Blue Collar Black Friday Art Show


Late nights meant burning the midnight oil — and wood — to get frames ready for the show.

What a surprising opportunity!

It’s crunch time producing exclusive handmade frames to go with matted photos for the Blue Collar Black Friday Art Show.  North Dakota barn board, North Dakota images, North Dakota art — I’m fortunate to be one-quarter of the show at the little coffee shop and cafe on the east side of Bismarck.

It’s a win-win-win.  The Blue Collar Cafe gets more traffic, four artists get more exposure and Black Friday shoppers get original handmade art at ridiculously low prices.  If the same products were in Macy’s or Daytons, they’d be hundreds of dollars.  But here, only tens of dollars.

I visited with Jerod Hawk earlier this week when the idea was kicked about.  Within an hour Hawk had lined up four artists to set up on Friday at his little coffee shop and cafe. That was Tuesday. Now here it is Thursday and we’re almost ready to throw open the doors to throngs of people who want a piece of North Dakota.

Since the idea first took hold,  I’ve been keeping the wood fires burning in my wood shop making frames.  .  As it is, I have mass-produced hand-made frames for an inventory, but not as many as I would have liked for this little show.


The abandoned Pettibone Elevator at Lake Williams is one of my favorite pieces that will be on display at the Blue Collar Cafe art show on Friday.


From near Rugby, this abandoned farmstead is wrapped in a barn board frame from a barn near Good Rich.

Tuesday and Wednesday I started the work of matching photos I had on hand to the frames I thought would work.  I think I went about it backwards. I first should have selected the prints, then built the frames to fit.


Color looks good in the barn board frame from a 100-year old barn near Goodrich on the left, and in a frame from a 100-year old barn that once stood near Almont

Either way, it was crunch time. I turned my kitchen in to a matting and framing shop.  I brought in all the frames I thought would work from my wood shop.  Then I started matching prints to frames.

A couple of quick trips to Bismarck and I bought a few pieces of glass and some mat board.  I would have liked more, but time was running out.    Wednesday I put in some 12 hours framing and matting. Sadly I got in to so much of a rush I ended up damaging three prints and throwing them in to the trash.  A couple of my larger print were damaged and so will only be on display as examples, but not for sale. They’re not “perfect.”  Mats were crooked, images warped.  *groan*


Wilton’s Soo Line Depot, also 100 years old (1910) is framed in 100-year-old wood from a barn near Goodrich.

So, here it is Thanksgiving days.  Just as the other three artists and Hawk are doing, we’re dedicating a portion of the day to getting ready for the Blue Collar Black Friday Art Show.  It’s a first, so we don’t know what to expect, how much room we have or how many people show up.


Grain bins from near Regan in barn board from a 100-year old barn near Almont will be at the Blue Collar Black Friday Art Show.

Here’s your invitation to joins us. 135 Airport Road, Bismarck, just across the RR tracks from Krolls Diner, one block south of Main Street in East Bismarck.

Come on down!

The masked snow mover Jan ’11

masked man

Who is that masked man?

Is he hiding from people, or is he hiding from the cold?

You can never tell around here.  Some people hide right out in the open — underneath their Carhartts and their helmets, moving the night’s accumulation of snow.  Sneaky devils. They’ve even been known to sneak over to the neighbor’s house to re-arrange the snow drifts from the night before.  Armed with blades and blowers these masked snow movers make life a bit easier for me.

snow mover

He is not here

You know it had to be one of the worst mornings ever, that first Easter morning. Not only were Mary and the disciples mourning the death of Someone whom they loved, they were afraid. So they were hiding from the Romans, fearing they would be next.

A dark place

They were grieving. They were afraid.  They felt abandoned.  They felt hopeless.  Grief. Loss. Fear. Sadness. Sorrow. Confusion. Abandonment.

Mary got up to leave. She must leave. She had something to do. It was a dark place Mary went, the cemetery where they left the lifeless body of  Jesus.

Imagine the long, tearful walk she walked alone.  Tears. Could there be so many tears?  She had never cried like this.  She had never gone through this.  No one had ever gone through this. She must have been frightened.  She must have been sad.

She must also have been in love.  She loved Jesus so much she left the safety of the others hidden in that grief-filled room.  She went alone.  No one else had the love or the guts to do what she had to do, visit that borrowed tomb.

I cannot imagine her confusion when she arrived and she met what she thought was a gardener.  Her frame of reference, her point of view were shaped by the horrible hours she had just experienced.  The betrayal, the arrest, the trial, the torture, the spikes, the blood, the darkness, the earthquake, the torn temple veil — all shaped her mind and left her little prepared for the next event that topped anything she had experienced in the last three days.

A light shines in a dark place

She looked for a dead man and thought she found a gardener.

“Please Sir, what have you done with the body?”

The body?  A dead lifeless form that had held the Man whom she loved?

“Mary, it is I.”

He’s alive! He is risen!

Where there was darkness, now there was light!

Can there be, has there ever been such a shocking turnaround?  Not merely from darkness to light, but rather from death to life?

Light was shining in the darkness of that morning, but also in the dark gloom of her thoughts, her mind and her heart.

He is alive!

You know the story. She ran back to tell others.  John — the disciple who writes more of love in his Gospel than the other three, the one who wrote those famous words, “For God so loved the world, He gave…”  loving John ran to the tomb.  From fear and grief now to unbelievable excitement.  John ran.  Peter ran.

Peter outran John.  He was first.  He stooped down, and there were the grave clothes, neatly folded. (Isn’t that just like Jesus to leave things better than he found them?) Angels met Peter and the disciples.

He is not here. He is risen!  It is Easter this morning as I write this. I look up. I look past the cross. I look past the darkness.

He is not here. He is risen

He is risen!

Footnote:  And so, here in little Wilton, I don’t have to look far to see the story.  All within sight of my home (if it weren’t for the trees) are these pictorial reminders that Jesus is a Risen Savior.

December 23 — Motorized sledders cruise the snow

Two Yamaha sleds

I’ve never even sat on one, but snowmobiles look like a lot of fun if you’re in to speed and thrills.  It would certainly be a good way to occupy the winter season.

The ditches along Highway 83 between Bismarck and Washburn is a designated and marked trail for snowmobiles.  Those orange diamond markers you see in the photo above are indicators where are to safely ride.

I imagine it’s a moderate amount of excitement, but not what it’s like to zoom up the trails in the Turtle Mountains, or in the woods of Minnesota or Montana.

Still, it gives a picture of life in North Dakota that I caught while driving to Bismarck —  a bit of a challenge to drive down the highway with the window open along side a slide keeping it in focus as the scenery blurs by.

Don’t tell on me.

December 11– oh my achin’ back

Shovel time!

Here we go again. It all starts right here — my winter forced exercise program: show shoveling.

The view from my open garage door tells me I’m gonna stay trim this winter if this snow keeps up.  The drift is thigh deep, and I will shovel in shifts if I’m gonna get out of the garage.  My North Dakota 365 project may slide a bit if I can’t hit the highways and byways because there’s too much snow in my driveway.


At the halfway point I know it’s just the start of a canyon pass I’m digging.  By mid-winter the piles on either side of the driveway will dwarf my truck.  And to think, I do it all with a plastic snow shovel! I try to do as much as possible before breakfast. That way I’m burning fat stores instead of food stores.  Then, when I do have breakfast, it is truly nourishing and not just filling the pit.

It takes about 45 minutes to dig out. I do it in 15 or 20 minute “bursts” of energy.  I stop for a break only after I pass out and wake up laying in the driveway. I assume that at that point I need a break.

The end

When I’m done shoveling, I realize that those snowflakes that make the first covering will still be there a few months from now.  It’s that old rule of resource management: first on, last off.

December 3 10 degrees warm

snow blowin’

Finally. After several days of black and white imagery and shades of grey there is some sun.  Scenes like that of just a couple days ago, back on the 20th are very depressing.  Check out the difference between today and my images on November 19 or 20th.

Today, the sun is shining, but man is it cold!  10 degrees or so. Still, people are taking advantage of the day by moving snow.  In this case, Harris in Wilton is moving snow from the mailbox so the mail can be delivered.

Color is back and that’s good.  But along with it comes more white than green.  Oh well, it won’t be long until we see green again.

How do winter’s colors or lack of them affect you?

November 19 A touch of pic/old look

A touch of old style

Winter has set in.  It’s a time of year when color is washed from the horizon.  It’s an annual event handled much more easily now than 75 years ago.  Yet for some reason, we tend to romanticize “yesteryear.”   At least I do.

I spotted this abandoned farmstead between Wilton and Mercer.  I was specifically looking for images that would lend themselves to a bit of post-processing. I was looking for a scene that  resembled photos from another era — a more “romantic” era.

The fact is, it’s much more “romantic” in photo than in real life.  That’s the work of our minds to fill in the gaps of the story laid before us.  In real life, it can be cold, depressing and non-thrilling.

Do you ever take time to look at old photos and reminisce?

Toward sunset I was headed back to town and thought I’d see what these markers of a bygone era look like — and then enhanced when I got home.  It’s probably a more accurate reflection of “yesteryear.”

Wilton cemetery in the evening

November 2 Vote

Voting in Wilton’s Burleigh County shop

Election day voting for most Americans is a down home neighbor-to-neighbor activity conducted in the nearest public shelter such as this county shop.  The machine shop is cleared out, the tools packed away, and a couple tables are set up for Americans to do what make them free and strong — vote.

There’s nothing sophisticated about voting in Wilton.  You take your printed ballot in to a booth and with a black pen, you fill in the circles for the person or position for whom you are voting.

I see photos of candidates and famous people going to fancy places to cast an electronic vote, but it seems to me that is more the exception than the rule.  It’s the hard-working rank and file of Americans who take time from their jobs to head down to some grease-stained cold metal building to have their say in how they are to be governed.

October 26 Winter isn’t sneaky — it’s slammin’

Winter’s first blow

Wow. Winter didn’t pull any punches with its introduction. It hit us hard, and it’s still two months until the first calendar of winter.

The blizzard rolled all day and tonight it’s slow going on Highway 83 at Wilton.  Trucks are still doing their thing, but a few have decided it’s not worth it. So, they pulled in to the Wilton Cenex truck stop.

I wasn’t sure what I’d find to photograph when I went out, but had hoped to catch some snow plows working Highway 83.  I gave up after about 10 seconds. I’m not used to this cold, yet.  So, I captured these images to show what we are in for until spring.

In a way, I find it a bit exciting to be challenged like this by winter, but it’s also groan-worthy because I know it’s going to be a long winter ahead.

And just as conflicted as I am about winter, I’m conflicted about the Wilton City street crew.  Yes, they do a great job of clearing the streets,but dang, a full 6 months of this is gonna be hard on my back — cleaning out the end of my driveway every time the snow plow goes by.

The morning after the night before

(Actually, this shot belongs with tomorrow’s entry, but I thought it was fitting to put it here to give a glimpse of the “aftermath” of this Intro to Winter 101 course.)

October 22 moody images

Pontiac under the moon in the weeds

In this set of photos, my goal was to capture the mood rather than the image as a snapshot.  The Pontiac under the moon is one of my more complimented images.  I think it would work well as one of a series of notecards. What do you think?

You can see the moon barely visible just above the front left corner of the car in the trees.  It was another one of those hazy, overcast fall afternoons. My goal that day was not to photograph the car.  In fact, it was an after thought. My goal was another set of images of the old Wilton Coal Mine entrance — again here stylized to represent the surreal and even “spooky” mood of that area.

Wilton Coal Mine entrance

Photoshop filters enhanced the natural light and glow of the golden hour to create that warm surreal effect.  In the photo of the coal mine entrance, can you spot the full moon? It’s just above the horizon next to the mine entrance, between it and the tree on the horizon.

This scene is just east of Wilton about a mile.  It captures my imagination every time I see it or visit it because of the old stories I’ve read about life during the mine’s peak — a time when this region of the United States was in its infancy and growing quickly.

Moon glow

Scattered around the pasture are other reminders of days gone by including the old Pontiac.  In a few days I think I’ll have to return to capture more of the imagery, but most capture more of the mood of the region.  The full moon rising only added to the surreal spooky atmosphere.

I dunno. How do you present an image with its natural “feel” by merely pressing the shutter release on a camera.  I believe some crafty artwork applied post processing helps tell the story.