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Wayne Beyer headshot next to Chahinkapa Zoo mural in Wahpeton

After 42 years of service, Wayne Beyer retired from Director of Wahpeton Park and Rec. In the following essay, Wayne explains the strong connection he experienced with the arts over the years.

Stone building front of Red Door Art Gallery, showing 2 huge pillars with triangle on top and of course a bright red door for the entrance
     Red Door Art Gallery

Parks and recreation is very diversified and art has been a great way to offer many unique opportunities. Serving as scribe and bean counter for the Three Rivers Arts Council for over two decades helped us plan and be involved with the arts.

Huge painted mural on side of building in Wahpeton, ND showing what Wahpeton looked like originally with an old building, grainery, church and prairies
     Mural in Wahpeton by Shawn McCann

Visionaries like Roger Jensen led the way to renovate a historic Main Street bank into the Red Door Art Gallery, revitalizing downtown and becoming a home for the arts. It has been gratifying to see local artists show their outstanding work. 

NEA grants supported large community murals by Wahpeton native Shawn McCann at the zoo entrance and prominent downtown locations. 

Wahpeton has been blessed by many acclaimed artists like painter Fritz Scholder and writer Louise Erdrich, Pulitzer Prize winner who received the North Dakota Roughrider Award at the Red Door Art Gallery. 

It was an incredible experience to serve as a NDCA Board Member with famed North Dakota artists like cowboy artist Walter Piehl & saddle maker Rex Cook.  

Journey Stories porcelain plate: stories painted inside leaf shapes. Woman on prairie and sunflower field
     Journey Stories, Smithsonian Institute

‘Journey Stories’ was a memorable traveling Smithsonian Institution exhibition when several art activities were offered, like painting leaves of native trees on large steel cut-outs, cultural music of area nationalities and a historic walking tour that highlighted Wahpeton’s early years.

NDCA Art for Life program in Wahpeton, ND
     NDCA's Art for Life Program

The Art4Life program under the creative NDCA folklorist – Troyd Geist effectively addresses the loneliness, boredom and helplessness of elders. Mobile art offered our seniors, including those in wheelchairs, to paint with their wheels on ground canvas. They have painted spear fishing decoys, a historic local Native American art form. Zoo4Life provides opportunities to experience art with animals and through the natural world. Music4Life maximizes the value of music, the international language. To witness the smiles, singing and engagement of seniors in music and art demonstrates its phenomenal positive effects. 

Large Metal Dinosaur sculpture by Ken Nyberg on display at Chahinkapa Park
     Sculpture by Ken Nyberg

Public art has become very prominent in Wahpeton. A Sculpture Park within Chahinkapa Park, funded in part by NDCA grants, has become a tourist attraction and features metal sculptures by renowned metal sculptors like Ben Brien and Ken Nyberg. Several are incredible pieces by talented young NDSCS welding students. It is exciting to witness the interest in public art and new sculptures like a prairie rose presently being created at NDSCS. 

Wahpeton Community Band - about 40 people with matching turquoise shirts, holding their instruments
     Wahpeton Community Band

Restarting ‘Music in the Park’ and the Community Band offers lifelong musical experiences for band members from teenagers to 90 year-olds. Our crowds include many seniors and people with disabilities. New York Kammermusiker offers classical music concerts with double-reed instruments like the oboe. They have even performed with the zoo’s orangutan – Tal. 

There is an artist within every one of us and writing is my passion. It has been enjoyable to write a weekly newspaper column for 42 years and market the many ways quality park facilities and recreation programs, including art and culture, influence our physical and mental health, happiness and quality lifestyles.  

Wayne Beyer Grandson Jack standing beside brightly colored 6 foot heart sculpture
     Grandson Jack

Art is a lifelong interest that will always be enriching. My daughters won awards with the ND Junior Duck Stamp Contest. Tonight I Skyped with grandsons who proudly painted colorful bird houses. Yes, art is possible with everything and it feels wonderful to watch upcoming generations experience its power!

THANK YOU, WAYNE, for your dedicated work and contribution to the arts over the last 42 years!

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