The Watermark Art Center: Northwest Minnesota's Gateway to the Arts

Bemidji has been a regional hub for the arts for generations. Between the Headwaters School of Music and the Arts, Bemidji State Music Department,  Bemidji Sculpture Walk, Paul Bunyan Playhouse, and the annual Art in the Park festival, the city has integrated art into the community's pulse and made the arts accessible for people from all over the northwest region.

One of the key players keeping this area's art scene progressing and expanding is the Watermark Art Center. If you've driven through downtown Bemidji recently, you've probably noticed the old Leuken's grocery store building on the corner of 5th and Bemidji Ave (across from the Carnegie Library) is under construction. This will be the new location for the Watermark Art Center, which is temporarily housed at nearby 516 Beltrami Ave N. The project is the culmination of generous support from individual donors, foundations, and other community partners, including early support from the USDA Rural Development Community Facilities Loan Program. Recently, Bank Forward provided the primary financing for construction. The Northwest Minnesota Foundation (NMF), in partnership with Headwaters Regional Finance Corporation, assisted in the financing to make the package complete.

This new facility will be over 10,000 square feet and provide exhibit space for regional and national artists to display their work. Special features include a gallery dedicated to Bemidji State University to display their ceramic and print collections and the Miikanan Gallery, featuring Native American traditional and contemporary art. In addition, the new space will include an education room to host art classes and workshops for all ages. There will also be a green space for creative outdoor opportunities and ample parking for visitors.

The new Watermark Art Center hopes to open its doors November 2017. NMF is a proud partner in supporting the renovation of this new facility, as the need for updated space and expanded arts opportunities is in high demand in our community, and throughout the region.

"This new space is going to greatly enhance our region's arts culture. It's going to encourage collaboration, highlight our local artists, and provide opportunities for people of all ages to have a place to not only view and take in local artwork, but to create and participate in their own creative expression," said Diane Morey, NMF's economic development program officer.

The Watermark Art Center has a component fund at NMF. If you'd like to support this great organization and help keep the region's art scene thriving, click here to donate now.


To view all of the Watermark Art Center's program offerings, visit their website here. You can also like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter for updates!


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