We have your holiday shopping covered!

You often hear phrases like ‘shop local’ and ‘support handmade’ but wouldn’t it be nice to see a few specific ideas? There’s a fairly new non-profit in town called the Alexandria Art Guild, and it’s members have some fun options for the holidays when it comes to gifting.There are hundreds of great quality ideas made right here in Douglas County, but AlexArt.org has a handy list of local artists, so I used that as a starting point to pull a few ideas.10 Locally Made GIFT IDEAS:

  • A pack of locally made greeting cards. From fun watercolors to locally photographed birds and more, they’re a great gift year round. Many on the member artist list do carry them.
  • Personalized gifts, hand stamped on an anvil, such as a mother’s necklace, or even a hand stamped keychain by artist Jon Thompson. Pictured is a recycled shell casing from a 21-gun salute, to commemorate Dad’s or Grandpa’s service in a unique way.
  • A painted portrait of your home, cabin or child by Noni Bjorklund, Linda Gaugert, Faith Mills, or Chanda Kraft to name a few. Their talents are extraordinary.
  • A handmade journal by watercolorist Kathy Grundei at Three Havens studio. 
  • Handmade pottery, like a new coffee mug, a set of dip bowls or even a microwave egg cooker by an area potter like Kate Smith, Mimi Seykora, Emily Wolf or Melissa Werpy.
  • Shopping for someone with a green thumb? Soda kiln fired flower pots and vases by Phil Smith are whimsical and one of a kind.
  • A wooden charcuterie board is all the rage this year. Did you know that locally they’re made by artists Bill Seykora and Matthew Bakke?
  • MN potholders by Linda Pallow can be found at the Runestone Museum gift shop. An affordable stocking stuffer for anyone who wants to make time in the kitchen more colorful.
  • Wooden games such as a horse racing game and more are created by Matt with Busy Squirrel Creations.
  • Natural goat milk soaps for all ages, in many colors and scents are made by Val Bakke of Lake Country Essential Soaps.

Douglas County is filled with so much creativity. I am sure there are many more I’ve missed here. If you know of a creative person who would love to join up with other like minded folks, and build upon each other’s creativity, be sure to have them look up the Alexandria Art Guild, and join the network of others across the lakes area at alexart.org.

Saturday Art Market

SATURDAY ART MARKET is a new event at Big Ole Park at 200 Broadway Street, Alexandria, MN starting July 31 every Saturday through end of September 9AM to 3PM. Saturday Art Market coincides with the Farmers Market with something new to see and do every Saturday! Don’t miss it!

Save the Date!

We are so excited for Art deTour this year! An amazing tour of artists is coming together to bring you fresh new original drawings, paintings, ceramics, woodcraft, stain glass, merchandise customized with art, and more! You do not want to miss it. Also, a schedule of events includes creative activities for kids and adults and artist’s demonstrating their skills. Follow on Facebook and the Art deTour page for updates!

2021 Art deTour

June 18, 19, and optional 20th, 2021

We know the last year has had varied impact on artists. Many of you are taking a deep dive into your artistic practice, while others struggle to create anything. We all have had our own ways of coping with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and we extend our hearts out to you. No matter what you have or have not accomplished in the last year, we want to invite you to participate in the 2021 Art deTour. Art deTour planning is well underway and applications are being accepted until Mar 1, 2021. Now is the time to get those applications sent in to this fantastic studio tour in the Alexandria, MN area. If you prefer to share a space with someone rather than open your studio to the public, many locations will have space to accommodate additional artists. We encourage every artist in West Central MN to apply. Several other artist events have managed to take place over the last year safely despite the circumstances and limitations the pandemic has presented; we are confident that we can host this event safely as well. There will be sanitation stations at every location and masks will be required. Please use your own judgement with your comfort level, but know that we are planning with shoppers and artists’ safety as a top priority! The artist application can be found at https://alexart.org/art-detour-2021/

Art has a unique way of bringing people together. We look forward to chatting about our art with fellow artists, neighbors, and visitors from near and far during this event. It is a unique opportunity to ask artists questions and see their studio spaces. Each year we try to make it a little bit better so if you have ideas please share them with the board. This year we will have exciting extra events taking place throughout the weekend including pottery wheel throwing demos, kiln opening, and fun kids’ printmaking class! More to be announced as plans are finalized! You don’t want to miss out so put June 18-20 on your calendar and keep an eye out for more details in March!

What is the Big Deal about Art?

“What is the big deal about art?”, some people might wonder (my husband being one of those.) If you think about it, though, almost everything that touches your life has gone through the mind of an artist from the designer of your toothbrush and favorite coffee mug, to the designers of our cars and the architects of our buildings. The advertising or programming we consume have all had artistic manipulation as well. Because it is everywhere, we have made distinctions such as commercial art, graphic design, and fine art. But at its core it is all art, and its purpose remains the same—to communicate without words directly from soul to soul. 

My perspective is that the fewer steps there are between the artist and the consumer, the stronger that communication is. That’s why I believe it is so important to have original works of art in my life that have come directly from the hand of the artist. And why, as an artist I am gratified when someone values my art enough to purchase it for their own pleasure. If you have not yet purchased a work of art directly from an artist because it just “spoke to you” I challenge you to give yourself that opportunity and to listen for that spark of communication.

Hello, I’m Noni Bjorklund, Vice President of the Alexandria Art Guild. We’re a fairly new organization, begun just about two years ago in January of 2018. Our mission is to support the visual arts in our community primarily by cultivating relationships amongst the artists and then finding ways together to increase the presence of our art in our community. Our dream is to put Alexandria on the map as an arts destination. Membership is open to anyone who shares this vision, whether artist or art supporter, amateur or professional, beginner or master.

It may come as a surprise to many of you that there are dozens of professional quality artists living and working right here in our Lakes Area. Beyond that there are hundreds of art enthusiasts, dabblers, and hobbyists. It is our goal to bring them out of the shadows into the public view and awareness.

Here are some of the ways we are accomplishing our mission:

  • We meet on the third Wednesday evening every month for socializing, networking, and topical discussions. These meetings are open to any interested person. More information can be found on our website and facebook page.
  • We collaborate with the Central Lakes Symphony Orchestra by various members of the Art Guild displaying their work at some of the CLSO concerts. 
  • We organized the Art deTour in June of 2019 which was our first of hopefully many annual studio hops. Dates for the Art deTour 2020 are June 12-13. So put it on your calendar.

You can find out more about us on our website: alexart.org, follow us on Facebook, and join us at our monthly get togethers.

If you share our vision and would like to see a thriving arts community right here in Alexandria, please consider giving a donation to the Alexandria Art Guild. You can do this directly on our website, or visit with me and my colleagues at one of our social meetings.

Noni Bjorklund, Vice President