By shannon geisen
Michael Dagen officially became executive director of the Nemeth Art Center on March 1.
The previous director, Meredith Lynn, resigned and accepted a position as interim executive director at the Rourke Art Gallery Museum in Moorhead.
Lynn, a Moorhead-based artist and curator, served as Nemeth’s executive director from 2012 to January 2015.
“We’re very sorry to see Meredith Lynn go. She did great things at Nemeth,” said LouAnn Muhm, chairperson of the Nemeth board of directors.
“We’re happy for her new opportunity at the Rourke, but we’re extremely excited for Michael to join us,” said Muhm. “He brings a long history of community engagement and creative thinking.”
An audio engineer and musician, Dagen and his wife, Amber Fletschock, operate a recording studio in Hewitt called Abandoned Scout Camp and perform in their band, “Dorthy Fix.”
Fletschock, a visual artist, illustrated Amy Thielen’s cookbook, “The New Midwestern Table.”
For the past 19 years, Dagen said he has performed at, promoted and produced countless events and festivals.
While working as an audio engineer with Sound Central LLC, Dagen had the opportunity to work with a wide variety of artists, ranging from the Insane Clown Posse to Loretta Lynn.
For two years, he was the production director and event manager of 309 Broadway, which housed multiple performance venues in Fargo.
He promoted and produced the Erie Dam Music Festival in Erie, N.D., the Fargo Winter Carnivale and, most recently, the Barter Fest in Hewitt.
Now in its fifth year, Barter Fest is a free, full day of live music, bartering and camping.
Dagen has also served as Hewitt’s city clerk/treasurer since December 2012.
The town, located about 10 miles southeast of Wadena, has a population of 266.
Dagen’s first foray into grant writing allowed Hewitt to repair its historical museum. It was the second highest grant awarded at that time, he said.
“We’ve got 20 years to make the most of Legacy funds and truly leave a legacy,” said Dagen. “Legacy grants really allow artists to consider staying around rural areas or move back.”
The couple will remain in their Hewitt home – an Odd Fellows Hall that they’ve converted into an art and recording studio – with Michael traversing the 45-minute commute to Park Rapids.
Dagen said he plans to initiate new community celebrations in Park Rapids, involving multiple layers of the community.
“I’m really interested in collaborating with other arts organizations and downtown businesses,” he said.
“Park Rapids has the most thriving downtown and it’s made up of mostly mom-and-pop businesses. It’s very unique.”
“I’m definitely excited about the possibilities at the Armory space,” he added. “It would be a regional draw.”
Although this is a transitional period for the Nemeth Art Center, the Old Masters will remain on display, assured Muhm.
In response to public feedback, she noted there will be fewer art exhibits this summer but they will run longer.
“We want to accommodate the community so they have more time to view exhibits,” said Muhm.
There will also be an effort to display local artists’ work at Nemeth, probably similar to its Atrium Gallery program in which five artists were selected for a month-long exhibition.
Details are to come, said Muhm.
“My goal is to bring people to the gallery, but also bring the gallery to people,” said Dagen. “I hope to continue the great work Nemeth has been doing with contemporary artists. It’s a great service to the community.”
Dagen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Nemeth Art Center opens May 1. You can visit the website at nemethartcen ter.org.