Spring Fever, Pen Pals & Art For Life

Hopefully this week we will finally be rid of winter. I think the fact that my first plant order arrived yesterday is a good sign. Of course, my much anticipated purchase of the Over-the-Top Dahlia Extravaganza Collection, was left on the doorstep for, who knows how long, in below freezing temperatures. The thought of these 8″ plus blooms has me dreaming of summer so I hope they weren’t damaged!

I mention the flowers since I know everyone is thinking about warming trends and spring fever is making everyone feel a little happier. I see and feel peoples’ spirits lifting and I’m confident that there is definitely a connection with the changing season.

Spring means the school year will soon come to an end. Yesterday I stopped by the Heritage Centre, our Art For Life partner site, to see over 40 Roosevelt School 4th graders visit their pen pals. The youngsters have been writing to their “pals” since the 3rd grade. As the end of the school year approaches they wanted to do something special for their adopted grandparents. They sang three songs and played their recorders for a fourth song. The gathering’s energy was infectious and happiness was abundant. The singing was terrific and it was clear that the students prepared long and hard for the performance.

Roosevelt 4th Graders perform for their Heritage Center Pen Pals.

The Pen Pal program has been emensly successful and far exceeded its goal to get kids writing and provide creative engagement for care center residents. Funded by the North Dakota Council on the Arts, the Art For Life programs, here in Jamestown and in 10 other state communities, brings artists and art to eldercare centers to help alleviate the loneliness, boredom and helplessness.

The Culture Builds Community blog is submitted (almost) weekly by The Arts Center Gallery Manager Sally Jeppson. She would love to hear your comments here or email sjeppson@jamestownarts.com.
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This & That @ The Arts Center

There is always something happening at The Arts Center. I touch on some of those activities in this blog and tell you about projects that are in-the-works. What you miss is the follow-up. The “what happened with this or that project?” So here are a few updates.

The 2nd ACT Community Theater group is hosting the production of Relative Values this week. The opening performance was on Thursday evening (March 27). I haven’t seen the show yet but those who have say its great and very different from previous productions. Lasting over 2 hours, the cast has done an amazing job of learning the demanding script. This all-volunteer group has rehearsed for three months for three shows–that shows amazing stamina and dedication. Their work and the proceeds from the ticket sales help support Arts Center programs. We appreciate their hard work!

The FM Ballet Company is the only professional ballet company in the Fargo-Moorhead area. Some of the dancers took a break from rehearsal to pose with Flat Stanley.

Remember Flat Stanley? I almost want to say that Flat Stanley fell flat. There was a ton of response to this blog post but I have only received one photograph. Here is a reminder and I encourage you to get involved. Its a fun way to share what’s happening with the Arts in North Dakota.

Carmen Rath-Wald (Logan County Extension Agent)
Who needs a stair stepper when we have ladders to climb?

#EmbraceWinterMovement Fitness and Exhibit Challenge is coming to a close on March 31st. The 32 participants have worked hard and I’ve received some fun photographs relating to people’s activities out and about getting their winter workouts done. Here are a couple local examples from the project. 

Sherry Niesar: Flying through the field with my dog, Zeus

Andrea Carper’s work on display at JRMC

The Arts Center continues to work with Jamestown Regional Medical Center to feature regional artists in their Rotating Artist Gallery. Jamestown artist Andrea Carper’s is now showing through May. Her paintings explore abstraction in both portraiture and landscape-like imagery.

If you would like to be considered for display please contact me at the email below. In June, the work of Doc & Caroline Hagen will be displayed.

Happy Hour with Gordy Pratt

The Art for Life Program continues at Jamestown’s Ave Maria Village and Heritage Centre. After a winter slow down we are planning lots of fun arts activities for the upcoming months. We kicked off the “spring” with a Gordy Pratt’s performance during happy hour–it was great to see such terrific attendance at over 85 people! 

The Culture Builds Community blog is submitted (almost) weekly by The Arts Center Gallery Manager Sally Jeppson. She would love to hear your comments here or email sjeppson@jamestownarts.com.
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Creativity Defined

“Powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.”

Apple’s newest iPad ads use this phrase from Walt Whitman’s O Me! O Life!

I just love this…it resonates with me… it seems to sum up just about everything we do at The Arts Center and most everything we do as human beings.

These simple, artistic words sum up the process of CREATIVITY.

Creativity is adding something new to the world that has value.

Each of us has something to share. A voice, a passion, a perspective. The potential to add a stanza to the world’s story.

As part or the North Dakota Council on the Arts’ Art for Life Program I’m traveling around the state to share a technique called TimeSlips. Jamestown and its partner organization Ave Maria Village and Heritage Centre have been part of the Art for Life Program since 2008.

The TimeSlips method of creative storytelling was developed to help people with dementia (but can be used by any age or group and would also work well in intergenerational situations). The process assumes that a person with dementia is a person capable of relationship, growth, and purpose, at all stages of the disease. The method recognizes that creativity is possible for people with cognitive disabilities and that creativity provides a different way for these individuals to connect.

The TimeSlips technique uses compelling photographic images to initiate a group process whereby facilitators ask participants open-ended and sensory questions about the viewed photograph. Every participant’s responses are recorded and echoed throughout the session culminating in the final retelling of the story.

This method allows individuals who might be considered cognitively closed off to utilize their imagination and … “contribute a verse.” Through this group process, called Creative Engagement, personality, life experiences and more can be revealed which helps the “patient” and “care giver” to connect. This understanding fosters respect, builds self-esteem, builds skills and creates social support.

If you are interested in learning more about this technique go to www.timeslips.org or contact me. In the upcoming months I’ll be sharing some of the TimeSlips stories.

For our TimeSlips activities, we will be using photographs from the book Sundogs and Sunflowers: Folklore and Folk Art of the Northern Great Plains. This customizes the activity, making it special and unique, and relevant to people in our region.

The Culture Builds Community blog is submitted (almost) weekly by The Arts Center Gallery Manager Sally Jeppson. She would love to hear your comments here or email sjeppson@jamestownarts.com.
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Get Your Beads Out for Thursday’s Opening

Moccasins by K. Monkman are an example of the beadwork that visitors will see in the exhibition.

I love theme exhibits and I love searching to find some kind of exhibit themed garment to wear to the exhibit opening.  Thursday’s opening of Dancing Dazzling Beads will be a fun challenge. We invite you to the reception on March 6, 5:30 pm and I hope to see you wearing your beads.

Dancing Dazzling Beads consists of work by today’s leading contemporary bead artists from across the United States and Canada. It is a rich, vibrant, and fun exhibition for the whole community. Visitors will be treated to both wall and floor pieces, contemporary and work based in bead history. The history of beads is a fascinating history. Beads have been traded around the world for centuries. When White traders moved into the American West, they brought beads along, stashed away to be traded for pelts. Victorian women and folk artists always beaded but it wasn’t until the last few decades contemporary Western artists turned to beads. They recognized that through accumulation, beads and more beads could be amassed into works of art, making whole galleries dance with reflected light. Extended labels have been provided to detail artists’ intent, technique, and influences.

The North Dakota Museum of Art (NDMOA) in Grand Forks developed this exhibition and Jamestown is lucky to host it thanks to their Rural Arts Initiative. The North Dakota Museum of Art started its Rural Arts Initiative program in 2003. Through this program the Museum organizes, delivers, and installs art exhibitions in towns throughout the State free of charge to the host community. In addition, the Museum’s education department develops numerous pages of lesson plans for each traveling exhibition. All lesson plans have been standardized to North Dakota educational standards and its a wonderful opportunity for teachers to get their students out of the classroom and over to The Art Center for a visit. Lesson plans can be found at www.ndmoa.com. Click on Education, the Rural Arts.

The Museum even provides funds for transportation so it’s an opportunity not to be missed. Through the Rural Arts Initiative, rural North Dakota schools are eligible for reimbursements if they wish to attend the Dancing Dazzling Beads touring exhibition. In order to assist with out-of-class art education opportunities, the Museum will reimburse schools $10/hr., up to 3 hours, for bus drivers; .80/mile for bussing; and up to $75/day if a substitute teacher is needed to stay with students who cannot attend the exhibition. Reimbursement forms can be picked up at The Arts Center.

The exhibition will be on display until April 18 and is sponsored by The Medicine Shoppe. Exhibit sponsorships help The Arts Center with receptions, promotion and overall operations–such support is essential to allowing us the ability to offer high quality arts programming for Jamestown and surrounding communities.

Schools interested in attending the exhibition should call The Arts Center at 701-251-2496 to arrange a tour time. For questions about the exhibition or travel reimbursements for rural schools, please call Matthew Wallace at the North Dakota Museum of Art at 701-777-4195 or mwallace@ndmoa.com.

The Culture Builds Community blog is submitted (almost) weekly by The Arts Center Gallery Manager Sally Jeppson. She would love to hear your comments.
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#EmbraceWinterMovement and Become Part of an Exhibit

Join me in this Winter Challenge.

Combine photography, fitness and become part of an exhibit at The Arts Center. I’m asking you to get involved and share in this challenge with me–there are prizes!

These days we are all about capturing the moment with our phones, tablets and digital cameras. There are applications (APPS) to enhance these images, to add text, to make grids and more. Instagram and other photo apps are the hottest thing going.

Another sample of winter activity photos–snowshoeing with the retrievers…on the hunt for pheasants.

In my search to be healthier I’ve gotten involved in something called ChallengeLoop. They have all kinds of challenges. I’ve been doing random fitness challenges where I’ve agreed to accept a challenge (like exercise 30 minutes per day for a month). You then document your activities by posting to the ChallengeLoop site. Some challenges have prizes for incentive.

For me the program is good motivation to be active and the artsy person in me has enjoyed is seeing all the creative images that people share to represent their activities. This got me thinking that I’d develop some kind of challenge that would result in an small exhibit for The Arts Center’s Lobby Gallery in April.

This is a photo I took while snowshoeing this winter, a homemade target near Gackle, ND.

One thing that I’ve tried to do with my past participation is share something about North Dakota with virtual world. I’m guessing there aren’t a lot of people participating from our state so if I can share some ND images and change perceptions–I’m happy to do that. I’m hoping for lots of participation from North Dakota. Lets show them a “snapshot” of who we are–while we beat the winter blues and Embrace Winter Movement even if its just for a few short minutes.

Living in North Dakota we have to embrace winter to remain active-hence the name #EmbraceWinterMovement.  I see many ChallengeLoop participants are getting out despite the weather and getting it done. Exercise and Creativity are so important to healthy living and this challenge combines both.

Located in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, Honey Stinger makes nutritious and great tasting honey-based foods including energy bars, protein bars, energy gels, organic waffles, organic chews, kids specific snacks and our very own Organic Wildflower Honey. Fueling more than just the country’s top cyclists, runners, triathletes and teams, Honey Stinger products may be found at specialty sporting goods retailers, natural food grocers and honeystinger.com.

Selected photos (that you share in this challenge) will be included in an exhibit at The Arts Center in Jamestown, North Dakota.  The exhibit will also be documented with the creation of a poster. At the end of the Challenge, people who have posted at least 5 times on the ChallengeLoop site will be entered into a drawing to receive prizes including a printed poster, winter necessities, and a box of HoneyStinger Waffles (a healthy snack and affiliate of Miller Honey Farms in Gackle, ND).  Five (5) winners will be selected. Everyone will receive a digital version of the poster via a link provided on the #EmbraceWinterMovement ChallengeLoop feed.


  • Join this challenge using this link ChallengeLoop.
  • Challenge begins on March 1 but you can sign up now.
  • For the Month of March –  3 times per week do a 30 min outdoor activity – run, walk, ski, snowshoe, ice-skate, shovel snow, stack wood …whatever.
  • Document your activity with a photo – the photo could be a selfie, something funky or some winter beauty you encounter–the more creative the better!
  • During the month Upload at least five photos to the #EmbraceWinterMovement ChallengeLoop page and you will be eligible for the prizes.
  • Take photos in medium – high resolution setting keeping in mind that if they are selected for the exhibit they will need to be reproduced in print.
This challenge is terrific for people of all ages and super for families, groups of friends or coworkers. Let the fun begin!
The Culture Builds Community blog is submitted (almost) weekly by Arts Center Gallery Manager Sally Jeppson. She would love to hear your comments.
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Excuse the Mess & More

Artist Lydia Richez-Bowman poses with her art. She made the trip from Bismarck and was happy with the display and most impressed by The Arts Center – 2/15/14

I just wanted to make you aware that if you come to The Arts Center between now and March 6 we are a bit messy…its just the nature of the job sometimes. The gallery walls are getting refurbished and repainted, something we hadn’t planned on quite so soon but our wonderful North Dakota fluctuating temperature and humidity was causing some issues. We finally had the opportunity to get them fixed and they will be better than ever before the next exhibit opens on March 6.

Gallery walls get a facelift – 2/19/14

Not only are the gallery walls getting some work, but the stage/theatre portion of the gallery is also getting some updates. Thanks to a generous donation from Charlotte Hansen and others the performance area is now referred to as the “Hansen Stage” and is outfitted with specialized lighting, sound and camera equipment. These improvements will enable us to not only enhance the in-house audience experience but can even extend our programs to offsite audiences through the internet.

The “art” of crate packing.

Finally the lobby has become my temporary work station as I pack-up the Creative Spirits exhibition. I’m amazed at the comments I’ve received–people like seeing “behind the scenes” getting a glimpse at the other side of exhibition work. Unpacking exhibits is fun–like Christmas–repacking, not so much. This one was particularly difficult…”I know those artworks all came out of that crate but, dang it!, they don’t seem to all want to fit back in.” My co-workers probably heard some of my “vocalizations” as I packed and repacked. Finally it all came together, its documented with photos and descriptions to insure that the next gallery manger won’t have the same problem–lucky for them.

And all this is happening during a “Gala week” – Saturday is our annual fundraiser. Lots of work for everyone involved and impossible without many hard-working volunteers. I’m looking forward to the event, its “fashion forward” theme of Leather and Lace sounds edgy, arty and fun–what more can you ask for?

The Culture Builds Community blog is submitted (almost) weekly by Arts Center Gallery Manager Sally Jeppson. She would love to hear your comments.
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Giving Hearts Day – Share the Love

GIVING HEARTS DAY 2014 – Thursday, FEBRUARY 13th


If you have always wished you could help The Arts Center with a cash donation, tomorrow would be the day to have your wish come true and also make our wishes come true. Tomorrow is a special day and not just because its my wedding anniversary but its also Giving Hearts Day 2014.

This is a one-day only opportunity to multiply the impact of your gift. Contributions will be matched 100% up to $4,000. Dakota Medical and Impact Foundation jointly host this 24-hour online event. It begins at 12:00 am and continues until 11:59 pm.

This is how it works: if you give $10, The Arts Center gets $20. That’s a great deal–better than Vegas! Matched gifts begin at the $10 level. The gift must be given on-line using your computer or tablet. If you need assistance or don’t have access to a computer, stop by The Arts Center anytime between 9:00 am and 6:30 pm tomorrow and we can help you–and we’ll even provide you with a special treat.

Running a non-profit is an endless series of fund-raising activities to provide great programming, let alone keep the doors open and the heat on. There are many grants out there to help with programs but few to help with general operations. Special giving events like Giving Hearts Day are key to bringing you what you love most. And just in case you’ve forgotten what you love about The Arts Center here’s a reminder.

Share your love for The Arts Center and help us creatively change lives. Donations can be made through the “Donate with IMACT button” found on The Arts Center’s website.

If you wish to spread more love throughout our community you can also give to these non-profit organizations during the Giving Hearts Day event.

The Culture Builds Community blog is submitted (almost) weekly by Arts Center Gallery Manager Sally Jeppson. She would love to hear your comments. 
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Help! “Flat Stanley” Wants to Meet North Dakota Artists

…and Anyone who wants to share what makes North Dakota Special

This blog was headed in an entirely different direction until I opened the morning mail. A 4th grader from Westminster, MA is involved in a class project to collect information about a particular state and “Katie” received North Dakota. It’s a “Flat Stanley” project, something I had never heard of, but quickly realized has been in existence since 1995 and is based on a 1964 children’s book called Flat Stanley written by Jeff Brown. Apparently “Flat Stanley” is a phenomenon, complete with a website and apps, whose tag line reads “revolutionizing the way kids learn and communicate.” Students in the project create a paper “Flat Stanley” (a representative drawing of the book’s Stanley Lambchop character) and send him off to “exotic places” where people who receive him document the places and activities in which “Flat Stanley” is involved.

Katie’s “paper Flat Stanley” arrived with her letter and she asked the we take him on some crazy North Dakota adventures. I’m guessing young Katie has sent letters to the usual sources–ND Tourism, ND Government entities and probably a variety of museums and galleries. I was happy to know The Arts Center received a request for information. My first inclination was to take “Stanley” snowshoeing or skiing, introduce him to some aspects of a North Dakota winter and our landscape-spin off from last week’s blog. But we are an arts center so my thought is why don’t we introduce “Stanley” to North Dakota’s artists.

Here is what I’d like to happen: I want every artist (or any other North Dakotan) who reads this blog or is an Arts Center Facebook friend to print out on “Stanley’s” picture. Take a photograph of “Stanley” and (if you are an artist), with a piece of your art.  Email this image to me, sjeppson@jamestownarts.com,with a one to two sentence description/biography and I’ll get them to Katie.  We have 6 weeks to gather as many responses as possible for Katie’s project. I think this is a great way to show that North Dakota is more than it seems and is just and rich and full of creative people as any other state.

Anybody can participate – the more input the better – lets tell Katie what makes North Dakota special.

Recap of Details:

  1. print out “Flat Stanley’s” photo – cut out his image
  2. artists – take a picture of “Stanley” with your artwork (and yourself if you wish)
  3. other North Dakotans – take a picture of “Stanley” with something that makes North Dakota special to you
  4. send your photo with a description to sjeppson@jamestownarts.com <or> post to The Arts Center’s Facebook Page
  5. please send all responses by March 15
The Culture Builds Community blog is submitted (almost) weekly by Arts Center Gallery Manager Sally Jeppson. She would love to hear your comments.
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Why I Love North Dakota

My childhood home, Carmel by the Sea.

Ok, most of you know I’m a transplant, from Carmel California of all places–that ideallic village by the sea. Home to artists, writers and movie stars–Clint Eastwood, Robinson Jeffers, Ansel Adams… It sits amongst a breathtaking landscape of Monterey Pines, Cypress trees and white sandy beaches. There are galleries on every corner, wonderful resturants, and shopping.

So how can I make rural North Dakota my home? When its -30° degrees I do question my sanity. When I first came here, in my mid-20′s it was just a grand adventure. I stood by the “Welcome to North Dakota” sign and took the obligatory photograph. It was December 1988 and there was snow. That winter Fargo received the “most snow ever” in a one-time event. I won’t lie, the novelty wore off, I wasn’t happy during those first months–I hated it.  It was foreign to me, environmentally hostile and lacking in what I considered the most basic of amenities–like leaf lettuce and sushi–I mean, ‘come on’ how do these people survive. Ok, I didn’t “bolt” mostly because I didn’t want to hear my parents tell me…”I told you so.”

Current Arts Center exhibit, Creative Spirits–an explosion of colorful art.

It was the ARTS that enabled me to stay. I came from a family art enthusiasts, I had a masters in art history and much to my surprise I found there was an active (though not necessarily appreciated) arts community complete with museums and galleries. Today, 26 years later, the ARTS in North Dakota are considered “cool” and people are working to use the ARTS to transform our communities. Its been rewarding to be part of this evolution in both Fargo and now Jamestown. I need only think of my own life when we question the difficulties of making people understand how important the arts are to attracting and keeping people…it kept me here.

Now, you might ask, “don’t you miss the beaches, warm weather, etc?” Yes, I do, but beauty is abundant here, its just different, and unlike the intense drama of Carmel-by-the-Sea’s crashing waves, the North Dakota beauty is subtle and sublime. I’ve made a commitment to seek this beauty in both summer and winter and all I need to do is walk out my front door. It is a beauty I get to experience in solitude–no people, no traffic just nature.

While snowshoeing…a prairie relic, homemade shooting target.

My favorite…Arts Center Board Members and Jamestown contractors, Nick Sherbenske and Dave Hillerud turned red gloved wine stewards.

Here is an example of why I love “my version” of North Dakota. I’ve learned that you take advantage of every nice winter day. Last Saturday morning it was beautiful, sunny, approaching 30° so I headed out with the dogs and my snowshoes. In my 90 min trek I saw no less that 50 deer and disturbed a family of five coyotes. I saw one, airborne–pouncing on what was probably a mouse–before it headed off, fearful of my approach. How cool is that? Two hours later, I was at The Arts Center preparing for an evening of Wine & Cheese. Snow was falling now and getting heavier, would people still come out for the event? They came in record numbers, who wouldn’t? Brave the weather, try 27 different wines and 20 different cheeses from 11 countries–this is my kind of cultural exploration. To complete the “weekend’s” experience, I found myself stranded in Jamestown until Monday with snow and 50 mile per hour winds rendering travel impossible. Wonderful friends (Taylor and Sandy Barnes) took me in for two nights. We enjoyed freshly caught walleye, homegrown sugar peas and tomatoes rendered into a family favorite called tomato pudding. The banter about cooking methodology for the pudding was enlightening, white or wheat bread, 3 or 6 Tbs. brown sugar, bourbon or not, 30 minutes or an hour, nevertheless, the result was tasty and I’ve added the recipe to my iPad. Now if I can only figure out the gluten free version…Life is good.


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Sharing Happy Hour @ The Arts Center

On display through March 1-Creative Spirits: Mixed Media Work by Tammy Jones and Lydia Richez-Bowman

Artful Fun happens on the 2nd Monday of each month at 5:00 pm. Every other month we gather in the gallery and then join in the classroom for a lighthearted art activity. The in-between months focus exclusively on the art activity. Artful Happy Hour (AHH!) is for adults to blow off some steam after work and make new friends (beverages optional).

Last night I had fun meeting some of the Happy Hour “regulars.”  The current exhibit, Creative Spirits: Mixed Media Work by Tammy Jones and Lydia Richez-Bowman seemed to resonate with those gathered. One of the exhibit’s artists, Tammy Jones made a quick appearance trying to beat the evening’s weather and get home safely. A familiar face, Tammy has taught dozens of art classes at The Arts Center and this is the first time her many students have gotten to see her work. The bright colors of the art and the whimsical content seemed to be just what we all needed to brighten our winter blues.

The three small exhibited weavings by Lydia Richez-Bowman were inspiration for last night’s art activity. Its been some time since I’ve led an art activity and admittedly I was a little rusty. Students were forgiving and amazingly focused, they seemed to have fun and no project was the same with everyone experimenting with different yarns and textures.

Interestingly while viewing the exhibit we were talking about “happy accidents” that occur in art making. This came into play with our “coaster-sized” weavings. Finding the yarn she chose for her weaving problematic, Brittany Heim decided to “scrap” her project. Centering the “weaving” and cutting the strings resulted in wonderful “bug” with count them–36 legs. Think…cat toy, beastie to scare your co-workers with or sweater ornament–see for yourself…

If this sounds fun, next month, on February 10 resident artist Anna Jacobson will be turning AHH! participants into aspiring Picassos. Here’s the Flyer: ArtfulHH

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