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Northland Art Society

Art Gallery or Studio
part of the display area in the Northland Art Room of the Backus Community Center

The Northland Art Society has been an integral part of the borderland for over 50 years. Artists from several local communities regularly come together in room 114 of the Backus Community Center of International Falls, MN, to encourage and teach one another as they create art.

Here is a brief history of the Northland Art Society:

In 1946, the first group of painters started to meet locally in a garage and included Helen Eles, Shirley Kocinski and 4 other local artists.

In the fall of 1955, The Palette Painters Club was founded by Shirley Kocinski, Mrs. Sig Bergstedt, and International Falls art teachers Ray Berg and Leonard Melville

On June 8, 1964 the name was changed to the International Art Association and Articles of Incorporation were filed with the State of Minnesota. The purposes of this corporation [at this time] shall be: "Promote interest in and to engage actively in assisting any organization or movement, which has for its object the civic or philanthropic betterment of the community, to produce interest in literature, education, and the fine arts; to study and discuss topics of public interest; to promote proficiency and expertise in the fine arts generally; to promote and provide social and intellectual recreation for its members; to give and promote art shows, schools, lectures, celebrations and exhibitions of any and all descriptions for the general enjoyment and instruction of the members and others; to establish and own art galleries and the like and necessary equipment for them to purchase or lease lands and to maintain and operate buildings club houses, or other structures as incidental to the above purposes, and to sell, lease, mortgage, or otherwise dispose of same." The first Board of Directors consisted of Ray Berg, Millie Gladu, Signe Green, Leonard Melville, Shirley Kocinski, Marion Tibbetts, and Gene Monahan.

On February 17, 2005 the name was changed to the Northland Art Society and Amended Articles of Incorporation were filed with the State of Minnesota. The Mission Statement at this time was and continues to be: "To Promote Interest In and Creation of the Arts, with a Focus on Visual Art."

On June 15, 2006 the Northland Art Society applied for Recognition of Exemption Under Section 501c3 of the Internal Revenue Code.

From 1946 to present, local artists have banded together to paint, do pottery and glasswork, and other creating in a wide variety of locations ranging from homes, garages, churches, the Richmond Floral shop, the Public Library, the High School, the Junior High School (currently the Backus Community Center), the Community College, etc.

In October 2002 the Northland Art Society finally found a permanent place and was the first organization to rent facilities from the Backus Community Center. The Northland Art Society is very grateful to have the use of this facility for its members to fulfill their Mission Statement:

To Promote Interest and Creation Of the Arts, With a Focus on Visual Art.

Learn more about the Northland Art Society on our website,, and on Facebook:


Summer Hours: Mondays and Wednesdays, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Seasons Open

Year-round, M-Th: 10 to 3


There is a yearly membership fee, but visiting the gallery is free!

Nearby Places