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HomeCommunityGrand Marais Arts Festival July 13 and 14

Grand Marais Arts Festival July 13 and 14

The Grand Mara­is Art Colony hosts its 33rd Arts Festi­val on July 13 and 14 in downtown Grand Marais.

The Festival show­cases the work of 60 artisans and artists selected from a pool of applicants almost twice that size. Ac­cording to the Art Col­ony’s Artistic Director, Ruth Pszwaro, a jury of ten people consider the applications and award booth space for the Festival.

Ruth said that over half the artists and artisans in the Festival this year live on the North Shore, and almost 25% live in Cook County— some travel here from as far away as Texas and Florida.

The Festival is open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Saturday and from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Sunday.

The Grand Marais Art Colony started as The Outdoor School of Painting in 1947. Bir­ney Quick, an instruc­tor at the Minneapolis School of Art, opened the school for an eight-week summer session. Byron Bradley began teaching with Birney in 1954, and the two artists started Grand Marais Art Colony as a separate entity in 1959.

An experienced event planner, Lin Salisbury moved to Hovland several years ago. Just before she moved to Cook Coun­ty, the Art Colony ad­vertised for an events manager, which Lin applied for and was hired almost imme­diately. Lin served in that role for two years.

“I thought the job offered a good way to connect to our new community,” Lin said.

Looking to reduce her work schedule, Lin spent the next five years managing only the Arts Festival un­der a contract arrange­ment.

In the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Arts Festival was canceled. In the follow­ing year, with road construction disrupt­ing traffic in town and the need to have exhib­itors spaced according to COVID-19 restric­tions, the Festival was moved to the grounds of ISD 166. The addi­tional space allowed for a more significant number of displays.

“The school site al­lowed us to comply with COVID restric­tions and add more artists,” Lin said. The following year, ISD 166 was also the ven­ue for the Festival. Lin added that the exhibi­tors were evenly split about the merits of the larger venue, which was almost a mile from downtown.

Lin organized the 2023 Festival, which took its favored place downtown. The num­ber of booths dropped to 60, and the artists and artisans were unani­mous in favor of the downtown location.

Nan Onkka, a printmaking artist who lives in Grand Marais, was first accepted by the jury for the Festival in 2020, but Covid canceled it. She creates woodcut prints inspired by the lakes and woods near her home. Her website is nanonkka.com.

Nan’s first setup ap­peared in the 2021 Festival and received the “Best Booth” award. “I peaked ear­ly,” she said.

“This is one of my favorite events of the year,” Nan said. “It brings a wonderful crowd of people, seri­ous art fans.”

Nan says the event is consistently well run. “There is an amazing group of volunteers, returning every year,” she said.

Marybeth Garmoe, Colvill, describes herself as “an artisan creating utilitarian housewares, including broomcorn brooms and wooden kitchen­ware.” The first time Marybeth applied to the Festival, she was turned down. Not to be deterred, she ap­plied again, and this is her sixth Arts Festival. She can barely contain her excitement for the upcoming event.

At the 2023 Festi­val, Marybeth’s dis­play earned the “Best Booth” award.

“There’s nothing I don’t like about the Grand Marais Arts Festival,” Marybeth said. “There’s a huge amount of people, a supportive environ­ment, and a lovely setting downtown that just feels right.”

Marybeth displays her wares at other shows in the region, including Duluth, Bayfield, and the Twin Cities. She reports that the Grand Marais Arts Festival produces more sales than each of the others.

With its commitment to artistic exploration and community en­gagement, the Grand Marais Art Colony en­sures that the legacy of creative expression thrives on the shores of Lake Superior.

Steve Fernlund
Steve Fernlund
Typically these “about me” pages include a list of academic achievements (I have none) and positions held (I have had many, but who really cares about those?) So, in the words of the late Admiral James Stockwell, “Who am I? Why am I here?” I’m well into my seventh decade on this blue planet we call home. I’m a pretty successful husband, father, and grandfather, at least in my humble opinion. My progeny may disagree. We have four children and five grandchildren. I spent most of my professional life in the freight business. At the tender age of 40, early retirement beckoned and we moved to Grand Marais. A year after we got here, we bought and operated the Cook County News Herald, a weekly newspaper in Grand Marais. A sharp learning curve for a dumb freight broker to become a newspaper editor and publisher. By 1999 the News Herald was an acquisition target for a rapidly consolidating media market. We sold our businesses and “retired” again, buying a winter retreat in Nevada. In the fall of 2016, we returned to Grand Marais and bought a house from old friends of ours on the ridge overlooking Lake Superior. They were able to move closer to family and their Mexico winter home. And we came home to what we say is our last house. I’m a strong believer in the value of local newspapers--both online and those you can wrap a fish in. I write a weekly column and a couple of feature stories for the Northshore Journal. I’m most interested in writing about the everyday lives of local people and reporting on issues of importance to them.
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