Photo of art supplies taken by J. Alan Paul Photography
May 2, 2013 | by Fargo Monthly
Making Fargo Beautiful

Making Fargo Beautiful  By Andrew Jason Photos by J. Alan Paul Photography From November to March the only thing to look at may be a white, barren landscape; but that doesn’t mean that Fargo-Moorhead doesn’t have beauty. In fact, there is beauty all around us. This is a dedication to all the people who make […]

Making Fargo Beautiful 

By Andrew Jason

Photos by J. Alan Paul Photography

From November to March the only thing to look at may be a white, barren landscape; but that doesn’t mean that Fargo-Moorhead doesn’t have beauty. In fact, there is beauty all around us. This is a dedication to all the people who make this area special. We look at ten artists who make Fargo-Moorhead a beautiful city.

Photo of The Color Maker Emily Wheeler featured in Fargo Monthly Magazine

The Color Maker

Emily Wheeler
Emily Wheeler believes that art should be available and affordable to everyone. “Everyone needs to experience art, whether hands on or purchasing.” So that’s exactly what she’s trying to do with her art and that’s especially what she’s trying to do with today’s youth. Wheeler runs classes out of her studio that she hopes will encourage her students to grow, discover personal strengths and improve their art skills. These lessons have a maximum of five kids per class but teach much more than just how to paint or draw. “What I think I push more than anything is problem solving. If I do these ‘what if’ projects and I give them some really interesting problems, they’ll carry it towards everything they do.”

Her personality is almost as bright and happy as her paintings. Color is very important to her and it is very evident in her works. People often describe her style as whimsical, which may be close to true, but Wheeler doesn’t like it because it conjures up images of fairies and fantasy. However, one thing is true about her art, you won’t ever see grays or neutral colors in any of her works.

Since 1992, Wheeler has been working as an artist and during that time, her work has been diverse and unique. She started out as an interior designer but decided she wanted to be able to spend more time with her children so she started writing and illustrating children’s books, doing calligraphy for weddings and other art projects. Her work quickly began to evolve. She recently finished painting the mural inside West Acres Playland, her largest project to date. She hopes that this project will be valued and used for years to come. 

For More Information

Interested in more information on Wheeler’s paintings or classes? Go to

Photo of The Watercolorer Ellen Diederich featured in Fargo Monthly Magazine

The Watercolorer 

Ellen Diederich

Although Ellen Diederich has been painting since 1985 and despite the fact that her paintings are a work of art she has not mastered the art of watercolor painting. Each paiting is different and presents its own challenge. “You never know what will happen. You can think you can plan on a painting but it’s never what you think.”

Diederich’s life is kind of like her art. You never know what to expect with her. Not only is she a painter but she is also an educator, teaching adult watercolor courses. (Her next class is July 22 – 25 at the Holiday Inn in Fargo.) It doesn’t end there though; she is also an author. She has published two books and is currently working on her third, which will be out in 2014. Her children’s book, “Where’s Petunia?,” was awarded a Ben Franklin Award.

As with most artists, Diederich’s interest in art began with a teacher. She attended Staples High School and was taught by Russell Norberg and Rose Edin.  They were both very influential in the watercolor world and shared their passion with Diederich.

While Diederich has been able to create a profession out of painting, she has an important recommendation for anyone with an interest in art. “I encourage people to paint for fun… There’s no reason that people can’t paint and just enjoy doing it themselves. The best part about it is that you don’t have to show anyone if it’s bad.”

For More Information

For more information on her classes, prints or Diederich, go to  

Photo of The Illustrator Bree Reetz featured in Fargo Monthly Magazine

The Illustrator

Bree Reetz

Bree Reetz has been drawing since she could hold a crayon. She went to school for graphic design and currently works for a NDSU Grant Project where she makes educational videos teaching people about plant breeding and agricultural principles and is an illustrator. What it boils down to is that art is her life.

While she dabbles at many different mediums, illustration is still her favorite. Like many young artists, Reetz has been working her way up the art path. She has done portaitures, movie poster illustrations, fashion drawings and much more. She has high hopes for the future. “Eventually I’d like to move into just working for myself… anything to keep me drawing. The goal is to transition into doing what I love all the time.”

That love has led her to many different projects. Alison Smith runs a horse rescue in Bismarck and wrote some children’s books. Reetz teamed up with Smith to illustrate “Big-Hearted Bella Finds a Friend,” “Good Golly, Miss Molly” and “Big-Hearted Bella Gets a Baby Sister.” Reetz is also currently working on a children’s book titled “Looks Like Rain.”

Her love of art beckons back to a simpler time in everyone’s life. “A lot of people long for childhood because it was a time where they could let whimsy rule their life and let the magic in everyday things touch every moment for them. I think that being an artist allows me to bring that whimsy and that magic of everyday things back.” 

For More Information

To see more of Reetz’s work, go to 

Photo of The Printmaker Eric A. Johnson Featured in Fargo Monthly Magazine

The Printmaker

Eric A. Johnson

Eric A. Johnson comes from the small town of Embdem, ND where he was one of eight students in his graduating class. After graduating, he ran off to the big city of Fargo where he attended NDSU. After his first art class there, he knew what he wanted to do. Today he has become an accomplished printmaker and currently teaches at several different colleges and is heavily involved in the art scene around the area.

Johnson’s fingers have dabbled in many different art forms but they have settled on printmaking as his field of choice. “In undergrad, I liked all sorts of different things and I liked sculpture a lot. I think because I’m cutting away and working on this (printmaking) before I print it, it gives it that sculptural feel.”

The art of printmaking is a challenge in itself. For those who don’t know anything about the medium, Johnson begins by carving impressions into a special kind of wood. He must then run that through a press, which will apply one color to the print. He then carves more impressions that will be a different layer. He’ll run that through the press again, applying a different color. For one piece, Johnson may run a print through the press 30 – 40 times. While this may seem like a daunting task, Johnson loves it. When asked about his favorite part of being an artist, Johnson was quick with an answer. “Making the work and having the freedom to do what whatever I want to do.” 

For More Information

Go to to see more of his works and to purchase some of his art. 

Photo of the The Student McCal Joy featured in Fargo Monthly Magazine

The Student

McCal Joy

Although McCal Joy may still be in school, that hasn’t stopped her from chasing her dreams. She is currently in her last semester at Minnesota State University Moorhead where she’s going for art education. Despite the fact that she’s in her last semester of college she still is working on many different projects.

Joy is currently working on three different projects. The first is her series of fairytales and nursery rhymes. She is painting realistic versions of the Three Blind Mice, Little Red Riding Hood and many other classic fables. This isn’t the Disney version; it’s the dark, real story. The second project is a project with the Arts Partnership where she’s helping with a project called Community Shares of Art. Nine artists were chosen to create works for people who buy shares through the CSA. Everyone who purchases a share will receive nine original works of art. For this project, Joy is creating 100 pieces of work so that each buyer will receive two pieces from her. Her final project is a role-playing adventure app called “The Abettors Letters.” This game is set in France and aims to teach people French. Joy is designing all the art for the game and hopes to have it out by the fall. It will be available through most app stores.

Needless to say, Joy is on the move and is set to journey on a path of art. “For the future, I would really like to keep art as my focus in my life but I also want to do some teaching. I’m open to different opportunities that come my way but art and teaching are my focus.”

For More Information

To see more of her work and learn about McCal Joy, go to 

Photo of The Fabricator Susanne Williams featured in Fargo Monthly Magazine

The Fabricator

Susanne Williams

Susanne Williams is a doctor. Well, not in the sense you’re thinking. She has her Ph.D. in communication studies. However, art has always been very important to her life. After working at Minnesota State University Moorhead for several years, she realized that she yearned for a more artistic life and art. “… It opened up a nice, clean opportunity for me to take my leap of faith and carve a new career for myself. So this has been full time for four and a half years now,” said Williams.

That’s when her foray into the world of a professional artist began. She then opened up her own studio in Fargo. However, after meeting with the Arts Business Institute, Williams realized that she could get into selling her art wholesale. At the time, Williams’ hands were involved in everything so she realized that she needed to find her niche. That’s when she discovered a demand for leather bags. So that’s where her focus began.

She soon became tired of doing wholesale and has decided that it’s time for her to switch it up again. “It becomes very repetitive doing this stuff over and over again. I need to be able to get my hands back into all the other things that draw me to art.” That need for variety has led Williams to the decision to reopen her shop. Her shop, Willi Nilli, is now open at 412 Broadway N. Ste. 3, Fargo. The shop will sell her bags, paintings and any of her other creations.

For More Information

To see more of Williams’ creations, go to You can check out her shop at 412 Broadway N, Ste. 3, Fargo.


The Late Bloomer

Sherbanoo Aziz –

Sherbanoo Aziz discovered art late in her life but it soon became an important getaway for her. Originally from India, food was very important for Aziz. She even has her own cookbook titled “Sherbanoo’s Indian Cuisine.” She taught Indian cuisine classes but eventually had to cease those because of her arthritis. That’s when she discovered painting, although it wasn’t her first foray into art.

“Growing up in India, I was always interested in art. In the late 50’s there was a rage about painted neckties and Roy Rogers so I painted a Roy Rogers tie for my son’s friend and everybody wanted a tie so it became a big thing. I used to paint Roy Rogers tie,” she said with a laugh. That upbringing eventually brought her to the US where she kind of forgot painting. In 1996 she moved to Fargo. After discovering a weekly painting group at the Hjemkomst Center, she has renewed her interest in painting.

Although, she started late, Aziz has experienced much success. She has particpated in workshops with many renowned artists like Sandy Muzzy, Carolyn Lord, Rose Edin and Judy Betts. She’s also had many gallery shows at numerous venues. Currently, her work is on display at Edgewood Vista in Fargo.

For More Information

To see more of Aziz’s work, go to

Photo of The Visionary Elizabeth Schwankl featured in Fargo Monthly Magazine

The Visionary

Elizabeth Schwankl

Elizabeth Schwankl is the owner of Art Trends Gallery. She has been a professional artist since 1989. This self-taught artist has found much success in the area but, according to Schwankl, it’s not a secret why she’s so successful. Throughout her career, she has always set out to redefine herself and try something new. “A lot of what makes me successful is my experimentation and coming up with new mediums that nobody else has done before. That’s given me an edge in the market because people get excited when they see something different.”

That experimentation has led to do everything from portraits to statue repair. What has really set her apart though is her original technique called “aluminart.” This involves painting and embossing on aluminum.

Schwankl’s clients are almost as diverse as her art forms. She has done works  which range from painting portraits of Fargo’s bishops to creating all the original works in the Ramada in Fargo. She has garnered much recognition in regional and national art exhibitions. She is also very active in the arts scene in the Fargo area. She is a member of the Red River Watercolor Society, a juror for many different art exhibitions and was voted “People’s choice for favorite artist” at the Downtown Street Fair in Fargo. The list of her accomplishments goes on and on.

So while this artist has done it all, she’s not slowing down although the future is still a mystery to her. “I’m not really sure where I’m going from here… I’m always open to new inspiration, but all this been because of divine inspiration. I just wait for what’s coming next. I’ll be as surprised as everyone else.”

For More Information

You can find more information on Schwankl by going to her store, Art Trends Gallery at 3481 University Dr. S, Fargo.

Photo of The Experimenter Gin Templeton featured in Fargo Monthly Magazine

The Experimenter

Gin Templeton

Gin Templeton has walked many different paths throughout her art career. Currently, she is heavily involved in abstract painting. “I like the freedom of abstract work,” she said. “I’m not confined to reproduce something that I’m painting… I work more intuitively now.”

Although she’s heavily involved in abstract art now, she has dabbled in sign painting, liturgical art, framing, stained glass and more. After being an artist for 30 years, she’s had plenty of time to experiment with art. Like most artists, her career in art started at a young age. “I’ve always been interested in art. I’ve had a lot of art related jobs to support myself.”

Her inspiration can be as vague and abstract as her paintings. “With the way I do the abstract painting… it’s to paint more intuitively. You don’t have a preconceived idea. You just approach the canvas and start painting and you try and paint without thinking too much about it… Just paint and get something going. Each brush stroke leads to the next.”

Although she’s been painting for years, she isn’t done learning. She attends a weekly Wednesday class held by Marjorie Schlossman at the Plains Art Museum. Her plans for the future are much the same as the present. “I want to keep doing this. I always wanted to do it and see where it takes me.”

For More Information

Her works can be found at the Fargo-Moorhead Visual Artists Big Show at the Hjemkomst Center and The Plains Art Spring Gala.

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