Lake connection: Watercolor artist creating mementos for Lakes Country
Detroit Lakes, Minn. - Maybe you met your future spouse at one. Perhaps you pulled up on your pontoon and wiled away a long summer evening there. Or, it’s part of a family tradition to grab burgers at one on your last night at the cabin.
No matter how we do it, those of us who spend our summer weekends in Lakes Country develop deep connections to the watering holes and restaurants down the road from or on the way to the cabins and resorts we call a temporary – and, for a lucky few, a permanent – home.
Moorhead artist Kim Jore is exploring those places in a new series of watercolor paintings, “Pubs and Places at the Lake,” which was unveiled to the public in a reception last week at the Speak Easy in Detroit Lakes. She aims to capture their atmosphere, depicting scenes such as the breezy picnic table areas outside, or the regulars on their stools at the bar.
This is the fifth such series Jore has completed. Her previous series focused on pubs and bars in and around Fargo, and she says she gets tremendous appreciation from people who connect with the places in her painting. In fact, even before she started it, she had many people pleading with her to check out their favorite hideaway in Lakes Country and consider them for this series.
“For many people, these are their favorite places because they’re right by their lake,” Jore says. “Or it’s people not from here, and I ship them all over the United States because they got engaged there or had their first date there.”
The owners of these establishments understand these connections. Not only are devoted regulars good for business, but they often become part of the very fabric of it, says Cari Hough, a co-owner of Curley’s on Cotton Lake (menu specialty: prime rib) near Rochert, Minn.
“We have a resort down the road, and there’s a family that’s been coming to it for 40 years, as long as we’ve owned it,” Hough says. “I’ve heard a lot of stories, and there are a lot of people who have lived here all their lives.”
Did she ever expect an artist to come in and do a rendering of Curley’s?
“Absolutely not,” Hough says with a laugh. “But it is quite an honor to be asked.”
Wayne Crawford, owner of the Sunlite Bar and Grill on Little Floyd Lake north of Detroit Lakes, was also initially puzzled by Jore’s request to paint his bar, even though he admits it’s quite a picturesque place. But he definitely understands people’s connection to the Sunlite (and their specialty, hand-pattied burgers) and has seen interest in his merchandise, so this was a natural fit.
“There’s a lot of interest from the people who come here from Fargo or Minneapolis. They’ve had these cabins in their families, and then the kids inherited or purchased them from their parents. There are a lot of people with history in this area, people who have watched it change over the years,” Crawford says.
Those connections have translated into a popular outlet for Jore, who is looking to expand her pub painting series to other locales in Minnesota and maybe even to New Orleans.
She’ll also continue to use these series as a way to give back to communities. Past series have benefited Fargo’s Great Plains Food Bank, and proceeds for this latest show will benefit the Humane Society of the Lakes.
Prints of each painting will be available at Jore’s Riverzen Studios, 315 Main Ave. Suite 101, Moorhead; online; or at each individual business.
As for the original paintings, the owners have first dibs. Hough plans to purchase both that original and a print. The print, she says, will be sent to her daughter, who got married at Curley’s. And as for the original?
“I’m going to put it right above the bar,” she says.