Bowman artist finds inspiration to paint again at unlikely art studio

FT. LINCOLN STATE PARK (KFYR) — Art comes to life in Bowman.

The small town in southwestern North Dakota has been selected as a 2021 Artists on Main Street program by North Dakota Commerce. The initiative helps local artists bring art to their communities.

This mural on the side of the Bowman Public Library is just one of the upcoming projects in the program.

Bowman artist Marie Snavely painted the mural, titled “Blue Skies and Badlands”.

The good news: At 75, she has even more projects she wants to put paint and brush to.

Marie Snavely is not really a camper.

“No way!” she laughed.

But that didn’t stop her from settling into Fort Lincoln State Park for a week. And while she may not be a lifelong camper, Snavely is a lifelong performer.

The calm she found at this campsite was soothing and inspiring.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better place. I am overwhelmed with inspiration,” she said.

It’s a feeling she knows not to take for granted. In 2018, her husband, Les, fell ill. She quit her job as an art teacher to take care of him. She thought she would continue to paint, but stress kept her from picking up a brush.

“I didn’t know how to paint,” recalls Snavely.

Les passed away in October 2020, just after the couple celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. Mary became depressed.

“It was like my feet were in quicksand and I couldn’t move. I called my doctor and told him I needed a pill for this depression,” she said.

Instead, he told her to start exercising. So Snavely started riding a bike. She quickly found that the more she pedaled, the better she felt. She even started painting again.

“I woke up one day and painted 20 pictures!” she says.

She hasn’t stopped since.

“I paint six hours a day,” she said from her Fort Lincoln State Park campsite.

Snavely applied for this artist-in-residence at Fort Lincoln, never expecting to be selected.

“I was really surprised because I didn’t think they would be interested in someone my age,” Snavely said.

But age is just a number.

“I’m 75,” she says proudly.

A number that woke up this artist and inspired her to keep putting the brush on the canvas, no matter where she is.

Snavely says many of her paintings are inspired by landscapes she sees while riding a bicycle.

Last summer, she rode 1,500 miles on her bike.

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