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Taube Museum of Art youth movement and its connections in the community

Brandon Carr/MDN Taube Museum of Art is located in Downtown Minot.

Growing up in a military family, Rachel Alfaro spent seven years in sunny Florida before attending Minot State University for its art program from 2012-2017. Ready for a new adventure plus affordability and numerous scholarships, were some of the many reasons why MSU was the destination.

“To me, Minot is an artistic community. I came here for the arts. For a smaller area compared to where I grew up, we have more arts here. The community is supportive of our artists here. We have a lot of galleries, museums, tons of downtown events that support the arts. It’s really supportive,” said Alfaro.

A little over a year ago, Alfaro started her career at the Taube Museum of Art as the gallery coordinator. After a few months, previous director Nancy Walter decided to retire. While pregnant, the museum board and staff got behind Alfaro as her experience of working with other organizations accompanied with her major in arts and a minor in marketing qualified her for the position. She decided to apply and ultimately got the job.

Being an executive director involves balancing a lot of paperwork, finances, setting up and booking shows, gallery work, cleaning the facility, the hanging of the paintings, and the development of future projects. There’s grant writing going on, which consists of filling out proposals and the wrap up of grants that were received and funded a project.

“I love working with the artist and seeing the different artwork that goes through here. I get excited about how to display (the artwork) and to bring attention to the artist by helping them get their name out there by showing their beautiful works,” said Alfaro.

Becoming a new mother while managing the limited staff of the Taube is an ongoing challenge for Alfaro. Including herself, the museum staffs two members. First is gallery coordinator Charlie Lee, and his mother, Margaret Lee, who is the education coordinator and a board member.

“We have support from the volunteers in the community that come in and help, support from my boyfriend, who babysits as much as he can. I’m a little hesitant with daycare because I’m a new mom. People love seeing a baby here, so it probably helps, especially when she waves at them,” said Alfaro.

Alfaro said the Taube plans to make the exhibits more exciting in the future by including additional classes that relate to presentations as well as demonstrations that are unique and interesting for the viewer.

“There’s this notion for some people that they come in, see the artwork hanging, and that’s it,” said Alfaro. “Things are going on all the time besides the artwork hanging on the walls. We change the artwork all the time. We have different things going on all the time, so there are reasons to keep coming in. Every time you come back and visit, you should expect to see something different.”

Currently, the museum has three annual fundraisers with the hopes of getting a fourth. Another celebration of the arts will take place sometime in June. The event is a festival for the people that will feature artists and vendors. Previously, the Taube used to hold such events but had to suspend operations due to the difficulty of arranging the event, explained Alfaro.

“It became too much work for so little people, but we’re working on it. Hopefully, we are bringing it back,” said Alfaro.

She went on to say, “We remodeled to give it a more modern look, and we’re looking to start bringing in more modern artists as well. We’re just trying to bring the museum up to speed while giving it a fresh look by making it a space that is interesting to both our current population of people coming in regularly but also bringing in a younger crowd as well.

“We’ve done a lot of little things to the museums look, like the walls, which used to be a darker tan, we painted them white.”

The Taube recently set up a portable museum at the Minot Relay for Life to fight cancer with art. Alfaro said co-organizer Polly Klemp had reached out to her in support of the Artisans Against Cancer fundraiser by bringing artwork for display for guests to look at to give the event more of an artsy feel, Alfaro recalled.

“I said yes, of course, I brought a representation of artists from our gift shop. I’m trying to be as involved as I can with other people’s projects and fundraisers and things of that nature when they reach out for help. I do want to be more involved with the community,” said Alfaro.

One of the Taube’s most successful campaigns was Soup It Up, which is an evening social that included a night of art, a silent auction, a raffle for a gift card tree, and beer and wine tastings. This past February, the event doubled the amount of income compared to 2019, marking the most successful Soup It Up since 2012.

“We had more of an open layout compared to years past. For starters, the event took place in the evening instead of during lunch hours, which brought more attendance. We had free alcohol at the event, which always helps. We had a gift card raffle for over 500 dollars, which every ticket sold out, which was great. We didn’t have art vendors this year as we had more of a focus on the food. Normally, the event takes place at different venues around Minot, but we’ve had it here for the past two years. We had more seating compared to last year’s more upscale event, which involved a lot of walking and wondering.”

Alfaro said it was encouraging and wonderful to have the support from the community. There were a lot of changes for the fundraiser compared to years past, which could get worrisome because society is hesitant toward change.

“We want to do things that interest the community by the trends that are happening. For instance, there’s a lot of fluid art painting that people are doing right now like Pete and Tammy Hoffert, who were on display Feb. 19-March 28. Tammy would pour (a mixture of) colors into a pink cup and then poured it onto the white canvas, and then it spreads out. People like to do it, and we want to give them a venue to do that, so we provide the supplies, of course. We offer wine to those 21 and older during some of our classes as well.”

Under its new leadership, the Taube has been incorporating trends while using technologies to advance the culture when creating new campaigns. Particularly in advertising, the use of movement catches people’s eyes, according to Alfaro. She said she’s been trying new eye-catching advertisements like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. The social media platforms are used for short videos and gifs to get art enthusiasts and everyday people’s attention as far as likes or just people stopping to watch their advertisement.

“I’ve been trying to push sustainability more by moving toward economic practices and products that are better for the environment. When people bring us their regular or shredded paper and plastic goods, we reuse them for our kids projects and things of that nature.”

Establishing a connection with people is what Alfaro values the most. She stressed the importance of knowing the patrons and people in the community who regularly attend the museum. A future goal moving forward is creating partnerships with businesses.

In May, the Taube and Main Street Books are collaborating for an exhibition. The venture will feature a group of events throughout the month, with the first being related to book arts. Usually, two exhibits are going on at one time. The main gallery will feature works by Arvin Davis Jr., and the lower gallery will hold events that relate to the book arts exhibit. Both organizations will hold events that coincide with each other while supporting one’s business.

“It’s very therapeutic being an artist. It’s satisfying to have the finished product you’ve made in front of you. It gives you a sense of completion. If you’re dealing with anything, the process is very therapeutic, especially when you’re stressed out. Being an artist helps you calm your mind.”

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