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Perham Art Group shows their talents in December exhibit at the library

Artwork by a few of the club's members is on exhibit now at the Perham Area Library. Embroidery, pastels and paintings by Kris Domier, Catherine Erickson, Clara Helvig and Lorene Schumacher will be hanging in the gallery at the library through the end of December.

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Kris Domier talks about her pastel piece while Lorene Schumacher works in the background. (Elizabeth Vierkant/Focus)
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Art comes in many different forms — painting, writing, quilting, playing music and more — and all those forms are represented in the Perham Art Group, a club of community artists who meet in Perham every Saturday.

Previously known as the Looney Bird Painters, the Perham Art Group has been meeting for many years. Artwork by a few of the club's members is on exhibit now at the Perham Area Library. Embroidery, pastels and paintings by Kris Domier, Catherine Erickson, Clara Helvig and Lorene Schumacher will be hanging in the gallery at the library through the end of December.

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The Perham Art Group has a gallery hanging up in the library. (Elizabeth Vierkant/Focus)

In a recent group interview with the Focus, Domier said she was always drawn to painting, from the time she first saw her aunt's oil paintings as a young child. She got into it more seriously as an adult and started taking oil painting classes. She painted in watercolor for a while, too, but something really clicked when she first tried pastels, she said. She loves the intense colors the medium produces.

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Domier and several other Perham Art Group members all said their art is a passion they go out of their way to pursue. Some studied art in college, while others are mostly self-taught.

"I'm really inspired by beauty," Erickson said. "Sometimes you just see such beautiful things and want to be involved with it. Art is a way to do that. Writing is a way to do that."

Always drawn to art herself, Erickson went to college specifically to study the subject. Acrylic painting was all the rage at that time, but she always preferred oil painting, she said, because of its flexibility — the paint takes a long time to dry and can be worked on for months at a time. After joining the Perham Art Group, she gave watercolors a try as a way to avoid lugging a bunch of supplies along to the meetings, and she fell in love with the thin quality of those paints, and the way they blend.

Schumacher also studied art in college, and for many years later had an art gallery and pottery studio in Perham. She likes to introduce people to art, and once helped create a ceramics course for low-income kids.

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Lorene Schumacher works on her painting at the Perham Art Group meeting. (Elizabeth Vierkant/Focus)

Helvig, who grew up watching her mother and older sister craft and crochet, developed a fondness for needlework and embroidery. When she first joined the Perham Art Group, she decided to give drawing a try, too, but that didn't stick: "I couldn't even draw a rabbit," she recalled with a laugh.

Her embroidery, though, is impressive. Two years ago, she embroidered all the state birds and flowers in the U.S. and used them to make a quilt. The project took a full year to complete, but it was a source of pride when it was done. She still uses the quilt all the time, she said.

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Catherine Erickson and Clara Helvig look at their friend's artwork in awe. (Elizabeth Vierkant/Focus)

Helvig and Erickson also started taking writing classes thanks to inspiration from the club. They consider writing to be a form of art, one that can be easily worked on during their club meetings.

The group's members say they love getting together every week, and they've noticed the meetings have helped them grow as artists.

"They say those who paint together paint alike, but that's not true at all," Schumacher said. "We're fortunate to have each other to bounce ideas off of."

"You see others' works, and it inspires you," Erickson added.

At the end of every meeting, the group takes 10 minutes to give each other feedback on their artwork, a process that helps them learn from each other.

"We take a few minutes to talk and ask, 'What would you do?' or, 'What do you think?'" Schumacher said. "That's invaluable to me… I've been doing this since college, and I still have things to learn."

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The group meets at the Perham Area Public Library every Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to noon. To join or get more information, contact Erickson at catherinemy@hotmail.com .

Related Topics: OTTER TAIL COUNTYPERHAMART
Elizabeth (she/her), 23, graduated with a degree in Journalism and Communications from the University of Wisconsin–Stout in 2020. Elizabeth has always had a passion for telling stories about people and specializes in community features, which she uses for her Perham-centered content.
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