Red Lake Nation News - Babaamaajimowinan (Telling of news in different places)

Indigenous artist Brian Dow finds success 'painting for the people'


February 22, 2021

Brian Dow, a visual artist based in Bemidji who paints primarily Anishinaabe inspired designs, sits in his apartment in front of some of his work on Feb. 17. Dow recently began selling his original designs on face masks, one of which ended up on the face of U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar in Congress. (Hannah Olson / Bemidji Pioneer)

BEMIDJI -- When Brian Dow was starting out as an artist, he tried to sell his paintings in the Walmart parking lot to make ends meet. Passersby laughed at him.

"There are hundreds of times that I wanted to give up," Dow said. "I told myself, 'I'm going to prove to these people that I'm going to make it,' because they laughed at me. I thought while you go to work 8 to 4:30, (and) you don't like your job, I'm doing what I like to do."

Their laughter didn't dissuade him, it instead fueled him to press on. Now, a mere seven years later, some of his paintings have sold for five-figure prices and earlier this month one of his designs was sported by U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn. in the Congressional House Chamber in Washington, D.C.


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