By Louise Oleson
Journal Staff Writer
Anne-Marit Bergstrom, local artist, was commissioned to do two special paintings for the Devils Lake Area Chamber of Commerce's beautiful new offices.
The first, titled "Enjoying the Enchanted Waters - The Shores of Devils Lake circa 1900", is oil on masonite and measures 85 by 37 inches.
In the late 1800's, early 1900' Devils Lake was described as an inland sea - a picturesque, enchanted miniature ocean of salt water in the heart of the prairie. Originally named "Minnewaukan" by the Sioux Indians who lived on its shores, "waukan" is the Sioux work for holy or spirit.
Bergstrom's painting depicts a beautiful body of saltwater where the steamboat "Minnie H" plied the waters carrying passengers, freight, and mail between Devils Lake, Minnewaukan, Fort Totten, Grahams Island, and other points of interest on the lake. The steamboat, built and commanded by Captain E.E. Heerman, carried as much as 1,400 tons of freight during peak seasons which was usually the same time as the Chautauqua celebration in June and July. The passenger load could number 500 for the 30 mile trip around the lake.
The second painting Bergstrom completed for the Chamber offices is titled "Something Good is Coming To You - North Dakota Chautauqua Scene circa 1903", measures 88 by 46 inches, and is also oil on masonite.
The North Dakota Chautauqua was established at Lakewood Park on the shores of Devils Lake in 1893, just four short years after statehood. Designated the official North Dakota Chautauqua site, the attractions included Williams Jennings Bryan, Carry Nation, Billy Sunday, and Theodore Roosevelt.
"Something Good is Coming to You..." was the timeless slogan of the ND Chautauqua which both then and now is dedicated to bringing the latest and greatest talent to the Lake Region.
Chautauqua featured programs that included religion, education, culture, recreation, and entertainment for the entire family. Pioneer families enjoyed exploring the latest inventions and fashions. The first car in the Lake Region appeared at Chautauqua, like the one pictured in Bergstrom's painting.
Also featured in the painting is the private short-line railroad called the Chautauqua Airline - called 'airline' because of the open sided cars - which ran from the city's railroad station to the state Chautauqua grounds at Lakewood, round trip fare was 25 cents.
Chautauqua is important to the history of the Lake Region and many descendants of pioneers can tell tales of family adventures where some families built summer homes at the Chautauqua site while others pitched tents to be able to stay for weeks at a time. Indian families set up teepees for extended stays and together residents of the Lake Region expanded their knowledge and established meaningful friendships.
The artist is a fourth generation North Dakotan. Three of her grandparents and two of her great grandparents pioneered in Dakota Territory. She has been recipient of the North Dakota governor's Award for the Arts in recognition of her role in making the arts a vital part of community life. Her great inspirations are her family, past and present, and her time studying with Oscar Kokoschka in Salzburg, Austria. Her artwork springs from her love of the Midwest and its people. She believes that here in the Heartland we enjoy an enviable quality of life.
Bergstrom's two paintings will be permanently displayed one on each side of the reception area of the Devils Lake Area Chamber's Visitor's Center for everyone to enjoy.