Lake Country Faces: Lake Shore police sergeant shares his artistic side

Mike Heldt paints science fiction works and portraits with oil paints

Lake Shore Police Sgt. Mike Heldt stands outside city hall Aug. 4, 2022, with a portrait of a friend's grandchild that he painted and entered in the 2022 Crow Wing County Fair. He won first place grand champion and sweepstakes for his work.
Nancy Vogt / Echo Journal

LAKE SHORE — Mike Heldt grew up in New Mexico, but when he returned to the area where he was born, he knew it was where he wanted to stay.

“After high school, I had the opportunity to come up here and work for a summer just to try something different,” Heldt said. “I got up here and it’s just like, ‘Man, there is no way I’m going back south.’”

He had moved to New Mexico from Brainerd at around age 1, but he still had relatives in the lakes area. His grandparents, Wayne and Arlene Heldt, once owned the Y Store in Merrifield and helped start the Nisswa/Pequot Lakes area food shelf.

But he never visited them in the lakes area as a child. They always ventured to New Mexico for family visits.

“The first time seeing the scenery, the trees, the water. Everything is just absolutely amazing,” Heldt said.


So he stayed.

Now Heldt is a sergeant who has worked for the Lake Shore Police Department for 19 years. He and his wife, Jamie, have been married for 22 years and have three sons.

The Lake Shore area is phenomenal. The people are phenomenal.
Lake Shore Police Sgt. Mike Heldt

When he first returned to the area, his aunt worked at Madden’s Resort and got him a summer job there. She asked if he’d ever considered college, and Heldt shared that he’d considered a law enforcement career because he had family members who were retired police officers.

That includes his grandfather who owned the Y Store after retiring as a San Diego police officer.

“It’s what drew me to the career was looking up to Grandpa, knowing that he was an officer,” Heldt said. “He was a very respectful man. I looked up to him. Just all the stories he would tell about him helping others ”

He attended Central Lakes College and became a police officer.

Heldt worked for the Baxter Police Department for four months and as a Nisswa reserve officer before joining the Lake Shore department.

“The Lake Shore area is phenomenal. The people are phenomenal,” he said.


He’s worked with Police Chief Steve Sundstrom his whole career.

“For me, it will be a very sad day when Steve does retire,” Heldt said.

Mike Heldt artwork Queen Akari.jpg
Mike Heldt hides his initials in three places in his paintings. This work is titled "Queen Akari."
Contributed / Mike Heldt

Heldt also loves art - he met his wife in an art class at CLC - and his first dream was to be a sketch artist for a police department. He is basically a self-taught artist, and he calls his artistry a side job/hobby.

“I can remember drawing as a little child,” he said. “I remember my teachers commending me, saying, ‘Mike, you do such a wonderful job.’”

He progressed from pencil to colored pencil to acrylic paint and now he works with oil paints. Growing up in the “Star Trek” and “Star Wars” era, Heldt likes doing science fiction, as well as portrait artworks. He said in the art world, he does everything “backward,” painting the foreground first and then the background.

Mike Heldt artwork Stand off.jpg
Mike Heldt titled this piece "Stand Off."
Contributed / Mike Heldt

Besides selling commission portraits to people, his house is filled with his works, and he’s exhibited his art at the Crow Wing County Fair for the past 15 years.

This August, he won first place grand champion and sweepstakes for his portrait of a friend’s grandchild.

One of the biggest inspirations for me is definitely my faith. I look outside and see the ultimate canvas - the beauty of nature. God’s the artist.
Mike Heldt

Heldt loves the detail, which is evident in his paintings and in the eyes of his subjects. He doesn’t particularly like painting hands, which he finds difficult.


“It’s calming to me. It’s very, very relaxing,” he said of painting. “I know there’s times when I’ll just get set up and I’ll start thinking of what I want to put on canvas and get the idea and I start doing it, and then before you know it, it’s like 8, 10 hours have passed, and it doesn’t seem like it.”

Mike Heldt artwork Tale of Three Cities.jpg
This oil painting by Mike Heldt is titles "Tale of Three Cities."
Contributed / Mike Heldt

A signature detail is that Heldt hides his initials in three places in each of his paintings.

“One of the biggest inspirations for me is definitely my faith,” Heldt said. “I look outside and see the ultimate canvas - the beauty of nature. God’s the artist.”

When he’s not at work or painting, Heldt and his sons collect antique fishing tackle, and they love to fish.

Heldt has no plans to leave the Lake Shore area.

“This is where I plan to retire and this is where I plan to die,” he said.

Nancy Vogt, editor, may be reached at 218-855-5877 or Follow her on Facebook and on Twitter at

Nancy Vogt is editor of the Pineandlakes Echo Journal, a weekly newspaper that covers eight communities in the Pequot Lakes-Pine River areas - from Nisswa to Hackensack and Pequot Lakes to Crosslake.

She started as editor of the Lake Country Echo in July 2006, and continued in that role when the Lake Country Echo and the Pine River Journal combined in September 2013 to become the Pineandlakes Echo Journal. She worked for the Brainerd Dispatch from 1992-2006 in various roles.

She covers Nisswa, Pequot Lakes, Lake Shore and Crosslake city councils, as well as writes feature stories, news stories and personal columns (Vogt's Notes). She also takes photos at community events.

Contact her at or 218-855-5877 with story ideas or questions. Be sure to leave a voicemail message!
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