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Seeing art as an option - Brad Bachmeier

In their words, these are the stories of those who left North Dakota, those who stayed, those who came back and those who question which path to take. Look for a "Prairie Voices'' feature with each installment of the "Saving North...

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In their words, these are the stories of those who left North Dakota, those who stayed, those who came back and those who question which path to take. Look for a "Prairie Voices'' feature with each installment of the "Saving North Dakota'' series. Today's story was written by Forum reporter Helmut Schmidt.

Brad Bachmeier is an art teacher at North High School in Fargo. The 32-year-old also runs his own business, Bachmeier Pottery, making Japanese-style Raku pottery.

He and his wife, Sue, 32, have three children ages 3, 5 and 7. They returned to the Fargo-Moorhead area from Litchfield, Minn., four years ago to raise their children when job opportunities opened up.

The couple, both from Anamoose, N.D., originally left the area because she couldn't get a job in North Dakota teaching special education without a master's degree. When they returned, Sue got a job in the Moorhead School District.

With the arrival of their third child in 1999, Sue became a stay-at-home mom.


Bachmeier says art is not only good for the soul, but could boost North Dakota's economy while raising the area's "hipness" index.


Trying to make a living wage from teaching with only one of us working and supporting three kids is a difficult thing. I have a pottery business on the side. That creates the supplemental income that we need.

My business is called Bachmeier Pottery. I travel around and do art shows and exhibits in the Upper Midwest. My wife sells children's books.

The shows and exhibits are a large part of my income. I'm making nearly as much at that as teaching.

It's been a necessary component for our family.

I think that goes for any teacher. You talk to teachers, they're either going back to school to get a master's degree or they're working another job in the summer. You can barely make it, especially if you have a family.



You can make a living making artwork. There's a ton of practicing artists out there.

I have in the art room a bulletin board with hundreds and hundreds of business cards of people who are making a living making art.

When I go around and travel and do the shows, I pick up business cards so kids can see 'I actually could do this.' It's an option.

You have to be the right kind of person to do it. You've got to have business and marketing skills. But there is a potential.

The other thought about that: With our movement from rural to urban, there's so many empty spaces.

It seems to me that some sort of artists' retreat area could work. We have this sort of wonderful landscape. We have the remoteness and the quietness and lots of empty buildings sitting around for cheap, cheap, cheap.

There's a place in Montana called the Laloba Ranch that brings in nationally and internationally known artists who teach workshops and things like that.

People are coming from around the nation and around the world to take these workshops. And they're spending a couple thousand dollars to spend a week or two taking these classes.



I just think public art in Fargo would do wonders for the place. Have you ever seen the teaspoon and cherry sculpture in Minneapolis? People drive by and see that gigantic sculpture, they never forget it.

When you see these gigantic public sculptures. Whether you like them or not, it's still an unforgettable sort of thing. It's leaves an impression with you.

Fargo could really use something visual to add to the culture, to the hipness of the place.

Some large, public art would go a long way toward making Fargo an unforgettable place as opposed to a desolate, barren sort of place.

We could look into grants from the National Endowment for The Arts. There's no loftier goal than using public arts to keep the young people here, making it a better place, making it a better climate for young people.

Helmut Schmidt is a reporter for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead's business news team. Readers can reach him by email at hschmidt@forumcomm.com, or by calling (701) 241-5583.
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