Pine River's Dabill to receive arts award


The Five Wings Arts Council (FWAC) has selected Pine River artist Myrle Dabill to receive an Outstanding Community Arts Leadership Award for Cass County.

Sue Gens, executive director of the Minnesota State Arts Board, will present the award at the region-wide Celebration of the Arts on Thursday, March 31, at Great River Arts in Little Falls. The public is invited to attend. Ticket information can be found or call 877-654-2166 or email

The Outstanding Community Arts Leader Awards are given to individuals whose leadership and promotion of the arts have enriched their community. In all cases, the recipient has contributed their time, energy and resources to make the arts accessible to all as a way to improve life in their communities.

These award recipients continually encourage artists in the creative process, support education in the arts, and frequently are personally involved with creating and producing some form of artistic discipline.

Dabill has played a significant role in making the arts accessible to everyone in the Pine River area. From her teaching days in a rural country schoolhouse to her leadership roles with the Pine River Art Club, Dabill has used the arts to bring greater meaning to life in northern Minnesota.

Dabill regularly used art to help her students better understand a wide variety of subject matter, from history to science, when she taught in one-room schoolhouses with over 30 children in grades K-12.

In 1961, she joined the brand new Pine River Art Club, where she served as president for 22 years. Even today, at 94 years old, she continues to attend weekly meetings, where members critique each others' work and learn new techniques. Having tried a wide variety of media in her painting, Dabill prefers watercolor and recently completed two paintings, which sold soon after they were completed.

She continues to exhibit her work in the annual Pine River Art Show, where her work stands out for its quality and abundance.

Always a teacher, Dabill began instructing painting workshops in 1979, and is also responsible for coordinating the visits of many notable artists to Pine River, where they led workshops, enhancing the training of area artists.

She continues to be a mentor and provides drawing lessons to an 8-year-old girl on a regular basis.

According to local resident Michael Sander, "Myrle is no doubt both expert and prolific, and has been very influential on the local painting community in Pine River. She has helped to enhance the lives of many people here."

In addition to her painting, Dabill enjoys illustration. A favorite project involved collaborating with her late husband, Don Dabill, on a book called "We like it Here." This is a small book of his poems and her pen and ink illustrations. A later edition, published in 1993, also includes photos of some of her paintings. It is available at the Pine River Library.

FWAC will also present the Community Arts Leadership award to Otto Ringle, Walker, as well as the recipients from the other four counties of Region Five, its service area. Two couples, David and Marilyn Bengtson (Long Prairie) and Luan Thomas-Brunkhorst and Juergen Brunkhorst (Long Prairie) will be recognized from Todd County; Haddie Hadachek and David Boran, both of Brainerd, for Crow Wing County: Laura Hansen and Heidi Jeub, both of Little Falls, for Morrison County; Bernie Nelson (Wadena) and Lonnie Schmidt (Menahga) for Wadena County.

The Outstanding Arts Organization of the Year will be given to the Lakes Area Music Festival based in Brainerd. Sheila Smith of the Minnesota Citizens for the Arts will present this year's Outstanding Arts Advocate and Leader Award to Mary Anne Bennett of Brainerd.

The Celebration of the Arts will culminate with the presentation of the 2016 Gilded Feather Master Artist Awards, which will be presented to Jeff Kreitz, a sculptor from Breezy Point, and Doris Stengel, a poet from Brainerd.

Delina White, Walker, was selected to create the one-of-kind, handcrafted awards using her Anishinaabe-inspired fabric and bead designs. Kent Scheer, Wadena, designed and hand-crafted the one-of-a-kind, custom designed and handcrafted brass, aluminum and copper livery collar-style Gilded Feather Master Artist Award. Both are active artists and recipients of grant support from Five Wings.