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A Look at the Watermark Art Festival + Our Time in Minnesota


Christina Holland standing in her booth at the 2023 Watermark Art Festival
Ready to roll at the 2023 Watermark Art Festival

Another year on the books for the Watermark Art Festival (formerly Art in the Park) in my hometown of Bemidji, MN.


This trip seems to fly by and we always wish we could stay just a little longer. Here's a look back at the show this year, how we plan for the trip from Tucson to Bemidji, and a few fun photos from our trip.

 

Traveling up to Bemidji from Tucson for the Watermark Art Festival in July takes a ton of planning in advance to make it a smooth journey. I usually start lining everything up in January- that's when the "early bird" application to the show is due, however we brainstorm and make plans for our trip north ALL year long!


One of the questions I'm asked the most is, "Did you drive up from Tucson?"


Not usually, we prefer to fly. The first two years (2016-17) after we moved to Tucson we drove up with a full booth set up, camping gear, and our personal bags crammed into my old Ford Escape. We knew we didn't want to keep doing that drive, so I got working on a booth set up to keep in Bemidji. I bought a used tent from a friend, ordered a couple tables to be shipped to a friends house in town a couple weeks before the show, and flew up with a suitcase full of display pieces!


Since then I've rented a little storage unit in town where I keep my booth set up, and every year I add a little more sprucing and fine tuning. I take lots of pictures like the one in the photo of my display items without jewelry- this helps me work out a display ahead of time.

 

While typically we only exhibit at the Watermark Art Festival on these adventures, this year I had the honor of doing an in-store pop up and meet the maker event at my favorite shop in the Minneapolis... Corazon! I've shown my work at Corazon many times over the years, having met Susan (the owner) waaaay back when I still had my shop in Bemidji- Bad Cat Creations. Since we fly into the Twin Cities we always try to make a stop at the shop anyway.


I stock my jewelry designs at Corazon throughout the year, so if you missed the event you can still stop in and find Christina Holland Designs in store!


The patwork art piece we purchased from Atelier Mamako.

During the pop up Weston and I got to meet an awesome Minneapolis maker, Atelier Mamako.


The creative minds behind Atelier Mamako- Jacques and Carmen, work together, piecing the beautifully colorful patchwork art like you see here. They do events around the Twin Cities all month long, so check out their site for more info.






 

After the Corazon event in Minneapolis, we headed up to Bemidji Friday morning, enjoying the green scenery on our way up. In all my years of living in northern Minnesota I took the forests and blue lakes for granted. Now coming from a state where water is scarce, I appreciate the abundance of Minnesota so much more. I just can't handle those winters!!


Set up for the Watermark Art Festival begins on Friday before the event. By now we've got our set up routine down pretty well- we set up the tent, fixtures, and even a bunch of displays on Friday- but all the jewelry comes out on Saturday!


I've been showing my jewelry designs at the Watermark Art Festival since 2005, up until last year it was known as Art in the Park (this year was the 55th year!)- some of us long time participants still can't break the habit of calling it by it's former name.


With a view overlooking Lake Bemidji, I've called this sweet corner spot at the park mine for many years.


Saturday is always the most busy- you can literally feel the buzz in the air. I have a few loyal fans that get there early at opening so they can get first picks on jewelry! Sunday brings many out as well, but the overall energy is usually a more relaxed vibe- which is great after Saturday's frenzy!


All weekend feels a bit like a family reunion. Since Weston and I both grew up in Bemidji we have a ton of history and know a lot of people. We look forward to seeing all our friends and family stop by the booth and get some hugs in and quick catch up.


For the last couple years we've been renting a place just down the block from the Library Park where the festival is held. It's SO nice to be able to walk down in the morning and just a quick jaunt back in case we forgot something.


It's also perfect for being able to walk downtown for dinner at our favorite locally owned restaurant, Tutto Bene. Every year we book a table for dinner with friends and then head down to Paul & Babe along the lake shore for our annual group pictures.


Weston and I also love being able to take walks along the lake and down to Diamond Point Park and reminisce about our childhood and early lives in Bemidji. It's a little cheesy, but something we hold dear.



Some of my designs at the Watermark Art Center

Before leaving Bemidji we always stop into the Watermark Art Center to restock my case in the gift shop. You can find my jewelry designs year round in the gift shop there.


After restocking I love to wander the halls and galleries of the art center and take in all the artwork.


This year I got to view the most incredible textile exhibit by a long time friend, Blair Treuer called "Becoming". Blair's artwork has traveled the globe, so it felt really special to get to view it in Bemidji where she birthed her creative vision to the world.




 

When we leave Bemidji we head south of town to Park Rapids to get the full northern Minnesota adventure in and visit my best friend and her family. It's these few days we call "vacation" and get a chance to relax after many busy weeks. Friends, family, swimming in the lake, live music downtown, and even a perfect rainbow to wrap up a perfect trip.



And before you know it, we're flying back to our dusty Tucson- already dreaming about plans for next year!


But not before hitting up our FAVORITE breakfast spot in Minneapolis: Modern Times!



 

If you read this far, thanks for taking the time to get to know more about how we juggle the distant to travel for the show and some behind the scenes of our personal time in Minnesota.


Thanks for being here, we appreciate you!

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