Tag Archives: photography

Roots of the Red River Valley Photography Exhibit

Stories of 1937 Sugar Beet Harvest through the lens of Photographer Russell Lee at the University of Minnesota Crookston

 Images of history, viewed through the eyes of a photographer, tell the human story. “Roots of the Red River Valley,” a pictorial history of the 1937 sugar beet harvest, will be on display at the University of Minnesota Crookston from Monday November 4 through Saturday, November 9, 2019. A gallery opening will be held on Monday, November 4 at 7 p.m. in Bede Ballroom, Sargeant Student Center. Daily hours for the gallery are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. each day except Wednesday, November 6 when it will close to the public at 5 p.m.

A special Thursday Commons presentation and panel discussion about the pictorial history will take place on Thursday, November 7 at noon in Kiehle Auditorium. Parking permits are not required. 

More than 80 images by photographer Russell Lee, known for his work with the Farm Security Administration, will be available in Bede Ballroom, Sargeant Student Center from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. throughout the exhibit. All are welcome to view the historic images without charge and free parking is available in Lot G near the Kiehle Building.

The exhibit evenly distributes the photographs into three distinct categories: the migrant worker, the farmer, and the factory. Images, selected from the Library of Congress, give the viewer an opportunity for greater understanding of the lives of people and the importance of sugar processing in the Red River Valley. The photographs were all taken in Polk County, Minnesota, near Fisher and Crookston, and at the first processing plant built in 1926 and located in East Grand Forks, Minn.

“This exhibit is impressive on several fronts and definitely worth viewing.  First, the photography draws me in as a viewer, to ponder the history of farming and the immigrant worker in our area,” says Mara Hanel, executive director of the Northwest Minnesota Arts Council in Warren, Minn. “Their relationships, their families and homes.  

“The artwork tells a story and promotes dialogue around the images depicted.  Second, the size and clarity of the enlarged photographs is impressive. Third, images depicted have strong compositional elements, which speaks to the trained eye of these artistic photographers,” she continues. “I would encourage a visit either while the images are on display at UMC or talking with UMC staff about bringing this showcase to your own community for display.”   


Russell Lee, born in Illinois, attended Lehigh University in Pennsylvania graduating with a degree in chemical engineering. He left his work in chemical engineering to take up painting, which in turn, would lead to his keen interest photography. His life’s work recorded the lives of the people and places around him, documenting the ethnography of America.  

During the Great Depression in the mid-thirties, he was employed by the federally funded Farm Security Administration (FSA) photographic documentation project under the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration. He joined a team under the direction of economist, government official, and photographer, Roy Stryker that included other notables such as Dorothea Lange, Arthur Rothstein, and others. . 

With his camera, Lee traveled the United States documenting the human story of segregation, the Great Depression, WWII, life in internment camps, and much more. His work with the FSA is what brought Lee to Minnesota’s Red River Valley in 1937.

After settling in the late forties in Texas, Lee would become the first instructor of photography at the University of Texas in 1965. 

Traveling Art Exhibit in Red Lake Falls

Traveling Art Exhibit Visits Red Lake Falls Public Library 

Northwest Minnesota Arts Council sponsors an annual Traveling Art Exhibit, which visits northwest Minnesota communities throughout the year. The exhibit includes 10 original pieces of art by regional artists, chosen from works submitted for our annual juried exhibit. The exhibit is currently at the Red Lake Falls Public Library until January 4. See below for the schedule for the year.

NWMAC Traveling Art Exhibit in Red Lake Falls

The 2019-2020 Traveling Exhibit Schedule*:

May 10–June 28, 2019  Godel Memorial Library, Warren

June 29–August 31, 2019  East Grand Forks Campbell Library

September 1–Nov 2, 2019  Ada Public Library

Nov 3–Jan 4, 2020  Red Lake Falls Public Library**

Jan 5– March 1, 2020  Roseau Public Library

March 2–May 2, 2020  Hallock Public Library

*The start and end dates at each location are approximate, depending on weather, venue hours and other circumstances that may occur to prohibit travel. For specific library hours, please contact each location before planning your visit, especially if you are planning on bringing a group.

**Tentatively scheduled

NWMAC Traveling Art Exhibit Visits Red Lake Falls Library

The 2019-2020 Artists and Artwork: 

Mary Magnuson, Red Lake Falls, “Twilight in the Taiga” (Painting)

Amber Lee, Hendrum, “Koi” (Watercolor)

Peggy Branden, Karlstad, “The Beast” (Wood Block Print)

Kathryn Rynning, Kennedy, “The Graduates” (Photograph)

James Blix, Thief River Falls, “Woodland Composition I” (Photograph)

Bert Foster, Thief River Falls, “At the Barn” (Photograph)

Christine Foster, Thief River Falls, “Ice House Morning” (Painting)

Jill Levene, Warren, “-42.22C,” (Mixed Media)

Ying Sriyota, Badger, “The Champion” (Painting)

Elliot Chapman, Crookston, “Grain Elevator” (Photograph)

You may contact us for more info about the Traveling Exhibit at (218) 745-9111 or email NWArtsCouncil@gmail.com

Photography Classes

Intro to Photography

May 4 from 10 am -1 pm at Sweetlight Gallery in Crookston

This is a beginners photography class about the basics of using a digital SLR or mirrorless camera. The cost is Adults $40, $20 for Students 7th grade through college. No children please.

Additional topics introduced:
Lenses, Shutter speeds, f-stops, ISO, basic composition, Auto features vs “semi-auto”, camera care and more.

Intermediate Photography

May 11 from 9am -12pm at Sweetlight Gallery in Crookston

Sweetlight Gallery by Andy Hall

If you took the Intro to Photography class and are ready to take the next step, then this class is for you. However, it is also open to anyone provided you have a basic understanding of the use of your camera. Andy will build on the concepts from the Intro Class and also review and expand on shutter speed, aperture, ISO, the exposure triangle and more composition ideas. This class is limited to 10 students. The cost is $40 for adults and $20 for Students 7th grade through college.

To register, call Andy at 612-269-3601.

The Fournet Experience

Opening April 2nd

5:00-9:00 pm

Andy Hall, owner of Sweetlight Gallery, will open co-exhibition The Fournet Experience
Andy will be displaying still photographs that he created while exploring the interior of Crookston’s historic, architectural gem. The still images will be set amongst architectural salvage pieces from the Fournet Building. Sarah Wagner will be joining Andy with her 360° Virtual Reality panoramas that give you a sense of being inside the building. The Fournet building was built in 1885 from the designs of Grand Forks architect, J.W. Ross. Over the years, the building has been both residential and commercial. Tenants have included a law firm, a grocery store, a dental office, a hardware store, a liquor store and in 1907 the Fournet building opened the first furniture store in NW Minnesota. Andy and Sarah were fortunate to have captured a small sampling of the beauty of this historical building and are excited to bring it to you.
The Fournet Experience opens Tuesday, April 2nd 5-9PM and continues through May 25th during regular business hours.

Sweetlight Gallery 119 N Main St. Crookston, MN 56716
Refreshments and light appetizers will be provided.

Due to safety concerns, this event is not appropriate for small children/toddlers/babies.

Artist Story: Tallie Habstritt ~ In the Ditch Photography

Below is a blog written by Sarah Meisinger, Owner of En Liten Svensk (A Little Swedish) Shoppe in Roseau. Thanks, Sarah for promoting artists in our region!

Life moves so quickly.

I often try and remind myself to slow down, pay attention and notice the beauty that’s all around me. It can be difficult to do sometimes and I’m guessing I’m not alone in this effort. 

Tallie Habstritt is our featured artist for February and she truly understands the value of pausing, noticing and appreciating objects in nature and in life that many of us may miss.    

Fans of Tallie’s photography appreciate the fact that her images are discovered throughout Roseau County.  I am personally drawn to the photos because her work transports me back to the images of my childhood and to a place I love.  One of my favorite images (it feels impossible to pick just one) is the photo Tallie took of the Ferris Wheel at the Roseau County Fair.  If you’re from the area or if you’ve spent some time in Roseau in mid-July, you certainly know that the County Fair is a favorite past time when family and friends gather and we enjoy the animal barns, 4-H exhibits, endless food options and of course, walking through the Mid-way. 

The Ferris Wheel photo captures these memories for me which is what I believe a talented photographer does… triggers our memories and moves us emotionally.

I asked Tallie to share her thoughts about photography, how she got started and any guidance she has to offer for new photographers just starting out. 

Please enjoy Tallie’s artist story as she tells it.  

My photographs are very simple, often single subject photographs. I attempt to showcase the beauty of common things that we are surrounded by every day that we may not take time to notice. In some of my photographs, I also try to give people the opportunity to look more closely at a subject that is fleeting in nature, such as the close-up view of the face of a butterfly or the look on the face of an owl as it studies a human being taking its picture. For me, it is an exciting moment when I review my photos and see that I have captured these types of events.

When I was growing up, everyone in our family took lots of pictures. Initially, we had a family camera and there wasn’t much that we didn’t take photographs of – the chickens on our farm, my Uncle Albert’s new Pontiac, an exceptionally large black and blue mark, drifts during the blizzard of 1966, our teenage friends. Anything was fair game. We just took pictures of our life and what was happening around us.

I received my first camera as a gift from my parents when I was 14 or 15 years old. It was an Instamatic camera with flashcubes. Over the years, I no longer used that camera, but I never got rid of it. I added a 35 mm camera with a couple lenses in the 80’s and later a digital camera with a fixed lens about 2001. In 2008, I bought a digital camera that accepted various lenses and then a few years later I purchased a Canon 5D Mark II that I continue to use today.

 There are a number of reasons I continue to be interested in photography. Probably one of the most important is that photography gives me the opportunity to learn new things. Even though I have spent nearly my entire life in Roseau County, before I went seeking things to photograph, I didn’t know that there were nearly pure white lady’s slippers that grew in our County. I didn’t know how exhausted a partridge looked after standing on a log drumming, or how intricate and golden frost on the window of my house became when it was back-lit by approaching car lights. I didn’t know how easy it was to get close to great grey owls and how hard it was to get near a snowy owl. I didn’t know the names of many of the wild flowers I regularly saw in the ditches. These are some of the things I have learned more about. I often don’t have a particular subject in mind when I take my camera and go for a walk or a drive, looking for something to take a picture of. I always know there is something to photograph, I just don’t know what it is until I see it. Sometimes when I photograph something, I still don’t know exactly what it is and that gives me the opportunity to learn more about something I was not familiar with.

 (A few of the amazing images captured by Tallie ~ single cards and card sets available at the Shoppe.)

One of my favorite photography experiences was when I was able to get pictures of a Woodcock. I had heard about Woodcocks because I had a friend who hunted them, but I had no idea what they looked like. I came across my first one, not knowing what it was, and without my camera. It was a smaller birds with short legs and long pink toes. It had a fairly short tail and a long beak with a visible tongue. It had large, dark eyes that weren’t on the front of its face, but on the sides of its head. Without my camera, I followed the bird around through the brush, trying to memorize the details so I would be able to go home and research what it was. I found out it was a Woodcock.  One writer described it as “a bird that looks like it has been created out of spare parts!” I loved that accurate description. Later I did have my camera and saw another Woodcock, the only other one I have ever seen. I was able to again follow the bird and take numerous photographs that remind me of the fun I had that day.  Because I find it fascinating to see and learn about these things, I take pictures of them in hopes that someone else might enjoy seeing and learning more about nature in Roseau County.

 (The elusive Woodcock!)

Earlier I touched on another reason I continue to photograph what I see – it relates to seeing common things, but seeing their details. It is hard to see the details of small, moving things like insects. With a photograph, you can capture the details and look more closely at them. The intricately colored wings of a butterfly might draw our attention, but how often do we get to look at the face of a butterfly? A photograph makes that possible and a butterfly’s face is also very interesting. One time I was photographing what people call a Hummingbird Moth. There are various kinds in our area and the one I was photographing was a White-lined Sphinx Moth. This moth is active in the daytime and moves its wings very fast like a hummingbird. Because it moves so quickly, it is difficult to see the pattern on the wings. With a photograph, you can catch the wings open and see how beautiful they actually are. Trying to capture these details is a challenge for me but that is also what makes photography fun. If you fail in your first or second or third attempt to photograph something, that just makes the final success that much more appreciated.

I also enjoy photographing people. I try to show something about the person or their personality when I take their picture and if I can do that I feel like I have been successful. I am not very skillful in taking more formal group pictures of people but I like taking candid photos. I had the opportunity to take pictures at a large family gathering and I took many pictures of various groups within the family. When I went home though and looked through my pictures, my favorite one was of the hands of the father in the family. He had been a hard working man all of his life and his hands showed it. I felt like that said something that was important to remember and that is why I liked that photograph so much.

One of the more challenging facets of outdoor photography is knowing what to wear when I go out with my camera! Ha! Because I like to walk through woods and in ditches to take many of my photographs, I have to deal with what is outside, and that often involves bugs of some sort. Mosquitoes are always around us in Minnesota and bull flies can also be bothersome. I try to wear knee-high waterproof boots most of the time, even if I don’t think I am going to be in a wet place. I think it gives the Woodticks one less place to attach themselves to me. With taller boots, I might deter a few Woodticks, but I often still end up with wet feet because I want to take just one more step to get closer to something I am photographing. That sometimes means I end up in water that is too deep.

I also try to wear a light weight jacket or long-sleeve shirt even in the summer. That also helps with bugs, but the main reason is to avoid poison ivy. I have not been careful enough though and typically I get one nasty case of that each year, usually when I am photographing Lady’s Slippers. I typically try not to disturb animals or birds that I see when I am photographing. I try not to get too close or I stay away all together if there is a baby of any kind involved. If I think I won’t do any harm by taking one quick photo that just involves point, shoot, get out of there I might do that, but otherwise I try to stay out of what I think of as the the personal space of birds or animals. One time when I was photographing an especially perfect clump of white Lady’s Slippers I must have been too close to a blackbird with a nest or a baby. I was making my third round trip of about 90 miles in just a few days to try get a picture of the flowers when they were at the peak of their bloom and I had finally gotten there at the right time. Every time I would lower my head, a blackbird would dive bomb me twice in quick succession and then fly to a pole to sit and look at me. The bird flew close enough to me that I did not trust him not to actually hit me. I had a hard time focusing on the blossoms and watching the bird at the same time. It took a long time to get my photographs that day. I never saw what was making him so protective. That, however, is the only negative incident I have had with any wildlife.

Timing plays a big part in many photographs and the photographer often doesn’t dictate the time to take a photograph. If you want a foggy morning picture, you go when it is foggy, not when it is convenient with your schedule. If you want a picture of new snowfall, you might have to go out on a very cold day even though it is hard to keep your hands warm and use your camera at the same time. Nature is constantly changing and it determines when the time is right and what there will be to photograph. That makes it challenging but also memorable when you get a picture that you enjoy looking back at.

For me photography has been a very enjoyable hobby and it has allowed me to learn and see new things. I hope to be able to continue my hobby for years to come.

For Tallie’s story, I decided to get in touch with someone very close to her.  I asked Tallie’s sister Sheila for additional insight about Tallie’s willingness to literally get ‘in the ditch‘ when she sees something she wants to photograph. Sheila shares,

“One thing I’d say about Tallie is that she can drive down a road at 60 mph and spot a flower or critter in the ditch and will slam on the brakes, put her boots on and make the effort to get the best possible photo of that beautiful bit of wildlife. She spots birds that blend in with their surroundings, flowers so tiny you can hardly see them, animals trying to hide from humans, and other lovely scenes with unusual lighting, clouds, or weathered buildings. It certainly helps to have good equipment, but that doesn’t help if you don’t have an eye for your subject matter.” 

In our digital age, I do hope we find time to slow our pace, enjoy the beauty around us and perhaps write a note to a loved one just because. 

Thank you Tallie, for reminding us of the importance of this through your images.


p.s. Discover a beautiful selection of Tallie’s greetings cards, coasters and more with images found throughout Roseau County at the En Liten Svensk (A Little Swedish) Shoppe ~ 101 Main Avenue North in downtown Roseau!