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One artist brushed off obstacles to bring art to Bismarck

Published: Oct. 27, 2020 at 10:27 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - When you’re born to be something, there’s nothing that can stand in your way. That’s how one North Dakota native describes her path to becoming the artist she always knew she could be.

Mahalia Mees was born and raised in North Dakota. She knew she wanted to be an artist from an early age. So, she packed up her paint brushes and moved away to become one.

Mees ended up taking some time off, and eventually moved back home. Now, she’s back at it, doing what she loves.

With every brush stroke, Mahalia Mees is closer to her goal.

“People don’t realize that art helps the community, helps businesses and vice versa,” Mees said.

This is only Mees' second mural, but she’s been an artist for many years. About 10 years ago, she packed up her supplies and moved to California. But it wasn’t easy for the painter.

“Any of my California friends could vouch, I would always have a tote full of paint brushes and paints. I would never use them, but I would have them with me. It would bug me. It really would bother me. Every day I’d think about it. But, to be really honest-- when I was finally honest with myself-- I was just running from something. Running from myself,” she said.

Mees returned home and found the opportunity she was looking for. She was one of twelve artists selected to paint murals in Bismarck’s Art Alley.

“I did it, you know. It was also something that was not easy to do. I did it. I wanted it so bad, and I got it,” Mees said.

The achievement lit a fire under Mees. She set out to brighten up the little corner on Bowen and Washington with another project. But, it would be a long road to a final approval.

“I’d get a ‘yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, no.’ And, it was like every week for three years. And, it just really started to get me down,” she said. Mees never gave up. Her work is her proof.

“I just feel like I’m living my true purpose. And, it is crazy. Once you actually go for it-- at first it’s not easy, but doors will just start opening. I can’t explain it,” Mees said.

Mees brought a pair of wings to the city. “I think it’s a good thing. It dresses up our building,” said Lauer Auto Repair Vice President Doug Wolf.

And hidden inside, is her own angel.

“I was very, very close with my grandmother. She crossed over. I just don’t even know how we made it through-- but you do, you know? And, I actually put her name in them. I don’t think anyone will ever find it. That’s the way I wanted it because I know it’s there,” Mees said.

Mees says the wings symbolize herself, her grandmother and the hard work it takes to get where you want to be. Mees has her sights set on California once more.

She says she plans to go back and focus on her craft. She says this mural gave her confidence that she can finish anything she starts.

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