Current Exhibitions

JIM DOW: TWENTY YEARS IN NORTH DAKOTA

JIM DOW: TWENTY YEARS IN NORTH DAKOTA

Jim Dow: Twenty Years in North Dakota
April 7 – May 22, 2022

Lecture Thursday, April 21, 6 pm, followed by a reception with the artist.
This event is free and open to the public.

Join us on a twenty-year travel across North Dakota with Boston-based photographer Jim Dow. In 1981, the Museum commissioned Dow to photograph folk art throughout the State, as much of it was too permanent or too large to move for an exhibition. Dow landed in Bismarck the winter of 1981 and captured murals of North Dakota painted on the inside of the brick walls of the State Penitentiary by an inmate serving a life sentence. Shortly after he photographed the murals, the walls were razed. Dow spent numerous years traveling back roads, eating in small town cafes, visiting bars, and drinking coffee in community centers looking for leads on more murals, outdoor sculptures, hand-painted signs, and the things farmers made in their shops over the long winter months.

Nearly 20 years after his last trip to North Dakota, Dow will return to give a lecture and to photograph in and around Grand Forks one more time.

Biography

Jim Dow
b. 1942 Boston, Massachusetts
photographer
American

 

My interest in photography centers on its capacity for exact description. . . . I use photography to try to record the manifestations of human ingenuity and spirit still remaining in our country’s everyday landscape.” —Jim Dow

Jim Dow’s interest in those places where people enact their everyday rituals, from the barbershop to the baseball park, has guided the path of his photographic career. Dow is concerned with capturing “human ingenuity and spirit” in endangered regional traditions–a barbershop with a heavy patina of town life covering the walls, the opulent time capsule of an old private New York club, the densely packed display of smoking pipes in an English tobacconist shop–all artifacts of a vanishing era.

Dow earned a B.F.A. and a M.F.A. in graphic design and photography from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1965 and 1968 respectively. An early influence was Walker Evans’s seminal book American Photographs (1938). Dow recalls the appeal of Evans’s “razor sharp, infinitely detailed, small images of town architecture and people. What stood out was a palpable feeling of loss…pictures that seemingly read like paragraphs, even chapters in one long, complex, rich narrative.” Soon after graduate school Dow had the opportunity to work with Evans. He was hired to print his mentor’s photographs for a 1972 Museum of Modern Art retrospective.

Dow has taught photography at Harvard, Tufts University and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and his work has been widely exhibited. Among his series is Corner Shops of Britain (1995), which features facades of small family-run businesses: vitrine-like shop windows showcase goods from candy jars to jellied eels. Another series, “Time Passing” (1984-2004), captures North Dakota “folk art” such as rural road signage, handpainted billboards, and ornate gravestones.

Dow first gained attention for his panoramic triptychs of baseball stadiums, a project that began with an image he made of Veteran’s Stadium in Philadelphia in 1980. Using an 8″ x 10″ camera, he has documented more than two hundred major and minor league parks in the United States and Canada.

 

Marking the Land: Jim Dow in North Dakota

A Publication of the North Dakota Museum of Art

Book: Marking the Land
Photographs and descriptions by Jim Dow
Edited by Laurel Reuter, Director and Chief Curator, North Dakota Museum of Art
Design and printing under direction of the North Dakota Museum of Art
Published by the North Dakota Museum of Art in collaboration with the Center for American Places with distribution through the University of Chicago Press
224 pages, 184 color photographs

In 1981 the North Dakota Museum of Art invited Jim Dow of Boston to photograph the State’s environmental folk art—that is, architecture, signage, sculpture, painting, grave markings, working shops, the stuff made by farmers during idle winter months, and all else that decorates the land. Over the course of a year, Dow captured over a hundred images. The initial commission was funded by Target Stores. Then in the late 1990s, he returned to North Dakota to photograph Northern League baseball parks. Dow once again was hooked on North Dakota. The Museum found enough money for Dow to begin anew, but this time with one condition: he could photograph whatever he pleased but Northwest Minnesota should be drawn into the project. From a distance of twenty years, Dow saw the larger themes harbored within the photos: change, the passing of time, the innate creativity demanded of people who live in rural or remote places, and the way humans live lightly on the land and then move on, leaving marks that soon fade away.

Jim Dow’s photographs are among the most important works ever created about North Dakota. They encapsulate the historic change that swept across the Northern Plains in the last half of the twentieth century. Dow literally has captured the traces of people who have died or gone elsewhere. He records an earlier, hand-made existence, churches now sitting empty, the remains of decayed civic life. Described as having the “grandeur and loneliness of ancient ruins,” Dow’s work has been cherished for documenting the disappearing uniqueness of American life.

The book opens with Views of North Dakota, twelve gigantic murals painted on the walls of the State Prison yard half-a-century ago by Charles Oliver. Dow photographed them in their crumbling state just before they were torn down. He closes with Whitey’s Wonder Bar in East Grand Forks—before and after the 1997 flood. With his 8 x 10 large-format camera, he recorded groups of “dinosaurs” or thrashing machines arranged on the hills near Amidon. The World’s Largest Holstein Cow near New Salem. Henry Luehr’s Bull from Buchanan. The hand-forged iron crosses made by Germans from Russia marking the graves near Hague and Zeeland. Sign for Barlow Meats in Devils Lake. Alex Pauluck’s Shop in Belfield. Sig Jagelski’s Jugtown near Auburn. Artist Walter Piehl’s painting studio, his drawing classroom at Minot State, and his Blue Rider Bar. The Goose River Lutheran Church before it burned as well as the State’s grand churches in Warsaw. Dazey, and Strasburg, Eccentric architecture such as the Kite Café in Michigan. Monuments and follies intermingle with one-offs and life-time passions in Jim Dow’s masterpiece, Marking the Land.

Funding for the project has come from Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation; the Nathan Cummings Foundation; Archer, Daniels and Midland; Janet Borden, The Hart Family, Emmet and Edith Gowin, The North Dakota Museum of Art Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

 

 

JIM DOW, BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS,
“HOCKEY CHALKBOARD IN LOCKER ROOM, JAMESTOWN HIGH SCHOOL. JAMESTOWN, ND 2//81”, 2020.
PRINTED FROM SCANNED NEGATIVE ON ARCHIVAL PAPER.

SPONSORS

This program is supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts through the Community Foundation of Grand Forks, East Grand Forks & Region.

Individual Sponsors

$500 and above
Luise Beringer

$100 – $499
Martin Brown
Capital Resource Management
Ross Rolshoven
Treasure Amdahl

Installation View

JIM DOW, BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS,
“MANNEQUIN IN WAGON ON D.BOHL’D FARM. ND 36, PINGREE, ND 5/12/81”, 2020.
PRINTED FROM SCANNED NEGATIVE ON ARCHIVAL PAPER.

Installation View

JIM DOW, BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS,
“WOODEN CACTUS AT SUNSET, HENRY FRENDH’S FARM. CASHEL, ND 2/22/81”, 2020.
PRINTED FROM SCANNED NEGATIVE ON ARCHIVAL PAPER.

Installation View

JIM DOW, BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS,
“THE FABULOUS WESTWARD HO MOTEL & CONVENTION CENTER. US 2, GRAND FORKS, ND 8/1/02”, 2020.
PRINTED FROM SCANNED NEGATIVE ON ARCHIVAL PAPER.

Installation View

JIM DOW, BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS,
“DELCHAR THEATER. ND 18, MAYVILLE, ND 1/18/04”, 2020.
PRINTED FROM SCANNED NEGATIVE ON ARCHIVAL PAPER.

FROM THE COLLECTION OF ANONYMOUS II

FROM THE COLLECTION OF ANONYMOUS II

The North Dakota Museum of Art announces the opening of From the Collection of Anonymous II, ongoing gifts from a donor who wishes to remain anonymous.

Museum directors make lifelong friends. NDMOA’s Director Laurel Reuter has made many close friends in her 50-year career. One of these friends has taken a particular interest in the Museum’s Permanent Collection, believing rich collections deeply enrich communities.

Anonymous Donor realized the importance of access to contemporary artwork in the Dakotas and took it upon himself to donate or purchase as many works as possible for the people of the State. Over the last ten years the Museum has acquired more than 70 artworks via he and his contacts.

Birth of a New Nation was purchased by an anonymous donor in recognition of Laurel Reuter’s 50 year as Director of the North Dakota Museum of Art, and dedicated to the many initiatives,publications, programs, and exhibitions she has produced throughout the world.

Rabbett Before Horses Strickland is a member of the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. He grew up in the San Francisco area surrounded by an artistic family and attempted his first oil painting at the age of 14. From there, Rabbett immersed himself in the works of Botticelli, Rubens, and Michelangelo among others, and found additional inspiration in surrealism and impressionism. Rabbett paints his dreams that depict traditional Anishinaabe stories that are visions of beautifully balanced forms and color relationships. In addition to being an artist, Rabbett is also a musician and mathematician.

RABBETT BEFORE HORSES STRICKLAND, BAYFIELD, WISCONSIN,
“BIRTH OF A NEW NATION”, 2020.
OIL ON CANVAS, 84 x 144 INCHES.

Installation View

ALEXA HOROCHOWSKI, MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA, “VORTEX DRAWING II“, 2017.
BLUE CHALK ON TYVEK, 118 x 118 INCHES.

Past Exhibitions

UFF DA: THE FOLK ART OF EMILY LUNDE

February 26, 2022 - March 30, 2022at the Museum Touring the state of North Dakota through the Museum's Rural Arts Initiative. Emily Wilhelmina Dufke Lunde was born in northern Minnesota and, as she says, "with a handle like that you had to have a sense of humor."...

FROM THE COLLECTION OF ANONYMOUS

Museum Directors make lifelong friends. Museum Director Laurel Reuter has made many close friends in her 50-year career. One friend, who wishes to remain anonymous, has taken a particular interest in the Permanent Collection, believing rich collections of art deeply enrich communities.

EDWARD AND NANCY KIENHOLZ: A SELECTION OF WORKS FROM THE BETTY AND MONTE FACTOR FAMILY COLLECTION

The late Ed Kienholz and his deceased wife Nancy Reddin Kienholz, the Factor’s one-time neighbors, are celebrated for their installations and sculptural assemblages that are controversial, graphic, and deeply critical of the politics of mid-twentieth century life in Europe and the United States.

STUART KLIPPER: THE WORLD IN A FEW STATES

I have made photographs in all 50 states; scoping out the lay of the land and the hand of man — and whatall may have been wrought in places where each overlay: the fruit of enterprise, and, the sullied tumult. Evidence of the land we’re on and the world we find ourselves in; where we’re at and who we are; what we’ve done; and, where we can go.

TODD HEBERT: FOUR PAINTINGS

Todd Hebert received his BFA from the University of North Dakota and his MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design. He has been a fellow at the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center, Provincetown, MA; and the Core Residency Program at the Glassell School of Art, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX.

CAROL HEPPER: REMEMBERING FRIENDS

The landscape of South Dakota, remote, yet beautiful, has left its mark on Carol Hepper, a native of the state. It has elicited from her an extraordinarily poetic response in the form of a body of work that unites respect for the past and with a new means of expression.

BRAD BACHMEIER: CONSERVATION THROUGH CLAY

The North Dakota Museum of Art will open Conservation Through Clay by Fargo-based artist Brad Bachmeier on Sunday, March 21. There will be no opening reception, but the artist will record a talk which the Museum will upload to YouTube and post on social media. The Museum will open weekdays 9 – 5 pm, and Sundays 12 – 5 pm, starting March 15, 2021.

ART IN ISOLATION

We asked that you submit images of what you are doing to be creative in this time of social distancing, and you answered our call. We are honored to receive an outpouring of images coming from around the world.

Installation View

Celebrations

A Multi-media celebration of Native American life and art pulled from the Museum’s Permanent Collection and from artists from around the country.

LYNNE ALLEN: CONSEQUENCES

All the matriarchs in Lynne Allen’s family were members of the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in South Dakota. All were sent away to government boarding schools, to realign their cultural heritage.

Staff Favorites 2020

STAFF FAVORITES:
SELECTIONS FROM THE MUSEUM’S PERMANENT COLLECTION

Commissions & Collections

October 27, 2019 - January 19, 2020 Quietly and without much fanfare the North Dakota Museum of Art has been building a permanent collection that is becoming its greatest strength. With minimal financial resources the collection has evolved out of its exhibition...

Power : Empower

April 24- July 7, 2019 Who owns the power or controls it? Who has the power and can it be shifted, negotiated. Nature pitted against Humans is one of the most important power struggles of our time. Wealth against Poverty is another. People against Government....

The Museum Collects

Works from the Museum’s collection.

Amundarain TWO

THIS WEEK ONLY 2019

This Week Only is the Museum’s most popular exhibition in our own region. Imagine a panoply of art from the Red River Valley and surrounding plains and woodlands; walls covered with works springing from our own place to brighten our lives in the dead of winter.

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