The Artists del Norte art group was founded by charter member and first president Doris Pease after her move to Coon Rapids Minnesota and discovery that there were no art groups in the North Suburban area. She checked around and discovered the Coon Rapids Fine Arts Commission, which met monthly at the Coon Rapids City Hall. The Coon Rapids Arts Commission felt there was a strong need to organize the artists in the North Suburban area and were very excited when Doris Pease came to a meeting and expressed a vision to start an art club.
The first meeting of the new "No Name Art Club" was held in May 1976. The meeting was advertised in the local area newspapers and to their surprise, and delight 49 people showed up for the meeting. Those in attendance included the entire Board of Directors for the North Henepin Artists group which met on the south side of the Mississippi River. They attended to tell about the activities of their club. They were able to get started right away with a volunteer group of officers and committees that turned up at that first meeting. It was decided to meet the last Tuesday of each month at Anoka Ramsey College. A newsletter was mailed out every month after that and is still mailed out to members to this day!
Naming the Organization
The new "No Name" Art Club's second meeting was held in June 1976, and a name was suggested by Francis Hanson of Ham Lake that clicked. The name selected, with a spanish flavor, was "Artists del Norte" (Artists of the North), meaning the North Suburban area of the Twin Cities.
During that first year there were two workshops held; one by the famous artist Rose Eden, and the other workshop by Charles Martin. Rose Eden was a well known, nationally acclaimed artist and teacher. Charles Martin was also well known as an artist and a teacher at the University of Minnesota, and Anoka Ramsey College. Artists del Norte still holds workshops by area artists whenever possible for the enrichment of our members.
First Exhibition & Collaboration with other groups
The new Artists del Norte organization was very aggressive and exciting. Miriam Arneson and Doris Pease (past presidents of the Minnesota Rural Arts Alliance) formed a committee to host the semi annual statewide meeting of the Minnesota Rural Arts Alliance. This organization is now called "Artists of Minnesota". The two-day semi annual meeting was held at the Bunker Hills Activity Center.
First Juried Show
The next year, 1977, we had our first juried show with 40 art works submitted! The art was moved around to four different locations. We were welcomed at banks, hospitals, schools, area businesses, etc. This show has evolved into our Spring Members Show held annually in May at Banfill-Locke Center for the Arts in Fridley.
Creation of the Rotating Arts Show
Our next agenda was to create our Rotating Arts Show. Artists provide original works of art to display in local businesses an offices for a nominal donation to the group. The art is rotated every three months, four times annually, to the benefit of both artists, businesses and the general public. The rotating art program is still a part of our yearly programming with six area businesses participating.
Arts Snow Expo
The Coon Rapids Art Committee, not the Coon Rapids Arts Alliance, and Artists del Norte co-sponsored the first annual Arts Snow Expo in 1979, which has been held annually ever since. The Arts Snow Expo is an art show open to the public for both youth and adults, held in February at Northtown Mall. Ribbons and monetary prize awards are given to winners at this show. This one day only art show is a great way to get art into the public eye.
Northern Showcase Open Art Show
Our history is still being made today. In 2004, we held the first annual Northern Showcase open juried art show at Blaine City Hall. Over 100 original works of art were accepted and a big opening night gala was held. Over $2,100 in prizes were given out along with ribbons. Last year 140 pieces were on display during the month of November at Blaine City Hall.
In 2005, Artists del Norte launched their web site www.artistsdelnorte.org. The website was re-designed and refreshed in 2013.
As the years have gone by we have partnered with many other groups to put on art events in many places. It is amazing the projects we have tackled with success, and so many of which are still part of our yearly calendar such as the Rotating Arts Program, the Spring Members Show and the Northern Showcase Show. In the past we were proud to host the Fine Art Exhibition at the Anoka County Fair (now hosted by the Anoka County Arts Alliance), Arts Do It Day, the Arts Snow Expo, Art for Heart at Mercy Hospital Gallery, the Art for Animals Art Auction, Wildlife and Nature Show, Minnesota Jam to Preserve Arts and our Art in the Gardens event that ran for 14 years. We currently partner with Banfill Locke Center for the Arts to cross promote events. They allow us to hold monthly meetings at the center and our members help out at BLCA by volunteering their time for events.
We, the members of Artists del Norte, form an organization based on
riendship and the desire to promote education and the sharing of talents,
nspiration and art expertise in the visual arts with artists of all ages.