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Updated: November 5, 2022 @ 9:07 am
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For 35 years, the East Central Regional Arts Council has been sponsoring the IMAGE Art Show, an event that got its start, according to Executive Director Mary Minnick-Daniels, to assist artists. 
The show is back focusing on the importance of showcasing artists, their artworks, and “to have a celebration of and with them,” Minnick-Daniels said. The juried IMAGE Art Show will take place at Mora’s Grand Event Center on Nov. 4 and 5, 2022.
When IMAGE started, ECRAC did not have the grants now available for the many artists in the region. 
“With the art show, artists could receive both merit and purchase awards in appreciation of their artwork, Minnick-Daniels said. “Now the Council has five separate grant programs for them.”
Changes have occurred in the last 35 years. For example, Minnick-Daniels said, “Originally, and up until a few years ago, the IMAGE Art Show would be hosted by various art groups in the five-county (Chisago, Isanti, Kanabec, Mille Lacs, and Pine) region. For example, the Kanabec County Artists Association was a host a number of times. Then every five years the Regional Arts Council would host the show itself.  
“Once the interest in the show grew substantially (the number of artists entering was more than 150 each year) and when the Regional Arts Council had a larger space to host the show they started, hosting it yearly themselves. This year is sort of a hybrid because there are local artists working on putting the show together, but we are using the Grand Event Center in Mora because of the size of the space.”
The time of year the event was held has also varied over the years, having been held in the fall and then moving to the spring.
“Now for the 35th anniversary, we are back to the fall,” Minnick-Daniels said. “Another big impact has been COVID. We were unable to have the show in person at all in 2020 and then in 2021, only the award-winning pieces were exhibited in person. Because of this it moved to an online art show.”
This year, both online and in-person art will be shown
“We cannot wait to see everyone in person again,” Minnick-Daniels said. “All works of art entered will be at the Grand Event Center in Mora, and then the award-winning pieces will be exhibited for two weeks at the East Central Regional Arts Council in Hinckley. But if you can’t attend in person for any reason you can also enjoy all of the artwork entered on the ECRAC website.”
Best artists
Minnick-Daniels said that ECRAC Region 7E has always had some of the best artists in the state. To be entered into the show, a piece of art must be both conceived and executed by the artist themselves.  
“Other than that stipulation, we have seen quite a variety in both mediums of artwork and the materials used to create the art. In addition, you needn’t have any previous experience to enter this show,” she said. “This means it becomes a wonderful mix of both experienced and brand-new artists, all being celebrated and lifted up for appreciation.”
The IMAGE event is a visual art show, and artists must enter in the category of the medium they are using. Artists are asked to title and classify their artworks so the curator is able to exhibit them correctly.
“For example, with a painting, we ask the artists to wire the back for hanging, or with a sculpture, we ask that it not be electronic. We have often needed to specify the size of artwork to be entered so that it can fit into the doors of the venue,” Minnick-Daniels said.   
Artworks for the show can be two- or three-dimensional and can be decorative or functional. 
“In the past, we have had ceramics, drawing, painting, sculpture, printmaking, photography, found art, textile arts and more,” she said. “If you wonder if your piece qualifies, or not, feel free to reach out to us by email at image@ecrac.org. We are happy to help out and give encouragement.”
Not a juried show
Unlike juried art shows, ECRAC allows all artists and artwork in the IMAGE show. Before the opening reception of the show, two experienced judges will decide on the excellence, merit, and best in show awards, Minnick-Daniels said, adding that the judges have been chosen but won’t be named until after artist registration closes on Oct. 15.  
“After the judges make their award decisions then the Regional Arts Council board members will choose ‘purchase’ awards,” she said, meaning the board will buy works of art to be added to the permanent collection of regional artworks. “This is the only collection of its type in Minnesota. At the artist reception, the judges will give a presentation on why they chose the award-winning pieces, and the artists will receive the payments for their awards. It is an exciting time for all.”
Minnick-Daniels encourages all artists to enter the IMAGE show, whether new or experienced, whether they have sold artwork in the past, or whether they were “trained professionally, self-taught, or, for example, by your grandmother. You and your artwork are welcome here to be part of the arts community and this celebration.” 
According to a news release from ECRAC, there is no fee to participate in IMAGE. However, artists wishing to exhibit a work of art in the IMAGE Art Show must read and complete an online entry form and submit it before or on the deadline date of Oct. 15, 2022. No late entries can be accepted. Artists needing assistance with entries or if they have any questions can leave a message at 320-591-7032, or preferably, email image@ecrac.org.
All IMAGE Art Show exhibitors must be at least 18 years old and be residents of Region 7E (the Minnesota Counties of Chisago, Isanti, Kanabec, Mille Lacs, and Pine). Artwork must be original (conceived and executed by you, the artist
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