What is the Grand Marais Art Colony?

What is the Grand Marais Art Colony?


The North Shore is one of those iconic North American landscapes. For those of us who call it home, the rhythms of life here are deeply tethered to the elements – the land, the water, the wind, sun, and snow. And while life in general gets us bustling around from point A to point B, the North Shore has a way of slowing us down. Whether it be the sunlight on the Sawtooth Mountain Ridge, the sound of waves on Lake Superior or the sweet smell you can only know by walking through the boreal forests, the North Shore calls us to explore. Since 1947, the Grand Marais Art Colony has made its home in this borderland, edged in by the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness on one side, and Lake Superior on the other. Our founder, painter and art instructor Birney Quick loved Cook County, fly fishing, and painting outdoors. He, and fellow artist Byron Bradley, teamed up, with the support of the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, to establish a colony reminiscent of the art colonies that had sprung up in Europe in the late 1800s and on the east coast at the beginning of the 20th century. Students travelled from hectic urban centers, to arrive in Grand Marais and allow the landscape to reset their pace. Ever since, people have made the pilgrimage to Grand Marais, to the Art Colony. Their time in this landscape, in our art studios, and under the guidance of skilled art instructors, shapes their creative questions, it expands their view of the world, and it gives them the space and time to make art. So what does this time look like? What do you do while you are at the Art Colony? For our youngest guests, we offer art classes year–round In 2018 we had close to five-hundred young people, from ages five to sixteen, participating in classes and event activities. Over the years we’ve seen kids grow up in our studios and come to know the Art Colony as a fun and safe place to create and learn. It is a place where they know they belong and where they are always welcome. For practicing artists, we provide a variety of support, crucial resources, and community. Support comes through professional practice workshops that are designed to address the career side of art such as methods of recordkeeping, how to share your work on social media, and how to develop a portfolio. One of the most valued resources we provide to artists is residencies and studio access. Artists-in-Residence receive two weeks of uninterrupted time to dive deep into their work and invest in that next best thing. Our pottery studio, glass studio, and printmaking studio – which happens to be one of the earliest established eco-friendly professional print studios in the Midwest are all available 24 hours a day, year round for member-artists to use. Many of our studio artists rent continually and consider the space their home studio, producing most, if not all of their work at the Art Colony, in a communal setting alongside other artists. We provide this support, access, and community because we understand that this career path is not as straight or easy as many others. We want to provide artist with those resources that will help them to move to that next step. Whether you are just starting to dip your toes into creativity, you have a latent artistic interest, or you simply love galleries, museums, and the work of artists, you too can find your artistic community here. Take a foundational class meant for true beginners, and see where it takes you! Sit in on a free artist talk, or a demonstration, participate in a book group. And throughout the year we host several special exhibitions, including curated and solo shows Our gallery store is one of my favorite places to get lost in. We carry unique regional art created by our studio artists, by members, nationally-known instructors as well as work by featured artists. With Artists coming to the North Shore, the town of Grand Marais and the Art Colony have grown together. Developing arts access in rural America can be challenging … but this humble town of 1,300 residents has grown into a unique epicenter for the arts, home to numerous art galleries and art-centric organizations. There are stunning public murals and sculptures and our annual arts festival attracts visitors in an amount 12 times greater than the town’s own population. Those who recognize the importance of art and culture come to Grand Marais. As their time here shapes them, they in turn shape this place making the artistic community of Grand Marais, and the broader, regional and national arts community, deeply interwoven. Today we at the Art Colony continue this legacy of supporting artists, and nurture the enduring human need for creative expression and inspiration. What started as an eight-week summer course for a handful of students has now grown into a movement that reaches thousands. We know not everyone can live on the North Shore. That is why the definition of “colony” is so fitting. People from across the nation as well as those who live right next door consider us a creative home and a place where they will find surprising new ways to think about life and art, and they will be shaped by this beautiful and dynamic landscape. We foster a resilient community by honoring diverse narratives and ideas, by honoring that space and time that is so vital for art making. This is what we do, every day, year round, and what we have done since 1947. And so we invite you to come in and help shape the Art Colony, whether you are traveling across the street or across hundreds of miles. Come find your artistic home at the Grand Marais Art Colony.

4 thoughts on “What is the Grand Marais Art Colony?

  • Wow! This stunning video captures the importance of ART for everyone, especially those who call Grand Marais and Cook County home. I encourage you to visit.

  • I cannot agree with this video more! I started my own channeling showcasing the beauty of Lake Superior! Check it out!

    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8ZR-7cKbnwJDWuam6LnVwQ?sub_confirmation=1

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