Mayor’s Choice exhibit recognizes artists in recovery in Grand Forks
For Susan Hurd-Poster, art is “a way to get out of the house,” and it’s fun.
Her photography, along with artwork by several other members of Mountainbrooke Recovery Center, was showcased Wednesday in the Grand Forks Public Library as part of the Mayor’s Choice Artist Program.
“I think it’s a great honor. It shows some concern for those that are struggling,” said Clare Mathistad, another Mountainbrooke artist who had poetry in the exhibit.
Mountainbrooke Recovery Center in Grand Forks offers support groups, classes and resources to people with mental illnesses, such as depression or post-traumatic stress disorder, said Kimberly Forness Wilson, who has been teaching art class there for about five years. Members do not live at the center.
Mountainbrooke’s art class is the first group to ever be selected by the Mayor’s Choice Artist Program, which has previously only featured individual artists. North Valley Arts Council works with the Mayor’s Office to select the artists.
“I think it’s important that we recognize all of the different artists in our community,” Mayor Mike Brown said. “This is just wonderful. I would be proud to have any of these hanging on my wall,” he added, gesturing to the art.
Artists talked with Brown at the exhibit and showed him their work, which included sculptures, photography, paintings, drawings, jewelry and poetry.
For Mountainbrooke members, it’s important and “normalizing,” to be able to apply for a program like Mayor’s Choice and be selected among other artists, “like anyone else,” Forness Wilson said. That type of acceptance “is the highest goal of anyone in recovery,” she said.
“They’re incredibly honored that the mayor is recognizing them,” she added.
Mountainbrooke’s art classes have not always been publicly recognized. Last fall, Grand Forks City Council decided that funding from the city’s Art Regranting Program should only be used by organizations with a mission statement directed toward art. The decision made Mountainbrooke and some other organizations, which applied because of art classes or other art-related activities, ineligible for the program’s funding.
“That was a City Council decision,” Forness Wilson said. “The mayor has always been very supportive.”
Aside from allowing artists in recovery to be recognized, the art class is therapeutic in itself, Forness Wilson said.
“It’s a bridge for most people to get back in the groove of everyday life,” she said. The classes provide support and an avenue for expression, she said.
Hurd-Poster has been attending Mountainbrooke art classes for the past couple of years, she said. “It’s just all in fun, and I think it helps a lot of people. For me, it’s just getting out of the house.”
Brown added that the art is not only therapeutic for the artists themselves, but it’s also beneficial for people who get to view the art and enjoy it.
The Mayor’s Choice exhibit was only up in the library Wednesday night, but Mountainbrooke is always looking for venues for its artists, Forness Wilson said.