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Niewoehner wins multiple art awards at ND State Fair

By Staff | Aug 4, 2017

Submitted by North Dakota State Fair Director Connie Hanson Marilyn Niewoehner with her painting, “Twilight”, was named Best of Show and People’s Choice at the ND State Fair.

Marilyn Niewoehner of Rugby was named Best of Show and People’s Choice at the North Dakota State Fair Fine Arts Exhibit for her abstract cityscape painting entitled “Twilight.”

Her first time entering into the Fine Arts category at the State Fair, Niewoehner said she is “blown out of the water.”

Starting with a paintbrush, Niewoehner began painting the buildings in her cityscape, but soon discovered the edges were becoming too round. She then took a credit card, dipped it in paint, and used it to create her city buildings. She explained how she kept adding paint and color until she felt it looked up to par.

“Once I added the black accents, that’s when it came alive,” she said, adding that she also used the edge of the credit card to create the black accent lines throughout the painting. “You can use anything to paint.”

Her art colleagues from a class she has been taking this summer under Terry Jelsing advised her to add trees, people, water and a boat at the bottom of the painting.

Besides attending Jelsing’s summer art class in Rugby, Niewoehner attends a class once a month taught by Vern Skaug, the man who painted most of the North Dakota Rough Rider portraits located in the State Capitol Building in Bismarck.

Niewoehner also is a member of the Prairie Arts Club in Bottineau, where each member teaches something in Art each month.

In addition to taking classes, Niewoehner explained that she watches YouTube videos and shows on television and checks out books from the local library to study from, as well.

“I have had a lot of help along the way and good teachers at my fingertips in Rugby,” she said. “Even in a small town, wherever your interests lie, in this modern day, you can pursue [those interests]. People ask me if all these different classes I take have been helping, and all I can say now is evidently this is working.”

As a Textiles and Clothing major, Niewoehner has worked with textiles, fibers, colors and art for many years. However, she is fairly new to painting, having begun in March of 2013.

“Come March, you’re pretty sick of winter. I took my mother’s [art] supplies, set them out on the table, and I just started to play. I thought, ‘I’m going to do this,'” she said.

Niewoehner’s mother painted for five years, taking classes at Minot State University, when Niewoehner was young but quit unexpectedly in 1963. “I have all of her art supplies. I started with her supplies, so it was a nice connection. She quit cold turkey, and I don’t know why. Now I’m wondering what happened, but I have no clue at all,” Niewoehner said.

Niewoehner’s favorite way of painting is abstract because of the loose interpretation aspect. After seeing another cityscape painting of Niewoehner’s, a woman described it as upside down candles. Another man, a soldier, said the painting was of a harbor in Hong Kong where he was once stationed.

Niewoehner said she likes that abstract painting can be whatever the viewer wants it to be. “Abstracts are a more loose interpretation, and that’s a more comfortable environment for me to be in,” she said. “I look at art, and it’s a feeling. Does it make you happy? That’s all it needs to do. It doesn’t have to be something.”

Niewoehner won two other awards for pieces she submitted at the Fair, including second place for a collage named “Buffaloed” and third place for a thread painting called “Looking West From East.”

The Taube Museum of Art, located in Minot, provided judges for the Fine Arts category. The general public voted on the People’s Choice winner.

Niewoehner’s “Twilight” is displayed along with its winning blue and purple ribbons at the entrance to her store, Embroideries, located in Rugby. She has no plans to sell the piece at this time.

Niewoehner and the other students in Jelsing’s summer art class will be displaying some of their work at the Prairie Village Museum’s Village Fair on August 13. The art show will be held on the 2nd floor of the Silva School, and pieces will be for sale based on the artist’s discretion.

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