Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By C.M. Swanson
Moose Lake Star Gazette 

Autumn Winds tour well attended


Vivian Larson adjusts her framed artwork between visitors during the Autumn Winds Art Studio Tour.

Vivian Larson has a lifetime of experience in the arts, but she is still open to learning.

“I work in water colors because it provides a challenge,” said Larson. “With each painting I get something a little different.”

Larson is one of eight local artists opening her studio to visitors in this year’s Autumn Winds Art Studio Tour. Her fellow artists in the tour are Walt Anderson, Tanya Bäck, Bruce Nielsen, Patrick Ring, Roger Sargent, Jennifer Szczyrbak and Marguerite Walz.

Participants in the tour open their studios to the public the weekends of September 6-8 and 13-15. Items on display include paintings, pottery, woodwork, furniture, stained glass, photography, sculpture and more.

The Autumn Winds tour is bringing tourists and locals to the studios.

“It’s been going very well,” said Tanya Bäck, whose medium is painting, photography and graphic arts. “We have people from the cities who have cabins up here or vacation here. We have people from Duluth who come down. We have a lot of locals. It’s a really good mix of people.”

Even as Bäck spoke, John Hemak from Chaska, Mary Erickson from Victoria, and Jim and Karen Burak from St. Paul breezed through her door.

“We’re up here to see the art world in Moose Lake,” said Hemak. “We just think it’s wonderful! We do this every year.”

“We have a cabin in Willow,” said Karen Burak. “We invited our friends for the art crawl so we’re doing that together. It’s wonderful!”

According to artist Roger Sargent whose medium is wood, the art community adds value to the community at large.

“I think the arts community is something very positive,” said Sargent. “None of us are looking to get rich. We just want to be able to maintain doing what we’re doing and hopefully get other people to appreciate the fact that arts people volunteer more, they give more time and effort to the community. We’d like to be considered a positive aspect of what’s going on in this world.”

As the economy has gone through disastrous times, each artist has felt its effects.

“I talked to a number of artists throughout the country about that because when we travel we always stop at the art galleries,” said Bäck of herself and her husband who is also an artist. “They tell me business has been down for the last three or four years. This year they’re actually seeing kind of an increase in business and in art sales. Even so, I think it’s going to take some time to get where it was several years ago.”

Still, there has always been a quest for the arts.

“If I were in a different place, the economy would be different,” said Walt Anderson, potter. “If I lived where there were more people, I would charge accordingly. I think you have to charge for your area, so that’s what I do.

“This year I’m doing about the same as I did last year. I’ve found that the people who come back come back to buy pottery.”

Proving Anderson’s words to be true, Dan and Joanne Johnson from Eagan arrived to make a purchase.

“We have a lake home up here in Moose Lake,” said Joanne Johnson. “Every year we come here (to Anderson’s studio). I think we’ve bought something that last two or three years.”

Each artist has his or her own motivation to expend energy to create.

“I’ve been doing this for something like 10 or 12 years,” said Anderson. “I started by going into a pottery shop in town here, the Lundberg’s, because I wanted some tile to go around my fireplace.

“She asked me what design I wanted. I drew it out for her. She said, ‘I can’t do that. You better do that.’ So she gave me the clay and … well, here I am.”

“I’ve been working with wood since I was about 10 years old,” said Sargent. “When I moved up here I saw an opportunity do some stuff with some natural things and I’ve gone from there.

“It’s become my life. Going out and harvesting material and processing it keeps my body active and my mind trying to figure out how to put it together. So, I guess for me, that’s a good thing.”

Over time, the quest for creating art changes in intensity within the artist.

“I keep going because I can’t stop,” said Larson. “There’s just this nagging thing in me if I don’t do it.”

Larson’s drive deepened with the recent loss of her husband of over 60 years.

“Sometimes the urge to paint is what gets me out of bed in the morning,” said Larson. “It gives me a reason to go on.”

Where do the artists see themselves in the future?

“I’d just like to get through this next couple weeks!” said Bäck. “Then come back and ask me that again.

“I do know that I still want to be doing art and working in my business and hopefully growing that.”

It is that same drive that keeps the Autumn Winds Art Studio Tour an annual event bringing artists, tourists, and locals together for several days of conversation, visiting and appreciation of the arts.

For more information on the Autumn Winds Art Studio Tour, including directions to the artists’ studios, visit


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