DETROIT LAKES, Minn. — Together for the first and only time before they metaphorically set sail into the relaxed Minnesota lake town, a reception this week will show off the 150 metal sail sculptures that were designed by artists to celebrate the city's 150th anniversary.
Redefining the meaning of yacht party, the so-called “regatta party,” happening at 4 p.m. Friday, April 30, at Kent Freeman Hockey Arena in Detroit Lakes, will bring together the artists, sponsors and community members involved in the large-scale project celebrating the big anniversary.
“It’s a lot of fun to make this happen for Detroit Lakes,” says Hans Gilsdorf, the artist behind the 150 Sails Up project as well as a similar project 18 years ago featuring metal sunfish that can still be found in the area.
“We've been rolling this idea around, and we were like, 'This is a perfect time to do it,'” Mary Beth Gilsdorf says about their plans to work with the Detroit Lakes Regional Chamber of Commerce on the project in celebration of the sesquicentennial.
With materials donated and fabricated by BTD Manufacturing, a set of 80 artists signed up to design the sails, including artists from the Dakotas and Minnesota and as far away as Smyrna, Ga.
One artist is showing her depiction of lake life by painting a collage of shelter dogs that were all adopted through the Humane Society of the Lakes.
“Yeah, she had (the sail) up in her studio working on it during her open hours so people could come in and see the progress, which is awesome,“ Gilsdorf explains about artist Kim Jore of Riverzen Studio in Moorhead, Minn.
All the adorable dogs are set with a specific lake scene ranging from campfires to sunsets on the lake. In addition, her large sail will be accompanied by a smaller cat-themed sail that will be on display during Friday's reception.
Working on several sails, including a yoga-inspired design sponsored by 180 Balance in Detroit Lakes and a black-and-white loon design, one artist took a simple but impactful approach to the meaning of lake life.
“Although I do not live directly on a lake, during the summer I can lay in bed with the window open, listening to loon calls echoing across the water,” says the hyper graphic artist Leigh Nelson.
Artist Emily Brooks is familiar with adapting her artwork to fit all mediums, with her recent wing design featured on the side of the popular ice cream shop Silver Lining Creamery in downtown Fargo.
She says her inspiration for her colorful wildlife designs for the 150 Sails Up project stems from formative moments in childhood enjoying nature, animals and being outdoors.
“Spending time at our cabin was a chance for our family to slow down, and really connect with one another,” Brooks says.
Artist Carmen Bruhn worked for more than a month on her 4-foot sculpture, first drawing out scenes in her memories of beautiful summer days at the lakes and then enlarging the images to fit front and back.
Artist Eric A. Johnson used new and existing techniques on his sails, including a splatter-coated landscape of wildflowers on the prairie, as well as vinyl-wrapped sails featuring his colorful prints, which are on display now in his “Cutaway” show at the Rourke Art Gallery + Museum in Moorhead.
“This is like one of those rare win-win-wins, where it promotes the artists, it promotes the sponsors and it promotes our community and it's a fundraiser for future public art,” says Mary Beth Gilsdorf.
If you go
What: 150 Sails Up Regatta Party
When: 4-7 p.m. Friday, April 30
Where: Kent Freeman Arena, 1310 Rossman Ave., Detroit Lakes, Minn.
Info: A silent auction of two sails will take place to benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and the Boys and Girls Club. Live music from The Cropdusters will also accompany food trucks and a cash bar. Visit https://www.dl150.com/sailboat for full details about the project and where to find sails.
This article is part of a content partnership with The Arts Partnership, a nonprofit organization cultivating the arts in Fargo, Moorhead and West Fargo. For more information, visit http://theartspartnership.net.