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Art knows no limits for Alsgaard-Lien

RUSHMORE -- When it comes, to making art there is no limit to place or age or philosophy. Artists are not confined to drafty garrets or to paint-splattered easels. They are not stopped by shape or size or stage of life.

Artist Bobbie Alsgaard-Lien stands by one of her paintings and a mural she did with local youths. (Tim Middagh / Daily Globe)
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RUSHMORE - When it comes, to making art there is no limit to place or age or philosophy. Artists are not confined to drafty garrets or to paint-splattered easels. They are not stopped by shape or size or stage of life.


These facts are, in part, what motivates Bobbie Alsgaard-Lien to open her art studio up to the public so that all ages and all levels of artistic abilities can have a chance to see a real, working art studio and take part in making a little art of their own. To this end, she’s hosting an open house at her art studio later this month.


“I want to share what an artist’s studio space is like for people who may have never seen one to expose people to what that means,” Alsgaard-Lien shared. “We will have hands-on projects and refreshments. There will be art displayed throughout the building so people can visualize and experience the arts.”



Alsgaard-Lien, a retired Minnesota West art instructor, has lived in Rushmore for 30 years. She has taught numerous community art classes and workshops over the years to people of all ages. Many of her former students are now in some form of the arts in their careers, a fact which can’t help but bring a smile to her face.


She loves to see the artist inside a person find expression, and loves to support and encourage that aspect of a person to take root.


“No one in my family ever discouraged me from being an artist,” Alsgaard-Lien said. “They were always proud of what I did.”


One of Alsgaard-Lien’s artistic series has been inspired by her mother’s supportive legacy.



“When I was a kid I saw a newspaper ad that said, ‘You can play the accordion, too!’” laughed Alsgaard-Lien. “And from that moment, I wanted to play the accordion. My mom was a housekeeper in Sioux Falls when I was growing up. She paid for an accordion for me by cleaning this one house every Friday, putting the money toward buying me an accordion. My series of accordion paintings are in honor of her for being so willing to support me in my creative ways.”


Alsgaard-Lien is quick to credit the city of Rushmore, too, for its support of the arts.


“The city of Rushmore has always supported me in my workshops for kids, so that’s been a good thing,” Alsgaard-Lien said.


It was a city employee who suggested to Alsgaard-Lien that she investigate getting a studio in the old Rushmore school building, a space which has been re-purposed to great effect for the arts and other community clubs, projects and events.



“For 15 years I had my studio in an old building here in Rushmore, but it just got too old,” Alsgaard-Lien explained. “So then I moved my studio to my house. I did a lot of my little pictures there. Now I’ve been here in this building for three years. The city is really supportive of me being here.”


Alsgaard-Lien enjoys substitute teaching in area schools, sometimes bringing an art bag with her in case her students get out of hand. Art always grabs their attention and brings their focus back.


“With art, it’s a constant exploration,” she revealed. “When I approach an empty canvas, I try to remember the light in the process of painting and not worry about the end result. Then I can stand back and take into context the series I’m painting.”


Though retired from full-time teaching, instructing people in the arts is still very much a part of Alsgaard-Lien’s life and philosophy.


“No one can take your education away from you,” Alsgaard-Lien stressed. “I grew up very backwoods, so for me to get a college degree and go on to teach was always very remarkable. I was pretty good at relating to students because I had to start from ground zero. I could get them to see that art is everywhere.”


Alsgaard-Lien’s studio open house is sponsored in part by a Career Artist Grant from the Southwest Minnesota Arts Council. The open house will be from 3 to 5 p.m. May 20, and is free of charge and open to all ages. Her studio is located at 108 S. Drake Ave., in the old Rushmore school building.


“Don’t be afraid to come and explore with me,” Alsgaard-Lien emphasized. “Come and have a new experience in art.”

Bobbie Alsgaard-Lien is shown in her art studio inside the former Rushmore school building. (Tim Middagh / Daily Globe)

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