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Wahpeton’s Red Door Art Gallery hosts its first Rural Art Show

Springtime at the Ruddy FarmTravel 45 miles south of Fargo-Moorhead and you will find my treasured hometown of Wahpeton, North Dakota. I have many fond memories there and a little history, too. My grandfather, Frank Benda, owned the historical Opera House building, the Sears building, and the building that housed Benda’s Meat Market. My grandfather died before I was born and the Meat Market was lost to the depression; however, I grew up feeling proud of him because he was known for making the “best polish sausage around”. He would probably roll over in his grave if he knew I stopped eating beef and pork 39 years ago, but that is beside the point. As a result of his ownership of three buildings on Dakota Avenue, there is a large brick on one building that says, “BENDA BLOCK”. Across the street from this landmark is the quaint 1915 National Bank building which has been the home of the Red Door Art Gallery since 2012. It  features original works by Wahpeton-Breckenridge native Fritz Scholder and a variety of works by artists in a variety of mediums in response to the theme of “Rural”.  I have three paintings on display in this exhibit: Snowflake , Springtime at the Ruddy Farm (my aunt and uncle’s farm west of Wahpeton), and The Well House.  Please check out the gallery hours at It is worth the trip!



The Well HouseSnowflake


Deadlines: good or bad?


Home on the Range        The Red River Watermedia Show, the Hawley Art Show, the Rourke Midwestern, the FMVA Big Show, The Red Door Art Gallery Floral Exhibition, etc. ……deadlines for all these shows  seem to appear on my calendar ALL AT ONCE! . A fellow artist advised, when entering shows, that it is good to have a wide assortment of possibilities to choose from rather than having only a few. ..Some shows have themes, so I recently created one to fit the  Rourke Midwestern theme, “From the Earth to the Moon”…sometimes themed shows get the adrenalin going because I have to think outside the box past my comfortable subjects…I usually pick up my sketchbook or a box of photos and start thumbing through them to see if something connects to the theme. I found a photo of a golden eagle I had photographed from my backyard and a watercolor sketch of a blood moon. I had tried photographing the moon, but my camera wasn’t equipped for it, so I memorized it, hustled inside, and painted a few studies of the colors so I would remember it. My idea was formed. This past week I did my studies, then completed a small painting that is suitable for entry…..if I have more time, I can make a larger piece…the deadline is April 18th. What freedom I have now because I started this well in advance of the deadline!

Deadlines are good, for me, I believe. I used to stay up all night and turn in an entry or two with wet paint dripping….no more. I’m not comfortable unless I am a week or two ahead of a deadline..too many glitches can occur or maybe a life event can stop progress on a piece…I don’t need the anxiety.  Planning ahead and then working well ahead of the deadline isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but it sure helps me sleep better.

I created a new mixed media collage (above) that was created for no particular show, but was classified into my “assortment of possibilities” category.  I decided to enter it into the  Hawley Art Show (April 16-19th), so it doesn’t have to hang in one place for a month or two. If it doesn’t sell in Hawley, I will have other options for it. After all, it is a bison…he needs to roam a bit.