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Bryan Horwath, Forum News Service, Published December 08 2013

Police officer artist finds inspiration in Badlands

MEDORA, N.D. – For contemporary pen and ink artist Russ Lapp, nothing beats the scenic backdrops and ample object and landscape drawing opportunities offered by the North Dakota Badlands.

An accomplished artist by heart and police officer for the city of Medora by trade, Lapp, a Glendive, Mont., native, has settled in nicely as someone who not only protects and serves, but also serves people’s appetite for unique and beautiful works of art.

“Creating art is something I really enjoy doing,” Lapp said. “I try to put out pieces that are simple, yet meaningful. Being in law enforcement and serving the community is my first priority, but with art comes relaxation, and it’s a good way to put my mind at ease when I’m not working.”

Mainly a pen and ink artist, Lapp has seen the popularity of his works – which are largely inspired by Medora, the Badlands and western North Dakota – grow in recent years, due partly to local interest and partly to an expanded online presence for his merchandise.

A knowledgeable online marketer and salesperson, Medora resident Marie Odermann is serving as Lapp’s art broker, helping him gain visibility for his work on the Internet. Some of Lapp’s works are available for purchase as iPhone and iPad covers, framed pieces and mugs, among other works, on the website Society6.com.

“Russ does some really great work,” Odermann said. “I’m just happy to be able to assist him. He’s a wonderful artist and does some great drawings and works that have local ties. I think people really enjoy his work.”

Lapp said that growing up, he always wanted to be in law enforcement when he got older, but that art has also always been a big part of his life.

“In early childhood, I was creating art, and I entered into some grade school competitions,” Lapp said. “Just like being in law enforcement, it’s always been something that I’ve been passionate about. I think, when you enjoy something that much, it’s hard not to share it with people. It’s just a great feeling when someone appreciates your work or tells you that something you made is hanging on the wall at their home.”

Continually striving to capture the essence of the western-themed city of Medora, nearby Theodore Roosevelt National Park and the Badlands that encase the Little Missouri River, Lapp’s drawings and watercolor works often feature lonely-looking landscapes and natural settings or objects.

After coming to Medora several years ago, Russ, his wife, Colleen, and the couple’s two children, Samantha, 11, and Jesse, 8, have found a home and community they treasure, Russ said.

“I’ve met some fascinating people here,” Russ said. “This is a great community with wonderful people, and we’re just blessed to be able to call Medora home.”

People have been very supportive of my art. I’m right where I want to be because serving the public is just as meaningful as my artwork, and this is a great place to create art.”

“It’s very humbling to have people come up to you and tell you they enjoy your work,” Lapp said. “It’s an amazing feeling. This is truly a wonderful place to be an artist.”