Featured S.O.U.L Award 2017

Into The Brush Receives Community Award for S.O.U.L – 2017

Into The Brush is the honored to be recognized as the local winner of Minnesota’s Touchstone Energy Community Award  by Lake country Power for its work with Stones Of Uplifting Light (SOUL) in providing emotional support for those who become unexpectedly terminally ill.   SOUL operations in April of 2017 as a new program designed to share art on stone with people who are suddenly in the final stages of their life by working with an intermediary (family member, friend, acquaintance, etc) to find out some details about the afflicted individual and a more joyous time in that person’s past.   Joe Baltich, lead SOUL artist,  then paints that moment on stone and sends the art to the individual.  No fees are charged for SOUL stones.  Donations to Into The Brush are accepted but not required.  SOUL recipients are generally not acquainted with SOUL artists and there is no contact between either party.  SOUL founder and artist, Joe Baltich wanted SOUL to represent the kindness of strangers through sharing art.  Although feedback has been non-existent (neither expected, encouraged, nor required)  from SOUL recipients, Into The Brush has been gratified to hear through a few intermediaries that the various recipients were very moved by the gesture-in-stone-art and their families also very appreciative of the lasting mementos.   A small, positive effect in a most difficult time is the goal all Into The Brush with SOUL.   If you know somebody who is having a rough time and faced with harsh realities, Into The Brush encourages you to contact them at intothebrush@gmail.com

Touchstone Energy Community Award
Into The Brush thanks Lake Country Power for their recognition of the SOUL program and is pleased to be a part of the Touchstone Energy Cooperatives!

Minnesota Getaway Vacations – Look where you can hide for a week!

When you want to bug out of Dodge for a week, why not come hide among the trees and along a pretty northwoods lake just five miles south of the border?  Northwind Lodge is a Minnesota Family Resort and perfect for YOUR family!  Housekeeping cabins tucked away at this simple resort make this the perfect, easy-access, resort away from the crowds.  You need to come here and decompress!

Watch this short video with our Cabin Layout.  Note that I forgot Cabin 6 in the layout – dang it, anyway!  It is just below the Into The Brush Studio on your screen with a car parked next to it.

Hometown Focus Article – Into The Brush

Into the Brush: Combining art and adventure in the wilderness
By Jody Anderson
HTF Columnist

 Joe Baltich and his painted canoe. Photo by Jody Anderson.
Joe Baltich and his painted canoe. Photo by Jody Anderson.
ELY – Just five miles from Canada, and 15 miles northeast of Ely on the Fernberg Trail, stands Red Rock Wilderness Store and Northwind Lodge, formerly known as Jasper Lake Resort. It is a place that holds generations of memories like pitch-black nights with shimmering stars while gathered around a campfire, the dancing lights of the Aurora Borealis, and midnight wolf operas. The resort, now managed by Joe Baltich, Jr., has been in the Baltich family for three generations. Surrounded by the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW), and deep in the northwoods boreal forest, the resort offers something unique from others in the area. It is liking walking into the past with its rustic charm, while still offering today’s modern amenities such as wireless service. It just might be possible that Northwind Lodge is the oldest family-run business in the area. The resort, which is over 70 years old, dates back to 1944.

The Red Rock Wilderness store, which doubles today as Joe’s art studio, has the largest selection of fishing tackle in the area. Some of the locals callRed Rock the “Cabela’s of the North.” Today Joe’s store also has his artwork for sale – wine glasses, mugs and canvases displaying beautiful northwoods scenery. You could say that he has come full circle when it comes to his art. It was there at the resort on Jasper Lake, at the age of 13, that he discovered he was not only an outdoors enthusiast, but also an artist. The resort has seen and weathered a lot of changes over the years. Change within the resort industry is common, and calls for innovativeness at times. The resort was once known for skiing, and had its own Nordic ski trails. It was on one of those snow-covered trails that Joe met his wife Annette. Skiing under a canopy of pines however, is now a part of the resort’s past. But innovativeness and creativity is what Joe is all about, and it is his passion for painting that is the inspiration behind his most recent resort venture.


This past week I made the drive to Red Rock to see “The Painted Canoe of Ely,” Joe’s latest masterpiece. It is a symbol of both art and adventure in the wilderness. Joe spent over 400 hours last winter painting on the unique aluminum canvas! His original plan was to paint the animals of the BWCAW but instead, at someone’s suggestion, he painted the history of our region. He chose to depict the wilderness area in the 100 years prior to its federal wilderness designation in 1978 on one side, and the wilderness area how it exists today on the other. The canoe is a Grumman canoe which is symbolic in itself. Grumman originally was a leading producer of military aircraft. If you look close, Joe included a painting of a Grumman Hellcat F6F fighter aircraft used in 1943-1944 during the war. After World War II wound down in 1944, the company began to produce Grumman canoes which replaced wooden canoes that were mostly being used at that time. The Grumman canoes, being lighter and stronger, made portaging and canoeing in the wilderness easier. Grumman canoes are a significant part of our BWCAW history.

At age 13, Joe’s first experience with art began when he experimented with his father’s wood burning kit. Tiring of the kit’s designs, he began to draw his own – deer, moose, and squirrels. Soon he was selling the wood plaques to resort guests in the store. One day one of the guests, who happened to be an art teacher, told him he needed to learn to paint. He couldn’t even imagine that. The woman left and came back two hours later with a rock she had just painted. It had a wilderness scene with a deer and a sunset. He thought it was one of the most beautiful things he had ever seen. She sent him to town for the basic painting supplies he would need. He painted his first rock that night at the dining table while his family gathered around him. He sold his third rock. The money he made from his artwork allowed him to purchase his first art studio –a small 8×10 shed from Sears. Headded stools, an easel, and a fluorescent light. The resort kids would gather in there each night and watch him paint. He would take orders from guests. He sold many blue herons on canvas. While attending UMD in college he was often commissioned by students to paint gifts for their parents. His dorm room walls were like an art gallery.

After college in 1983, he returned home feeling discouraged by the present job market. He returned to guiding at the resort, which he had been doing since he was 14. He also became involved in politics and served as Ely’s mayor and on the city council for a time. It was upon returning to resort life after college that Joe discovered his studio had been damaged by the elements. He attempted to fix it, but it was never quite the same. Joe lost his mojo. For 32 years Joe took a sabbatical from art. That is until he decided to paint an Adirondack chair last year forIncredible Ely’s fundraiser – Chair-ish Ely. And guess what? Joe the artist was back! Joe describes this past winter painting the canoe as “an adventure into art.” Painting the canoe, Joe said, was something he needed to do for a couple of reasons. He needed a demonstration piece for his new program “Into the Brush,” and he needed something cathartic. It was a slow winter for his business, and he needed something to keep him busy and that was good for his psyche. “Into the Brush” once just an idea, is now a reality.

There’s a lot of conversation these days about saving our local wilderness. Many are concerned about preserving it for future generations. They are worried about the environment. Others are concerned about what may appear to be a bigger threat. It seems that with each passing year, the number of people traveling to Ely to spend time in the wilderness is declining. A decline in tourism means a decline in local business. Joe has seen the decline. He believes there are various reasons for the drop in numbers. One is that we have a large aging population that either is no longer able to venture out due to health issues, or they feel they have “been there, done that.” Digital distractions have also impacted interest in both the young and the old. Today’s generation is also more concerned about safety, and feel uncomfortable about being unplugged from civilization for any length of time. With this in mind, Joe came up with a new idea to introduce people to the wilderness. His idea combines wilderness adventure and art through his new endeavor “Into the Brush.”

“Into the Brush” (www.intothebrush.org) is in the process of becoming an independent 501(c) (3) nonprofit. Through “Into the Brush,” Joe is offering a new and adventurous program at Northwind Lodge. The program offers an “art camp like experience” where guests can learn the basics of painting by adventuring in the wilderness, and then coming back and putting it on canvas, wood, stone, or glass. At “art camp” you can stay in one of the resort’s housekeeping cabins with friends or family. Each day you will spend two hours in the morning, and two hours in the evening learning how to paint. Inspiration will come from the 2-3 hours spent hiking or canoeing each day independently, or under Joe’s guidance. The program offers 4- or 7-day classes. The classes are designed for the beginner with no experience necessary. Joe also offers 2-hour micro classes on occasion to anyone, not just resort guests. Joe has a lot of plans for the future of “Into the Brush.” He envisions an art gallery someday, and even internships and visiting artists. He is also thinking about expanding his art program to include photography and other mediums.

Through his new venture, Joe hopes to introduce a whole new group of people to the wilderness. Perhaps even those who would have never imagined themselves adventuring in the heart of Minnesota’s northwoods. The truth is, people are increasingly seeking out adventure. Many, though, want something just a little bit different than what has been the tradition.

If you are looking for something to do this fall, I encourage you to take a drive up the Fernberg Trail and see the canoe for yourself. It is breathtaking. Joe will give you the history behind each of the scenes on the canoe because Joe isn’t just an artist, he’s also a storyteller, and what some call a wordsmith. Perhaps you will find that one of the scenes is related to your family history. For me it was the panel with the logging camp scene, because my grandfather ran a logging camp on the Echo Trail. Don’t forget to ask Joe about the panel that contains his own family’s history. What an adventure that was!

“The Painted Canoe of Ely” is the canoe that tells a story. It’s worth the drive, and the drive up the Fernberg is beautiful in the fall. Take the time to visit Kawishiwi Falls along the way, and stop at the Rookie Lake overlook also. If you are lucky, you just may spot a moose!

Jody Anderson lives in Embarrass, MN.

Into The Brush – Painting & Wilderness

Into The Brush - Saving the Future of Wilderness - One Stroke at a Time

Through close observation of the elements of the wilderness by a direct, get-your-hands-dirty, experience led by me, students will learn to appreciate what is here and spread the word, not to mention build a foundation for art application and appreciation.

Right now, with the constant push of environmental extremism, traveling and enjoying the wilderness is becoming more difficult and is resulting in turning people away who don’t understand all the incessant rules and boundaries put in place by environmental ideologues and government.    And then, there is also the pampered nature of today’s people.  Everybody is afraid of everything.

Instead of feeling the wind in their faces and witnessing the brilliance of the sun on their backs while sitting on a rock in silence, I find that people are turning to their artificial world of electronics and man-made experiences which involve the presence of lots of other people (cruise ships and Disneyland are two examples) instead of enjoying the peace, solitude and abject beauty of Minnesota’s northwoods.

As our wilderness exposure declines, silly uninformed notions like nonsensical rumors of bear/wolf/animal attacks rises.  (Watch out for Yeti’s- they steal children)  Stories of physical exertion on portages bloom into nightmarish tales of woe.  And even seeing a mosquito fly past is cause for major alarm.  (you might get a disease and never live to see another cruise) The thoughts of attacking animals, horrifying bugs, and grueling efforts over rough, rugged terrain, despite being complete and utter ignorant, exaggerated,  baloney,  moves more ignorant people away from wilderness.  In the last 5 years, we have witnessed a major falling off of customers. You can’t believe how many are SHOCKED that their iphones have no reception here at the lodge.  SHOCKED – I tell you!  Like they are gonna die a horrible death within seconds because they can’t check the weather or make a call.  They don’t want to drive out on our brand new road anymore because they have no or spotty phone reception.  That’s INSANE!   Ignorance  contributes to the vicious, and growing cycle of avoidance and these people turn out in droves to do things that are not rustic in nature but “safe” because they have cellphone signals.    They attend car shows, flea markets, flower shows, and the like.  (Oh, wow….like that is SO exciting.  I apologize for making fun, but the complete wussiness of it all makes me snort with derision.  What has happened to everybody in just 5 short years?)  This trend of digital defense and reliance simply MUST be changed!   You won’t become a Jeremiah Johnson by taking an Into The Brush course at Northwind Lodge, but hopefully you will develop a bit more self confidence and reliance of living without a constant digital safety net.  A little common sense applied, pay attention to the weather and have a GREAT time!

Big Buck in the swamp
Big Buck in the swamp

As a result of false fantasies of doom, our future wilderness visitors simply no longer go especially today with this whole, ridiculous “safe space” mentality.   And, as people forget all about wilderness, it will fade in the minds of future voting populations thereby turning it into merely “another usable resource” to be processed for its elements such as its vast clean water and minerals right at the surface as opposed to its beautiful aesthetics.  That would be a terrible shame especially since I grew up right here and consider the Boundary Waters Canoe Area my backyard.  Having guided day fishing trips for almost 25 years all over the place, the very thought of the future destruction of the Boundary Waters region by today’s disinterested kids and government restriction,  kind of makes me ill.    I blame people’s wussiness, unbending addiction to electronics, and environmental zealotry for the drop off in visitors to this great northern wilderness.   There’s more to life than looking at one’s cellphone and worrying about safe spaces, micro-aggressions and white privilege.  That’s all these kids talk about today while forgetting wilderness other than protesting everything outside of the wilderness boundaries to protect the wilderness.  By effect, they are doing the exact opposite and bringing about its demise in the more distant future.

I intend to change these ridiculous attitudes and save wilderness via observation and painting.  Get in a canoe and go for a paddle. Hop in a boat and go for a ride.  Take a walk in the brush and realize that you won’t die a horrible death by animals eating you.  Then come home and paint about it.  Stop whining about ridiculous, man-made-up problems and learn to do something spectacular.  Then show the world what they are missing as they stare down at their iPhones while walking off of cliffs.

So, in my effort to “save the wilderness through all people being welcomed to it for a new-found purpose of learning to paint”, I formed “Into The Brush”.   Sure, there are other ways to bring about wilderness awareness, but painting is in my wheelhouse and it actually has long lasting value as opposed to just coming up to take a canoe trip.  Tying the two together will have untold, long-lasting wonders for the one doing it.

Real wilderness brings something for everybody, including woodsmen, artists and city folk.   If we are going to “save wilderness” it will not be by having select groups controlling stringent, unbending guidelines and rules.  When the zealots have died off, there will be no one following their footsteps from the upcoming young crowd.  It will be up to an older, more dedicated group to re-sow the seeds for wilderness through observation and paint.   Wilderness travel and living is not a risk-free event like today’s college students now have to have for everything they do.   In wilderness, you can still drown if you don’t know what you are doing on water and don’t take simple precautions that you will learn in this experience.

Ultimately, saving wilderness will only occur by giving the common man a reason to enjoy and appreciate all the blessings of wilderness through real activity and participation.  Into The Brush is not an organization for zealots and pretenders.  It is here for ordinary people seeking to truly appreciate everything that wilderness brings to everybody.  It’s time we get “into the brush” in more ways than one.

This is my approach.  I hope you will join me.


 

Paint about it – Into the Brush

Into The Brush – How I Started Painting

Into The Brush – I believe you CAN!

Into The Brush – Painting & Wilderness

Into The Brush – Goals

Into The Brush Rates & Dates

Into The Brush – I believe you CAN!

Into The Brush - Saving the Future of Wilderness - One Stroke at a Time

Based on my own experiences I believe you can learn how to paint and have a great time doing it for many years.   All most people need is a foundation to build upon.  The problem is that if you were to head out to the big box art store and walk into the painting section with all those brushes, canvases, canvas boards, easels, paints, and etc., I think it is pretty overwhelming.  You can’t make up your mind.  You don’t want to buy a bunch of the wrong stuff.  You can’t really find someone to ask and you don’t know what to ask because the help is not always comprised of artists who use this stuff.  Their job is usually to find something for you and to put more product on the shelves.

Some of those places offer starting art courses which can be free or at nominal cost, but the problem I find is that you are in a larger metro area.  You find out how to begin.  You go home to your kitchen table with your new kit and what the heck do you start painting?  It’s probably a really nice kitchen in your home, but it is not conducive to painting scenes on canvas from memory.  You feel like chopping celery or beating up a poor, defenseless, egg.  I find it hard to draw inspiration from a beaten egg or celery.  That is why we are Into The Brush in northeastern Minnesota.

red canoe on shore

Out in the Wilderness – inspiring minds want to know how to capture it in paint

Into The Brush is a learn-the-basics painting program out in the northwoods of Minnesota at Northwind Lodge.  With every breath you take, every step you make,  I’ll be watching you you’ll be watching something new to lay down on canvas.  Now, I know you can get subject matter in the city as well, but  you really need to enjoy angular, linear, and round things.  There are many artists who paint architecture and do a really great job of it.  It also serves as a wonderful source for practice painting and study.  But, OMG, is it boring….    Pretty difficult to beat a beautiful lake, a creek and a waterfall white, bathed in lush green leaves and blue sky back drop.  That is our property right here.   Wake up to that every morning and tell me you don’t feel like painting something.   Take one of the lodge kayaks from our beach and paddle around Jasper Lake.  Tell me that you can’t find anything to paint after 2 hours on the water from a duck’s eye view.  Listen to Jasper Creek as it travels to Jasper Lake and see what the sound can inspire you to paint.  Pretty difficult to find  that in a metro area.  I mean, beauty exists everywhere, but it’s easier to find if it’s REALLY obvious.  Takes all the work out of finding inspiration and you can go home and paint a portrait of your pots and pans anytime thereafter.  My favorite was in one of the two art classes I took in college.  I got to stare at a huge pile of old shoes and boots and a smashed up tuba.  Try to draw garbage and find the will to keep on drawing.  I can’t believe I had to pay money for THAT!  I learned nothing of value for 10 weeks.  I didn’t pursue art in college as I would have had to smoke illegal substances to survive it.  How can anyone make something SO dull?  The wilderness out your cabin door here is anything but dull.  The most lowly blade of grass is beautiful here.  I believe painting and art should never be an exercise in tedium.

If you want to take the time and energy, I’ll help you get started with your own painted rock and other surfaces as well including canvases and glassware depending on which which package you select.  How about selling your work in the future.  Often, I hear that artists don’t sell their work because they only want to create it.  That’s great, but how does one buy more paint?  Plus, nothing says paint another one like applause AKA money.   Will you become a millionaire by selling your work?  Gosh, I really do hope so.  Nothing would make me happier!  Will you sell some of your works?  Maybe so, maybe not.  Is that your goal?  My recommendation is to “lightly” make it your goal.   Dream about it in the back of your mind and don’t get all dejected if you don’t sell one right away.  Actively selling your art is a whole ‘nother ball of wax, meaning a completely new and separate venture.  Let’s keep that goal because  a capitalistic spirit does wonders for learning but the “art part” tempers the entire personal experience with enjoying the path more than anything.  The path in painting remains the inspiration to paint.  One really can’t begin with “painting for dollars” in one’s mind.  It does not work because thinking about what will sell first limits your thinking to guessing what somebody else might be thinking.  It can be done, but you need to become one with the paint or at least get comfortable with it first.   It’s the blending of colors, following shapes, and observing, interpreting and emulating the details that has to be applied in order to paint well.  One also needs to draw inspiration and not forget that there will be moments of “blankness” just like writers (another artform) are so afflicted on occasion.

camping

The end result of your painting is the end of the path for that piece.  If you sell it – WOOHOO!  The best part is the affirmation that someone else values your work enough to take it home with them.   That is very inspiring in itself, but the competitive human spirit many times tells one to “beat” that last work.  People tend to strive for a “better” end result on the next piece.  And, if it doesn’t turn out, you can always repaint and try again!  Determination and practice always aid in the development of any skill.  Give it a good shot and see how it goes for you.

At Into The Brush at Northwind Lodge,  the goal is to learn key points that separates artists from people who believe they can’t paint.  Based on my own experiences, which I realize are different than everybody else, I still maintain that with proper attitude, a little bit of guidance, and exposure to wilderness, most people will be able to do something in a short amount of time.  Lay down the foundation and the house will go up.


Paint about it – Into the Brush

Into The Brush – How I Started Painting

Into The Brush – I believe you CAN!

Into The Brush – Painting & Wilderness

Into The Brush – Goals

Into The Brush Rates & Dates