DETROIT LAKES, Minn. — Together for the first and only time before they metaphorically set sail into the relaxed Minnesota lake town, a reception this week will show off the 150 metal sail sculptures that were designed by artists to celebrate the city's 150th anniversary.

Redefining the meaning of yacht party, the so-called “regatta party,” happening at 4 p.m. Friday, April 30, at Kent Freeman Hockey Arena in Detroit Lakes, will bring together the artists, sponsors and community members involved in the large-scale project celebrating the big anniversary.

“It’s a lot of fun to make this happen for Detroit Lakes,” says Hans Gilsdorf, the artist behind the 150 Sails Up project as well as a similar project 18 years ago featuring metal sunfish that can still be found in the area.

“We've been rolling this idea around, and we were like, 'This is a perfect time to do it,'” Mary Beth Gilsdorf says about their plans to work with the Detroit Lakes Regional Chamber of Commerce on the project in celebration of the sesquicentennial.

With materials donated and fabricated by BTD Manufacturing, a set of 80 artists signed up to design the sails, including artists from the Dakotas and Minnesota and as far away as Smyrna, Ga.

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Kim Jore, owner of Riverzen Studio in Moorhead, juxtaposes a sea of dog scenes on her metal sail sculpture, featuring shelter dogs all adopted from from the Humane Society of the Lakes. Special to the Forum
Kim Jore, owner of Riverzen Studio in Moorhead, juxtaposes a sea of dog scenes on her metal sail sculpture, featuring shelter dogs all adopted from from the Humane Society of the Lakes. Special to the Forum

One artist is showing her depiction of lake life by painting a collage of shelter dogs that were all adopted through the Humane Society of the Lakes.

“Yeah, she had (the sail) up in her studio working on it during her open hours so people could come in and see the progress, which is awesome,“ Gilsdorf explains about artist Kim Jore of Riverzen Studio in Moorhead, Minn.

All the adorable dogs are set with a specific lake scene ranging from campfires to sunsets on the lake. In addition, her large sail will be accompanied by a smaller cat-themed sail that will be on display during Friday's reception.

Working on several sails, including a yoga-inspired design sponsored by 180 Balance in Detroit Lakes and a black-and-white loon design, one artist took a simple but impactful approach to the meaning of lake life.

“Although I do not live directly on a lake, during the summer I can lay in bed with the window open, listening to loon calls echoing across the water,” says the hyper graphic artist Leigh Nelson.

Leigh Nelson, of Detroit Lakes, Minn., applies her graphic art background to designs that celebrate two of her favorite things — loons (left) and yoga (right) — in her designs for the 150th anniversary project. Special to the Forum
Leigh Nelson, of Detroit Lakes, Minn., applies her graphic art background to designs that celebrate two of her favorite things — loons (left) and yoga (right) — in her designs for the 150th anniversary project. Special to the Forum

Artist Emily Brooks is familiar with adapting her artwork to fit all mediums, with her recent wing design featured on the side of the popular ice cream shop Silver Lining Creamery in downtown Fargo.

She says her inspiration for her colorful wildlife designs for the 150 Sails Up project stems from formative moments in childhood enjoying nature, animals and being outdoors.

The Fargo-based Emily Brooks took these photos of her designs before transporting them to the Kent Freeman Arena ahead of the 150 Sails Up reception in Detroit Lakes, Minn. Special to the Forum
The Fargo-based Emily Brooks took these photos of her designs before transporting them to the Kent Freeman Arena ahead of the 150 Sails Up reception in Detroit Lakes, Minn. Special to the Forum

“Spending time at our cabin was a chance for our family to slow down, and really connect with one another,” Brooks says.

Artist Carmen Bruhn worked for more than a month on her 4-foot sculpture, first drawing out scenes in her memories of beautiful summer days at the lakes and then enlarging the images to fit front and back.

Detroit Lakes, Minn.-based artist Carmen Bruhn uses symbols of water lilies, fishing and sunshine to evoke the feeling of lakeside lounging in her 150 Sails Up submission. Special to the Forum
Detroit Lakes, Minn.-based artist Carmen Bruhn uses symbols of water lilies, fishing and sunshine to evoke the feeling of lakeside lounging in her 150 Sails Up submission. Special to the Forum

Artist Eric A. Johnson used new and existing techniques on his sails, including a splatter-coated landscape of wildflowers on the prairie, as well as vinyl-wrapped sails featuring his colorful prints, which are on display now in his “Cutaway” show at the Rourke Art Gallery + Museum in Moorhead.

In the studio with Eric A. Johnson as he creates a wildflower landscape on the 4-foot metal sailboat sculpture for the 150 Sails Up project in Detroit Lakes, Minn. Special to the Forum
In the studio with Eric A. Johnson as he creates a wildflower landscape on the 4-foot metal sailboat sculpture for the 150 Sails Up project in Detroit Lakes, Minn. Special to the Forum

“This is like one of those rare win-win-wins, where it promotes the artists, it promotes the sponsors and it promotes our community and it's a fundraiser for future public art,” says Mary Beth Gilsdorf.

If you go

What: 150 Sails Up Regatta Party

When: 4-7 p.m. Friday, April 30

Where: Kent Freeman Arena, 1310 Rossman Ave., Detroit Lakes, Minn.

Info: A silent auction of two sails will take place to benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and the Boys and Girls Club. Live music from The Cropdusters will also accompany food trucks and a cash bar. Visit https://www.dl150.com/sailboat for full details about the project and where to find sails.

This article is part of a content partnership with The Arts Partnership, a nonprofit organization cultivating the arts in Fargo, Moorhead and West Fargo. For more information, visit http://theartspartnership.net.