A Historic Art Discovery a Decade in the Making

 A few weeks ago, on a warm spring day, a piece of local art history was brought to light in Minot, North Dakota. Two complete strangers at a garage sale struck up a conversation on the topic of art as an incredible story unfolded.

James (Jim) Lozensky and I spoke on art related matters as I was at the garage sale looking for picture frames to display my artwork. I was excited to tell Jim of my recent small graphic design and creative business startup, Cote Creative, LLC. Jim then told a story about how he had acquired a unique artistic find upon purchasing his home in Antler, North Dakota.

Jim went on to tell about his findings, which were bronze sculpture art, along with eleven boxes of bronze clay. Artist, Shari Hamilton, was the creator of the work. I was very interested in his story and asked if he would bring the work into town for her to look at. He agreed.

Over the next few weeks Jim and I planned a time and place to meet in Minot. During that timeframe, I spoke to Terri Aldrich, director of Minot Area Council on the Arts (MACA) about what I had encountered. Terri informed me she had known Shari and her work. Both of us were enthusiastic about the find and agreed to have the art brought to the MACA office, located in the lower level of the Artspace building in downtown Minot.

On May 20th, 2015 Jim brought the art to the MACA office where the three of us unveiled the historic discovery. Jim informed Terri and I that he had acquired the pieces approximately ten years ago when he purchased property in Antler, North Dakota. He had kept them in storage until meeting me earlier this spring.

“Shari was married to the gentleman I bought the property from. The story is when he worked at the border patrol office, one thing led to another, he decided to go back to where he was from in the state of Washington. All of this was left in storage, along with 11 boxes of bronze clay.” Explained Lozensky. He went on to say he had been attempting to contact her over the years to let her know he had the art. Both Jim and Terri believe Shari is currently living in Utah and will attempt to contact her about the discovery.

Terri was excited because of her connection with Shari. Years ago when Terri was involved with the Souris Valley Danish Society, she was part of a group that selected Shari as the sculptor to create the Hans Christian Anderson sculpture, which currently resides in the Scandinavian Heritage Park in Minot.

“I had the wonderful opportunity to meet Shari to see some of her work.” Expressed Terri.

We unwrapped the work to unveil the remarkable talent that was hidden from view for the last decade. A variety of work was revealed, from a watercolor painting dated 1978, to clay relief sculptures from 2002. We were all overwhelmed with excitement as we unveiled part of North Dakota’s history.

“The faces are just incredible.” Exclaimed Teri, in awe of Shari’s craftsmanship.

“The one of the old man is my wife’s favorite” Jim replied, referring to the watercolor piece, dated and signed “Shari 1978.” “The detail in that is phenomenal.”

Viewing the art, they noticed the relief sculptures depicted popular biblical themes such as John 13: 1-17 Jesus Washes His Disciples’ Feet and John 21:6 Jesus Appears at the Sea of Galilee.

As the unveiling of the pieces continued, Jim informed Terri and me that he had more pieces at his home, one of a Olympian-looking woman and the other which is believed to be of a famous Norwegian. With those are two small busts, one of Ronald Reagan and the other of George W. Bush, which he plans to bring to the MACA office in the near future.

Terri encouraged, “It would be lovely to promote these and to invite people to come see them.”

In the meantime, MACA will have the artwork on temporary display during business hours for at least the next couple of weeks. Current business hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Josh Wolsky

Developer & Writer @TheMinot Voice, Fan of the Souris River, There's a lot to Savor about Minot. Fortunate to be a 'former' City Council member ;)

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