Artists of Minnesota
It is the purpose of Artists of Minnesota to bring visual artists of all levels of experience together twice a year in various locations throughout the state to: experience the art environments of different communities; share art and exchange ideas; learn from experts and each other; and enjoy new and renewed acquaintances.


Click here to download a membership form.

Click here to download a form to receive a $10 discount for introducing a new member.

Send to:

Barb Schmotter
617 W. Olive Street
Stillwater, MN 55082

Our Board
Artists of Minnesota (AofM) is a statewide organization of artists representing all levels of experience and a variety of media.

Formed in 1959 and originally called Minnesota Rural Artists Association, the organization was an outgrowth of the Rural Art Shows held at the University of Minnesota’s annual Farm and Home Week.

AofM holds two events each year: The Spring Show and the Fall Meeting. These events are held in different locations throughout the state.

The Spring Show is a weekend event. It includes art demonstrations, workshops, and an award banquet. The show is judged (but not juried) and includes levels for beginner, intermediate and advanced participants with ribbon awards in each category. The popular Mini-Show category’s entries travel to different locations around the state throughout the year.

The Fall Meeting, a one-day event, features a professional guest artist who provides a demonstration or presentation, and a critique of members’ work, a luncheon and a brief Business meeting.

The Palette News, Artists of Minnesota’s newsletter, keeps members connected throughout the year.

Annual Membership dues are $25/single; $35/family or patron; $200/lifetime.

Click here to download a printable membership form.

President: Edna Blanchard
2012 – 2015

Beverly Peterson

Virginia Barker

2014 – 2016

Mary Kloss

Carol Euerle

Kathy Gragert

2015 – 2017

Marilyn Clement

Jaclyn M. Sathers email

Kathy Gragert


Carol Weiler

President-elect: Marlys Shirley
Secretary (pending):
Treasurer: Barb Schmotter
Membership Chairpersons (interim): Barb Schmotter & Joanne Frank
Newsletter Editor: Joanne Frank
Website Liason: Flora Shinkle
Advisor, Past President: Terry Honstead
A Legacy to Honor A. Russell Barton
By Stephen Nye Barton MD. Ph.D.

“My father, A. Russell Barton, was born June 11, 1906. At the age of 18, he began what was to be 22 years of playing the viola in the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra (it became the Minnesota Orchestra in 1968). He had a great appreciation for arts and culture, and while the orchestra traveled throughout the United States and Europe he was able to visit many of the world’s great museums and art galleries.

“While in the symphony, my father also developed skills in engineering and architectural drafting. After leaving the orchestra, he joined the University of Minnesota’s Department of Agricultural Engi neering on the St. Paul campus. Because of his knowledge and interest in art, he was given the responsibility of coordinating the annual Minnesota “Town and Country Art Show.” He continued to perform as a professional musician and, not surprisingly, included music as part of the Art show. He was also a poet and the some of the shows included a contest for writers. “My father chaired the organizational meeting that adopted the Constitution and Bylaws that created the Minnesota Rural Artists Associ ation (MRAA). The meeting was held at the Library on the University of St. Paul Campus on January 14, 1959. At that meeting there was an election of Officers and the Board of Directors. Although my father was not an MRAA officer, he continued as the

Mr. and Mrs. A. Russell Barton
University consultant and advisor to the MRAA until his retirement from the University of Minnesota on May 30, 1974.

“The MRAA was not formed by the University, but rather was a grass-roots organization (an outgrowth of the University’s Town and Country Art Show) that
would nurture a high level of art throughout the state, particularly serving the rural areas. My father continued to have an active interest in art and music until his
death March 11, 1984. “I thought that through a legacy gift, it might be possible to create an annual award of $100, to be called the ‘A Russell Barton Award’ to honor my father and give recognition and encouragement to a participating

Points to Ponder — What about lighting?

When painting indoors, do you think about how the light affects your work? Northern exposure to natural light has always been considered the ideal. The factors of source, direction and intensity of illlumination have a great effect on the colors, definition and mood of your work.

Not everyone can have the ideal set-up with the proper northern window exposure as well as lighting tools, but it is worth giving some effort into using your situation to best advantage.

It is interesting to consider that whatever your lighting situation, the light on your canvas should not be lit to the same intensity as your subject matter. A common tendency is to worry about light on the canvas instead of the subject. If your canvas is kept in shadow, you're more likely to work towards a luminous effect.

Editor note: I ran across this topic in a 1971 Palette Talk publication, and I decided this is something I should consider. What do you think? Do you have something to add? or another "Point to Ponder" to share? Let me know.

— joannefrank@icloud.com

Remembering Betty Brown

We are saddened to learn that Betty Brown passed away in August. Betty has been a longtime member of Artists of Minnesota. She was also a member of the Lake Superior Watercolor Society, and founder of the Arrowhead Art Club. She taught many watercolor classes and painted hundreds of paintings, many of which are in corporate and private collections. She had an art gallery in Carlton which opened in 1992.

Betty was recipient of many awards and honors including: an Arts Advocacy Award from the Minnesota State Arts Board; the Maddie Simons Regional Award (recognizing her promotion of the arts and artists in the area); and a Lifetime Artist Award from the Depot Foundation.

Betty Brown
Edna Wolfe
In Fond Memory of Edna Wolfe

Edna Wolfe passed away in September at
the age of 93.

A long-time active member of Artists of Minnesota, she also served as Secretary/Treasurer for several years.

Gail Walsh: Panda
Gail Walsh:
“I have been studying pandas, since returning from China where I got close enough to admire them and take photos in a zoo setting. The majority of my panda images have been painted on plain, nearly white, rice paper. For “Foot in the Door,” however, I chose to use the Sumi ink and watercolor on a specially prepared board. The “Cicada” paper, which comes with sparkles in it, had been adhered to Fomcore, that had been prepared first with a layer of cotton paper. It adds a little fun sometimes.”
Linda Frisell:
Linda Frisell:
“I heard about the exhibit on TV, and decided it would be fun to enter. Ten years ago they had about 1700 entries. My artistic granddaughter, Ella, age 4, entered one of her paintings and I entered one of Ellen Eilers’collages. Ellen is 93, so three generations are represented. My daughter, Robin, Ella and I spent most of Saturday afternoon waiting
in line and chatting with artists. We did attend the opening with approx. 7000 other people and embarked on a successful treasure hunt through 3 rooms holding about 5000 pieces of art to find our entries. We actually found all three of our pieces of art.”

“It is an exciting adventure that continues until June.

“Now I can say I’ve hung my art in the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.”

Cheryl LeClaire Sommer:
“I had wanted to put a piece in ‘The Foot in the Door’ exhibit at the MIA since I had heard of the exhibit (too late) ten years ago. I painted a landscape in oil—not my normal medium (which is pastel) to avoid the potential problem of glass glare since many pieces would be hung high on the wall. I dutifully took my piece and entries of two friends on Saturday, well knowing that on Thursday, the first day entries were accepted, the line was three hours long. After 1.5 hours in line, I dropped off my pieces. “Stop by the exhibit to see the wide variety of ‘art’. The Foot in the Door exhibit at the MIA closes on June 13, 2010 (free admission).”
Terry Honstead:
“When I painted this, I wanted to do something with an oriental feel to it. I painted the flowers like this because I wanted them to be simple with strong lines to it."
Editor’s note: While I found a few AofM members that have works in the “Foot in the Door,” I’d like to get an idea of how many of our members participated. Let me hear from you.
Age 90 and Still Painting
What a pleasant surprise to sit here on my balcony in France and read about the Spring Show (1974) in Appleton—and a ribbon on my painting. It was a Minnesota scene. I had been in France because my daughter was at the American Embassy, but continued painting Minnesota colours, Grand Marais scenes.

That same painting was next in an exhibition called, “Five American Artists,” at the Duncan Galerie on the Left Bank in Paris. I do remember writing an article regarding the experience —totally new—totally strange— and wonder what the Parisians thought. I could not even read the French publicity or critique!

But the days of “Rural Artists” with Jon Hassler as President remain the most pleasant of memories. Living in Willmar and taking annual trips to the Grand Marais Art Colony in the 1960s. My children called it “Mother’s Vacation.” Studying with Bernie Quick and Harvey Turner and lots of “plein aire” before it again became a popular term.

Later studied with Bernie at the University of Minnesota—and evening classes with Harvey at his home with a local group of St. Paul artists. And eventually in Aix-en- Province at Leo Marchutz School of Drawing and the Paris Beaux Arts American Academy. The expression on the instructors face was my only clue as to whether he approved or disapproved my paintings. He had political connections so the student exhitibion was held at the Grand Palais. And in the 1980s-1990s entered group exhibitions in Nice (Prix de Rome Competition) Villefranche surmer (Petit Cadeaux) and Beaulieu (Local Artists).

At 90, my work continues, though not as prolific. Perhaps artists live longer because we see and enjoy the beaulty of each day.

—Lola Plaistad

The First Spring Show was held in 1974 at Appleton
The upcoming Spring Show will be the 37th Spring Show for Artists of Minnesota. Our organization was formed in 1959 (then named Minnesota Rural Artists Association), but it was not until 1974 that the first Spring Show was held. (The early history is posted on our website: www.artistsofminnesota.org).
Appleton was the site of that first show. John L. Peyton was the judge. One entry was allowed per person and the entry fee was $1. There were four categories: Oil; Watercolor; Acrylics; and Miscellaneous (graphics, charcoal, pastels, drawings, etc.). The awards were: “Best Picture in Show,” (People’s Choice) $20; and each category received $15 for first, $10 for second, and $5 for third. Three Merit Ribbons were awarded in each category. Three award winners: Joyce Gow, DeVaughn Kolke, and Lola Plaistad are currently members of AofM.

The first show was a big success, with 157 paintings entered representing 53 towns in Minnesota. The Appleton Art Club had an additional 141 paintings on display, making a total of 248 paintings in the exhibit. Attendance was great, as well, with approximately 700 visitors.

Jon Hassler’s sense of humor was shown in the following excerpt from his President’s letter in the May, 1974 newsletter.

John Hassler Jon Hassler was President of MRAA at that time, dues were $3.50 and membership was up to 306.
Jon Hassler

Two years ago I sold two landscapes to two young men. The young man with the red beard gave his landscape to his wife for Christmas and the other young man gave his to his fiance for Valentine’s day. Last fall I met the man with the red beard and asked how his wife liked the painting. “She must have liked it just fine,” he said. “She took it with her when we got divorced.” The other day I met the other young man and asked him how his wife liked the painting. “She liked it,” he said, “but she isn’t my wife. We broke up and she married somebody else.”

MORAL: Whoever mistakes me for cupid is in for a rude surprise.

Making a Difference...
DeVaughn Kolke

DeVaughn Kolke is an accomplished watercolorist and a very strong arts advocate. She has been a member of Artists of Minnesota for many years (more than 30). She served ten years as Secretary/Treasurer; hosted a Spring Show (Appleton); and a Fall Meeting (Cormorant). She has been active in other organizations as well: president of Cormorant Area Art Club, board member of Lake Region Arts Council, and a board member of Pioneer Public TV.

After her husband, Erling, retired from his education administration position, the couple moved from Appleton to Cormorant to make their summer home a permanent address.

One day, while waiting at a railroad crossing for the train to pass, DeVaughn became intrigued by the graffiti on the rail cars, thinking about what a shame it was to have that young talent wasted on illegal activity. She couldn't get the idea out of her mind that there must be other options for that talent. Then, the Minnesota State High School League entered into her thinking process. The High School League was sponsor to a number of fine arts activities in music, speech, drama and debate, but didn?t include visual arts. It occurred to DeVaughn that it should. Thus began her mission to make the change. When she discussed it with Erling (who had previously been a district secretary for the league), he was totally supportive.

DeVaughn started by contacting Sonja Peterson, director of the Lakes Region Arts Council in Fergus Falls. Sonja thought it a real good idea, as did others when told of it. DeVaughn then contacted Dave Stead, the executive director of the Minnesota State High School League. He listened with interest and explained that it would take a lot of support to get an amendment in place. He recommended that DeVaughn talk to superintendents of schools that were part of MSHSL (nearly every one in the state).

DeVaughn and Erling spent the next year and a half traveling throughout the state. They talked to superintendents, principals and art teachers. More than 30 schools were visited all were supportive of adding Visual Arts to the MSHSL program. In the fall of 2000, the amendment was proposed. DeVaughn, along with several people from schools who endorsed the idea, attended the meeting. When Dave Stead shared the comment that he wasn't aware of any other state high school league having a visual arts category, DeVaughn said, "Good. Then Minnesota can be the Leader.

She received a standing ovation for all of her efforts. The vote was taken the following spring and passed unanimously.

Here's how it works: Each Administrative Region runs it own Section Festival. Entries are limited to 18 works of art per school; no more than 1/3 of the 18 can be submitted in any one category. There are six categories: drawing, painting, sculpture, media arts, crafts, and print making. From the Region Festivals, finalists compete at the State level. These events take place in the spring after the sports season.

Congratulations to DeVaughn (and Erling) for creating this opportunity. It will have a tremendous impact on the previously under-recognized importance of arts at the High School level. What an exciting accomplishment!

Minnesota State High School League

Visual Arts Participation statistics (2007-08 school year):

Schools: 217
Students: 2805

Minnesota is the only state to include Visual Arts in its State High School League.

Data from MSHSL website

The Art Show's First Ten Years
The origin of the annual art show dates back to 1940 when J. O. Christianson, Director of Agricultural Short Courses, and Walter C. Coffey, Dean of the Department of Agriculture at the University of Minnesota, discussed sponsoring an exhibit of Minnesota's "unknown rural artists."  The exhibit, they felt, would provide an opportunity for rural artists to exhibit their work at the University and benefit from the interaction and advice from University faculty members. It would be a way to  help develop the state's vast cultural resources.

The first Rural Art Show was held in January of 1945 in the library and second floor corridors of Coffey Hall. A total of 126 items, including paintings, drawings, sculpture and handicraft were exhibited, representing 47 artists from 31 different Minnesota counties.

The second show was delayed to January of 1953, due to the effects of the post-war years. The opening of the second show was part of the dedication ceremony of the new library built on the St. Paul Campus. Entry rules for the second show stated that "any amateur artist living in the country or in a town of less than 2,500 population in Minnesota will be eligible. There is no limit on the number of entries from any one person." There were so many requests from people who lived in larger communities, that the rules were changed to towns of 10,000, and each artist was limited to 5 entries. The Art Show became part of the University's annual Farm and Home Week, and the exhibit usually lasted five days. The reading room of the library where the shows were held could accommodate about 125 paintings, so when the fourth show drew in 375 artworks, the rules had to change again, limiting each artist to two entries.

The early shows invited handicrafts as well, but by the fifth show, entries were limited to "fine art."

The seventh show took place during the state centennial and drew large numbers of works?as a result, the number of entries was changed to one per artist. The many requests to accept artists from larger communities again led to extending the community population restriction to 15,000.

The ninth show was moved to the new Student Center, offering more gallery space and the opportunity to extend the show to ten days. The number of entries had been raised to two again, and the Student Center was filled to over-flowing. The tenth show had more entries than ever (228), and although limited to one per artist, the space at the Center was again over-crowded.

The MRAA is formed

In 1959, at one of the meetings at the eighth art show, the Minnesota Rural Artists Association (now named Artists of Minnesota) was formed. The activities of the new organization  would be to publish a newsletter, exchange information among rural artists and rural art groups, and sponsor rural art clinics and shows. The group continued to work closely with the Rural Art Show committee at the University.

The Minnesota Rural Artists Association  launched the first show of its own in June of 1974. The show generated a lot of energy and excitement in the group which had, by that time, dwindled in size.  Much of the enthusiasm leading up to the show was centered around the fact that the show would be unjuried and because it would be for members only!

The show was held in Appleton and the judge for that first show was a well-known artist and art instructor from Dululth, John L. Peyton.

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