Bellanger family contributes to Native American expression on Franklin Avenue

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It is one thing to be able to market other people’s creativity. It is another to create your own fine art. Greg Bellanger, one of the principals of Northland Native Products, Inc., situated in the Ancient Traders Market, is an individual who covers both realms brilliantly. For 12 years father Ken, mother Marilyn and Greg have anchored their space in what has become and should continue being the Native American corridor of our city. It was 1999 when the principals involved in what was then AIBDC, American Indian Business Development Corporation, approached Ken, who is of the Leech Lake Tribe, to create a store space at the emerging Ancient Traders Market. Ken and Marilyn had already marketed gift baskets of native Minnesotan wild rice, maple syrup, jellies, etc., to corporate clients in an effort to showcase the unique products derived from Native American traditions.

AIBDC thought they were perfect candidates to run a retail gallery that would also showcase Native American art and crafts. An added benefit for the Bellangers, and even more so for the art collector with a keen eye, was the coinciding emergence of son Greg’s talent as an artist of Native American traditions with an innovative link to the contemporary. Greg attended the University of Wisconsin-Stout, in the Graphic Design and Fine Arts Program, as well as St. Paul College of Art and Design. He became very familiar with the artistry of Cecile Taylor’s beadwork, Joanne Bird of South Dakota, and her use of acrylic and sculpture, Gordon Van Wert, Red Lake, and Allen White because these were some of the artists showcased within their gallery space at Northland Native Products.

Currently, Greg’s parents are proud of his Traditional Ojibwe Cradle Board which has been selected to be part of the traveling “Mni Sota: Reflections of Time and Place” art exhibit, now showing at All My Relations Gallery on Franklin Avenue.

This display will also travel to southern Minnesota the month of January, back to the Kathryn E. Nash Gallery of Minneapolis, Feb. 14 through March 15 of 2012. Then the Mille Lacs Museum in Onamia, Minn., will house the exhibit from April 1 through May 18 of 2012, concluding with the dates of May 28 through June 30 at the Tweed Museum in Duluth, Minn.

All in all, the Bellangers have demonstrated their ability to select and display fine art, and promote and develop local artists. Marilyn says the reward of buying directly from the artists and receiving the support of the community has them hoping to realize their next desire: expanding the crafts side further with workshops, demonstrations, lectures and shows in such items as beadwork and embroidery.

Northland Native Products is located at 1113 Franklin Ave. Hours are 9 -5 Mon – Sat.

All My Relations Gallery is at 1414 E. Franklin Ave. Gallery hours are 2-6 Tues. – Fri. and 11-3 Sat. and Sun. The show ends Dec. 16.