MOORHEAD — The Fargo Moorhead Visual Artists Big Art Exhibition earned its name by the size of the show, not the scale of the pieces.

The annual show usually attracts between 70 and 80 entrants to each submit one work. This year that number was 66 — not bad considering the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted so much.

The show just opened in the Hjemkomst Center in downtown Moorhead, with a maximum capacity of 10 viewers at a time. A virtual gallery will be added this week.

“It gave us a nice insight into how people are creating this year,” says Amanda Heidt, FMVA’s lead for the show. “People are trying to describe what they’re feeling. You get this big array of imagery that comes into play.”

Even when certain subjects or themes are popular among artists, the presentations are vastly different.

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Susan Poitras' colored pencil and beaded drawing, "Shield with Hawk Moth," is part of the FMVA's Big Art Exhibition. John Lamb / The Forum
Susan Poitras' colored pencil and beaded drawing, "Shield with Hawk Moth," is part of the FMVA's Big Art Exhibition. John Lamb / The Forum

Flowers, particularly roses, pop up through the show — sometimes a sign of hope and rebirth, others as a symbol of affection. In Franklin Ogochukwu’s oil painting, “LOVE,” red flowers seem to grow from the fingertips of hands covering the subject’s mouth. Elizabeth Schwankl’s acrylic painting, “Offspring,” is a bold explosion of colorful petals.

Ogochukwu is one of eight new members represented in the show, identified as such on the picture label. It’s a way of introducing artists that may be new to the scene.

“It’s fun to see a Jon Offutt next to a student work,” Heidt says, referring to the well-known Fargo glass artist and one of the driving forces behind FMVA. “It’s fun to see them all in the same space. It’s quite rewarding.”

Heidt, a printmaker, says she was particularly excited by Delia Touche’s monotype, “Lumbee Dancer,” showing a member of the North Carolina tribe in ceremonial attire. She’s seen another piece by Touche and was similarly impressed.

Delia Touche's monotype, "Lumbee Dancer," is part of the FMVA's Big Art Exhibition. John Lamb / The Forum
Delia Touche's monotype, "Lumbee Dancer," is part of the FMVA's Big Art Exhibition. John Lamb / The Forum

“It’s really rewarding to see work like this,” Heidt says.

And since the display is not juried or an invitational, she never knows what she’ll see until the work is delivered.

While flowers may be common through the show, some artists worked darker.

Mark Gaviglio delivered a garish green, yellow and blue acrylic on roughly cut chip board portrait of Jeffery Dahmer, “For What I Did I Should be Dead,” a quote from the serial killer.

The darkness of that piece is balanced out by Patty Hoff’s scenic lakescape, “On the Dock,” on one side and Barbara Benda Nagel’s serene and spiritual “Power of the Cross” on the other.

Cynthia McGuire Thiel's "Victorian Dressing Gown" features crimson skulls and roses. John Lamb / The Forum
Cynthia McGuire Thiel's "Victorian Dressing Gown" features crimson skulls and roses. John Lamb / The Forum

Cynthia McGuire Thiel combined skulls and flowers in an exquisite crimson and black dressing gown that’s sure to be a showstopper.

“It’s fun to see what people bring in,” Heidt says. “Everything becomes this sweet little treat when they drop them off.”

If you go

What: Fargo Moorhead Visual Artists' Big Art Exhibition

When: Noon to 5 p.m. through May 16

Where: Hjemkomst Center, 222 First Ave. N., Moorhead

Info: Admission is $8 to $10; https://www.fmva.org/big-show/

Franklin Ogochukwu's oil painting, "LOVE," is part of the FMVA's Big Art Exhibition. John Lamb / The Forum
Franklin Ogochukwu's oil painting, "LOVE," is part of the FMVA's Big Art Exhibition. John Lamb / The Forum