By OZZIE TOLLEFSON The Lone Drive Notebook
Originally published on April 19, 2023 through Fergus Falls Journal.
I’m impressed by the array of artistic endeavors in Fergus Falls. Certainly, the Kaddatz Galleries at 111 West Lincoln Avenue is one near the top of the list. I reached out to Nancy Valentine, the executive director, and she referred me to Rebecca Petersen, the current vice chair, who was part of a dedicated team that got Kaddatz Galleries up and running.
Rebecca was born in Santa Ana, California, but was raised in Minnesota. She attended college at UMD/Duluth, UMN/Twin Cities and graduated at UVM/Vermont with a BA degree in Music and Violin Performance. Rebecca is married to Mark Allan Solie, who is also a musician and plays the cello. They have two daughters, Mara Lee Solie and Sarah Elizabeth Solie.
I asked Rebecca about the jobs she has had. She said, “I work at West Central Initiative as the Director of Development. I have had this job since 2018. Prior to that I was the Executive Director of the Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra (from 2011 to 2018) and before that the Executive Director of A Center for the Arts (1994 to 2011).” I was interested in her involvement in creating Kaddatz Galleries. I asked Rebecca about the other people who worked with her. She named Bill Adams, Steve & Sandy Rufer, Chuck Christianson, and Charlie Beck. I wanted to know how it all got started. She explained, “We did the feasibility work with Artspace Projects back in 2001. I remember because it was September 11th, a memorable day, when I walked the structural engineering team through the building.
“The Artist Live Work apartments were finished and occupied first. The gallery came a couple of years later. We had a space open to the public in the lower level of the Kaddatz Hotel. Artspace Projects was looking for a commercial tenant for the street level space(s). However, when that didn't materialize, we created a more formal, pristine gallery with street access. The grand opening was Thursday, June 18, 2009.”
Rebecca went on to explain the most difficult part of the project. “It was the part between having the vision (back in 1997/1998) that this could be a space for art and artists, and then finding the right partner, Artspace, to bring it to reality. Then finding the perfect location in the building after floundering underground for a good year or so.”
I wanted to learn about the primary mission of Kaddatz Galleries. Rebecca explained, “We want to showcase and elevate the work of local/regional artists. To celebrate the legacy of artist Charles Beck and his influence on the community and region. Ultimately, to use this joint mission as a catalyst for arts education opportunities.”
Finally, I wanted to know about the personal rewards Rebecca has gained from her part in making Kaddatz Galleries a success. She said, “I love the fact that some of the artists have lived there doing their work since we created the 10 artist live/work spaces upstairs, and that at least one of them works in the gallery as well. “A couple of years ago, when there was a big open house, it made me proud to wander through the building and meet some of the new artist residents. People forget that there was a lot of blood, sweat, and tears that went into this project. It was nice that my husband shared a bit of the story with one of the new residents. They were pretty gobsmacked. It made me feel good about all the hard work.”
Read the article at: fergusfallsjournal.com/opinion/visiting-the-amazing-kaddatz-galleries/article_01ded538-dd45-11ed-afba-cf820efc3941.html