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Nemeth Art Center exhibits close September 30

John Salhus' exhibit at the Nemeth explores the struggle between the manmade and natural. (Shannon Geisen / Enterprise) 1 / 3
The word "totem" derives from the Ojibwe word for clan, "doodem. Jim Denomie's totem pole at the Nemeth Art Center stands 12-feet tall. (Photos by Shannon Geisen / Enterprise) 2 / 3
A series of "Dailogues" by Denomie feature the Lone Ranger and Tonto. (Shannon Geisen / Enterprise) 3 / 3

"2016 has been a year to remember for the Nemeth Art Center," said Executive Director Michael Dagen.

Along with high-quality exhibits from artists like Kate Casanova, Cameron Gainer, Jim Denomie and John Salhus, the NAC will partner with the White Earth Nation, Park Rapids Downtown Business Association and the Park Rapids Chamber of Commerce on "Take a Walk on the Wild" Wild Rice Festival Oct. 22 at Armory Square, he explains.

"This inaugural event will showcase regional artists and musicians, while promoting the authentic wild rice found throughout our region," Dagen said.

The event will run from 10 a.m. to midnight with performances by Corey Medina, Elisa Korenne, Sonny Johnson, Amanda Standalone, Eddie Lee Kid, Karen Townsend and Annie Humphrey. The Duluth Spin Collective, a fire dancing troupe, will perform in the evening and regional artists' work will be on display throughout the day.

The Wild Rice Festival also presents an opportunity for attendees to stock up on authentic wild rice, discover different strains of wild rice found in area rivers and lakes and learn how it is harvested and processed.

Nemeth Art Center, "an outpost for contemporary art located in Park Rapids," is currently hosting exhibits by Jim Denomie and John Salhus through September 30.

Jim Denomie

Denomie, 61, an Anishinaabe, currently lives in Franconia, Minn. Primarily a painter, he also creates unique works of art in ink, oil pastel drawings, printmaking, photography and found-object sculpture.

A four-sided totem, standing 12-feet tall, dominates his Nemeth art exhibit. Each panel of the totem features humans and animals, 60 portraits in all. The faces and structure emerged from Denomie's own dreams.

Denomie's use of subversive humor and vibrant color are evident in his work, which is often aimed at colonization and other wrongs committed by European Americans on Native people. For instance, in "Vatican Cafe," Tonto, the Lone Ranger, Jesus and Elvis share a "last supper."

"I comment on historical and political events that can be emotional. I try to do these painting with humor and color to defuse the emotion," he said.

Denomie has shown extensively in the U.S. and Europe. He has work in the permanent collections of the Heard Museum in Phoenix and the Weisman Art Museum in Minneapolis, among other prominent museums and public and private collections.

John Salhus

Born in Minneapolis, John Salhus, 46, lives and works as an independent artist in Chicago.

His main medium is painting and drawing, but for the past few years, his work has slowly evolved from two-dimensional works into mixed media sculpture and installation.

Salhus' work depicts a struggle between the manmade and the natural, "but it's a repressed, artificial nature that seems to be overtaking the manmade," he writes in his artist statement for the Nemeth exhibit.

Admission is always free to the Nemeth Art Center, located upstairs in the historic Hubbard County Courthouse at 301 Court Ave.

Next summer marks the 40th anniversary of the organization and "to celebrate the NAC's entire permanent collection will be on display the first half of next season," Dagen said.

"It's never too late to support arts culture in our region by becoming a member of the art center." More information is at www.nemethartcenter.org.

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