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Rare Bones Exhibit By White Bear Lake's Own Nick Blanco

March 23-24 sale at Cotroneo’s in White Bear Lake features Alaskan Eskimo art owned by Nick Blanco on ‘Building Alaska’ 


WHITE BEAR LAKE, MN (March 2, 2017) – Rare Bones, a company that sells art made by Native Alaskan Eskimos, will be featured at Cotroneo’s banquet room from 4-8 p.m., Thursday and Friday, March 23-24. The Native artists of Shishmaref are world-renowned for carving these rare bones into the shapes of humans and animals most familiar to them. Most of the art is carved from the bones and tusks of fossilized whale, mastodon, walrus and other Artic animals. Cotroneo’s is located at 2148 3rd St., White Bear Lake, Minn. 


The company represents a unique collaboration between the native artists of Shishmaref, Alaska, and Nicholas Blanco, a 28-year-old teacher whose parents Lynn Nelson and Mike Keeler live in White Bear Lake. Blanco was a Shishmaref middle school teacher from 2012-2015. He had only been teaching in Shishmaref a few months when he fell in love with the rustic beauty of the bones carved by local artists. 

In 2015, Blanco moved to Larsen Bay, Alaska, to build a fishing and hunting lodge. He is currently featured on Season 7 of “Bulding Alaska”, a program on the DIY Network. Rare Bones is owned by Blanco and his parents. Blanco will talk to visitors who attend the Cotroneo’s sales via Skype sometime between 7 and 8 p.m. on both evenings, March 23 and 24. 

Largest private collection of Native Alaskan art in Lower 48 

“I’ve spent half a year’s salary on art from the carvers of Shishmaref,” says Blanco. “I want to sell some of it, so I can fund my lodge project and buy more art, but personally, I hate to part with it. I believe I have one of the largest private collections Shishmaref carvings in the country – maybe the world.” Blanco is currently teaching again in Larsen Bay. 

Shishmaref is a Native Alaskan village of approximately 600 residents – most of whom belong to the Inupiaq tribe. The town is located on an island in the Chukchi Sea and depends on subsistence hunting and fishing. Global warming threatens to force the Shishmaref islanders to move to the mainland – sometime during the next 10 years. Ironically, this same weather change is bringing bones to the surface that have been buried for more than 5,000 years, including mastodon teeth and tusks. 

Rare Bones was named for a tradition that natives have embraced for hundreds of years. The native artists of Shishmaref create sculptures from fossilized bones that emerge from nearby glaciers and the Chukchi Sea. Founder, Nicholas Blanco sells these carvings on behalf of the artists to benefit them and their families, and to preserve their rare carvings by sharing them with art collectors who will treasure them and the people they represent. For more information, please visit or