Archive for the ‘Around the Museum’ Category

Holy Smokes! Drawing Comics course launches at Plains Art Museum

June 5th, 2014 by Amy Richardson Posted in Around the Museum, center for creativity | Comments Off

drawing comics logo copyA dynamic trio of artists joins forces this summer at Plains Art Museum to debut Drawing Comics, an informal class and networking experience focused on graphic novels. Beginning June 12 from 5-6:30 p.m. and continuing on the second and fourth Thursday of each month until Sept. 25, aspiring comic artists will meet at the Museum’s Center for Creativity to draw and discuss techniques, styles, and graphic novel concepts.

The instructors—John Berdahl, Zack Coleman, and Bill Thompson—all share the same super powers: finely honed drawing skills and a passionate love of comics. All three are also published illustrators and will share their expertise by providing demonstrations in drawing and inking, multiple media types, and laying out stories from script to page.

“Even though there is an instructor present, individuals are free to show up, work on their work as they see fit in a space filled with other illustrators, artists, and writers,” says Berdahl. “If they choose to take some time to participate in the lessons that we offer, it’s their prerogative.”

He emphasized that a valuable aspect of each session is the ability for artists to assess their work, as well as the work of others, and participate in discussions of ideas in a supportive, open studio-style format.

“Comic books are one of the more pure pop expressions of the collective human imagination,” Berdahl said. “They excite the kids. They elate the teens. They stir something in the adults that reminds them, ‘Hey, life can be colorful, bizarre and, sometimes, fit into little boxes on the page!’ We’re structuring this guided class to be free-form and accessible to everyone who loves comics. So drop in, draw, get inspired, draw some more, and see where it takes you.”

Drawing Comics
5 – 6:30 p.m. on second and fourth Thursdays of the month, June through September
$5 advance registration, $7 at the door
Register at or with the specific session links below. Call 701-551-6100 for more information.

June 12 Session: Narrative
Host artist: Zack Coleman. What story do you want to tell? Learn to construct your story to its maximum potential, flush out your characters, find the audience you want, and decide how you wish the look/aesthetic of your story to be.

June 26 Session: Characters
Host artist: Zack Coleman. Explore the creation of characters in your story, including how their physical features describe their personality without words.  We will also consider the development of protagonist vs. antagonist and their continuity in the narrative.

July 10 Session: Places
Host artist: Bill Thompson. Whether on the planet Mars or in your own backyard, your setting is just as much a character as the characters themselves. Learn the tricks on how to frame your panels for the best dramatic effect and show what needs to be shown.

July 24 Session: Pencils and Panels
Host artist: John Berdahl. What’s better to use: HB or Charcoal N? Come to learn the difference between tools of the trade, while developing a proper feel for pacing from panel to panel.

August 14 Session: Discussing Work
Host artist: John Berdahl.  Sometimes a second pair of eyes are what you need to push forward.  Sit down with peers and instructors to go over your material and critique what you’ve accomplished so far to see if you’re getting the most out of your work or find out what you need to do to go further.

August 28 Session: Inking and Scanning
Host artist: Bill Thompson.  “Inking is just tracing, right?”  Find out what the professionals use and what may work for you, from traditional methods to more modern tools.  You will be introduced to many options for this difficult step in creating comics.

September 11 Session: Coloring
Host artist: Bill Thompson. Learn about using color to enhance your story – its mood, progression, and aesthetic.

September 25 Session: Publishing
Host artist: John Berdahl. “I’ve completed a comic, now what?” Thanks to technology, it’s easier than ever to publish your work for all to see. Learn the rules of commissions and publishing and what’s best for you.

Free summer admission to active duty military and families

May 21st, 2014 by Amy Richardson Posted in Around the Museum, News, Press Releases | Comments Off

Plains Art Museum will again offer free admission to current military members and their families this summer between Memorial Day and Labor Day through the Blue Star Museums program. The Museum is closed on Memorial Day and Labor Day, but open all days between, from May 27 to August 31. Current military members presenting a valid military ID receive free admission for themselves and immediate family up to five guests. Children and youth always receive free general admission.

Blue Star Museums is a collaboration among the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Star Families, the Department of Defense, and more than 2,000 museums in all 50 states that offers free admission to the nation’s active duty military personnel, including National Guard and Reserve, and their families from Memorial Day through Labor Day annually. Visit to learn more about the program and find other participating museums.

Plains Art Museum is located at 704 First Avenue North in Fargo.

Filmmaker/artist Jason Simon to talk at Plains Art Museum on March 7

February 14th, 2014 by Amy Richardson Posted in Around the Museum, Around Town, Contests, Exhibitions | Comments Off

Plains Art Museum and the Fargo Film Festival are co-hosting a reception on March 7 for Jason Simon, the founder of The One Minute Film Festival: 2003-2012, currently on exhibition at the museum. The show features hundreds of one-minute films created by more than 300 artists whose video vignettes range from the meditative and poignant to the startling surreal and outright funny.

New York-based artist Simon curated the exhibition, which appeared at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA) prior to opening at the Plains.

Museum Reception/Fargo Film Festival Pre-Party

Friday, March 7, 5 – 7 p.m.
6 p.m. – Brief remarks by Jason Simon
Hors d’oeuvres by Mosaic Foods and cash bar
Complimentary copies of the MASS MoCA show catalog, while supplies last
Free for museum members and Fargo Film Festival pass holders, $10 nonmembers, $5 students

Simon is a media artist and assistant professor of Cinema at City University of New York. He creates films, videos, installations, photographs, and sound sculptures that focus on the intersection of consumption and culture.

The One Minute Film Festival is on display at the museum through May 24. The exhibition and related programs are sponsored by The Forum. Plains Art Museum is located at 704 First Avenue North in downtown Fargo.

Fargo in 60 Seconds: Open call for films through March 17
To expand on the creative vision of The One Minute Film Festival, Plains Art Museum invites submissions from filmmakers to submit their best one-minute films and video creations. There is no fee to enter, and contributors may submit up to two movies. The entry deadline is March 17, and the submissions will be showcased at the museum in a continuously looped screening titled Fargo in 60 Seconds from March 24 to May 24.

The Museum will also host a Teen Filmmakers Awards Night on April 10 for a special screening of films submitted by filmmakers ages 14 to 18. Cash prizes will be awarded for 1st Place – $100, 2nd Place – $75 and 3rd Place – $50. Filmmakers ages 19 and above will be eligible for a drawing for two tickets to the museum’s 2014 Spring Gala: Optical Illusions on May 3. For more details and entry guidelines, visit


Giving Hearts Day Noon Appreciation Concerts and Events

January 31st, 2014 by Cody Jacobson Posted in Around the Museum, Special Events | Comments Off


We hope you think of us on Giving Hearts Day, and we’re thinking of the best way to say Thank You! So we invite you to stop in during Valentine’s Week for a delightful series of music and events, here at the heart of the arts in Fargo Moorhead.

Leading up to Giving Hearts Day, Plains Art Museum is hosting a series of free appreciation concerts at noon on February 11, 12, and 13. And on February 13, Giving Hearts Day, all museum galleries will be free and open to the public. That evening, we’ll have a special tour and presentation related to our recently opened ceramics exhibition and we’re also a stop on Downtown Fargo’s “Wine about Winter” event.

Anyone who makes a pledge of $10 or more to Plains Art Museum during Giving Hearts Day will get a coupon for a free cup of coffee at Café Muse (courtesy the staff of Café Delight). Donors at $250 and above will get a unique gift of art, donated by nationally known glass artist Robin Lehman.

To keep our exhibitions, events, and classes available, affordable—and often free—for the community, take a moment to give back on Giving Hearts Day, an amazing 24-hour community event organized by Dakota Medical Foundation and Impact Foundation. Gifts made to the museum on Giving Hearts Day on Thursday, February 13, will be doubled by a generous anonymous donor, up to a total match gift of $4,000! Give online on February 13, 2014, at

Tuesday, February 11
Noon Appreciation Concert with Romantic Chamber Music

A performance by Sue Nagel, piano; Sonja Harasim and Jane Linde Capistran, violins; Timothy H Nelson, viola; and Elise Buffat Nelson, cello.
Free and open to the public
Join the chamber music concert on Facebook

Wednesday, February 12
Noon Appreciation Concert with Darin Henze and Friends

Pianist Darin Henze will be joined by Victoria Melchior, vocalist; Liz Lyngstad, flute; and Jim Kapphahn, vocalist.
Free and open to the public
Join Darin’s concert on Facebook

Thursday, February 13

Noon Appreciation Concert with Sarah Morrau and Bekka Devries
Vocalist Sarah Morrau is accompanied by Pianist Bekka Devries
Free and open to the public
Join Sarah and Bekka’s concert on Facebook

Ceramics 101
A gallery walk and studio talk with Curator Becky Dunham and Studio Manager James Wolberg
5:30 PM, Free and open to the public

Wine about Winter and Sweet Treat Stroll
A Downtown Community Partnership wine crawl
5 – 9 PM, $12 advance tickets, $15 day of event

“The One Minute Film Festival” and “Fargo in 60 Seconds”

January 13th, 2014 by Amy Richardson Posted in Around the Museum, Education, Exhibitions | Comments Off

We’re excited to present The One Minute Film Festival: 2003-2012, an exhibition of hundreds of one-minute films created by more than 300 artists whose video vignettes range from the meditative and poignant to the startling surreal and outright funny. Curated by New York-based artist Jason Simon, the film festival comes to Fargo from January 25 to May 24, 2014, as a traveling exhibition created by the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA). A reception will be held at the Museum featuring a talk by Jason Simon on March 7 from 5 to 7 p.m.

The show also includes artist-designed, full-size movie posters for a selection of the films, many of which are humorous takes on traditional Hollywood movie posters. An hour-long film compilation, Exquisite Corpse 2012, will also be on display. Acting as a modern variation on the Surrealist “exquisite corpse” party game, the film was created by 60 artists who each received the last second of a previous film and built a new minute based on that glimpse. The exhibition and related programs are sponsored by The Forum.

Fargo in 60 Seconds

Open call for films through March 17
To expand on the creative vision of The One Minute Film Festival, Plains Art Museum invites submissions from area filmmakers age 14 and up to submit their best one-minute films and video creations. There is no fee to enter, and contributors may submit up to two movies. The entry deadline is March 17, and the submissions will be showcased in a continuously looped screening on the Museum’s Third Floor from March 24 to May 24.

Entries received before February 17 will be considered for inclusion in the Fargo Film Festival’s 2-Minute Movie Contest held in March. The Museum will also host a Teen Filmmakers Awards Night on April 10 for a special screening of films submitted by filmmakers ages 14 to 18. Cash prizes will be awarded for 1st Place – $100, 2nd Place – $75 and 3rd Place – $50. For more details and entry guidelines, visit

Free Workshop on January 30: Making Your Own One-Minute Film
Area filmmakers from Minnesota State University Moorhead will provide tips and insights on crafting short films on Thursday, January 30, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in the Museum atrium. The workshop is funded in part by Xcel Energy.

Meet the Curator: Now on January 23!

January 2nd, 2014 by Amy Richardson Posted in Around the Museum, Around Town, Museum People, Special Events | Comments Off

becky4Join us for a fun, informal gathering with Becky Dunham, curator at Plains Art Museum, and learn about her outreach with area artists, her thoughts on future exhibits, and how her professional road led her 1,300 miles straight north to Fargo-Moorhead from her prior curatorial role at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

Meet the Curator
Thursday, January 23, 5:30 to 7:00 PM
Hors d’oeuvres and cash bar
FREE and open to the public

Join our Facebook event for Meet the Curator

Prior to joining Plains Art Museum in October 2013, Becky was on the Houston museum’s curatorial team for five years. She pursued Ph.D. studies at the University of Missouri, Columbia, earned her master’s degree in art history from the University of Florida, Gainesville, and worked at the museums associated with both universities. She received her bachelor’s degree in art history from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. In addition to her curatorial experience, she was an adjunct professor of art at Houston Community College.

Plains Art Museum is located at 704 First Avenue North in Fargo. To learn more about upcoming exhibitions, events, and art classes, visit

Meet Our New Board Members

December 9th, 2013 by Amy Richardson Posted in Around the Museum, Museum People, News | Comments Off

We are delighted to welcome four dynamic new members to our Board of Directors. Mike Allmendinger, Brian Hayer, Susan Mathison, and Sam Wai bring great enthusiasm and business expertise, and we are grateful for their participation. Read on to see what drew them to the Museum.

SONY DSCMike Allmendinger
General Manager, Kilbourne Group
Principal, Land Elements

“To locate the Museum in downtown Fargo was a visionary move, and it’s had a tremendous impact on our culture in Fargo and Moorhead. I’m especially excited to support the experiences that the Plains Art Museum creates for our region, and I’m looking forward to the opportunity to support this vision.”

Mike is the founder of Land Elements, a landscape architecture company with a team of landscape architects who focus on concept design to create a unique sense of place in the outdoor environment. In 2006 he also joined the Kilbourne Group as general manager. Kilbourne Group is a catalyst of inspiration and action for vibrant downtown communities. Mike is an active board member of Fargo’s Downtown Community Partnership and a hockey coach with Fargo Youth Hockey.

brian_hayer_sqBrian Hayer
President and CEO, Warner and Company Insurance

“I have been interested in art since I was a child. I collected artwork over the years and became even more interested when I won an auction item at the Plains Art Museum Spring Gala a few years back for a trip to New York with a guided art tour from the chief curator. It was an awesome experience. I chaired the Gala in 2013, and I’m excited to get more involved.”

After joining Warner and Company Insurance in 1986 as a business marketing trainee, Brian worked his way to leadership positions and was named president and CEO in 2007. In 2012, Brian and his company received prestigious recognition as the U.S. Small Business Administration’s National Family Owned Business of the Year, and the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year. He is an active member of several education, arts, and civic groups, and holds current leadership roles with the United Way of Cass Clay, Fargo Kiwanis, and the Downtown Community Partnership, among others.

Susan Mathison sq Susan Mathison, M.D.
Owner/President, Catalyst Medical Center

“I have been interested in art from an early age when I won a contest for drawing a bunny. My mother and aunt are skilled artists and I loved watching them work. I’ve enjoyed supporting local artists and have filled the walls of my office with regional color.”


Dr. Susan Mathison is the founder and medical director of Catalyst Medical Center & Clinical Spa in Fargo. She specializes in Otolaryngology (ear, nose and throat), head/neck surgery and facial plastic surgery. A passionate advocate for total wellness and a skillful entrepreneur, Susan is a sought-after speaker, a columnist for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, a popular blogger, and the author of an upcoming book, Positively Beautiful: Loving the Skin You Are In. She also serves on the board for Dakota Medical Foundation, and has established a family fund through DMF that supports health initiatives with an emphasis on women and children.

Sam Wai sqSam Wai

Treasurer, American Crystal Sugar

“I enjoy art and have collected art for decades. I feel that art reflects who we are, our time and place, and ultimately, the human spirit.”



Sam Wai is the treasurer at American Crystal Sugar Company, the largest beet sugar producer in the United States, which generates nearly 20 percent of the nation’s sugar. He has worked in various financial roles at the company since 1979. Sam is a keen expert on wine who teaches Fargo/Moorhead Communiversity courses that provide meaningful insights on a region’s wine, history, and culture. A classical music devotee, he is also on the Board of Trustees for Minnesota Public Radio and served many years on MPR’s Regional Advisory Council for Fargo/Moorhead.

Plains Art Museum receives a Bush Foundation Community Innovation Grant

December 3rd, 2013 by Amy Richardson Posted in Around the Museum, News | Comments Off

We are able to share some wonderful news today: The Bush Foundation announced the award of a $200,000 Community Innovation Grant to Plains Art Museum. Our project, Public Art and Community Engagement, was one of 34 programs to receive grants from the Foundation, which received 618 grant applications from within Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota for this round of funding.

“This is exciting news for our communities,” said Colleen Sheehy, Plains Art Museum Director and CEO. “The Museum has built a strong network of community partners around specific public art projects and also as part of our ongoing work in social engagement that includes city staff and departments, universities and colleges, area businesses, arts organizations, immigrant organizations, and youth programs. We’re excited to work together to build more vibrant cities with strong community engagement by using art and artists to lead the way.”

Funds from the grant will be used to increase the vibrancy of the urban cores of Fargo and Moorhead through demonstration public art projects, exhibitions, a symposium, community meetings, and workshops. The range of activities includes:

  • Three artist-led initiatives that will be demonstration projects in public art, which also have received funding from the National Endowment for the Arts and from Artplace America. The Defiant Gardens program includes a Garden for the Moorhead Power Plant, a Winter Fern Grotto for Fargo, and a Pollinator Garden on museum grounds.
  • Collaborating with the City of Fargo on “The Fargo Project,” a community collaboration to redesign a storm water retention basin, partially funded by an Our Town NEA grant.
  • Supporting socially engaged art and community connections by collaborating on art and community projects in summer 2014 in Living as Form. This will be an artist and community engagement platform that will bring people together to create and experience temporary art and activities that address community needs. A symposium will bring together Midwestern artists to discuss and demonstrate social engagement art practices occurring in the Midwest.
  • Collaborating on and presenting public art workshops for artists, developers, city planning staff, faculty and students.
  • Engaging with city staff, arts leaders, and artists to advance public art plans and involvement of artists in community projects in order to create more vibrant public places that are welcoming and appealing to all.

The Bush Foundation’s Community Innovation Grant program supports organizations working to create or implement an innovative solution to address a community need or opportunity. The innovation must be developed through community problem-solving – inclusive, collaborative processes focused on making the most of community assets – and be more effective, equitable or sustainable than existing approaches.  The program is part of the Bush Foundation’s effort to enable, inspire and reward community innovation.

“Community innovation occurs when people come together to think bigger and think differently about what is possible for their communities,” said Molly Matheson Gruen, the Bush Foundation’s community innovation manager. “Our inaugural Community Innovation Grant recipients are tackling a range of issues impacting quality of life in their communities.  And they are doing it in a way that ensures all voices are heard and that the solutions will endure.”

The Bush Foundation is awarding more than $4 million to 34 organizations in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and the 23 Native nations that share the same geography, through its Community Innovation Grant program. The Foundation received 618 Community Innovation Grant applications requesting more than $76 million.

The full list of Community Innovation Grant recipients can be found on the Bush Foundation website.

Welcome to Curator Becky Dunham

November 5th, 2013 by Amy Richardson Posted in Around the Museum, Around Town, Museum People, News | Comments Off

Becky DunhamWe are pleased to announce an exciting addition to our Museum team with the appointment of Curator Becky Dunham. In this leadership role, she will organize museum exhibitions, direct the development of the Museum’s permanent collection, and serve as a key liaison to artists, scholars, and other museum professionals regionally and nationally. “Becky brings extensive experience in organizing exhibitions that are solidly grounded while also appealing to the public, and she excels at working with a permanent collection,” says Museum Director and CEO Colleen Sheehy. “She is excited to join our community engagement work, too, and is already getting to know many artists in Fargo-Moorhead.”

Prior to joining the Museum in early October, she was on the curatorial team for five years at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, working in the departments for Prints and Drawings, and for Modern and Contemporary Art. She has also worked at the Museum of Art and Archaeology in Columbia, Mo., and interned at the Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art in Gainesville, Fla.

Becky pursued Ph.D. studies at the University of Missouri, Columbia and earned her master’s degree in art history from the University of Florida, Gainesville, and her bachelor’s degree in art history from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. In addition to her curatorial experience, she was an adjunct professor of art at Houston Community College and also taught courses at the University of Missouri and the University of Florida.

“I am honored to be joining the talented and enthusiastic team at Plains Art Museum, and I’m excited to explore and become an active member of the Fargo-Moorhead arts community,” Becky said.  As a works on paper specialist, she admires the Museum’s history and commitment to collecting and displaying prints, photographs, and drawings as well as works in all media. “I hope to contribute to this and cultivate the innovative spirit of the region by programming stimulating exhibitions reflecting a wide variety of contemporary art practices,” she said.

“The Museum’s state-of-the-art educational and studio facilities will also be a daily inspiration as I collaborate with PAM staff to engage the public and foster a deeper appreciation and understanding of the visual arts.  With such exceptional universities in the F-M area, I look forward to working closely with professors and art students both inside and outside of the Museum.”

A “Meet the Curator” reception will be held in mid-January.

Kid Quest Starts Another Great Year, Thanks to Xcel Energy

October 22nd, 2013 by Amy Richardson Posted in Around the Museum, center for creativity, Education, News, Special Events | Comments Off

Kid Quest Xcel Energy grant 102213The first Kid Quest for the 2013-14 season kicked off in October in a big way.  More than 250 kids and family members visited the Moby-Dick-inspired exhibitions by T.L. Solien and Kim Bromley, and then collaborated on a community art project featuring an eight-foot-long wire whale sculpture constructed by Dwight Mickelson. Children drew images of their own adventure stories, which were used to create a colorful paper maché covering over the whale’s metal framework.  The finished whale is on display at the Center for Creativity.

To help make Kid Quest a free program, Plains Art Museum received a generous $10,000 grant from Xcel Energy this fall. The grant also will allow the Museum to offer a gallery and studio program for teens in the coming year. Kid Quest is held on the first Saturday of the month from October through April, and also is supported in part by Minnesota Public Radio and The Village Family Magazine. The monthly event offers children and parents the opportunity to explore in the art galleries and then participate in creating an art project together at the Katherine Kilbourne Burgum Center for Creativity, the Museum’s studio and education wing. More than 2,000 youth and adults attend the free Kid Quest programs each year.

“We’re thrilled to have this continued support from Xcel Energy. It’s so important for families to have opportunities to nurture creative skills and thinking in children, as Kid Quest does,” said Museum CEO and Director Colleen Sheehy. “Xcel’s support allows us to offer Kid Quest for free to all, no matter the financial capacity of families.” Xcel Energy’s grant is part of the company’s corporate giving Arts focus area, which supports nonprofit organizations like Plains Art Museum that foster creation and access to arts and culture.

For more Kid Quest events and registration, check here.

Photo by Milestones Photography

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