KENMARE - It's rare when someone's passions can be parlayed into a full-time career, but that's exactly what Kenmare artist Jane Kalmbach has been able to do.
After growing up in Flaxton and graduating from high school there, Kalmbach tried her hand at cosmetology school in Minot before returning to her childhood home and marrying her husband, Lance.
She had taken piano lessons as a child, and followed that up after her marriage with advanced training in Canada.
Dan Feldner/MDN •
Jane Kalmbach sits in her home Thursday, surrounded by some of her favorite passions — music and art. Kalmbach teaches piano for a living and also gives art lessons to students during the school year as well as in the summer.
"After I was married, I went up to Canada and took ... some advanced courses and did some tests up there with The Royal Conservatory," Kalmbach said.
Kalmbach now gives private piano lessons full time in her Kenmare home, earning a living for something she has been doing since she was a child.
Although she loved to draw as well as play the piano when she was young, Kalmbach said it wasn't until several years ago that her interest in art was rekindled.
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"It's been six or seven years ... I decided just to try a class down here with the (Lakeview) Art Club and just literally fell in love with it," she said.
Kalmbach found that art came easily to her, and her skills quickly grew with every class she took. While she enjoys a wide variety of mediums, including drawing, acrylics, water color, oil and charcoal, it's pastels that Kalmbach particularly loves.
"I just love getting my fingers in and creating, really, with my fingertips - there's no brushes involved," Kalmbach said. "You can mix so many colors and ... I love the softness of it when I do animals. There's nothing I don't like about it."
Kalmbach has a Web site showcasing some of her artwork at (www.dakotablessings.artfire.com).
Kalmbach's skills have grown so much that she has even had some of her artwork displayed in the state Capitol. Every year a program coordinated through the North Dakota Council on the Arts exhibits four artists in the Capitol, including the offices of the governor, first lady and attorney general. Kalmbach was selected last summer and exhibited her artwork January through March of this year.
"Nobody bought anything, but I did get some nice comments when we went to pick it up. There were a few different ones that commented they liked it and that they'll miss looking at it because they enjoyed it," Kalmbach said. "Better than having them say, 'Thank God it's gone.'"
After she took enough classes and got enough practice to become comfortable with her artistic skills, Kalmbach turned to teaching others what she had learned.
"I took a lot of classes, read a lot of books, and I started teaching in the schools with the North Dakota Council on the Arts grants. I think I've done that five years," she said. "And again, the more I've done that the more I've tried to read more books or take more classes myself. I'm going up to International Music Camp this summer to take adult (art) classes for more education."
"And you learn with the kids," she added with a laugh.
Kalmbach teaches seven weeks at school in the fall and seven more weeks in the spring. Among the things she teaches are basic drawing techniques, pastels, acrylics, water color and clay, which she said the children love working with.
This is another program through the North Dakota Council on the Arts, and Kalmbach had to write the grants herself at first.
"I started in Bowbells. They'd asked if I was interested in teaching up there, and then I had heard about these art grants available, so I just pursued it and wrote the first grants myself," she said. "Now the teachers write the grants."
Her teaching has expanded over the years to include some other programs. Earlier this year Kalmbach helped local students prepare their artwork for the Junior Duck Stamp Contest, which is a nationwide program that tasks students with creating a waterfowl picture to be placed on the upcoming Junior Duck Stamp.
"It went really well. I did the fourth-, fifth- and sixth-grade here in Kenmare. The kids did great," she said.
Kalmbach said four of the students received honorable mentions, while an older student who came to her house for help got a second place while another got an honorable mention.
The program went so well that the Des Lacs National Wildlife Refuge is asking her to teach again next year, and this time will be paying her.
"So this was a volunteer, and next year I got a job," she said.
An upcoming program she is excited about is the Kenmare Summer Arts Institute, which has workshops in writing, visual arts and dramatic arts. It begins the week of May 18 and runs through the week of June 28, with public performances on July 1.
This is the third year that Kalmbach, who teaches the visual arts workshops, and Caroline Downs, who teaches the writing and dramatic arts workshops, will be holding the program.
"This is really her idea," Kalmbach said. "She did this before where she used to live."
The workshops are open to all area students going into grades five and above. The fee is $15 per child, with an additional $5 per workshop if the child enrolls in more than one. Families with two or more children enrolled will pay $10 for each additional child's first workshop, and $5 for each additional workshop.
The deadline to apply is May 6. For more information, contact Kalmbach at 385-4528, or Downs at either 385-4275 or 377-3567.
Last year there were 32 students from five different communities who attended the workshops. The program is funded through Kenmare Veterans Gaming and the City of Kenmare. Last year they also received a special project grant through the North Dakota Council on the Arts.
"Our real purpose for the program is just to reach out to the kids and let them explore visual arts and their own writing creativity, in hopes, of course, they'll grow up and want to continue," she said. "I think the best thing about our program is we only charge $15 for the students to participate, and we return that money at the end if they come every time."
Along with the public performance, the students also go to the local nursing home and hospital to show off their progress. Kalmbach and Downs feel having the children share their talents and time with the elderly and other community members is important because the students do a good job and need to take pride in their accomplishments. Their artwork is also submitted to the North Dakota State Fair.
"So our hopes are to reach out to some of the kids that maybe don't get the opportunities to go to other camps, or maybe they're not involved in softball or different things. This might give them a place to go, have fun, create," she said.