Red River Masters

The Birth of Fine Arts in Fargo-Moorhead

Orabel Thortvedt, an early Glyndon, MN, artist, sculpting in the banks of the Buffalo River, circa 1920. (Thortvedt Collection, HCSCC Archives)

This exhibition explores the art pioneers of the frontier community of Fargo-Moorhead, offering a retrospective of our region’s fine art masters.

The arts in the Fargo-Moorhead community have developed into a fantastic culture, including organizations like The Rourke, Plains Art Museum, The Arts Partnership, Fargo Moorhead Visual Artists, Creative Plains Foundation, NDSU, MSUM, Concordia, and so on. Yet, very few people know how this fine art culture began in the former tent towns that grew from the muddy banks of the Red on the edge of the Northern Pacific. Red River Masters looks to remedy that.

Co-curated by HCSCC Programming Director Markus Krueger and The Rourke Art Gallery’s co-director Jonathan Rutter, Red River Masters showcases the fantastic stories and the gorgeous art of talents like Jim O’Rourke, Orabel Thortvedt, Charles Beck, Cyrus Running, and Erik Ahlberg.

A public opening reception will be held on Tuesday, October 24, from 5:00PM to 8:00PM in conjunction with the unveiling of South Dakota master artist Jon Crane’s portrait of the Hopperstad Stave Church. The reception will include Hopperstad tours from the master woodcarver who built it, Guy Paulson, as well as Scandinavian treats and a cash wine and beer bar. Admission to Illuminating the Word: The Saint John’s Bible will be extra ($5).

A blue-collar artist, Erik Ahlberg is seen here painting on a 1917 camping trip to Copas, Minnesota (Cora Ahlberg Photo, HCSCC Archives).