Tag Archives: The Empire Arts Center

ArtSee: A night of art and conversation

What could be better than 12 talented  local artists showing work at one of my favorite places in Grand Forks?  Last Friday, the Greater Grand Forks Young Professionals held their ninth annual ArtSee event at The Empire Arts Center in downtown Grand Forks. The event showcases local artists who work with a variety of mediums including paint, clay, diaries and sticky notes, among others. Some artists demonstrated their techniques and art form. Others encouraged attendees to join in the fun and make their own art. But, all were welcoming and enthusiastic to share their artwork with Grand Forks.

Artwork by Hillary Kempenich is displayed at the Empire for ArtSee.

Artwork by Hillary Kempenich is displayed at the Empire for ArtSee.

While I made my first round through the center, I stopped to take some photos and watch legendary Grand Forks artist Adam Kemp work on his painting.

Artist Adam Kemp works on a painting during ArtSee.

Artist Adam Kemp works on a painting during ArtSee.

I also stopped to visit with Ellen Dean Diederich from Fargo, N.D., who was working on an acrylic painting of flowers. She said she typically works off of photographs because then she doesn’t have to worry about her subject moving or the lighting changing. She focuses on flowers, farm animals and nature.

Ceramic sculptor Caitlin Friedt shared her process for making her cups, plates, bowls and sunflowers. First, she throws them on the wheel. Then, she adds the details. She said she uses various pins and objects to create texture on the flowers. Then, she fires them in the kiln. After they cool, she can glaze them and fire them again. She said they vary rarely break in the kiln, but she never knows how they will turn out. She said they usually shrink about 15 percent and different glazes will create completely different looks.

Artist Sue Burke encouraged attendees to create miniature pieces of artwork on sticky notes to display at her ArtSee booth.

Artist Sue Burke encouraged attendees to create miniature pieces of artwork on sticky notes to display at her ArtSee booth.

Artist Sue Burke invited guests over to her table to create mini pieces of artwork on sticky notes, which she then hung with clothes pins for everyone to see. She said you don’t need expensive arts supplies to create artwork, office sticky notes will do just fine. And, you won’t feel guilty when you mess up and throw them away.

Along my way, I also had the opportunity to finally meet Michelle Brusegaard, who I had interviewed over the phone for a story a while back. I introduced myself, and she (and her mom) was super friendly. It took me a while to take in everything at her booth; she had so many beautiful prints, cards, scarves and original paintings. I was most drawn to her pieces that incorporated journal entries. I asked it they were real journal entries, and she said yes, but not mine. She collects diaries and this particular one she found on eBay. She said the lady lived alone and was obsessed with entering sweepstakes. Michelle took the journal entries and used them as inspiration for her pieces. I ended up buying two!


Michelle Brusegaard’s artwork incorporates a journal entry from the 1980s.

Michelle Brusegaard's print was inspired by a journal entry about art supplies.

Michelle Brusegaard’s print was inspired by a journal entry about art supplies.

Aren’t they lovely?

I also ended up with one of Courtney Jacob’s pieces. I fell in love with Courtney’s floral pieces at the This is Personal exhibition at Blue Door, so I was excited to meet the artist behind the work. She recently moved from Minneapolis to Grand Forks, so I told her we were swapping places. She shared some advice for getting involved in the art community in the Twin Cities, and I wished her luck here in Grand Forks. But, she already seems to be off to a wonderful start. I was about to buy her beautiful piece of tulips, until I saw a city scene tucked away in her box. I couldn’t pass up on “Winter in Central Park.”


I snagged Courtney Jacob’s piece “Winter in Central Park.”

Artist Katie Lee had some absolutely gorgeous impressionist paintings of sailboats. I asked her if she had a special connection to sailboats, but she said she just lived in Seattle and developed a love for the sailboats. Who wouldn’t? They’re beautiful.


Katie Lee’s artwork was inspired by the sailboats she always saw on the shore in Seattle.

To end the night, Jazz on Tap performed some wonderful music for the Empire’s Backstage Project.


Jazz on Tap performs after ArtSee at the Empire Art Center.

Overall, it was a wonderful night full of local art and great conversation. If you missed it, be sure to check out more about the event and all the artists here.

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‘Wonder of the World’ gets my laugh

Lois Coleman (Christa Weiler) and Cass Harris (Abby Schoenborn) perform a scene from “Wonders of the World” at the Empire Arts Center in Grand Forks. Photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

Last week, I had the opportunity to attend The Empire Theatre Company’s production of “Wonder of the World.” The dark comedy is about a woman who suddenly leaves her husband after discovering a dark (but harmless) secret he’s been hiding. Inspired by the Marilyn Monroe film “Niagara,” she hops on a bus and heads to Niagara Falls, where she hopes to cross off all the items on her bucket list. Along the way, she meets a suicidal alcoholic, who becomes a quick friend. I won’t give away too much, but it’s definitely one to see. The writer David Lindsay-Abaire does an excellent job of weaving real-life messages and questions into the unrealistic happenings of the play.

I have to admit I was a little confused as to whether or not I should laugh at the beginning. The characters are all going through some serious stuff: one is leaving her husband, the other is about to commit suicide. Yet, they are all very over-the-top and dramatic, which makes it hilarious. After all, it’s a farce. So, if you go to the play tonight or tomorrow, don’t be afraid to laugh. And be warned, it only gets funnier as the show progresses.

For more info about “Wonder of the World,” read my story in the Grand Forks Herald. (We have a completely new website!)

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