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Dance, Drama, Literature, Music, Visual and Traditional Arts
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Featured Artist Works Displayed in the Offices of the Governor

January, February and March 2010 - Jane Kalmbach (Kenmare)

Photo of Jane KalmbachKenmare artist Jane Kalmbach enjoyed drawing when she was a child and teenager growing up in Flaxton, and she returned to that passion about six years ago. She has worked to improve her skills by studying with several teachers, including Tam Goodman of Rugby and Vern Skaug of Minot, and by doing her own reading and research in art. “I love pastel work,” she said, “and love to do charcoal portraits, especially family portraits. Oils on bones and bark have been interesting to experiment with.”

She finds inspiration during time spent outdoors, especially as the colors of the prairie change with the seasons. “Teaching kids also inspires me, their excitement and pride in themselves,” she said, “and reading books on faith, inspiration and creativity, or even quotes that I see written somewhere. I love that!” Jane works in chalk pastels, acrylics, charcoal, oils and watercolors, on canvas, paper, bark and bones, with some recent exploration of mixed media.

Her work has been exhibited at shows in Kenmare, Minot, Bottineau, Mohall, Harvey, Tolley, New Town and Pekin. She has done countless commissioned paintings and often donates her art to benefit community organizations, including Kenmare GooseFest, Mouse River Loop Pheasants, the Domestic Violence Crisis Center in Minot, and Minot Public Library. Her paintings have received a variety of awards, including Best of Show at the North Dakota State Fair in 2008, and People’s Choice Award at the 2008 Harvey Art Show.

Jane serves as secretary of the Lakeview Art Club and is cofounder of the Kenmare Summer Arts Institute, a program launched for young artists in northern Ward County and the surrounding area in 2008. She has also taught art classes at the Kenmare and Bowbells elementary schools under a North Dakota Council on the Arts Teacher Incentive grant since 2006. “I love to try new things, to think outside of the box and be original,” she said. “I feel I have a passion and LOVE to teach kids art, and to see their faces light up when they see the finished piece.”

She painted at home for several years, using a small sun room on the east side of her house when weather and temperatures permitted. During the spring of 2009, she and her husband Lance built a 12’x12’ addition to their home now known as Dakota Blessings Studio.“I loved my little sun room,” she said. “I was making do, thinking I would have extra bedroom space when our kids were gone.” Jane agreed to the renovation after realizing the benefits the studio could offer her daughter Sarah, an artist and a senior at Kenmare High School. “If I want my daughter to grow up and believe in her artistic talent, I have to believe in myself,” she said.

The studio took its name from an art business venture between Jane and beader Tami Gravesen, known as Dakota Blessings Original Art. The pair makes bookmarks, car charms and framed pictures with original paintings from repurposed ivory piano keys. They sell their work online as well as at craft and art shows, and Dakota Blessings Original Art became a member of Pride of Dakota in 2009. Jane welcomes friends, neighbors and visitors to Kenmare who have an interest in art to visit the Dakota Blessings studio. “I would like people to call if they have an idea for a painting they want to talk about or if they want to see what I have on hand,” she said. “I’ll be more than happy to make a cup of coffee and show them what I have available!”

Ask her, and she will list the sometimes fearful steps she has taken to serve her art--first, admitting she wanted to revisit a childhood interest, then signing up for classes, showing her work and teaching students, and now launching a business and investing in a new room for her family’s home. And while she certainly wants to promote her work, for Jane being an artist is more about helping other people discover their own creativity. She gestured around the walls of her studio, decorated with some of her pictures and other objects she loves, and said, “Maybe this will inspire somebody else to try painting.”

She lives by the belief inspiration is everywhere, waiting to be claimed by individuals who may be too afraid or too guilty to acknowledge their need and desire to be creative. “So many women go through life and don’t even know what their passion is,” she said. “Why not take that leap of faith? You have to believe in it enough, or believe in yourself enough.” Jane can be reached at 701-385-4528, or by email at, and samples of her work can be seen online at

Jane Kalmbach images
artwork by Jane
artwork by Jane
artwork by Jane
artwork by Jane
artwork by Jane
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