WHITE BEAR LAKE, 142.9 m. (941 alt., 2,600 pop.), is a resort town favored by St. Paulites. Indians believed that the lake, whose shores are lined with summer homes, was haunted by the spirit of a white bear, slain by a brave as it was about to attack his beloved.

— Minnesota, A State Guide (WPA, 1938)

Artist and Guide to Minnesota Nate Burbeck scouts around the country, shooting panoramic images to use as the basis of his paintings. We’ll be bringing you another post with the results of this expedition, but for now, part one of his dispatch:

The first cluster of photos I took was in White Bear Lake, Minn., a northern, “inner-ring” suburb of St. Paul that I suppose I would categorize as older (post-War housing boom), with maybe even slightly blue-collar type of neighborhoods — at least when compared to some of the further out, newer exurbs I’ve photographed before. 

A few weeks later I drove up I-94 to Stearns County, Minn., to take pictures of a small cluster of houses just outside the St. Joseph/St. Cloud area. This part of Central Minnesota (and Stearns County in particular) is considered by many to be one of the more politically conservative areas in the state. I even saw a yellow “Don’t Tread on Me” flag flying on a pole in one of the neighboring yards (not pictured here). Though still mostly rural, the area’s been steadily growing as more people have flocked to commuter towns spilling out of the Twin Cities Metro. The housing sites I photographed here worked very well and thankfully the weather was nice and gloomy — just what I was hoping for. It’s a lot more open than the more established suburb of White Bear Lake, and the house/backyard I ended up using for my painting is right next to unused wooded areas and small-scale farmland that surrounds it.

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Nate Burbeck is a State Guide to Minnesota and an At-Large Guide to the Midwest. he curates a few regionally-themed art tumblrs — beyond 9th avenue (Northeastern artists), fly over art (Midwestern artists) and in the new frontier (Western artists) and has himself been named one of “Ten Artists to Watch in 2013" on the Walker Art Center’s mnartists blog. Follow Nate’s work on Tumblr at nburbeck.tumblr.com or on his website.