MacRostie Art Center (MAC) recently celebrated its 50th anniversary as a nonprofit arts organization serving the Itasca County area. In those 50 years, exhibits, classes, and teachers have come and gone. But for 25 of the past 50 years, one thing has remained the same: Belva Shelhamer’s woodcarving class.

Shelhamer has been carving for more than 30 years and teaching at the MAC for at least 25 of those years. From September through May, a carving class meets every Tuesday evening and Thursday morning. (They meet less frequently in the summer.) The class is comprised of students at various levels of experience – from beginning carvers trying out a new hobby to the “regulars” who come for each session. The class provides an opportunity for the woodworkers to learn from each other, share resources, and socialize while they hone their craft.

The carvers have their own studio space at the MAC, but it was not always that way. Shelhamer recalls that when she started, the group met in the old Grand Rapids Township Hall, Central School, shop rooms at the high schools, and in the MAC’s gallery space.  

The experience of learning and woodworking in a group environment provides some added encouragement for the carvers to keep at their creative practice. The results of the class have been featured in MacRostie Art Center exhibits, including a December 2015 “Woodcarving and Watercolor” feature in the Minnesota Gallery.

Woodcarving with Belva Shelhamer is offered at MacRostie Art Center on Tuesdays from 6:30-9:30 p.m. or Thursdays from 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. To enroll in the next session, contact Shelhamer at 218-326-5430. For more information about this and other classes at MacRostie Art Center, call 218-326-2697 or visit macrostieartcenter.org.

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