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A sign announces plans for the fine arts studio on Highway 71 South, Park Rapids.

Fine arts studio to open in Park Rapids

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Gabor Nemeth, who introduced Park Rapids to the grandeur of Old Masters artists 35 years ago, plans to open Gabor's Institute of Fine Arts and Studio in the former Domino Ford building on Highway 71 south.

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Nemeth's goal is to make Park Rapids a gathering point for artists and art enthusiasts, to organize a local society of artists whose work will be exhibited at the site.

"Not strictly for sale," he explains, of the "study collection" he proposes to exhibit, including 200 of his own works. "I'm not here to make money."

He sees the initiative as a means of augmenting the Park Rapids artist galleries in existence, not competition.

"My goal is to make Park Rapids an art center, not a walleye center," he said of tourism.

He hopes to form an art club, "to give people a place to talk art." Plans call for advertising nationwide, bringing teachers from Europe to share knowledge and talent - "to lecture on Picasso and Rembrandt" and extending an invitation to his Hollywood cronies.

Nemeth also plans to share insight and knowledge on his French pastel technique. He works mostly in landscapes, but is amenable to portraits. "I'm open to commission."

Plans call for an annual show, "to pull in artists who want to show. Park Rapids is highly art oriented," he said. "I'm not here to make money. If local people show an interest, that would be great.

"I might have a wild idea," he said. "But it's something I want to do. What I do won't cost Park Rapids a penny."

Nemeth, who was born in Germany, worked in art restoration and research. He studied, he said, in Amsterdam and Brussels and has organized museums in Los Angeles.

The collection of Old Masters works, now displayed in the Nemeth Art Center, were remuneration for work he'd done in Europe.

In 1977, after the Park Rapids exhibit of the works by 16th and 17th Century Flemish and Dutch masters drew more than 4,000 viewers on a frigid January night, Nemeth and his wife decided not to donate the works to St. John's University, as originally planned.

The collection remained in Park Rapids, exhibited at the North Country Museum of Arts, now known as the Nemeth Art Center.

Nemeth is amenable to the Old Master's exhibit moving to his studio. Sotheby's appraised the collection to be worth a quarter of a million dollars.

But the move would be on his terms.

"If the Old Masters move in, it will be under my conditions," he said. And that would preclude seeking grants. "I'm opposed to grants," he said. "It's not permanent," he said of the funding. "I worked with those paintings for 40 years," he said of his affinity for the collection.

Nemeth would like the city to take ownership of the works, as opposed to an ever-changing board of directors being responsible for them. "The city should own it and give them a permanent place.

"Pictures have power," he said. "An artist's life is excitement, powerful."

Now he's hoping to expand the enthusiasm.

He plans to open the studio this summer, hopefully in July.

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