William and Patricia Kelly honored as Watermark’s 2018 Friends of the Arts

Kellys Photo

Bill & Pat Kelly, 2018 Friends of the Arts honorees, stand in front of artwork by Hillary Kempenich at Watermark Art Center. Photo by Monte Draper.

Watermark Art Center & Keith Johanneson of Marketplace Foods announce the 2018 Friends of the Arts honorees, William and Patricia Kelly. Instituted in 1989, Friends of the Arts is a program to honor a local individual or couple who has made a significant impact to the arts in the Bemidji area.

“Bill and Pat Kelly have been an integral part of the arts community since they moved to the region in 1963,” said Lori Forshee-Donnay, executive director at Watermark Art Center. “Their dedication and support of the arts in our community is a testament, not only to their life-long passion for the arts, but to their interest to make it visible and available to all.”

Bill Kelly taught visual art at Bemidji State University for 31 years. Before teaching at the collegiate level, he was a student at Indiana State University and the Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago earning an MS in design education; he went on to earn his MFA at Northern Illinois University. Bill’s work has been exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago and the Minneapolis Institute of Art, as well as Bemidji State University. Throughout his career, Bill helped expand BSU’s art department. In the mid-1970s, he lead the conversation about the design of the new Talley Gallery. He also began Bemidji State University’s Graphic Design program in the 1990s.

Pat Kelly earned a B.S. and M.A. in English from Bemidji State University. She spent her career at North Country Health Services, retiring as Vice President of Development in 1999. Pat helped North Country develop and update its annual corporate strategic plan and had direct responsibility for establishing the NCHS Foundation, forming the foundation’s board and organizing its first million dollar fundraising campaign. Pat’s artistic interests include the literary arts, visual arts, theater and music. She has done work in writing, photography and design through the marketing side of her career and was also Chair of the Art Acquisition Committee at North Country Health, which selected and acquired art to display in the hospital. Pat has been heavily involved in community service throughout her life; in 1999, she was awarded the BSU Outstanding Alumni Award.

“Bill and Pat are extensive travelers, who have toured museums throughout the world,” said Lorie Yourd, Watermark board president. “In addition to contributing their many talents, they have brought back insights and vision from these visits that benefit our region.”

The Kelly’s both serve on the Board of Directors at Watermark Art Center. They were instrumental in leading Watermark through its recent transition to a new, state-of-the-art facility. They also support many other arts organizations in the area, including the Bemidji Symphony Orchestra and Paul Bunyan Playhouse.


Event Details

The Friends of the Arts Celebration will be held June 12 at Bear’s Lair, 21998 Lasalle Ave NW in Puposky. The event will include an appetizer buffet and open bar from 5:30 – 7, with a short program beginning at 7 p.m.

Tickets to attend this event are $50/person for Watermark members and $60 for nonmembers. In addition, an optional shuttle bus will be running from Watermark’s parking lot to Bear’s Lair. Bus tickets are an additional $10/person. Join Friends of the Arts honorees Pat and Bill Kelly on the bus for a relaxed trip to and from the event. The bus will depart at 5 p.m. To purchase a ticket, stop in to Watermark Art Center at 505 Bemidji Ave N. You can also call the Watermark at 218-444-7570.

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