which she completed at age 8, is titled “Lake Life.” (Photo/Nancy Hanson)

An informal new organization of Moorhead “creators” – artists, performers and others whose media ranges from food to welding – has brightened the path along Main Avenue with an outdoor exhibition of two-dimensional art.

Creative Moorhead, the two-year-old project behind the open-air display, has installed large reproductions of nine paintings and drawings on the sides of public and private structures flanking Main. They include the Kassenborg Block, Rourke Art Museum, Moorhead Public Library, Ace Hardware and F-M Printing. Several more may be added in coming weeks.

Printed in vivid colors on large vinyl banners, the works are attached to brick walls with a heavy adhesive. They’ll be on view throughout the summer and fall, and perhaps over the dreary days of winter.

Mara Morken heads the eclectic Creative Moorhead collaboration. They define “creator” in the broadest possible sense: “If you create, you’re one of us.” There’s just one limitation; members must live, work or go to school in Moorhead.

“We came together at the end of 2019,” she says of the group, whose members pay no dues and can join at will. “Originally we were planning to have a big arts event, sort of studio crawl-meets-open house – meets performing arts – meets festival. We hadn’t quite nailed it down yet. And then Covid hit.”

Their first project was entirely online. Video producers were invited to submit links to their programs for inclusion on the website CreativeMoorhead.org. The results range from tips on lip moisturizers and poetry to knitting, making candles, a virtual potluck, music and comedy.

The outdoor gallery unveiled last week is the second. It started with an open call for art earlier this year. “It was the easiest submission process ever,” Morken reports. “We just asked artists to snap a photo with their cellphones and send it to us, along with a description.” More than 100 entries were received from artists of all ages, including children.

“Narrowing them down was really hard,” she confides. The selection was done by the Creative Moorhead committee, including Del Rae Williams, Su Legatt, Dennis Krull, Tim Wollenzein, and Marina and Brent Behm.

At some point, Morken says, the group plans to apply for nonprofit status. In the meantime, though, they continue to brainstorm ways to show off local talent. That festive event derailed by the pandemic, too, is still in the works: “By next spring, we hope to have it back on track.”

Artists represented in the current outdoor show include Ryan Anderson, Alyssa Price, Elloise Beck and her mother Rachel, Mitchel Scott Hofert, Kim Jore, Lauren Starling, Emily Williams-Wheeler and Kevin Zepper. A map of all locations is available at Facebook/groups/creativemoorhead.

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