Lake Country Faces: Lake Shore Police Sergeant Shares His Artistic Side – Pine and Lakes Echo Journal


LAKE SHORE – Mike Heldt grew up in New Mexico, but when he returned to the area where he was born, he knew that was where he wanted to stay.

“After high school, I had the opportunity to come here and work for a summer just to try something different,” Heldt said. “I got here and it’s just like, ‘Man, there’s no way I’m going back down south.'”

He had moved from Brainerd to New Mexico when he was one year old, but he still had family in the Lake District. His grandparents, Wayne and Arlene Heldt, once owned the Y Store in Merrifield and helped start the Nisswa/Pequot Lakes area food shelf.

But he never visited them in the Lake District as a child. They have always ventured to New Mexico for family visits.

“The first time I saw the landscape, the trees, the water. Everything is absolutely amazing,” Heldt said.

So he stayed.

Now Heldt is a sergeant who has worked for the Lake Shore Police Department for 19 years. He and his wife, Jamie, have been married for 22 years and have three sons.

The Lake Shore area is phenomenal. The people are phenomenal.

Lake Shore Police Sgt. Mike Heldt

When he first returned to the area, his aunt worked at Madden’s Resort and got him a summer job there. She asked if he had ever considered college, and Heldt shared that he had considered a career in law enforcement because members of his family were retired police officers.

This includes his grandfather who owned the Y Store after retiring as a San Diego police officer.

“That’s what drew me to the career was admiring Grandpa, knowing he was an officer,” Heldt said. “He was a very respectful man. I watched him. Just all the stories he told about him helping others”

He attended Central Lakes College and became a police officer.

Heldt worked for the Baxter Police Department for four months and as a Nisswa Reserve Officer before joining the Lake Shore Department.

“The Lake Shore area is phenomenal. The people are phenomenal,” he said.

He has worked with Police Chief Steve Sundstrom his entire career.

“For me, it will be a very sad day when Steve retires,” Heldt said.

Mike Heldt hides his initials in three places in his paintings. This work is called “Queen Akari”.

Contributed / Mike Heldt

Heldt also loves art – he met his wife in an art class at CLC – and his first dream was to be a draftsman for a police department. He is basically a self-taught artist, and he calls his art a side job/hobby.

“I remember drawing when I was a little kid,” he said. “I remember my teachers praising me and saying, ‘Mike, you’re doing a great job.'”

He moved from pencil to colored pencil to acrylic paint and now he works with oil paints. Growing up in the ‘Star Trek’ and ‘Star Wars’ era, Heldt enjoys doing science fiction, as well as portraiture. He said that in the art world he did everything “backwards”, painting the foreground first, then the background.

Artwork by Mike Heldt Stand off.jpg
Mike Heldt titled this piece “Stand Off”.

Contributed / Mike Heldt

In addition to selling commissioned portraits to people, his home is filled with his work and he has exhibited his art at the Crow Wing County Fair for the past 15 years.

Last August, he won first place Grand Champion and a raffle for his portrayal of a friend’s grandson.

One of the biggest inspirations for me is definitely my faith. I look outside and see the ultimate canvas – the beauty of nature. God is the artist.

Mike Heldt

Heldt loves detail, which is evident in his paintings and in the eyes of his subjects. He doesn’t particularly like painting hands, which he finds difficult.

“It’s soothing to me. It’s very, very relaxing,” he said of the painting. “I know there are times when I’m just going to settle down and start thinking about what I want to put on the canvas and get the idea and I start doing it, and then before you know it, it’s like 8, 10 hours has passed, and it doesn’t seem like it either the case.

Artwork by Mike Heldt A Tale of Three Cities.jpg
This oil painting by Mike Heldt is titled “A Tale of Three Cities”.

Contributed / Mike Heldt

A signature detail is that Heldt hides his initials in three places in each of his paintings.

“One of the biggest inspirations for me is definitely my faith,” Heldt said. “I look outside and see the ultimate canvas – the beauty of nature. God is the artist.

When not at work or painting, Heldt and his sons collect antique fishing tackle and they love to fish.

Heldt has no plans to leave the Lake Shore area.

“This is where I intend to retire and this is where I intend to die,” he said.

Nancy Vogt, Managing Editor, can be reached at 218-855-5877 or [email protected] Follow her on Facebook and on Twitter at


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