Tag Archives: North Dakota Museum of Art

Barton’s Place


Surrounded by hundreds of art from around the world, I tried to take it all in. I imagined spending hours and hours chatting with the artist Barton Benes about his collections. He’d share stories of each piece of art, where it came from and how he acquired it through a trade with a collector, dealer or artist in another country.

Instead, I sat at his table and chatted with his long time friend, Laurel Reuter, director of the North Dakota Museum of Art. The two had met many years before and had shared many conversations over the same table when it was in Barton’s New York apartment. After Barton’s death in May 2012, the table and the artist’s many collections traveled 1,500 miles to be a part of Barton’s Place, a recreation of the artist’s apartment in the Mezzanine Gallery at North Dakota Museum of Art.


Laurel told me how some of the pieces came to be… the stuffed rooster came from the museum assistant director, Matthew Wallace… the bull’s head came from a bull in the Running of the Bulls in Spain… the African pots and masks were acquired from a dealer… As she looked around the small space full of Barton’s life and memories, Laurel recalled a curious man, who could always make her laugh, even in the darkest of times. She remembered a conversation the two of them had about his belongings and what would happen to them when he passed. He didn’t want them to be picked our by family and friends and thrown out. Laurel suggested giving them to the museum to create the museum’s first period room, a 21st century artist’s studio. Laurel said the suggestion became a dream Barton held on to. 

Now, that dream is a reality. The North Dakota Museum of Art opened Barton’s Place early this month. It’ll be on exhibit for an undetermined amount of time, with the hopes of turning it into a permanent exhibit. For more information on the exhibition, read my full article at gfherald.com or visit bartonlidicebenes.org.


Along with Barton’s Place, a collection of African pots and a batik exhibition are also going on at the museum. Be sure to check it all out before it’s too late!


And, James Rosenquist’s beautiful painting, “Through the Eye of the Needle to the Anvil” is STILL up! DO NOT MISS this one! The photo does NOT do it justice! Trust me!

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Passing on knowledge, excitement for the arts

Early last week I was asked to write a story for Saturday’s City/State section. Although I was a little stressed to have another assignment added to my list, I was excited to write another story about my favorite place in Grand Forks: The North Dakota Museum of Art. I wrote the preview story for the museum’s 15th annual live Autumn Art Auction, which was held this Saturday  with 56 original pieces of artwork up for bid.

When I made an appointment with Laurel, the director of the museum, I expected to have a quick interview about the auction in her office downstairs. But, when I got to the museum, Laurel met me in the gallery and showed me the artwork. Knowing that I wouldn’t be able to write about every piece in the auction, she still took the time to tell me each of the artists’ stories and the story behind their work.

It always amazes me how kind and helpful Laurel is when I come for a story. Not only does she give me all the information I need for the article, but she teaches me so much more about the artwork and the artists. Every time I leave her office, she gives me a new book (or two, or three), and I couldn’t be more thankful. Her passion and excitement for the arts has made me want to know more and more. And the more I learn and the more I write about the arts the more passionate I become about the arts. I think I’m getting closer and closer to discovering what I’m truly meant to do in this life.

It’s funny how when I start something new I expect to enjoy a certain part of it, but something always seems to surprise me in the best way. When I got my job at the Herald, I was super excited about my Life & Style beat. I wasn’t quite sure what to think about the Arts & Entertainment part of my job. After all, I didn’t know much about the arts. I never took many art classes. I didn’t sing or paint or draw. I was never involved in theater, and I quit band as soon as I possibly could. I always had a great appreciation for music. I enjoyed going to plays. And, I was always amazed by talented artists, but I never saw myself as an artsy person. I guess I just didn’t know enough about it to care all that much. 

But, after a few months on the job, I’ve been fully immersed into the art community in Grand Forks, and I couldn’t be happier. I’m learning so much and meeting some awesome, inspiring people and hopefully sharing it all with the Herald readers in an entertaining and informative way that gets them excited and passionate about the arts.

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The story behind the art

It’s been a busy few weeks at the Herald. My work load has pretty much doubled, and I couldn’t be happier. I finally feel like I always have something to do. Yay!  And, there’s even more exciting things coming in the future, possibly a monthly video feature!

But, before I get ahead of myself…

Last week, I had the opportunity to write a story about a very talented artist named Guillermo Guardia, also known as Memo. He is  from Peru, and he is the artist in residence at the North Dakota Museum of Art. I came across his artwork when he sent me a press release for a joint exhibit at the Hotel Donaldson in Fargo. I started researching his and the other artist’s work. Both were very interesting, but I decided to pick one to pitch to Melinda as an artist profile story. I picked Memo because of his residency.

Memo is an amazing ceramic sculptor. He sculpts a lot of different subjects puzzle piece torsos, llamas, baby devils and faceless figures. And, they are all absolutely wonderful! Herald photographer John Stennes and Forum photographer Dave Wallis took some amazing photographs of his work, so be sure to check out all the photos with the full story here.

Aside from examining his beautiful artwork, my favorite part of the interview was hearing Memo tell the stories of how these different pieces came about, especially the puzzle piece torsos. Memo had always wanted to sculpt the perfect human body, but he struggled for years, never satisfied with his artwork. He tried several different methods, becoming very frustrated, confused and lost, wondering where his career and artwork would go. One day he took his frustration out on the piece, carving lines into the figure. Those lines turned into pieces, and those pieces turned into puzzle pieces, he said. His frustration ultimately made these beautiful puzzle piece figures, that were deep in thought and wonder.

As Memo told the stories of how these pieces came about, he seemed to drift back in time. His arm lifted, making carving motions in the air and his eyes beamed with the understanding and acceptance of these new subjects. He had finally found a subject, and it was all his own. Memo has invited me to join him in his studio for a demonstration, and I am gladly taking him up on his gracious offer. We have no set dates, but I will be sure to post something about the experience.

Now, please, head on over to GFHerald.com and read the full story because it’s honestly one of my favorite stories yet.


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