Local artisans opening their studios this weekend

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Artists take a leap of faith, trusting their instinct—a creative flash.

Art Leap 2016 gives art enthusiasts an opportunity tour the area's culturally rich destinations and visit with local artists in their studios. The two-day event runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.

A classic red caboose on Stony Lake is among the Art Leap stops. Bickey Bender, a mixed media artist, has participated in Art Leap since its inception. This year, she will be joined by seven artists displaying pottery, woodcarving, glass, jewelry, painting and photography.

"We have a good time," Bender said. "I just enjoy the camaraderie."

Lowell Wolff developed an interest in photography in the 90s. He's currently shooting a collection of windows and doors in both Minnesota and Mexico. Wolff is also contemplating the social differences in graffiti across Europe, U.S. and Mexico.

"Culturally, it's very different," Wolff said. For example, each year graffiti artists are invited to paint a 400-foot fence at a Holiday Inn in Mexico. During Carnival, the fence is painted white and

Wolff may pursue grants to photograph graffitti worldwide and team up with a professional sociologist. "At this point, I enjoy the process of photography more than the business end of it," he said.

Karen Sharbo works with fused glass, crafting jewelry and decorative glass stands. About a decade ago, she bought a "humongous" kiln. It was delivered by a 16-wheeler.

"I was so enthused and everyone said, 'Don't get one too small,'" she explained. "I was afraid of it. I hid it for five years."

Sharbo eventually overcame her fear and learned the multi-step process of glassfusing. "That's all I did last summer. I spent all my time with the kiln," she said. "It's like any art. You keep learning as you progress. You read and learn."

During the winter, Sharbo paints. She is a member of the Leech Lake Arts League.

Woodcarver Bob Landrigan is a newcomer to Art Leap. A retired school counselor, Landrigan painted watercolors in the 1970s. That evolved into drawing, he said. In the early 90s, he discovered he could carve whatever he drew.

He favored carving loons out of butternut.

"I sold them on both ends of the Mississippi—from The Wigwam in Lake George to The Crabnet on Bourbon Street in New Orleans," Landrigan said.

More recently, he's experimented with colored pencil drawings on basswood.

"Loons are work. Drawing is me getting ready to be a geezer," he joked. "It's fairly sedimentary. I think I'm an anachronism. I don't use power tools, only hand tools. It's quiet."

Landrigan said his art has "evolved through practice."

"One definition of art is giving yourself permission to fail. I think we have 'failed' collectively," he said of fellow Art Leap guests.

Glenn Anderson chisels a unique, ornate chair called kubbestol. Anderson, 80, a retired Lutheran pastor, adds northern Minnesota flair to the traditional Scandinavian craft. Beautiful flora and fauna in his backyard inspire designs — like flying geese, trumpeter swans, loons, cattails and lady slippers.

Anderson learned the craft about 11 years ago.

He carves fireplace mantle, window valances and shelves as well, intertwining Minnesota's white-tailed deer, trillium or wild grapes with acanthus, a classic ornamental design.

Nediha Kolakovic, an immigrant from Bosnia, will display her jewelry and Bender's daughter, Gina Singer, will share her pottery.

An Art Leap brochure and map can be downloaded at prlaac.org or picked up at the Park Rapids Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center and Park Rapids Area Library.