When she was in the fifth grade, JoAnn Almich had her first commissioned piece of art - designing the program cover for the children's operetta at the Minneota School.
It wasn't paid of course, she said, as she probably just got a pat on the back for her efforts.
But since then, the Minneota native has gone on to work in many different forms of art - from pen and ink drawings to calligraphy to watercolors. Almich's artwork will be on display in the exhibit "Creative Passion" through April 30 at the K.K. Berge gallery in downtown Granite Falls. The exhibit is being put on by the Granite Area Arts Council. An art reception will be from 7-9 p.m. Friday, April 14.
Almich and her family lived in Granite Falls for 35 years, owning the Super Valu grocery store. She said she started doing calligraphy back in the early 1980s.
"I always loved writing, not necessarily composing things," she said. "I would always look at letters."
She said she also liked to draw.
"I just loved to do things with my hands," she said. She said in her artist statement that creativity was all around her - her father was a contractor and her mother and grandmother were beautiful seamstresses. "I guess I came by it naturally."
Almich joined the Colleagues of Calligraphy in the Twin Cities in the 1980s and is currently the program director. She also has taught calligraphy.
Throughout the years, Almich has taken a number of art classes from well-known artists, she said. Some of those have been through the Colleagues of Calligraphy, some have been at workshops at various conventions.
"That gave me a strong urge and desire to do more," she said. "I just studied under a lot of people."
One of the classes she has taken was the art of Zentangle, which is making shapes with pen and ink.
"It's kind of like a doodle art," she said. Almich said that the Zentangle art form calms the mind, improves focus and reduces stress. "Anyone can do it. There's a lot of good things about it."
Almich said she also likes to challenge herself in art.
"I don't think anything is too hard until I try it," she said, adding that she doesn't have a fear to jump in and try something, including Zentangle.
A couple of years ago, Almich made the piece "Just Friends." The Brush and Palette Club of Alexandria was presented with a challenge to work with the Central Lakes Symphony Orchestra. She said 65 entries from the art club were submitted, along with "Just Friends." Five were selected, which included Almich's work. "Just Friends" became part of Dr. Maurice Monhardt's musical composition "Five Glances into an Art Museum."
"It's light," Almich said of the movement that was based on her artwork, noting that the three main instruments were bassoon, oboe and flute. "You can hear and feel the fish just swimming around. The music fit each piece very nicely."
Almich started learning watercolor about four to five years ago, she said. As for her exhibit in Granite Falls, she said it's a collaboration of many forms - several watercolors, calligraphy and zentangle.
"It's kind of a combination of the things I like," Almich said. "It will be colorful."