Critters on canvas: Moorhead painter embraces wild inspiration as Red River Zoo featured artist

FARGO -- Most people go to the Red River Zoo to get their dose of adorable wildlife, but for local artist Britt Dalice, it's a place for artistic inspiration.
As an Artist-in-Residence at Red River Zoo, Dalice will paint zoo animals on site June 15-17, 2018. Chelsey Ewen / The Arts Partnership

FARGO - Most people go to the Red River Zoo to get their dose of adorable wildlife, but for local artist Britt Dalice, it's a place for artistic inspiration.

With her camera in tow, the Moorhead-based artist explores zoo exhibits, taking photos of critters to capture in her colorful oil paintings later on. Now, through a grant from The Arts Partnership, Dalice is going to expand her artistic abilities by painting animals on-site as an Artist-in-Residence at Red River Zoo.

From Friday, June 15, through Sunday, June 17, Dalice will create one painting each day of the zoo's wildlife while sharing her passion for art and animals with the community.

"Giving myself the challenge to observe moving animals will be really good for my artistic growth," Dalice says. "Seeing the true colors and textures of the animal's fur or feathers in person can be more helpful in creating a good piece of art compared to studying a photograph."

During her residency, visitors will have a chance to enter a freewill donation drawing to win one of the paintings, with all proceeds going to the zoo.

"My motivation for this project is to increase the community's interest in both the zoo and the arts by creating a fun event open to anyone who wants to attend and learn," she adds.

Jeremiah Gard, director of finance and business development at Red River Zoo, says art has always been important to the organization, which is a "living museum" itself.

"People connect with nature and our animals in different ways," Gard says. "Having an artist here at the zoo to integrate the animals into her work is tremendously exciting and will hopefully allow people to appreciate the magnificence of our animals and the world we inhabit."

Dalice grew up in Grand Forks, N.D., and studied art at Concordia College and Minnesota State University Moorhead. In her home studio, the full-time artist experiments with different paint techniques, textures and color palettes to create her vibrant paintings.

Her process begins by applying a thin layer of burnt sienna oil paint with a traditional brush to form the subject. After a second layer of subdued color, Dalice uses a palette knife to apply a thicker layer of "pure color" to the image and allows the paint to mix directly on the canvas.

Dalice often participates in art fairs in Fargo or Grand Forks to interact with community members and sell her artwork.

As a featured artist at the Red River Zoo, Dalice is excited to reach new audiences in a fun, accessible way - even if the weather doesn't cooperate and the animals "don't feel like being celebrities," she says with a smile.

"I hope to engage the audience in the process and get them excited about the arts in a way that they might not otherwise be exposed to through a traditional art exhibit," Dalice says. "I hope patrons will see the value in further supporting the Red River Zoo so that everyone can continue to enjoy observing wildlife in Fargo."

For more information on Britt Dalice, visit

If you go

What: Artist-in-Residence Britt Dalice

When: 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday, June 15, through Sunday, June 17

Where: Red River Zoo, 4255 23rd Ave. S., Fargo

Info: Zoo admission ranges from $7.75 to $9.75, and is free for members and children under 2. For more info, visit