NorthStar Watermedia History


Founded in 1975, Northstar Watercolor Society, now known at NorthStar Watermedia Society, celebrates its 40th anniversary in 2015. Several of its founders (pictured below) are still active and contributing members.

The organization kicked off its anniversary year celebration by hosting its first annual national watermedia show at Hopkins Center for the Arts in September and October, 2015. Founding members will be honored at the holiday meeting/anniversary celebration on December 17, 2015. A timeline of major events in the history of NorthStar is also featured below. (Click on the photos to make them as large as your screen will allow!) IMG_0002IMG_0004

Photo left: Judy Blain called together a meeting in 1975 to organize a watercolor society. She served as NorthStar president 5 times: 1977-78, 1978-79, 1982-83,1995-96, 1996-97.

Photo right: Nels Femrite has been a member of NorthStar since the beginning years. He took the workshop with Zoltan Szabo in 1976. Following the workshop, Szabo sent a painting that he had done in Stillwater. Nels won the painting which hangs in his home today. He was NorthStar president in 1993-94 and 1994-95.

Photo below left: Marian Wolters attended the first NorthStar workshop and joined the society the following year, 1976. She was on the board from the mid 1980’s until IMG_00082010 and served in “every position except president.” She was newsletter editor three times and hospitality chair for many years. She was one of the original planners of Art on a Line.

Photo below: Barb Lundell was very active in the early years of NorthStar.

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Photo right: Frank Zeller was an early member of NorthStar and posed as the model for Zoltan Szabo’s painting in the 1976 workshop. Zeller was president of NorthStar in 1997-98 and 1998-99. He continues to be an active member of the group and handles the video projection at each meeting. IMG_0011

Photo above: Stuart Botten was the first president of NorthStar.


Photo right: Jon Arfstrom was an early active member of NorthStar.

Photo left: Plein air painting in the early days of NorthStar. If anyone can identify these people, please let us know!                








NorthStar Timeline 1975 – 2015


July 8 
Judy Blain calls to order a meeting to organize a watercolor society. Dues to be $5 a year. “People attending the meeting suggested the following goals for the association: conduct only enough meetings each year to enable the club to survive, publish an official club periodical, sponsor workshops by competent watercolor artists, hold watercolor shows, and endeavor to obtain support from business and industry to finance shows and awards. We were admonished to guard against the organization’s becoming involved in red tape and business matters to the detriment of art. The emphasis is to be on painting and learning and communication with other watercolorists.” (from the archives)

August 20 
A temporary board meets and draws up bylaws.
Stuart Botten is the first president. Judy Blain remembers that originally the name was to be “Midwest Watercolor Society.” She was in a workshop with a woman in northern Minnesota who said that her group was using that name and “the stationery is already printed.” Consequently, the name, “Northstar Watercolor Society” was agreed upon. (from the archives)
Newsletter was“NWS News” – There were 50 paid members that first year.

First general meeting held at Minnesota Federal Savings and Loan
Spring workshop with Zoltan Szabo, fall workshop with Milford Zornes
First membership list – 95 members

Bylaws adopted and filed.
First Annual Membership Exhibit held at TCF Atrium Gallery (juror Cheng-Khee Chee)
Meetings held at Birchwood Village Town Hall

Meetings and Milford Zornes workshop held at Aldernon Hall, U of M 1981 
Meetings held at McNeal Hall, U of M

173 paid members

Special meeting at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts

Joint meeting with Twin Cities Watercolor Society (became Minnesota Watercolor Society) at Edina Community Center

Meetings held at Apache Plaza (and for many years)

Joint meeting with Twin City Watercolor Society in Edina

Meetings held at the Humphrey Job Corps Center and Silver Lake Camp and Conference Center
Newsletter name changes from “NWS News” to “Watercolorist”

Meetings held at the Shoreview Community Center

Milford Zornes workshop

Member show at Lakewood Community College

“Art Explosion” event from 9 – 3 at NE Metro Technical College, demos and bag lunch

Workshops with Cheng-Khee Chee in May and Tony Couch in October
“Bring a Painting” is initiated

Meetings held at Centennial United Methodist Church (This continued until 2008)
Workshop in April with Stephen Quiller and in May with Frank Webb

Fall Show at Century College (This location until 2012) Workshop with Tony Van Hasselt
“Bring a Painting” is now called “Peer Voting.

Live and Silent Auction of paintings for Red Cross Disaster Relief following September 11 attack

“Clothes Line Show” is considered, postponed to the following year
Workshop with Eric Weigardt (April) as well as with Skip Lawrence (October)

FIRST ART ON A LINE (“Clothes Line Show”) chaired by Marian Wolters and Patty Healy
Workshop with Alvaro Castagnet

Workshop with Jean Grastorf as well as with Arne Westerman Northstar website is initiated.

Workshop with Frank Webb as well as with Carla O”Connor and Robert Burridge

1st VISIONING meeting to examine the future of NWS Futurist position created
Decision to drop the paper newsletter and begin communication primarily by email and website

Paper newsletter replaced by electronic newsletter; website is launched

Meetings begin to be held in the Rose Room, Roseville Skating Center (current meeting location)

“Artists for Abundance” sale to benefit the food shelves

2nd VISIONING meeting Name changes from Northstar Watercolor Society to NorthStar Watermedia Society
Possibility of a national juried exhibition is discussed

Board passes resolution to sponsor a national show.
Year-round meetings begin.

Art on a Line name changes to Artists’ Market