Multi-generational artists turned out to be a recurring theme for this year's "150 Sails Up in DL" public art project.

Three parent-child pairs of artists designed sailboats for the project, including Twyla Bucholz and Tanya Strom; Hans and Megan Gilsdorf; and Becky and Emma Mitchell.

The Mitchells, who live in rural Lake Park, did not originally intend to be a part of the project, as neither of them submitted proposals when the call for artists went out last October.

"I knew about the project, as I am on the planning committee for the 150th (anniversary)," said Becky, referring to the Detroit Lakes Sesquicentennial celebration, which is occurring throughout the year.

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Because her "day job" is serving as the executive director of the Becker County Museum, she added, "I wanted to make sure the museum had one (of the sailboats). Dave and April Thomas graciously agreed to sponsor one of the larger sailboats for our facility, and when April asked me if I would be the artist, I said yes."

Becky was subsequently asked by the library committee at the Detroit Lakes Public Library to design their sailboat as well. Emma's involvement came a little later, when 150 Sails Up organizer Mary Beth Gilsdorf was looking for artists to contribute to the "Retail Sails" part of the project, where about a dozen of the smaller sailboats would be put up for public sale.

The elder Mitchell, who is otherwise known as "The Glass Lady," has an art studio in Lake Park, but both she and Emma ended up working on their designs in a smaller, home-based studio setup.

Becky stuck to the glass mosaic format that she had popularized as the main artist and organizer for the Historic Holmes Theatre's Mosaic Mania arts outreach project several years ago, while Emma decided to use acrylic paint as her medium of choice.

"Emma's constantly painting and drawing," Becky said. "She's very artistic."

Emma's design, "Calming Mayhem," uses multiple colors in a gradient pattern, overlaid with a black line drawing.

Emma Mitchell with her "Calming Mayhem" sailboat at the Sailboat Regatta Party on April 30. (Submitted photo)
Emma Mitchell with her "Calming Mayhem" sailboat at the Sailboat Regatta Party on April 30. (Submitted photo)

"The drawing uses a technique called Zentangle," Emma explained, noting that the black lines represented the mayhem, while the soothing colors in the background were meant to represent a calming influence.

Emma Mitchell's small sailboat, titled "Calming Mayhem," is on display in the main lobby of the Becker County Museum at 714 Summit Ave. (Submitted photo)
Emma Mitchell's small sailboat, titled "Calming Mayhem," is on display in the main lobby of the Becker County Museum at 714 Summit Ave. (Submitted photo)

Becky's designs were a bit less abstract than her daughter's. The first, which was for the museum, was titled simply "Re-Imagine," a reference to the fundraising slogan for the museum's $6.8 million project to build a new facility.

The design featured a wagon wheel, compass and machine gear and other objects referencing the museum's threefold focus on history, science and children's programming.

Becky Mitchell with her "Re-Imagine" sailboat designed for the Becker County Museum. (Submitted photo)
Becky Mitchell with her "Re-Imagine" sailboat designed for the Becker County Museum. (Submitted photo)

The design for the Friends of the Library, meanwhile, was titled "Unlimited Curiosity," and focused on the idea of reading books as a window for expanding one's knowledge of the world.

"I struggled with the library's design a little bit," Becky admitted, but it ultimately came together.

Mosaic artist Becky Mitchell with Detroit Lakes Public Library director Greta Guck, next to the library-sponsored sailboat that Mitchell created for the "150 Sails Up in DL" public art project. Mitchell also created a sailboat for the Becker County Museum, of which she is the executive director. (Vicki Gerdes / Tribune)
Mosaic artist Becky Mitchell with Detroit Lakes Public Library director Greta Guck, next to the library-sponsored sailboat that Mitchell created for the "150 Sails Up in DL" public art project. Mitchell also created a sailboat for the Becker County Museum, of which she is the executive director. (Vicki Gerdes / Tribune)

"I would say that each sailboat probably took over 100 hours of work," Becky said. "You’re putting each piece on by hand, one by one. And you have to prep all of your glass beforehand; it doesn't come in small pieces. You have to sit and cut them down to size."

Emma, meanwhile, said that she worked diligently on her sailboat's design over a period of several weeks. Both her smaller sailboat and Becky's larger one will be on display at the museum through the end of the year, with Becky's larger sailboat located outside the museum's main entrance, and Emma's located in the museum's main lobby.

Eventually, Becky added, her daughter's sailboat will end up displayed in her office in the new museum building, which is slated for completion next year. The larger sailboat will also be displayed outside the entrance of the new building, which is being built adjacent to the Historic Holmes Theatre on Summit Avenue.

The Friends of the Library sailboat, meanwhile, is on display outside the public library at 1000 Washington Ave., where it will be permanently housed.

Where to find the sailboats

All 150 sailboats created for the "150 Sails Up" art project are now up and ready for public viewing at locations in and around Detroit Lakes.

There is an interactive map showing all of the sailboat locations available at the Detroit Lakes Sesquicentennial website, dl150.com/sailboat. The map includes listings of all the sculptures, the artists who designed them, and where they are located, including both a GPS locator on the map (depicted by a tiny sailboat) and the location's street address. Links to the artists' and sponsors' commercial websites are also included where applicable.

The map is designed to be usable via both desktop and mobile devices. A print edition of the map is also available at many of the sailboat locations around town.