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Moorhead museum delivers ghostly gasps at Art Ghoullery IV

The Rourke's annual exhibit delights in public displays of seasonally appropriate doom.

“Hanna and Greg,” 2021, by Mark Elton; digital painting. Special to The Forum
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MOORHEAD — It’s PG-13 creepy, but like a comfortably creepy PG-13.

That’s how The Rourke Art Gallery + Museum Executive Director and Curator Jonathan Rutter describes 2021’s Art Ghoullery IV, the annual exhibit that delights in public displays of seasonally appropriate doom.

“The overall tone of Art Ghoullery IV is, I think, the creepiest to date, while remaining safely PG-13,” Rutter says.

Now through Nov. 7, Halloween lovers can experience the artwork online (and in real life) and embrace the macabre collection of fantasy, fairy tale and folklore.

The Rourke Art Curator Mark Elton, who's also the mastermind behind Ghoullery, now in its fourth year, says he’s excited to introduce audiences to this year’s crop of creep.


“Icy Conditions,” 2021, by Ashley Rieck; deer skull, quartz, scales, spray paint. Special to The Forum

More than 65 pieces from regional and Canadian artists make up this year’s exhibit, all with varying levels of fear factor. Works consist of original photography, painting, mixed media, illustrations, sketches, skulls and lots of sculptures.

“This year has had an impressive turnout of sculptural pieces that are sure to thrill and chill,” Elton says.

All events are free and open to a PG-13-approved public.

“Fargo: Season 1 — Thriller Comic Cover,” 2021, by Jeff Knight; digital illustration giclee print. Special to The Forum

Like, how scary are we talking?

From deathly dolls to animal skulls, artists from across the region have certainly done their doom diligence when creating pieces for the exhibit.


For example, “Armored Claw,” a mixed media sculpture by Wesley Smith, depicts what appears to be a cutoff limb from an insect creature right out of a Tim Burton playbook. Creepy? Of course! Scary? Meh.

“I Can See You,” 2019, by Renee Danz; ceramic shoes, funnel, horn, goblet, leather gloves, composition, doll head, head lamp, glasses, stocking. Special to The Forum

“Introspection,” by Ian Scheele, a structure constructed of steel, cotton and plaster, depicts what could be construed as either the stuff of nightmares or a colorless homage to The Blue Man Group. Totally depends on perspective!

“This show gives so many artists the opportunity to display works that may be viewed as thematically inappropriate in other settings,” Elton says. “With the fun and frightening nature of Halloween being an overarching theme each year, the Art Ghoullery always offers up a fascinating exhibition.”

On that note, what all the pieces truly have in common isn’t their creep factor, but rather the way they all hold elements of humor. That’s what makes this exhibit PG-13 and passable for most audiences.

As long as you’re not phobic of clowns, spiders, eyes, weird sounds, gold, webs, antlers, exposed breasts, babies or things with teeth (so many teeth), you’ll be totally fine!

Be on the lookout for a few interesting pieces that feature glow-in-the-dark ink, too, Elton says. “Given the close correlation Halloween shares with that night, I find this detail within the art to be especially amusing.”


“Bakunawa,” 2021, by Heather Franzen Rutten; acrylic gouache on birch panel. Special to The Forum

Masquerade reception

If you live for dressing up on Halloween, don’t miss the Masquerade Reception from 6:30-8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 29.

Elton said lots of surprises are in store for attendees, “But what I’m most eager for is the haunted poetry reading.”

Details are available at .

Vote on your frightfully favorite piece of art

In the spirit of creepy competition, folks are free to vote on their favorite pieces at .

“This year, to fit in with the theme of Fantastic & Frightening, the winners will receive a golden poison apple,” Elton says

Voting ends at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 29.

“When Did Authority Become Synonymous With God,” 2019, by Amanda Frost; monotype. Special to The Forum

Now showing online

In continuation with practices adopted last year, the show in its entirety can be viewed online or in person.

Anyone interested in purchasing any of the pieces can either do so in the gallery, or online at the gallery store at .

The Rourke’s Art Ghoullery IV is funded in part by The Arts Partnership, with support from the cities of Fargo, Moorhead and West Fargo. This activity is also funded in part by a grant from the Lake Region Arts Council through a Minnesota Legislature appropriation, as well as a grant from the North Dakota Council on the Arts, which receives funding from the state Legislature and the National Endowment for the Arts.

This article is part of a content partnership with The Arts Partnership, a nonprofit organization cultivating the arts in Fargo, Moorhead and West Fargo. For more information, visit

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