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Area Voices: A trip to the movies with Nemeth Art Center artist-in-residence

Writer Marian Bull sitting at a desk with a laptop and coffee cup with a bookshelf full of books behind her.
Marian Bull/Camilo Pachón
Nemeth Arts Center February artist-in-residence Marian Bull.

The Nemeth Art Center in Park Rapids board member Amy Thielen and current artist-in-residence Marian Bull join Area Voices to discuss the residency program and the upcoming Film and Fare event.

PARK RAPIDS — Sometimes an artist needs space. Space to think, to organize and to work. Sometimes an artist can’t do that at home.

Sometimes it takes a step away from the familiar to find the creative flow again. The Nemeth Art Center in Park Rapids artists-in-residence program provides a creative space.

The Nemeth Art Center is a contemporary art center that has been open since 1977. Most of their shows are between May through October but their artist-in-residence program happens throughout the year, with usually one or two artists in the summer and around three during the winter.

It’s a relatively new program in the last three years, available to locals and artists from farther away. Two locations are available, one in the woods and the other on a lake.

Andrew Dziengel interviewing Amy Thielen and Marian Bull in a radio studio with a control board and microphone behind them.
Jennifer Kellen
Andrew Dziengel interviewing Amy Thielen and Marian Bull in the KBXE studio 2024.

From New York to Minnesota

Through the month of February, New York artist Marian Bull is the artist-in-residence. Bull is a writer, editor, and ceramicist from Brooklyn, New York. She heard about the program from Nemeth Arts Center board member Amy Thielen while Thielen was in Brooklyn at a book party for her cookbook “Company”.

Bull mentioned her current project and Thielen contacted her the following week about the artist-in-residence program in Park Rapids. “I'm always looking for an excuse to kind of leave the city and squirrel away somewhere to do some writing. I was very interested and I'm really happy to be here,” said Bull.

Bull’s nonfiction book project is about the Beverly, MA theater company where she grew up. Her family performed every Sunday in a stage magic show that she participated in since she could crawl until she went away for high school.

The project began around 2020 and Bull has been conducting oral history interviews with people involved with the show between the 1970s and 2010s.

“It's a sort of sprawling project. So this is the sort of place where that I need, as a writer, to be able to kind of just spend a lot of time thinking about... this big story,” said Bull about the residency in Park Rapids.

The James Beard Award-winning cookbook author reminds us to enjoy the company of friends in our homes. "Company: The Radically Casual Art of Cooking for Others" includes stories, photographs, menus and recipes.

Cooking newsletter

On top of the book project, Bull also has a weekly cooking newsletter called Mess Hall. A food writer since 2012, Bull launched a newsletter in 2015. It went quiet for a while, but she eventually returned to it after she found herself not personally invested in the writing she was currently doing.

“I really just wanted to push myself and have a space to write about the things that I was thinking about writing.”

Bull did not go to school for writing. “I actually studied business in college. I took one English class in college and I went to UNC Chapel Hill.”

This led to a job in Charlotte, N.C. that didn’t make her very happy. She got into cooking around this time in 2010-2011, and blogs were still popular. She found herself reading a lot of cooking and food blogs and decided to start her own. “And I kind of remembered that writing was something that I enjoyed and then... I quit my job.”

She eventually found herself in an editorial internship for a website called Food 52 in New York City and writing has been her career ever since.

When asked if she feels any pressure to be constantly working as an artist-in-residence, she says it’s something she thinks about constantly. “For me it's really just about finding a rhythm in the space. I'm in this beautiful house on a lake and it's been really pleasurable for me to just figure out how I want to shape my days,” said Bull.

For this residency there is no expectation of having a finished project at the end. The point of the experience is for the artist to have time and space to do whatever they want, which Bull thinks are the best kind of residencies.

Movie Matinee

The Nemeth Art Center doesn’t schedule much for their artists-in-residence. They’ll introduce artists to community members but want to first and foremost give the artist their space to work.

There is only one event planned called Film and Fare. Bull will select a film to watch at the Park Theater followed by dinner and drinks at Park Rapids restaurant The Good Life to discuss the film and Bull’s residency.

The film Bull selected is Ang Lee’s Eat, Drink, Man, Woman. Thielen told Bull to pick her favorite food movie. Bull chose Eat, Drink, Man, Woman because of its opening scene where a father cooks an elaborate meal for his daughters. Bull believes it’s one of the most beautiful cooking scenes she’s ever seen in a movie.

It’s also an interesting opportunity for Bull to share something personal with the audience. “I think that sharing excitement about art or creative work is like a very pleasurable way to connect with other people. Also, pass on... the things that you think are valuable that you want people to experience.”

Film and Fare is Thursday, Feb. 15. Doors open at 1:30 p.m. with the film starting at 2 p.m. at the Park Theater The dinner and drinks at Good Life will be after the film is over. There is a $20 suggestion donation.

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Area Voices is made possible by the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund and the citizens of Minnesota.

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