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GRANITE FALLS — Karen Savage-Blue loves telling a story as much as she loves inviting us to discover the natural beauty of the world around us.
"I like doing them all,'' said Savage-Blue, whose art reflects both pursuits. Landscape paintings that reveal her appreciation for nature, such as "Minnesota River," and her paintings that tell a story, such as "When the Buffalo Come to Tea," are all on display through May 13 at the K.K. Berge Building Granite Falls.
Savage-Blue is a member of the Fond du Lac band of Ojibwe in northern Minnesota, where she is also an art instructor with the Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College. She grew up in Duluth. She said she knew by fifth grade that being an artist and art instructor was her life's passion. She holds a bachelor of arts education from the University of Minnesota, Duluth, and a masters in art education from Santa Fe University of Art and Design in New Mexico.
Marriage to Tim Blue of the Upper Sioux Community brought her from northern Minnesota to Granite Falls in 1996, where she lived for approximately 15 years before returning to her northern Minnesota roots.
Her works are well-known across the state and beyond, and so too is her 365-day project to create a new landscape image every day for a year. She took on that challenge on October 1, 2013, beginning with images of the north woods but also venturing to the Minnesota River Valley to celebrate its beauty as well. "The Minnesota River is massive and the river valley is just beautiful. It's so ancient,'' she said.
"My understanding and affection for our natural world keeps me creating works of art that are reflective of the elements that make up its physical nature as well as the spirit that keeps it alive," wrote Savage-Blue in the artist statement that accompanies her exhibit. "Drawing and painting the landscape creates a unique experience for me. While observing and deciphering its characteristics, I become attuned to its wisdom.''
Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.