Crossing Arts Alliance is hosting a “Costume Party” and you’re invited.

“Costume Party” — the new Halloween-themed exhibit — opened Tuesday, Oct. 19, at the downtown nonprofit arts organization on Laurel Street and will be on display until Oct. 30.

“As you move through the gallery, you'll feel like you are walking through a party full of interesting creatures and characters all dressed up around you,” according to officials.

Martin Nelson, a Portland, Oregon-based artist, created this artwork on display in the new "Costume Party" exhibition at Crossing Arts Alliance on Laurel Street.
Martin Nelson, a Portland, Oregon-based artist, created this artwork on display in the new "Costume Party" exhibition at Crossing Arts Alliance on Laurel Street.

Martin Nelson is the media support specialist and gallery exhibition coordinator at Crossing Arts Alliance. He is also one of the five artists whose work will be on display in the holiday exhibit.

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“There really hasn't been any type of Halloween-themed show in our galleries over the years, so it is exciting to be putting this show on now,” said Nelson, a Portland, Oregon-based artist. “Halloween is my favorite holiday! I think that goes for the majority of us in this exhibition, too.”

“Costume Party” is billed as a “fun, weird and spooky” exhibition featuring the artwork of artists from across the country; there is no cost to view the exhibit.

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“Unlike other exhibitions where we might have an open call for multiple artists to submit work, we decided to focus on a small group of professional artists who create work in this type of style to be featured in this exhibition,” Nelson said.

Artists Jim Cook, Gregory Dirr, Tony Powers, Chase Vreeland and Nelson focus on the idea of a Halloween party in the exhibit with each piece incorporating figurative imagery of a costume or mask.

“Together, Chase and I worked on developing the idea of the show, what type of work would be exhibited and what artists would be included,” Nelson said.

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Vreeland came up with the idea to have a Halloween-themed exhibit. The Brainerd artist creates costumes, masks and props that specialize in the post-apocalyptic and science-fiction genre.

“Mostly, I get sent out to do production design for films, so I get sent out occasionally, out of state, to do that,” Vreeland said during a break Monday afternoon from setting up the exhibit, which includes a total of 20 pieces from the five artists featured.

“I also work at Habitat for Humanity ReStore … so I organize a lot of the stuff that you find there that I make my costumes with,” said Vreeland, who has a studio at the Franklin Arts Center on Kingwood Street in Brainerd. “I do a lot of bargain shopping and find some funky stuff.”

Vreeland said he has worked on the action-fantasy movie “The Great Wall” starring Matt Damon that was set during the Song dynasty in China and was released in 2016 — the biggest budgeted motion picture he has worked on — and flew to New Zealand for the production.

“I did some prop painting and finishing ... so they’d give us shields, all black, and then we'd go in and ‘weather it’ and kind of scuff it up,” said Vreeland, whose props, accessories and collectibles business is called “Whats Proppin.”

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Nelson primarily works as a mixed media collage artist but does painting, sculptural and installation work, too. He creates his artwork with the use of found materials and old magazines, books, newspapers and other printed matter.

“Growing up, I would always love dressing up and going out trick-or-treating,” Nelson said. “I have many wonderful memories from Halloween over the years, but I will always remember being the kid that didn't want to just dive in and eat all my candy right when I got home.”

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Nelson said he would first dump out his Halloween haul on the floor as a child and organize the treats by candy type to create a list of his sweet inventory.

“Once that was complete, I could enjoy my treats and check them off my list as they were eaten,” Nelson said.

With titles of Nelson’s artwork in the exhibition like “Carpet Creeper” and “Mind Maze,” and Vreeland’s costume designs for films, such as his vampire-hunting witch and post-apocalyptic hero, for example, the new exhibition promises a fanciful — and possibly scary — experience.

“Growing up, I would always love dressing up and going out trick-or-treating.”

— Martin Nelson, media support specialist and gallery exhibition coordinator at Crossing Arts Alliance

Nelson said of his exhibit pieces, “The pieces include raw textural and design elements, figurative and facial mask forms that reflect traditional tribal influences and the hypnotic colors of your classic funhouse experience.”

Powers of Breezy Point is a tattooist and muralist who creates work in a street art/graffiti style. Cook of Point Pleasant, New Jersey, is a freelance illustrator who works in the medium of scratchboard art, as well as with ink and acrylic paint. Dirr from Boca Raton, Florida, is a mixed media artist with pieces in the exhibit featuring acrylic painting and printing techniques.

The “Costume Party” exhibition is funded, in part, by the voters of Minnesota through grants from the Five Wings Arts Council and the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.

Crossing Arts Alliance is a 560-member arts organization comprised of artists, art enthusiasts and interested community members who hope to “inspire and enrich our community for those who create, and those who appreciate the arts.”

If you go

  • What: “Costume Party,” a limited-time Halloween-themed exhibit.

  • When: On display through Oct. 30. (Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.)

  • Where: Crossing Arts Alliance, 711 Laurel St., Brainerd.

  • Cost: Free.

  • More info: Call 218-833-0416, email or visit

FRANK LEE may be reached at 218-855-5863 or at Follow him on Twitter at