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Area Voices: Gillian Bedford, Painter

Lily Pads in Creationby Gillian Bedford

…Art school is an exciting process of slowly figuring out what you really want to study... I started out with jewelry and found it fun but there wasn't enough color. I really realized color was my favorite thing. So then I switched my major to ceramics…and I had my painting teacher who I was taking fundamental painting classes with. He said, “Gillian, you should change your major a third time and be a painter. You have the soul of a painter.”  And so I changed my major a third time and I've never regretted it… Art school is a time of just really trying a whole lot of different ideas and just exploring andlearning and opening yourself up… - Gillian Bedford, painter

Gillian Bedford has been exhibiting her artwork since the 1980s in galleries across the United States. Part of personal collections in Sweden, Germany, and South Africa, her pieces are now finding their way into homes right here in the northwoods of Minnesota . Her husband's career brought them to Bemidji this past summer.  It was a life move that took them far from home, but one she’s been thrilled about in more ways than one.  In this Area Voices segment, we learn about Gillian’s path to Bemidji, how her art continues to change, her creative process, and how Bemidji's art scene helped create a sense of community in her new hometown.

...What really surprised me about Bemidji… I thought this would be like, sort of a cultural desert to move to.  And I was so excited when I found the Watermark last spring when we came for an interview.  And I really fell in love withWatermark Art Museumand and then I talked to people at Region 2 Council for the Arts and they were very friendly – very, very encouraging.   They told me aboutHeadwaters School of Music and Artand I visited that too … I said to my husband, “you know I can live here! There's lots of culture in Bemidji and I'm so thrilled to think about the idea of actually living here!”

...It's just it's been such a great adventure…When I first got here in the summer I sawButch Holden's artwork at the Watermark…and I just decided to be really bold and said, “can I have a show with you?” …He looked at my images and he was like, “Yeah let's have a show.” So it's just fun! People here have been very encouraging and very supportive of me jumping in and being a part of this town which is really nice. – Gillian Bedford, painter

Katie Carter started at Northern Community Radio in 2008 as Managing Editor of the station's grant-funded, online news experiment Northern Community Internet. Since 2016, she's produced Area Voices showcasing the arts, culture, and history stories of northern Minnesota. She's our local host of NPR's All Things Considered and CBC's As It Happens every weekday from 4-7pm.