Midwest Nest Magazine

Midwest Nest Magazine

Culture, Entertaining, Home Design, Fargo, Interior Design, DIY

Category: Art

Style & Stage Through New Year’s Day [Trever Hill Design]

Story by Trever Hill with Tracy Nicholson Photography by Dan Francis Photography With holiday and new year parties nearing, I decided to stage and style a photo shoot using locally-sourced…

Story by Trever Hill with Tracy Nicholson
Photography by Dan Francis Photography
With holiday and new year parties nearing, I decided to stage and style a photo shoot using locally-sourced finds, with the idea that it can then be recreated in your own home. The White House Co.’s downtown warehouse provided the perfect backdrop with a bonus – my pick from hundreds of vintage furnishings in a rainbow of rich colors and textures. This setting will show you a fun fusion of local art as well as vintage and modern decor that you can rent or buy to host your holidays. Since furnishing trends tend to emulate fashion trends, I made sure to include a few model friends to show off some bold party looks from my friends at Downtown Fargo’s Others and Proper & Prim.

Borrowing Beauty
In the midst of planning a party but don’t think your furnishings are festive enough? Most people don’t realize that if they want to spruce up their space, it’s as easy as hiring a local designer for a consult or renting a couple of items for a day or weekend. You can really make a huge impact by adding in just a few fun pieces in interesting colors or textures.

Lovely Lounging
Our festive lounge scene is focused on the velvet settee from The White House Co. along with a coordinating large-scale art piece from my friend, Jessica Wachter. To add a vintage-mod dimension, I included a vintage area rug over the sisal rug, modern coffee table and fun, velvet side chairs. The majority of these items can be rented or purchased in Fargo-Moorhead with the exception of the sisal rug – this was an online find.

Embrace your Inner Bookworm
Vintage, hardcover books are not just for reading. They also make great decor when you coordinate the colors in rows or stacks on shelves, side tables or tablescapes. The White House Co. sells these and often accents the colorful rows with rustic items like deer antlers. For this shoot, I added in a reflective disco ball which can carry the design from Christmas to New Year’s Eve.

Dine in Style
To create the dining area, I first found the dining table and tree at Eco Chic Home, then added some color with rustic wood chairs from O’Day Cache. On the tabletop, I strayed away from traditional holiday colors, yet still kept the look festive with floral from Love Always Floral and gorgeous place settings from McNeal & Friends.

Entertaining but Indecisive?
Sometimes you need a fresh pair of eyes, so whether you’re working with a designer like myself or a place that rents furnishings, make sure to keep an open mind. Bring a picture and The White House Co. can quickly help you choose from hundreds of rental options and colors. A consult with a designer in your home can help you to see outside of the traditional ideas of holiday decor and seamlessly fuse it with your existing style and furnishings.

Dress to Impress

Once I’d set the stage, our models had to be equally adorned, courtesy of two fantastic boutiques in Downtown Fargo. To dress the ladies, Myranda Ingram, Sydney Fritz and Cassandra Colling, we visited my friend Teresa O’Day at Proper & Prim and they were quickly outfitted in glitz, glam and fun materials that played into our vintage-mod vibe. Our lone male model, Atati Mita was dressed in clothing from Others.

Shop the Look

Sequined romper – $88, Proper & Prim

Black sequin dress – $84, Proper & Prim

Maroon glimmer dress – $60, Proper & Prim

Men’s dress shirt – $48, Others

Find the Finishes

Art – $2,200, Jessica Wachter

Dining table – $915, Eco Chic Home

Tree – $299, Eco Chic Home

Dining chairs – $65, O’Day Cache

Sofa rental – $100 daily, The White House Co.

Books – $3 each, The White House Co.

Place setting & stemware – $562, McNeal & Friends

Pillows – $29, The White House Co.

Sisal Rug – $279, Wayfair
Blue side chairs – $258 at Target/ Also available for rent at The White House Co.

Floral – $149, Love Always Floral

Roses grown/sourced from – Alexandra Farms
(Find them at Alexandrafarms.com & on Instagram at alexandrafarms)
Fun fact: Alexandra Farms specializes in boutique roses and grow over 60 different types!


Gift the Host
During the holidays, parties are plentiful, so make sure you’re prepared to pamper the host. Here are two fun gift ideas that will spark conversation and spice up the festivities.

Hot Ruby
Hot Ruby was created in 1950 in the kitchen of Ruby Faye in Mabelle, Texas. Faye’s cranberry cider recipe, infused with cinnamon and clove, was famous among friends and family and always served up simmering hot. For family-friendly functions, try it with sparkling water, ginger ale or club soda. If you prefer spicy and spiked, there are endless ways to serve it up cold with champagne, tequila or ginger beer or make it hot the way Faye intended with vodka, spiced whiskey or bourbon.

Get the full story and list of recipes at DrinkHotRuby.com.

Where to Buy in Fargo-Moorhead:
Shotwell Floral & Greenhouses
4000 40th Street South, Fargo

BĒT Vodka 

In 2016, BĒT (pronounced ‘beet’) VODKA came to life in Minneapolis. From generations of Midwest family farmers to the cooperative where the harvest is gathered, BĒT distills the bounty of sugar beets from the Red River Valley, down to its simplest and purest essence. The result is a sophisticated premium-pour meant be sipped and savored — unlike traditional vodka. Similar to Midwestern culture, BĒT is served best alongside good company. BĒT Vodka comes in mini bottles and 750 ml. bottles.

Check out their full story at betvodka.com.

Where to Buy in Fargo-Moorhead: 

Royal Liquors | Happy Harry’s Bottle Shop | Bottle Barn

Crown Liquors | 99 Bottles

For more information, contact:
Trever Hill Design

No Comments on Style & Stage Through New Year’s Day [Trever Hill Design]

All Things Merry at Rocking Horse Farm [Design by Julie Alin & Steve Johnson, SCHEELS Home & Hardware]

Story by Tracy Nicholson Photography by Dan Francis Photography23   Part two of our walk through the 32nd Annual Homes for the Holidays tour takes us to the home of…

Story by Tracy Nicholson
Photography by Dan Francis Photography23
Part two of our walk through the 32nd Annual Homes for the Holidays tour takes us to the home of Lauren and Alex White, in Fargo’s Rocking Horse Farm development. Since design consultants, Julie Alin and Steve Johnson of SCHEELS Home & Hardware had already worked with the Whites to choose the home’s furnishings, they joyfully volunteered their time and the store’s decor to deck the halls for Christmas and a great cause.

Welcoming the White Family to Fargo
When the Whites transferred to Fargo for their careers and left their furniture behind, they recruited the help of Alin and Johnson of SCHEELS Home & Hardware, to furnish every square-inch of their stunning home, built by T&S Custom Homes. Alin and Johnson have donated their time and talents to many homes throughout the tour, all of which were previous design clients. The Whites graciously agreed to donate their home for the tour, and the designing duo was thrilled to once again collaborate with their clients that they now call friends. Sadly, this will mark one of Alin’s last professional design projects as she is soon retiring after 24 years with SCHEELS Home & Hardware.

“It’s been awesome, I love working with Julie and Steve,” said Lauren White. “When they first came in a year ago, they did our whole house; now I consider them great friends. They are amazing at what they do.”

Making All Things Merry!
For the home’s holiday design, Alin and Johnson first met with Lauren White to discuss her color preferences. Even though the tour is catered to tour-goers, they also wanted to make sure they chose decor that would fit her preference and personal style. After the Whites had decided on a classic red and green holiday, the duo spent nearly three days assembling the decor for each of the main floor rooms. The family brought in their own 12-foot tree in the great room and Alin and Johnson got to work, hauling in holiday cheer. To fill the 2,200 square-foot main level, they would need a 17-foot cube truck and two carloads, filled to the brim with Christmas decor.

“Since the Whites chose reds and greens, which tend to be more traditional, we brought in a few more contemporary items for contrast,” said Johnson. “Even though the home has more of an open concept, with the dining room, kitchen and family room sharing the same space, we chose a coordinating, but slightly different flavor for each. The dining room is full of sparkling glitz and glam with silver and metallic accents. We kept the pops of red mainly in the kitchen and a small amount in the family room. In the master bedroom, we chose a metallic and vintage look with a pale blue and green in the ornaments.”

Vintage in the Kitchen
In the kitchen, Alin and Johnson found the perfect recipe for rustic chic, inspired by the cabinetry’s more traditional detailing. “SCHEELS Home & Hardware has an entire department of Christmas decor and we wanted to showcase as much as possible,” said Alin. “Many of the pieces were purchased at market and made up, as is, so we did a lot of layering so we could more easily create that farmhouse vintage look.”

Oh, Christmas Tree!
For the tree that would be the transition between each of the styles, Alin and Johnson chose a dash of glam to complement the rustic metals, wood tones and pops of classic red. “The birch ribbon adds a great texture, but it also lends a woodsy look while pairing it with our galvanized ornaments and adding contrast with some of Lauren’s Mercury glass ornaments,” said Johnson. “It’s nice to have the rustic base, but then have that glint of finer ornaments.” For a finished look, Alin and Johnson also added in branch sprays and red Mercury bulbs in two different sizes to give the room a hint of color.

To spruce of the family room, Alin and Johnson adorned the furnishings (all from SCHEELS Home & Hardware) with warm and cozy textures like Mongolian sheep wool, faux furs and soft, cable-knit throws.


Tips & Tricks for a Designer Christmas
[Julie Alin & Steve Johnson]

1. Design in threes. When it comes to holiday tablescape vignettes and layering, Alin suggests working in threes and making sure to allow for a high, medium and low height in items. Creating those peaks and valleys helps add interest and depth to your design.

2. Create easy, walk-by whimsy.  Alin and Johnson add simple garland and sprays to everyday items like wall sconces, mirrors, door knobs, coat hooks and stair railings. “We love long garland because it can easily wrap around things like chandelier chains and then we can spruce it up with bulbs, floral, sprays, twigs or lights,” said Alin. “One of our biggest tricks of the trade is using long pipe cleaners; they’re soft, they bend easy and they don’t scratch your wood banisters or metal decor. We can pull a whole house together for Christmas with one bag of pipe cleaners.”

3. Brighten up dull displays. Complete your design and vignettes with candles, faux candles or mini LED light strings to create a warm glow. “Now you can add lights, where you couldn’t in the past,” said Johnson. “Sometimes the bulky cord of traditional string lights can ruin a look, so I love how the fine wire of the seed LED lights work so well in table arrangements – the wire itself looks like part of the design.”

4. Let the home’s craftsmanship inspire the design. In the kitchen, Alin and Johnson took note of the more traditional details like the cabinetry’s braiding and moldings to inspire the surrounding design. “The exterior has a modern farmhouse look, while the interior is more of classic, cottage-style with a twist of traditional,” said Alin. “To make this design work, we brought in a lot of things that looked like they had been collected over time, such as vintage or flea market-style finds.”

5. Go big and unbreakable. Where glass ornaments were once the only option, they have since been replaced with plastic that looks identical to glass. This allows the duo to display larger sizes without adding unneeded weight. “With bigger trees, you really do need bigger ornaments,” said Alin. “On a tree this size, it’s nice to have a mixture of small, medium and large.”

6. Transform everyday elements. Since the home already had a base of farmhouse decor, Alin and Johnson used some of the on-site items like herbs and ferns, which could easily transition to holiday decor. “We pull a lot of everyday merchandise before we even start installing the holiday decor,” said Alin. “We typically gather as many big urns, pots, tins, buckets and baskets as we can.”

7. Find your Christmas contrast. If you’re taking a rustic farmhouse approach, Alin and Johnson suggest using a variance of textures for high-contrast holiday design. Where they’ve used duller finishes like birch, galvanized metal or rustic woods, they’ve also used hints of shimmering metals, Mercury glass or sparkle.

8. Appeal to seasonal senses. Once you’ve brightened up the space with string lights, LEDs or candles, Alin suggests finishing the ambiance with Christmas music and holiday aromas to match the decor. One of her go-to scents for this time of year is Scentsy’s Fresh Cut Christmas Tree, which can also be found at SCHEELS Home & Hardware.


For more information, contact:
Homes for the Holidays
Facebook at fmhomesfortheholidays

SCHEELS Home & Hardware
Design Consultants: Julie Alin & Steve Johnson
3202 13th Avenue South, Fargo

No Comments on All Things Merry at Rocking Horse Farm [Design by Julie Alin & Steve Johnson, SCHEELS Home & Hardware]

#RedBallProject [ Debut of Fargo-Moorhead’s Largest Public Art Display ]

Story by Tracy Nicholson Photography by Dan Francis Photography, Dennis Krull – 5foot20 In case you didn’t notice the massive red ball around Fargo-Moorhead this past month, let us show…

Story by Tracy Nicholson
Photography by Dan Francis Photography, Dennis Krull – 5foot20

In case you didn’t notice the massive red ball around Fargo-Moorhead this past month, let us show you its remarkable journey. The RedBall Project, created by artist Kurt Perschke, has traveled around the world and recently became a community phenomenon at seven must-see locations. To date, RedBall has made its debut in over 30 international cities, and is currently considered “the world’s longest-running street artwork”. To get the 250-pound ball to bounce our way, clay artist and MSUM Professor, Brad Bachmeier spearheaded the campaign, working closely with Andy Maus of Plains Art Museum and a long list of local supporters and sponsors. Follow along as we take to the streets for a recap of Fargo-Moorhead’s most impactful public art display, the RedBall Project.

Paving the Way for Public Art
Arriving in a crate carrying 250-pounds of inflatable canvas, the RedBall Project made its debut at Plains Art Museum on October 4. The artist, Kurt Perschke, had already visited in July and worked with the city to scout out seven different locations. Roughly the height of a semi truck, the RedBall Project traveled to a new location each day, disrupting the daily routine and encouraging the community to interact and take a second glance at beautiful locations we often overlook.

[Bringing the Ball to Fargo]
Location #1:
Plains Art Museum, Downtown Fargo

Location #2:
Minnesota State University Moorhead, Moorhead

“I don’t think we had initially realized how selective Kurt is about choosing communities for this project. He actually turns down roughly nine out of 10 inquiries, so we were extremely lucky to have been able to play host to RedBall.”
Brad Bachmeier, MFA, Professor – School of Art, MSUM

Location #3: Great Northern Bicycle Company, Downtown Fargo

Location #4: Lindenwood-Gooseberry Park Pedestrian Bridge, Fargo

“I think the RedBall Project was fabulously received in Fargo. It was wonderful to see the size of the crowds at each site and how great the attendance was. The best part was seeing the joy it brought to people of all ages, from toddlers to seniors. I think the project produced some really great conversations and awareness around public art that will be really productive for our metro moving forward.”
Brad Bachmeier, MFA, Professor – School of Art, MSUM

Location #5: Fargo Park District offices at the Depot

Location #6: Rourke Art Gallery + Museum, Moorhead

“The out of character snow event we had on the last day of the RedBall Project, in early October, turned out to be the perfect ending to the project; resulting in some fabulous photos in front of our iconic Fargo Theatre.”
Brad Bachmeier, MFA, Professor – School of Art, MSUM

Location #7: Fargo Theater, Downtown Fargo


“To me, the best artworks are those that appear simple but are actually complex. I feel that these works are a metaphor for people; you see someone or hear about someone – but, until you interact with a person, you don’t know them. I have never been a part of a project that was so incredibly simple, yet so impactful. Of the thousands of people that came out to see RedBall, several of them have thanked me for being a part of the team that brought it to Fargo-Moorhead. I think people loved it because it made them feel connected to the world, to each other, and to our built environment in a way that I think only it could do. Seeing it here reaffirmed to me that RedBall is indeed really about people – just as the artist (Kurt Perschke) intended.”

Andrew J. Maus, Director and CEO, Plains Art Museum


The RedBall Project is brought to Fargo and Moorhead thanks to support from the Fargo Arts & Culture Commission, Minnesota State University Moorhead, Plains Art Museum, Fargo Park District, Insight to Action/Carol Schlossman Consulting, Fargo-Moorhead Convention & Visitors Bureau, and other supportive partners.

For more information, contact:
Plains Art Museum
Andrew J. Maus, Director and CEO

Bradley Bachmeier

Program Coordinator and Professor of Art Education, MSUM
Art Therapy Program Co-Coordinator & N.D. Council on the Arts Board of Directors, Vice Chair


Or visit:

No Comments on #RedBallProject [ Debut of Fargo-Moorhead’s Largest Public Art Display ]

Vintage + Velvet

Story by Tracy Nicholson Photography by Glasser Images Setting the stage at The White House Co.’s warehouse near Downtown Fargo, the perfect collaboration was born. This stylized shoot was dreamed…

Story by Tracy Nicholson

Photography by Glasser Images

Setting the stage at The White House Co.’s warehouse near Downtown Fargo, the perfect collaboration was born. This stylized shoot was dreamed up by three groups of creatives, with their hearts set on pushing the boundaries of beautiful. Together, Megan Lewis of Milk Made and Amanda Rydell, Samantha Klinkhammer and Katie Schiltz of The White House Co., worked closely with Glasser Images to document and create vintage inspiration, with an edge.

Creative Collaboration

The White House Co. and Milk Made were already in the midst of planning their stylized shoot when Glasser Images contacted them about staging and styling their own photography project. Since the two were planned for the same day, they decided to combine their creativity and collaborate. Inside The White House Co. warehouse, they had their pick of hundreds of vintage furniture pieces, arches, table settings and everything in between.

With The White House Co.’s setting, two gorgeous couples to model, and Glasser Images to document – Megan Lewis of Milk Made had the perfect opportunity to showcase her passion for high-design charcuterie and cheese creations. Lewis started Milk Made Catering in May of 2017 and works out of Square One Kitchens in Downtown Fargo. Utilizing her extensive education in cheese, she has become well-known for her artfully catered designs; combining exotic fruits, nuts, vegetables, meats and cheeses in an eye-catching and edible display.

“The idea behind this shoot was to take the inspirations behind what we view as a typical ‘North Dakota Wedding’ and put a fresh, modern twist on the rustic feel so many couples in our area look for. We really wanted to use the opportunity to team up with some of our favorite local vendors in the Fargo area to create something wonderful.”

Liz Tomek, Glasser Images

Sitting Pretty   

Using the warehouse’s brick walls as the backdrop, The White House Co. set the tone with rich velvet textures, a tablescape mixing modern and minimal, a pampas grass-adorned arch and rustic fireplace setting. Rather than designing a more traditional head table, Rydell, Klinkhammer and Schiltz created a vintage bar setup with a stylized sweetheart table.

“We knew we wanted the shoot to be fall-inspired, so we took a play on those colors and added some unexpected brighter tones; playing with them in a unique way,” said Schiltz. “We can work with brides to bring in furniture and help stage the venue; we deliver, setup and tear down. We don’t do full-on wedding planning, but we can help collaborate their decor with ours and provide things like soft seating, cake plates, vintage dishware, tables and arches. We collaborate a lot with Love Always Floral and have people we can contact for custom things like signage and calligraphy.”

Aside from their retail store at 14 Roberts Street in Downtown Fargo, their Main Avenue warehouse holds the inventory that The White House Co. rents out for staging weddings and events. They have recently added on more storage space, allowing them to extend their offerings and create their own vintage venue to host more intimate events or classes.

Real-Life Love 

To document their stylized shoot, Glasser Images brought in two real-life couples to model attire, jewelry, hair and makeup. “Our models, Steff and Travis, and Beth and Noah could not have been more perfect for the vibe and aesthetic,” said Liz Tomek of Glasser Images. “While I coordinated the team, our creative team, Jenna, Connor and Nick, each brought their personalities and energy to the shoot. Their talent and creativity are what made the imagery unique and spectacular.”

Collaborating with local talent, the team relied on Love Always Floral for the couples’ bridal bouquets, cake topper, pampas grasses for the ceremony arch and custom dog collars. A modern menu card and invite were designed by Kailey Louise Designs, while Lettering by Samantha created the custom calligraphy detailing. Serenading the models was a local musician, Wyatt Dronan.

Cheese[wheel] Cake

At the center of their scene, a three-tiered cheese wheel cake nearly stole the show. This rustic, fall-inspired masterpiece was created by Milk Made. For an unlikely, but perfect pairing for the (cheese) cake, Lewis incorporated a mushroom cake topper she handpicked at Prairie Roots Co-op, hailing from Doubting Thomas Farms. Combined with stunning flowers from Love Always Floral, this was a centerpiece worth savoring.

Lewis special orders her cheese wheels primarily from local and American-made cheese and charcuterie makers, allowing roughly 30% to be imported. She uses the cheese wheel’s wooden box lids as a sustainable base for her designs. Clients can choose from a menu of savory or sweet options including antipasto, fruit and crudites or cheese and charcuterie. In her cheese creations, Lewis often includes Fargo-made finds like honey butter from Butter Creations by Ann and Three Bears Honey.

Lewis’ cake is designed with three tiers of cheese wheels; the top tier is a French Regal de Bourgogne Moutarde or soft cow’s milk cheese, wrapped in whole-grain mustard seeds. The middle tier is Coppinger, a washed rind cheese, and the bottom is an aged Vella Dry Jack with a cocoa rub.

“When I’m doing a cheese wheel cake or platter, I really love the process. I have a storyboard of the colors that the client wants, so I’ll spend well over an hour in the store, just thinking about what types of unique cheeses and vegetables I want to use,” said Lewis. “I usually have around 20 different fruits and vegetables and I consider the surroundings and colors before I piece it together. Everything that I do is ‘cheesemongers choice’, and I do that purposefully, so it really allows me to pair and curate things. It helps to broaden people’s horizons.”


“With every image, you can feel the dedication and the energy each person put into their creations. You can tell that every aspect of this shoot was done with a great amount of passion,” said Tomek. “The end result truly was an incredibly beautiful, collaborative experience.”


Seasonal Serving & Staging Tips

[with The White House Co. & Milk Made]

1. Embrace seasonal produce and offerings. When building your own cheese tray, Lewis suggests choosing one or two more approachable cheese options, then keep your eye out for the seasonal cheeses that come out right before Thanksgiving and Christmas.

2. Get creative with your tablescape. As Schiltz noted, swapping out your glassware, flatware and dishes is as simple as a trip to the thrift store. Don’t be afraid to mix and match patterns, textures and metals for a fun, vintage appeal.

3. Don’t forget to focus on floral. According to Klinkhammer, a floral centerpiece can allow you to play with the color palette and give your tablescape a simple pop of color or instant elegance.

4. If floral is your foe…Lewis suggests trying an edible design by laying down a clear saran wrap or butcher paper runner and creating a grazing centerpiece of cheeses, nuts, fruits or meats. If you use butcher paper, grab a permanent marker and draw arrows labeling each cheese. If it seems like more than you can tackle, let Milk Made create a curated, edible centerpiece for your holiday gathering. If you love to create your own cheese boards, check out Luna in Fargo for their cut-to-order cheese counter where you can try before you buy. You can also check out the selection at Pinch & Pour and Prairie Food Co-op in Downtown Fargo.

5. Go green. Try foraging for seasonal greenery, wheat or grasses in your own backyard. If you’re interested in boxwood or spreading out seeded eucalyptus or ruscus, contact your florist about two to three days in advance, just in case it needs to be ordered in. Don’t be afraid to get creative with what you have; smaller houseplants, moss and succulents can also do the trick.

6. Get the glow. Once you’ve created your tablescape with dishware and floral or greens, give it a glow with dramatic candelabras or simplistic tea candles.

7. Layer it on. Make sure your tablescape has dimension by layering floral, wood, vintage books or tiered candles in the center. Also, try using more than one layer of placemats in contrasting sizes underneath your dishware or layer your napkin atop your place setting with a mini pop of greenery.

8. When in doubt, add pink. According to Rydell, a pop of pink with unexpected hues like oranges and yellows can make for a striking combo that suits any occasion. If you don’t like the idea of pastels, Klinkhammer suggests opting for richer, jewel-toned palettes.


Style Library

Setting & styling – The White House Co. Warehouse

Staged vintage decor – The White House Co.

Cheese wheel cake – Megan Lewis, Milk Made

Mushroom cake topper – Doubting Thomas Farms/Prairie Roots Co-op, styled by Milk Made

Floral – Love Always Floral

Calligraphy – Lettering by Samantha

Hair – ADAE Salon

Makeup – Chloe Danielle

Jewelry – Schumacher Diamond

Attire – a&bé Bridal

Custom menu card & invite design – Kailey Louise Designs


Photography – Glasser Images

Musician – Wyatt Dronan

Videographer – Nick Biewer


Couple #1: Beth Vetter, Noah Kilsdonk

Couple #2: Steff Johnston, Travis Mack

Meet Glasser Images

Founded in Bismarck N.D., their business follows creatives and clients all around the country. They currently have a team of photographers and videographers in Bismarck, Fargo, Minot, Rapid City, S.D., Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minn., as well as Colorado Springs and Fort Collins, Colo.


For more information, contact: 

The White House Co. & Vintage Rentals

14 Roberts Street North, Fargo



Instagram: @whitehouse.co

Glasser Images




Instagram: @glasserimages

Milk Made Catering

Megan Lewis



Instagram: @milkmadecatering

No Comments on Vintage + Velvet

Plains Art Museum: Progressive Architecture Dinner [Pelican Lake, Minnesota]

Words by Tracy Nicholson Photography by Dan Francis Photography Imagine touring four spectacular homes on Pelican Lake, visiting with the architects and owners, then being offered an array of drinks…

Words by Tracy Nicholson
Photography by Dan Francis Photography

Imagine touring four spectacular homes on Pelican Lake, visiting with the architects and owners, then being offered an array of drinks and a spectacular catered course at every stop. This is your look inside Plains Art Museum’s Progressive Architecture Dinner. Join Midwest Nest as we recap their September 8th event which introduced us to an entirely new approach to lake home living, architecture, art and cuisine.

Art + Architecture

A concept dreamed up by Sandy Thompson of Plains Art Museum, this four-home tour is custom designed to introduce the idea of art plus architecture. Along the way, 50 guests were invited to dine on locally prepared fare and admire the space, art and stunning lake views. Although the original plan was to tour via a five-pontoon armada, the day’s wind and whitecaps kept the tour traveling by dry land. Every home’s tour lasted one hour and ended with a conversation between the homeowner and the architect, with an open forum for guests to intervene and inquire. All proceeds from the tour sustain PlainsArt4All, the Museum’s free general admission initiative.


Tour Stop #1: The Dawsons
To kick off the tour, guests arrived at noon to the spectacular home of Georgia and Tom Dawson where the first course of Hors-d’oeuvres and cocktails were served by Chef Jeff Reitz of Urban Foods. Guests were allowed to tour every inch of the home while the architect, Terry Stroh of T.L. Stroh Architects, offered input regarding the home’s timeless and coastal design.

About the Dawson Home:
Tom Dawson’s grandfather purchased the site in 1958, which is where Dawson was raised. For 17 years, Tom and Georgia Dawson spent their summers in a 900 square-foot cottage near the property, before opting to design their year-round lake home. Nine years ago, they reached out to longtime friends, Terry Stroh of T.L. Stroh Architects and contractor John Gunkelman, to make their coastal vision a reality. In their first meeting, Georgia Dawson had the entire first floor drawn out on a yellow legal pad, leaving the remainder of the design to Stroh. Taking into account the early drawings, the design needed to include equally beautiful spaces for their growing family.

When in town, the Dawsons reside in a 90-year-old home with dark wood, historic elements. So, for their lakeside retreat, the Dawsons requested the opposite; bright and airy with spacious windows to capture the view. Between their gorgeous regional art collection, pine ceilings, white-washed elements and metal fabrication by P2 Industries, every angle of the Dawson’s home is perfectly molded to embrace life on the water.

Upstairs, the Dawsons display an oversized photo book by the celebrated photographer, Annie Leibovitz. The book contains a collection of photos once featured in Vanity Fair.

From the Architect, Terry Stroh:
“Working with Tom and Georgia was always fun. Their design was more about capturing the outside than anything; they wanted something that had a little more of a Floridian vibe to it. The floor plan was centered around family and creating the spaces that they wanted, not what I wanted for them – that’s really what it’s all about.””We have two houses on the tour, the Dawsons and Schlossman’s and they happen to be best friends. I think any architect would say this; you don’t come out with a great house unless you have a great client – they’re all people with great taste and also kindness.”


“When we first started talking about doing this Progressive Architecture Dinner, something that I had done in California – I sat down with Chris Hawley and asked him if he thought we could do that here. We’d talked about different venues and places that might be interesting, but it was Chris who said, “We have to do the lake. We could do five years of these events just on Pelican Lake.” This is the second year now, and it’s been a joy to put together.”
Sandy Thompson, Plains Art Museum

“I really love the connection that this event creates with architects. Architecture has
a strong relationship with the arts and this gives the architects a chance to really talk about their work in a fun and comfortable setting while building appreciation for their designs. These homes really push people’s sensibilities when it comes to design and many of them have well-curated art collections that we love featuring.”
Andy Maus, Plains Art Museum

Tour Stop #2: The Hansons

The second stop on the tour led us through a home built on the idea of sparking creativity, expanding the view and redefining traditional lake home standards. Welcome to the year-round lake home of Pam and Dave Hanson with the architect, Craig Helenske of Helenske Design Group. This is a creative and cozy home, almost completely devoid of right angles…read on and we’ll explain. At this location, guests were treated to a fall-inspired salad course presented by VIP Chef, Anthony Bachman.

About the Hanson Home:
The Hansons purchased a small cottage on the property in 1987 for a mere $42,500. Hoping to salvage the existing cabin, they explored expansion and renovation options; eventually deciding it was a better investment to start from the ground up. The couple’s year-round lake home was completed four years ago with architect Craig Helenske of Helenske Design Group and contractor, Jon Anderson of Dreambuilder. There were only two prerequisites given to Helenske by Dave Hanson; it was to have a modern cabin feel with no square corners – he just simply doesn’t like them.

For the exterior, Helenske and Hanson opted for a green-black siding to give the home a robust contrast to the environment. They purposefully drifted away from the stereotypical, white and bright lake home. Their version is a simplified farmhouse style with a unique bow element on the front that expands the view from being a narrow 50-foot, to a panoramic view that’s nearly three times the lot’s width. In creating those angles, it allowed the two to shape several interesting environments within the home, like a quiet space for reflection and a separate space for socializing.

As president and CEO of H2M, an advertising agency in Downtown Fargo, Dave Hanson is a creative guru during the workweek and after hours. Throughout the home, guests enjoyed a collection of his own photographic art displayed on the walls. In the back guest quarters, Hanson, who’s also a musician and past sound technician, has his own recording studio located in the upper loft.

From the Architect, Craig Helenske:
“This was very much a collaborative experience between two stubborn creatives. Dave and I worked pretty closely and he had a vision of wanting to have a slatted acoustic, rosewood-style ceiling in here, so that became kind of the icon for the public space. Rather than a traditional lake or cottage-style ceiling that’s overused, the slatting gave the home a unique twist. When you take all of the furniture and people out of here, the home is just sheetrock and paint. It’s really Dave and Pam that put the character in this home, through their art, photography and music background. I was just given an opportunity to present their character through this design.”

“The lake experience is both inside and out; it’s about the wind, finding spaces to enjoy the morning sun – morning, afternoon and evening. There is a lot of opportunity for inside and outside living spaces, and we let those really shape the home. It was a great experience to exchange ideas back and forth and not just communicate ideas to the client. To have somebody that can respond back to you with just as much creative energy makes for a really positive experience.”


Tour Stop #3: The Schlossmans

At our third stop on the tour, guests arrived at the extraordinary summer home of Mary and Bill Schlossman with the architect, Terry Stroh of T.L. Stroh Architects. For the entree, guests dined on Blackbird Woodfire’s specialty artisan pizzas. Chef Casey Absey and his team brought in their mobile woodfire oven and all were invited to choose one of their tried and true recipes or design their own woodfire masterpiece.

About the Schlossman Home:
Bill Schlossman grew up next door to the existing property, eventually purchasing the adjacent lake lot with small cottage from his brother. When it was time to rebuild, the couple contacted architect Terry Stroh, whom they had previously worked with on the design of their condo, as well as interior designer Lark Lomsdal. To mimic the yesteryear appeal of an authentic cabin or summer home, they opted for a design with more minimally-sized bedrooms and closets, leaving the majority of the square footage for post and beam communal areas.

Working through the details of the design with Stroh, Bill Schlossman had an idea to omit sheetrock in lieu of clear Douglas Fir siding and cedar ceiling beams. This concept would involve a labor-intensive process of perfecting each individual piece of wood, on every wall of the home, with no room for error. Kevin Pagel of Dakota Construction would do the painstaking fabrication with timbers sourced from Pierce Log Homes. Now 12-years old, the home’s extraordinary carpentry has maintained its original beauty and structural quality from day one.

Most of the photos throughout the home were taken by Bill Schlossman himself or influential locals like the late Fred Scheel Senior, a renowned photographer in his day. One treasured photo, framed high into the beams, is a sentimental image which inspired the lake home’s design; a photograph from 1928 with Bill Schlossman’s mother seated at the back of a small row boat, along with his grandfather and uncle.

“We love working with Terry. He originally came up with three different plans, but when we saw this one, it was fabulous,” said Mary Schlossman. “This was a great project for Bill and myself – we found out that we had a lot of similar tastes and it was really fun bringing those ideas to Terry. He found a really interesting book at Walker Art Center that had a lot of this style of house depicted in it and quite a few of our ideas were inspired by what we saw.”

“Working with a great architect like Terry on this project was critical for pulling together our vision,” said Bill Schlossman. “Some people are great designers, but Mary and I, as much as we enjoy looking at different things, can’t put it all together by ourselves. We also worked with an interior designer, Lark Lomsdal – she’s wonderful. She worked with Braaten Cabinets to design all of the cabinetry throughout the home.”

From the Architect, Terry Stroh:
“The whole idea of doing a post and beam structure and the concept of combining that with other conventional construction made this a really fun project. We actually built a model with the contractor, John Gunkelman and he used it during construction because it had every detail within this house. We still have it in our office and we use it to show clients what we can do.”

“As architects, we don’t always get to see the home once it’s lived in, but both the Dawsons and Schlossmans invited us down to see their furnished homes. Seeing what they bring into it and how they use the space, is really what makes it a home.”


Tour Stop #4: The Promersbergers
Our final stop on the Progressive Architecture Dinner did not disappoint. Led down a tree enveloped path, guests were delighted to find brilliance in color and design at the lake home of Jan and Ken Promersberger, with architect Chris Hawley of Chris Hawley Architects. Just when we thought our day could not be any brighter, we were treated to a dessert course, including six different cheesecakes by Pastry Chef Kayla Houchin of Indulgence Baking Co.

About the Promersberger Home:
As owners of The Promersberger Company in Fargo, Ken and Jan have spent the majority of their lives brainstorming creative marketing solutions for clients all across the country. Designing a lake retreat unlike anything else is simply a more personal outlet to foster their creativity. Beyond the barn doors of the agency, they’re known for spearheading a unique farmstead-themed community concept called Rocking Horse Farm; another collaboration with Chris Hawley Architects.

After being on the lake for many years, the couple found this 50-foot lakefront, which they purchased within 15-minutes of walking the lot. They’d always envisioned a white exterior with a high pitch, but once on the lot, Ken Promersberger found a bright Scandinavian design with three offset cubes he needed to explore. Presenting the idea to Hawley, each cube would be in a different primary color and have their own view of the lake. To enhance the concept, Hawley suggested having the roof the same color as the siding, which became a game changer in achieving their Scandinavian exterior. These days, the Promersbergers have heard just about every colorful remark about their home, which is often fondly referred to by neighbor kids and their six grandchildren as the “Lego house” or “Crayola house”.

“The Airstream on the property was part of the site plan from the beginning. It could be used as an extra bedroom, but we just use it as storage. I’ve been in the design business all my life and to me, an Airstream is a piece of art,” said Ken Promersberger.

Surprisingly, the interior of this colorful abode is a stark contrast to what most outsiders would expect. “We knew for sure that we wanted the interior’s style to be minimalistic; we liked the wood and white elements,” said Jan Promersberger. “We’ve always had that style with every house we’ve had. It is kind of a surprise to walk up to the red, yellow and blue, then come inside and see things calm down a bit. Tom Dawson’s son, Mike, is also an architect with Chris and spent quite a bit of time out here – Mike and Chris were both wonderful to work with.”

Within the bright white and pitched ceiling design, the Promersbergers and Hawley incorporated acoustic tiles to absorb and reduce noise in their open-concept floor plan. Their next project is to hang a mobile made entirely of white acoustic tiles.

“We wanted to have a screened-in porch but we didn’t want to lose the depth, so that’s why we have all of these windows that can open. We get quite a breeze through here just by opening the patio doors and a couple of the cubed windows on each side,” explained Ken Promersberger.

Continuing their minimalist lake living, the Promersbergers purposefully left closets out of the design, instead, adopting a more Scandinavian approach of using wardrobes. Interestingly enough, two out of the four featured homes do not have closets; the Hansons also keep their lake life minimalistic.

From the Architect, Chris Hawley:
“Ken sent me a photo of a Scandinavian fishing village that was a group of gables all lined up in different colors; that’s really how this idea got started. The lot is skewed and every cube touches the setback – there’s also a five-foot grade change from front to back. It’s really interesting that every cube has its own zone; one is the public space, one semi-public and one more private. There’s a six-foot offset between the cubes, but we were able to use the same truss all the way through. It was quite the game; anything we did on one side to a cube, we had to do on the other side and stay within the lot line.

“There are a lot of windows, but the way it’s designed, they can see far more outside than other people can see in. The discussion about the window placement and quantity was probably the longest conversation that we had when we were designing the home.”

Naturally, not everyone in the neighborhood fell in love with their creative expression, but one neighbor, who did admire their creative spirits, gifted them with a piece of art that spoke volumes; affirming their decision to keep pushing the boundaries of conventional architecture and design.


Interested in attending the next Progressive Architecture Dinner? 

Sandy Thompson / Director of Development
704 First Avenue North, Fargo

No Comments on Plains Art Museum: Progressive Architecture Dinner [Pelican Lake, Minnesota]

[ Anna Lee – Workerby ] Finding Grace in the Gray

Words by Tracy Nicholson Photography by M. Schleif Photography Logo and behind the scenes photos by Kylee and Christian Creative, Lauren Krysti In 2016, Fargo native Anna Lee said goodbye…

Words by Tracy Nicholson
Photography by M. Schleif Photography
Logo and behind the scenes photos by Kylee and Christian Creative, Lauren Krysti

In 2016, Fargo native Anna Lee said goodbye to her St. Paul abode and moved back to the area, leaving behind a plethora of accomplishments in her wake. Since her college days at MSUM and NDSU, she had spent 16 years working in the fashion industry in various capacities, ranging from independent start-ups to a major retailer. Beyond the corporate world, she had spearheaded a non-profit which laid the foundation for a thriving independent fashion community and industry in Minneapolis/Saint Paul, and developed her line of hats and accessories. Today, Lee with her company Workerby (pronounced worker-bee), has taken over an 800 square-foot studio near the Red River in Moorhead. This is the space and place that would help her to redefine her artistry and rediscover community. With a renewed purpose that’s taken her back to her roots and ultimately, her love of abstract painting, Lee would find brilliance between the lines with her exhibit “Homecoming”, now on display at Luna in South Fargo.

Lee’s work as an artist and expert in product design and development in fashion and accessories, has allowed her to live a life that has taken her around the world. Both large corporations and independent companies readily embraced her technical skills and ability to blend them with creative vision.

After spending much of her life working amidst the fast pace of fashion and manufacturing, Lee had begun to feel lethargic and less enthused about the role that had once inspired her. Upon reconnecting with an old friend in her hometown of Fargo, it seemed that finding love and planting new roots was just be the inspiration she was missing.

At the Heart of Art
One year before making the decision to return to Fargo-Moorhead, Lee founded her company Workerby, with a vision to remotely continue her work in product design and development. “I knew that I was going to be living here – it’s something that would allow me to maintain my career and grow it in ways that I really wanted to and still be located in the same city as my partner and his kids,” said Lee. “Getting to know them was really important to me, instead of being off in another city. I can create all I want, but without that connection to the people I really care about, it’s a lot more difficult.” Although Lee experienced a fair share of challenges in her transition, she quickly adjusted her perspective and embraced her roots.

Two years after moving back to her hometown, Lee has found her place in life again and rebuilt the community that surrounds and supports her. Working out of her Moorhead studio, she still manages product design for global manufacturing and retail clients, but being able to be near the people she loves has helped her creative energy flourish. She’s also still producing Ruby3, the celebrated brand of hats that she has been handcrafting for nearly two decades.
The Homecoming
“Around the time I started getting ready to move back to Fargo, I started painting again – but it was coming out in these abstract paintings that were unlike anything else I’d ever done; I was painting my emotions,” said Lee. “I was trying to get in touch with my emotions, but I didn’t have words for them. It wasn’t as if I was just angry, it was just a time that I was trying to synthesize a lot of different things.””When I moved to Minneapolis in my 20s, I thought ‘OK, now these are my people’. So many opportunities, so much possibility, so many like-minded people. Now that I have returned home, I realize that these are my people too,” said Lee. “By some miracle, I am painting again after over a decade. I am making prettier pictures than ever, but now I have plenty to say. For the first time in ages, I am creating because I can’t not create. I am back on the soil I was planted in, and here I am being me.”

Pull Quote
“For the first time in ages, I am creating because I can’t not create.”
Anna Lee, Workerby

Collective Creativity
Pointing to a styled photo of a model with an abstract painting backdrop, Lee explained that the piece behind her is from the debut Gray Matter collection. To give it new life, she decided to ‘chop it up’. “The interesting thing about that painting is that the foundation of it was a piece of art that I made 20 years ago,” said Lee. “Something I’ve been doing is going over a lot of my old art and ridding it of any preciousness and turning it into something new.”

With the idea of projecting healing powers into her art, Lee has found solace in developing a series she refers to as “Collective Paintings”. These paintings are created as a whole but are meant to be given or purchased as individual, mini abstracts. “We all have individual contributions to the greater whole. I use my art to make one big statement and everybody pulls a different piece of it for his or her own, something that makes sense to them,” explained Lee. “Recently, I did two larger canvases and gave them to a bride and groom – so it was one painting together, but two separate canvases. They had the paintings up during their reception, then they were able to give prints of the art to the wedding party. I also recently made a painting that I turned into a textile that is being used in a wedding dress. So, the painting itself was a gift to the bride, then the fabric is being used in her dress.”

Art + Fashion
For Lee, bridging the gap between art and fashion meant finding purpose in the middle ground. “Growing up in this area, I kind of had this inherent need for art to be functional so I always had this inner turmoil about just making pretty things,” explained Lee. “Now, as I start to develop more intention with my work and different directions, to me, the beauty of the work is what draws people in and the intention is the function or message of whatever collection I’m putting together.”

Embracing the Middle Ground
Two years ago, Lee ventured to Australia to hone her craft of millinery at a conference where she would learn new techniques in design. While searching social news feeds back home, she would come across a tragic event that would change the course of her craft. This was the week of the Philando Castile shooting and she was watching it unfold from two hemispheres away.As she scrolled through the endless feeds, she was struck with people’s raw emotion response and a backlash that she struggled to understand. “It broke my heart. One thing that was really shocking and frustrating to me was that there was an argument about whether it was a tragedy or not. It just hit me that we are so polarized that there is so little that we can agree on; something that’s clearly a tragedy seems to polarize people even further and that should not be the case,” said Lee. “What’s actually going to bring us together? How do we find the middle ground?”

Gray Matter Series
Focusing on channeling her emotions, Lee withdrew into her work. Trying to perfect her free-form techniques using felt, she began to notice that its design was emulating what she explained as “brain-like” ripples. “It all just came together in this moment of finding the gray in between black and white,” said Lee. “It was turning into this gray matter of a brain – so that’s how my Gray Matter Series collection began. It was created to start a conversation about finding the middle ground – because I knew it was bigger than this event, however tragic it was. I blocked this hat during the same conference and it took just under a year to figure out exactly what to do with it.”

Symbolic Revolution
Last year, she would find its purpose when The Rourke Art Museum held a Midwestern Invitational with a ‘Revolution’ theme. This exhibit was the platform Lee needed to expose the community to the conversation behind the Gray Matter Series of hats. “This was a type of headdress that was worn in pre-revolution Russia that denoted a female’s status. You wouldn’t think it was a revolution piece by looking at it, but the underpainting is basically my rage – I painted over that rage and vulnerable emotion in yellow, which represented her shield,” explained Lee.

After the invitational, Lee would take her collection of hats away from the canvas but carry the billowing, yellow fabric within them as a continuing symbol of the tragedy, her responsive rage and ultimately, her shield. As a self-taught milliner, this would mark her first attempt at marrying her painting and her textile design.

Artistic Collaboration
Representing one of the first Gray Matter Series collaborations before returning to Fargo, Lee’s studio displays 12 Kentucky Derby-inspired fascinators and hats she designed with Kentucky-born illustrator, Allegra Lockstadt. Each hat was created to capture the essence of one of the past Triple Crown Winners, paired with a hand-drawn illustration of the horse and jockey. To complete this project, entitled A Horse of a Different Color: Triple Crown Winners, Lee worked closely with a team of talent, including photographer Lauren Krysti, model Carla Alexandra Rodriguez and stylists Fatima Olive and Catlin Westin.

Dismantling Janteloven
For Lee, the  Gray Matter Series would evolve into a hat collection, a film, and a 50-piece painting inspired by the Law of Jante, a concept that author and performer Kari Tauring had once told her about. “There are ten unspoken rules in the Law of Jante (Janteloven) in Scandinavian communities.” You’re not to think you are anything special. You’re not to think you’re as good as us. You’re not to think you are smarter than us. You’re not to convince yourself you are better than us…and the list goes on.

“It was meant to keep us humble as a community, but instead it keeps us bound by the limitations of our surroundings. This work of art encourages conversation, awareness, and a new thought when it comes to supporting the individual and their unique contributions to a vibrant, inclusive and thriving community.”

In an effort to evolve the dynamic, the following words were painted on the foundation of this painting, made possible by the support of The Arts Partnership:

“We are special. We are all good. We are brilliant and are imagining an inspiring future where all can thrive. We benefit from new ideas an innovations in our communities. We each have important contributions to make. We can find humor in the human experience and in ourselves. We are all cared for and cherished for who we are. We each have knowledge and stories to share. We can be seen for who we are. We can see others for who they are.”

Sense of Place
After the debut collection, Lee would go on to create a more whimsical collection entitled, Sense of Place. The painting and hat collection is inspired by time spent with her sister and niece on Long Island, New York.

Lee’s series of ocean-inspired paintings evolved into a grant from The Arts Partnership to create scarves from her artwork, helping her to build up her textile skills. “I had four prints in four sizes. I sold those along with the hats and two custom lipsticks, Ruby and Rosa, that I developed with the cosmetics company Elixery. Rosa’s the name of my niece.”

Sense of Self
Gathering her observations, Lee struck another note in her Gray Matter Series: Sense of Self. “Sense of Self is about the heroine’s journey or another take on the hero’s journey, a natural story arc for a lot of mythologies, movies and action-adventures,” explained Lee. With this collection, she would analyze the anatomy of her mind, learning to portray humans for what they are – a constant process of deconstruction and reconstruction.

Musical Muses
As Lee dissected the process, she listened to the appropriately titled, Deconstruction by The Eels. This is the song she is working to gain copyright on to use as the backdrop for her four-minute film which she wrote and directed. “I think this process is something that everyone can connect to –  she is trying so hard to pull it together and the chaos is overwhelming,” explained Lee regarding her film. “But it doesn’t have to be if we understand what is happening, and how to seek what we truly need.” For Lee, it’s about falling apart and rebuilding stronger, taking away the stigma of struggle and mental health – reintroducing this chaos as simply part of being human where it’s encouraged to seek help from those around us.

“There’s a natural progression of dismantling all of the things that you think are you, but don’t feel like they are – then consciously rebuilding who you are. My goal for this next project is to start building a conversation around the deconstruction and reconstruction of our lives as a natural process where we can ask for help and support others.”

Purpose + Perfection
Throughout every collection, Lee continues to build on the idea of merging fashion and art as well as product with a purpose. “Color and shape and emotions are what draw people in,” said Lee. “In the past, those are things that I would have tried to use to build a perfect portrait, but now I just want to express an emotion and a feeling and see if people connect with that. Instead of trying to make things perfect, I’m just trying to make things real – finding perfection within that, wherever I can.”

Launching with Luna
Although one collective painting from the latest collection is already on display at Luna in Fargo, her official launch for the Sense of Self film and hat collection will be on September 8 in Minneapolis and September 15 at Luna. The location is meaningful to Lee; the last solo show she created was in 1997, also at Luna. This time, her solo show will be entitled ‘Homecoming’.

Speaking Out
During the artist’s talk, Lee will debut her film and speak regarding the concept of deconstruction and reconstruction, investigating the role of the heroine’s journey, its impact on our mental health and our ability to connect. The film and photographs feature the AW2018 collection of one-of-a-kind Ruby3 hats, two 25-piece “collective” paintings, two digitally printed scarves derived from these paintings, and two custom lipstick colors from the Elixery.

“An artist talk will feature a panel discussion with women in the community who are doing the work to keep us connected, empowered, and engaged with the work that needs to be done to deepen our Sense of Self, while establishing that we are not alone on our respective journeys,” explained Lee.

“September is Suicide Awareness month, so a portion of my sales from the show will go to NAMI Minnesota; the National Alliance for Mental Illness. For me, this is really about using art for a cause, but it’s also my business, so I am selling the work, but I’m doing it in a way that I can keep doing the work,” said Lee.

Meet the Artist: Anna Lee
Whether you want to have an extraordinary culinary experience amongst fine art, learn about Lee’s artistic process, or help donate to a worthy cause – Lee’s show, entitled ‘Homecoming’, is a must-see for those in search of a more beautiful middle ground.

“Homecoming” Exhibit 

Artist Talk and Gray Matter Series Launch: September 15, 2018
1:00 p.m – 3:00 p.m.
Luna Fargo –
1545 South University Drive, Fargo


The Gray Matter Series is concurrent with Lee’s show, “Homecoming” running through September 29 at Luna. The event is free and open to the public. 

Shop and find local workshops:

View her collections and blog:



No Comments on [ Anna Lee – Workerby ] Finding Grace in the Gray

Designing Our Dream Wedding

Words by Lindsey Christie Photography by Uppercase L Photography As an interior designer and local business owner, my work becomes quickly intertwined with my personal life, and I truly wouldn’t…

Words by Lindsey Christie
Photography by Uppercase L Photography

As an interior designer and local business owner, my work becomes quickly intertwined with my personal life, and I truly wouldn’t want it to be any other way. This past November, I started my business Lindsey Grace Interiors in Fargo, N.D. That same month, my now husband Jared, proposed and we decided to purchase our first home. It’s safe to say this past year has been the busiest, but most fulfilling year yet. I am so grateful that my amazing clients share so much of their daily lives, dreams and every part of their journey with me. It’s that connection that takes any project to the next level. For that reason, it was an easy decision to share the most special day of our lives with you all – and the journey it took to design our dream wedding.

Setting the Scene
I knew exactly how I wanted the evening to look and feel, but I also knew that planning an event for 200 plus people wasn’t my area of expertise. I quickly enlisted Sadie’s Couture Floral & Event Styling in Grand Forks. I had been to several events that Sadie had created, and an added bonus – one of my best friends from high school is her assistant. After meeting with Sadie and Jalen, I knew they we would make the perfect team to bring my dreams to reality.

Through working with Sadie I also learned that she and I share a similar background. I recently moved my career from Minneapolis to Fargo. I absolutely love the Fargo community, the growth, and of course the people. There truly is no place like it. My business has been created off of my experience working in both New York City and Minneapolis, but also the needs and wants of the local community. As a designer, one of my top goals is to always listen to what my clients want, while bringing a fresh new perspective to the Midwest design industry.

In 2010, Sadie sold her floral company in Minneapolis and moved back to Grand Forks, bringing her talent for event planning with her. Clients would come to her with their ideas and style boards, but the elements were just not readily available in North Dakota. For that reason, Sadie scaled her business to offer floral and specialty decor elements to meet the demands of the local community.

The Details

Of course, the biggest decision is setting the date, and everything flows from there. We had our engagement pictures taken in Minneapolis immediately after becoming engaged because I wanted to make the most of the fall foliage. We had an instant connection with our photographer, Amanda at Uppercase L Photography and when she agreed to come to Grand Forks to photograph our wedding, we were so excited. I knew I wanted a June wedding, and the 16th has a special meaning for us in many ways. Also, a deciding factor was that it was the only Saturday in June that Amanda wasn’t already booked.

I had never realized the huge role good photography plays the day of the wedding. Amanda and her co-shooter, Trish, kept our timeline running so smoothly while capturing every special moment of the day.

For the venue, I knew I wanted something different, fun and intimate. Growing up in Grand Forks, most special occasions for our family are spent celebrating at Sky’s. When we approached them to host our reception, they agreed and I was ecstatic. We had several meetings to narrow down the details. This included the food, of course, but also the cocktails, service and overall layout of the event.

The Big Day

Each guest was able to start the cocktail hour with our signature cocktails. Mine was the “Blushing Bride”, a spin-off of a cosmopolitan, and Jared decided on a cucumber Moscow mule we named the “Mister Mule”.

For dinner, the chef did an amazing job. We served grilled, Faroe Island king salmon, finished with Sky’s famous North Dakota prairie sauce with a black bean rice and the most wonderful smoked brisket, mashed potatoes and asparagus.

I also wanted to make sure our wedding was personal. I brought the ideas and the entire team executed them perfectly. I knew I wanted our wedding to feel feminine and gorgeous, but also relaxed and fun. The first thing we decided on was the color scheme. It all started the same way most clients bring me their inspiration for their homes – a Pinterest board.

We decided on French blue floor length linens, mixed with blush pink, ivory and gold details. Since the decor of Sky’s leans more toward a masculine and industrial feel, we had to work on how to blend the two very different styles. We decided to remove all the existing chairs in the restaurant other than a few of the French round back chairs at the head table. Then we brought in gold chivaris chairs, complemented with gold charger plates at each table setting.

To bring in the blush, ivory and gold in the color scheme, we turned to the floral arrangements. My all-time favorite flowers are peonies, so we mixed those in with a gorgeous combination of hydrangeas, roses and ruscus greenery. To bring in the drama, Sadie created arrangements of various heights based off of various table sizes. The French blue candles and brass holders created such a romantic feel.

I am obsessed with stationery and I put a lot of time and detail in selecting and designing our invitations. I wanted them to match the feel of our entire wedding day, and also be super functional when it came to navigating the day and of course RSVPs. I chose Shine Wedding Invitations and they were so easy to work with.

For the place cards and table numbers, I found a wonderfully talented local business – Lettering By Samantha. Samantha created custom marble tiles with each guest’s name and table number to help navigate the seating chart. She also designed and created each table number to coordinate. Each place setting had a tiny box of pink macaroons, which were baked locally by Acres & Company.

One of the biggest challenges of our venue was the strict number of guests that we could seat. For that reason, we expanded the seating area to the skywalk connected to the restaurant. It created a unique experience for our guest to be able to dine over the passing traffic and be immersed in all of the downtown action. Our head table was placed in the center of the restaurant. I loved this idea because we were surrounded by all of our loved ones.

Sweets  + Settings 

Not only did Mindy of Acres & Company make the tiny macaroon gift boxes, but she also created an entire dessert buffet. Along with our three-tier cake, we had mini 6” naked cakes, cake pops and cupcakes. This was a huge hit with our guests and each item received raving reviews. I sourced our custom cake topper from Etsy along with the bride and groom signs on the back of our head table chairs. Paper Petals By Sophie created a gorgeous backdrop for the dessert table with custom paper flowers to match our color scheme.

Last minute, I decided to place polaroid cameras next to our guest book, to create a fun little photo booth-feel on our dance floor during the cocktail hour. It was so fun to look back on, not only the sweet messages everyone left us, but also have fun pictures of everyone that came to celebrate. It was truly the best day of our lives. It’s all because of our amazing family, friends and of course each one of the amazing vendors that contributed to our day!

Wedding Day Breakdown:
Design – Lindsey Christie, Lindsey Grace Interiors
Event decor & floral – Sadie’s Couture Floral & Event Styling

Photographer – Amanda Hammarstedt, Uppercase L Photographer & Trish Burtzel

Venue – Sky’s, Grand Forks

Food & drink – Sky’s Fine Dining, Grand Forks

Reception stationery & marble tiles – Lettering By Samantha

Cake & desserts – Acres & Company

Paper floral decor – Paper Petals By Sophie
Invitations – Shine Wedding Invitations
Cake topper & bride/groom signs – Etsy

For more information, contact:
Lindsey Grace Interiors – Fargo
LindseyGraceInteriors.comSadie’s Couture Floral & Event Styling
899 2nd Avenue North, Suite 1 – Grand Forks


No Comments on Designing Our Dream Wedding

Inside the 2018 Extra/Ordinary Gala by Red Brick Boutique [Thumper Pond, Ottertail, Minnesota]

Words by Tracy Nicholson / Photography by Shannon Rae Photography On June 16, Midwest Nest Magazine had the pleasure of attending and sponsoring one of the summer’s most anticipated style…

Words by Tracy Nicholson / Photography by Shannon Rae Photography

On June 16, Midwest Nest Magazine had the pleasure of attending and sponsoring one of the summer’s most anticipated style shows, the Extra/Ordinary Gala. This year, the beautiful Thumper Pond Resort in Ottertail, Minn., hosted a sold-out audience who were pampered with the area’s finest cuisine, live music, shopping and a runway fashion show.

Each year, the founders of Ottertail’s Red Brick Boutique, spearheaded by owner Paula Thiel, spend months preparing for the festivities. Models arrive from all over the region, followed by hair and makeup experts who are ready to create a runway show worthy of New York Fashion Week.

Making a wild impression on guests were a few lemur and parrot friends from the Trowbridge Creek Zoo in Vergas, Minn. Staging the event entrance and decor was The White House Co. of Fargo.

Paula Thiel: Red Brick Boutique owner and event founder
“I love the production itself, it’s beautiful and meaningful. The whole goal of the show is to release the Summer Collection, of course, but something deeper than that always resonates with show-goers. I always hear from women in tears after the show, telling me it’s inspired them to pursue their best lives or to chase after a goal or change something that’s been hindering them.”

“My true goal in hosting this show is to inspire on whatever level I can. It’s funny how much of an effect music and fashion have on our lives in this tiny little town, but I love it.”

“This idea to bring fashion to the forefront has followed me since I was a child. So the idea behind the show is to put together outfits that actually work in our daily lives, not just in theory. Then we display them in a creative way that creates a fun, memorable night. Once you add live music, dance, food and shopping, you just get this dynamic that’s completely amazing.”


For more information, contact:
Red Brick Boutique
107 West Main Street, Ottertail, M.N.




No Comments on Inside the 2018 Extra/Ordinary Gala by Red Brick Boutique [Thumper Pond, Ottertail, Minnesota]

Shane Balkowitsch [Preserving the Process of 1800’s Portraiture]

Words by Jessica Wachter / Black and white photography by Tom Wirtz /Color photos courtesy of Shane Balkowitsch It’s never too late to follow your true calling or passion. As…

Words by Jessica Wachter / Black and white photography by Tom Wirtz /Color photos courtesy of Shane Balkowitsch

It’s never too late to follow your true calling or passion. As an artist, nothing makes me happier than seeing others chase after their dreams; which is why I’m so excited to introduce you to Shane Balkowitsch of Nostalgic Glass Wet Plate Studio. He is an artist who couldn’t stop himself from following his passion. What’s even more intriguing is that his passion executes the extremely rare artform of wet plate ambrotype photography dating back to the 1800s. Follow me inside Balkowitsch’s unique, natural light studio in the prairies of Bismarck, N.D.

Balkowitsch is a wet plate artist, mastering a technique that is considered one of the earliest forms of photography. Although it was once common in the mid-1800s, it’s practically unheard of today. We are in an era where we can easily snap hundreds of digital photos in minutes, and as a result, wet plate photography has become a lost art. In fact, it is believed there are less than 1,000 wet plate photographers in the entire world. What a treat to have one right here, in the Midwest!

A Painstaking Process
According to Balkowitsch, a wet plate photographer makes a film base on a piece of glass or metal using collodion, submerges it in a silver nitrate solution to make it light sensitive, and then exposes the photograph usually in an old-style, wood bellows camera box and antique brass lens from the 1800’s. The process is called wet plate because during the entire process the chemicals on the plates must remain wet and cannot be allowed to dry.

The end result is a one-of-a-kind, archival object of art that will last many lifetimes. “There are wet plates of Abraham Lincoln that look just as good today as they did a century and a half ago,” said Balkowitsch. “Every day the world is filled with millions and millions of digital photographs that have no value, character, significance or physical form, that is not the case with each and every wet plate. The wet plate process is magical and the end result is tangible and precious.”

Nostalgic Glass Wet Plate Studio
To properly execute his artform, Balkowitsch needed a studio to suit his unique process. Finding a perfect location in his own backyard, Balkowitsch got to work designing his studio space on the prairie.

“The studio took two years of planning and eight months to construct,” said Balkowitsch. “It is the first natural light, wet plate studio built from the ground up in North America in over 100 years.”

“The windows were custom made from a greenhouse manufacturer. Modern-day glass would not work for this project because it has UV protection. I need UV to make a proper wet plate in the historical process, so to solve this dilemma, I figured out that the greenhouse industry was the solution,” explained Balkowitsch. “Greenhouses are an industry that wants as much natural UV into a space as possible, and that is the solution I came up with. The glass is specialty glass that allows 95% of the natural UV light from the sun to enter the creative space. I even took the window size and pitch from a Dr. Felix Raymer, who wrote a book in the early 1900s on how to build the best natural light studio.”

Inside the Studio

Meticulous Modeling

I had the honor of doing a photoshoot with Balkowitsch last year, on my birthday. What a pleasure to experience his process, firsthand.

It took Balkowitsch over an hour to set up for the shoot. This mindful and meticulous preparation is an important part of his artistic process. This included, among many other things, preparing the lighting, adjusting my positioning, and preparing the wet plate. The wet plate is a piece of glass where the image from the photoshoot will eventually appear.

In a dark room, the light of the camera shone on me, and while illuminated, I had to sit perfectly still. Compared to how quickly photos are taken in our current times, I felt as though I was sitting there for an eternity. Once that was complete, I got to watch him bathe the wet plate in various liquid chemical solutions. This is where the image started to come to life.

Embracing the Unexpected 

It wasn’t until the lights were on, that the final product was revealed. And I found out that the final product may be very different than what was originally expected. Why? For many reasons. For example, there could be imperfections in the wet plate itself. Or, it’s possible for solutions to interact differently with the wet plate than anticipated. There are many different components that affect the final composition.

The artform shifts, very quickly, from relying on meticulous planning to letting go of all expectations. I found this fascinating. The way wet plate photography preserves moments that not only stand the test of time but embody thoughtfulness and beauty. Balkowitsch’s intent certainly aligns with the essence of his artform.

Leaving a Legacy
Balkowitsch’s work is finding a renewed appreciation all over the world as his pieces have recently been featured or requested in Native American museums spanning the distance from Bismarck to Arizona and India.

Behind his art, there lies a purpose, as Balkowitsch explained, “I hope I leave a legacy of kindness and understanding for my Native American friends. If I am able to achieve this goal of 1,000 original wet plates for that, I think I cannot ask for anything more. At the end of the day, it is all about the final piece, but it is also about the friendships that I am making along the way. I want to continue to use my camera for change.”

For more information, contact:
Shane Balkowitsch, Ambrotypist
Nostalgic Glass Wet Plate Studio
2703 Big Sky Circle, Bismarck
No Comments on Shane Balkowitsch [Preserving the Process of 1800’s Portraiture]

[re]living The Art of Warfare

Words by Tracy Nicholson / Photos by M. Schleif Photography As a prominent artist and ceramics teacher, Josh Zeis had once envisioned a life in medicine, as a physician’s assistant….

Words by Tracy Nicholson / Photos by M. Schleif Photography

As a prominent artist and ceramics teacher, Josh Zeis had once envisioned a life in medicine, as a physician’s assistant. During a ten-month tour of duty in Iraq, all of his ambitions would change. Zeis would be tasked with the role of medic, traveling with a unit that searched for roadside bombs. Having little to no physical interaction and struggling to harness his emotions, Zeis’ state-of-mind began to unravel midway through his deployment. As a saving grace, he received a 15-pound package in the mail that would change the course of his life, feed his creativity and offer an outlet for his emotions. War would become his muse, using the reactiveness of clay to help him define and sort through the unexplainable confusion. Ten years later, we followed Zeis on his latest venture, an exhibition entitled, [re]living at the Plains Art Museum. This show would become an exploratory journey allowing him to relive and face his own emotions while helping other veterans find their voice.

A few months into Zeis’ tour in Iraq, he was beginning to feel removed, struggling to make sense of his emotions behind two inches of bulletproof glass and three inches of steel. “My brother Zach was taking a ceramics class at NDSU. After one of our phone calls, he decided to send me some North Dakota clay that had been donated to his class by Hebron Brick. It came in a parcel package and black garbage bag; it was a block that weighed around 15 pounds,” said Zeis. “I’d never done anything with clay before.”

“I remember when I opened it, I knew what it was and the meaning behind it. Coming from a farm family, having a tie to the land, and Zach mailing a piece of that to me – it was an amazing thing and really comforted me.”

Zeis didn’t know with absolute certainty that he would survive in Iraq, so he delved into the clay, learning about the process through books he ordered from Barnes & Noble. He started with a small sculpture that he and his squad leader, Kendel Vetter, worked on together. “Some people pick it up really fast, but it took me a long time to get things figured out; I was a slow learner,” said Zeis. “This was all brand new, other than the books I ordered and read.” Finding out he was only a month from returning home, Zeis contacted Dave Swenson at NDSU in the ceramics department. “I could go anywhere because I had the GI Bill, but I decided I might as well go to NDSU because that’s where the clay came from,” said Zeis.

Post War
Once home, Zeis realized that working with clay had left a permanent imprint on his life. Setting aside his dreams of medical school, he soon graduated from NDSU, receiving his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. His next journey took him to George Washington University in Washington D.C., where he obtained his Masters of Fine Arts. Returning to Fargo in 2014, Zeis briefly worked with his brother Zach Zeis of Zeis Concrete Solutions and now has a career as a landscape designer and coordinator at Hebron Brick, coincidentally the same place that sparked his interest by donating the clay that was sent to Iraq. Outside of landscape design, Zeis is now a prominent local artist, a passionate advocate for veterans and a talented ceramics teacher at Plains Art Museum.

In the Raw
“When I tell people I am exhibiting raw clay, they give me this confused look,” laughed Zeis.
“I prefer to work with it in its rawest form. I don’t care deeply about the glazing or the firing. I do fire them sometimes, but working with raw clay is an opportunity to do something experimental and exploratory. I think there’s a spectrum for artists where on one end, they’re general practitioners and on the other end, there are theoretical experimentalists. It’s trying to find which part you want to be closer to and it kind of defines the work you make. Somebody who’s strictly a general practitioner of art, they are popping out the same work and selling it. It’s their livelihood and there’s not much room for exploration when you’re depending so much on making this one thing. If you want to lean toward the theoretical experimentalists, you get to really seize opportunities outside of your comfort zone.”

About [re]living

“The whole concept for this show came from me not having any documentation from my deployment besides a couple photos. My hard drive with all of my photos and videos was stolen, so I used this opportunity to find a way to recreate those experiences,” explained Zeis. This was one of two photos that Zeis was able to find.

Organic Mechanic
Zeis’ first installment will stop almost every passerby in their tracks. Extending out from the wall, nine fabricated, metal arms grasp unfired clay in its truest form. “I was thinking about my material experience with deployment and it was a really cold experience as far as there being no physical contact. My physical interaction was with steel, plastic and fabric. There were high-fives every once in a while. It’s weird to think about how that adds to the stress and anxiety in not having interaction with people. People need to hug more,” said Zeis.”I wanted to try and show how certain qualities of the clay interact with this cold, kind of imposing, scary, metallic design. This design is actually from a vehicle we would use to look for bombs,” said Zeis. “It has this mechanical arm that you operate from inside the vehicle and it scoops through the sand and looks for wires. Sometimes it pulls them up and there’s a bomb dangling about six feet from my face. This shape right here is sort of an extension of ourselves to that landscape and how we interacted with it. I was a medic and I think that Organic Mechanic is a different way of describing what my job was. It’s not so much as in a clinic, more like I’m out there and getting my hands dirty.”For Zeis, it’s the clay’s process and working with ceramics that he enjoys, not the glazing and the firing. “This isn’t actually ceramics, ceramics is when it’s fired just past 1,800 degrees and the structure changes from clay to ceramics,” explained Zeis. “That’s why these are cited as clay and not ceramic. I basically took them off the wheel, I set them on the shelf, and then I do my little surgery where I create a hole and use an endotracheal tube to do a controlled deflate. This pulls the air out until it flattens. Then I lay them on the steel and they get comfortable. I get to watch them change over a couple of days as they dry.”

Google Earth Warscapes
Across from his Organic Mechanic installment, Zeis discusses the row of Google Earth images, pinpointing the landscape and complicated emotions which they carry. “I was traversing the landscape in Iraq and using this actual software program – it was really interesting, the feeling that I got from it. I inherently knew the geography because of the routes that we’d been on over and over again – that ritual that we had every day. I could recognize places and remember events that happened that I wouldn’t normally remember. It was a really weird and meaningful experience,” said Zeis.

There’s a philosopher named Guy Debord; he founded the Theory of the Derive, which when translated, means Theory of Drifting. He basically gives odd instructions about how to experience a place in person – how to experience a landscape and how to get lost. So, I was sort of drifting with that mindset through these landscapes and pinpointing areas that really affected me. I took these images and made a little snapshot on the screen, then with the help of a very talented printmaker named Amanda Height, who also manages Hannaher’s, Inc. Print Studio at the Plains Art Musem, transferred the images onto copper plates using laser etching and an acid etch technique.”

It had to be Copper…
Their next step was to transfer the Google Earth images on the copper plates to paper with a process that’s called Intaglio. “It had to be copper because that’s another material that I had an experience with. It was this really scary IED that was always looming over us called an EFP (Explosively Formed Penetrator) and it was like a copper plate,” said Zeis. “When it’s shot at you, it turns into a molten ball and can pierce through anything. I saw what that can do to a vehicle. It would go through an entire engine block of a giant military vehicle and out the other end. It’s a nightmare. So, for me, it had to be copper.”

Pointing to the far left image, Zeis recalls the significance. “This is the first and probably the most important one – this is when I was driving a vehicle and a rocket went right in front of my window. We stopped the vehicle and there was a guy, who was the trigger man up over here. He got up and started running and our machine gunner shot him. We had to go in to confirm and I drove in this way and there was a trap set for us and a huge bomb went off under my vehicle. I was stuck right in here, I was cut off and our coms were out.”

“That moment right there is when I decided to rethink what I was going to do with the rest of my life. I’ve never felt so scared in my life,” said Zeis. “I was a really good soldier and did all of the training, but I never thought I’d panic. I didn’t know I was going to react that way. I totally panicked and I wasn’t even in control of myself, I was just scared – I didn’t know it was going to be like that. So, my ego or this idea I had of myself, was disassembled by this moment. This is the only photo I have of that.”

Deliberate Displays
“We have this arranged so you can stand here and look down the hallway, but you kind of have to watch where you walk, with the Organic Mechanic arms coming out towards your back from the other wall. What’s great about these Google Earth prints is that they call you forward and keep you safe from what’s behind you. So, it’s interesting how that worked out, creating a little bit of risk for the viewer that also emulates my experience.”

Fives and Twenty-Fives
In his third installment, Zeis reused the copper plates from the printing of his Google Earth Warscapes, to communicate and cope with the daily IED threats that he once feared while in Iraq. “It’s how I would picture the ground changing as an IED was blown out from underneath it. It’s something that I will never, ever get out of my head and I don’t want to,” said Zeis.

“I want to do this kind of work, to help me better understand it. That’s what this is – it’s a visual language that I don’t know how to describe. This is what I’m thinking about and this is what my thoughts look like. I’m just trying to find answers.”
Josh Zeis

“After the Google Earth Warscapes, the copper plates were destroyed. I had to heat them up so they became soft and then I ran the plates through a press that Dave Savageau from P2 Industries made,” said Zeis. “There was a risk with these, knowing that I can’t make more – it’s done. This is probably the most fun I’ve ever had working with clay. It’s just so intuitive, the way that this works. I throw this shape on the wheel, cover it with white slip, let it dry for about an hour, then I pick it up and just start pushing from the inside, getting that slip to crack and show a narrative of the forces that were exerted from within.”

Project Unpack
Even though Zeis has found ways to better understand his emotions, he knows that he needs to keep encouraging other veterans to share and cope with their experiences. He’s able to do just that through a program called Project Unpack. Founded in January 2016, this program is a collaboration between NDSU, veteran’s and their family members, and other community partners. Zeis is the lead artist who hosts ceramic, heirloom cup workshops with veterans and their families.

Using art as an avenue for creating dialogue, Zeis asks them to bring in meaningful objects like canteens, knives and medals – really anything which might represent pieces of their life during deployment. These items are then used to stamp or etch the clay, leaving a lasting imprint and taking another step toward sorting through complicated emotions.

Pointing out a cup that had been imprinted with a knife blade and named “Chavez Shank”, after the veteran’s friend, Zeis explains the process. “We use clay as a recording device. It’s about that experience that we had with a veteran at that moment, one-on-one, for however long it takes. It’s very therapeutic.”

“Sometimes when we go to retirement homes and talk to veterans, I feel like they might not have ever talked to anyone about it before. It can get pretty heavy, and I feel like this is probably the most meaningful work I’ve done,” said Zeis.

Healing Moral Injuries
“I definitely have PTSD. There are also moral injuries, that’s another thing that’s come to light,” explained Zeis. “During war, there are just things that people end up having to do and they become more complacent. They’re at war, so it didn’t matter then. But afterward, they have to live with it and deal with it. I find that I fall into both categories,” said Zeis. “I’m not going to try and forget about this. I’m going to remember as much as I can because it’s my experience and it’s my life. That’s what makes my perspective unique and hopefully, people learn from it.”

The Weight of War
On June 9, 2016, as part of Project Unpack, Zeis strapped a 100-pound block of ice on his back which he’d carved to resemble a military rucksack. Throughout the day, Dan Gunderson from MPR followed his entire 20-mile trek with a microphone, revisiting all of the stops Zeis went to in 2007, upon finding out he was being deployed. Re-enacted as performance art in the name of awareness, Zeis summoned his own emotions to help veterans ease the aftermath of war. “I am no longer afraid to make myself vulnerable – I know that there are people that I trust all around me,” said Zeis.

The Value of Art
Zeis is open to the idea of commissioned work, but he understands that his recent work carries more emotional than monetary value. When asked if he would ever consider selling pieces from his latest exhibition, he replied that it’s a topic that is open to discussion. Like every artist, he might have reservations about selling some of the more emotionally-driven pieces, but he’s also content in knowing that he can recreate it.image

Moving On
“I’m really excited to see what’s next,” said Zeis as he walked us through the museum’s ceramic studio. “I’m ready to take the work to the next level.”Later on this year, Zeis will be getting married. Despite his life’s inevitable changes, there’s one aspect which he is determined to stay focused on – his conversation with veterans. Recently, the Plains Art Museum has agreed to look into having him teach ceramic classes to veterans in their on-site studio. To make this happen, they will need donors. “It’s not even about therapy, it’s about something tangible, something that has noticeable results. You can see it right in front of you. I think that’s what a lot of veterans are lacking – we don’t have any results of what we went through, other than things that we can’t really touch. Clay is great in that aspect because it’s so immediate in its response to what you’re doing to it and you can just get lost in it,” said Zeis.Until then, he encourages veterans and their families to reach out, making himself available and unafraid to speak the unspeakable. Just as art has taught Zeis to embrace his fears, it is art’s more tangible path that he uses to connect with others, teaching veterans that vulnerability is necessary and that even the deepest wounds can heal.

Visit Zeis’ [re]living Exhibition

– Exhibit runs through April 28 –
Plains Art Museum – Xcel Energy Gallery
704 First Avenue North, Fargo
For more information, contact:
Joshua Zeis
joshzeis@gmail.comCeramics Classes for Veterans
To Donate, contact:
Plains Art Museum
Sandy Thompson
No Comments on [re]living The Art of Warfare

Type on the field below and hit Enter/Return to search