When it comes to accountability and transparency, the White Bear Center for the Arts is one of the best nonprofits around.

That's according to the Charities Review Council, which has awarded the arts center its "Meets All Standards" seal, a distinction earn by only about 10 percent of nonprofits, said Jamie Millard, a communications specialist with the council.

"It shows that they are a most trustworthy organization," she said.

To earn the distinction, the center had to meet all 27 of the St. Paul-based council's accountability standards and ethical practices in the areas of public disclosure, governance, financial activity and fundraising.

The honor comes as the arts center opens its 39th annual Northern Lights juried arts exhibition Sunday. Drawings, paintings, photographs, fiber works, mixed-media and sculpture will be on view through May 11 at Century College, 3300 Century Av. N., White Bear Lake.

Along with the traditional, the show features one-of-a-kind objects, including "Twelve-Spotted Skimmer," one of four solarplate etchings of dragonflies by David Spohn of Lindstrom, Minn. Jenny Stice's "Brassica Oleracea" might take the prize in the oddity category: Her three-dimensional creation is an 8-by-11-by-10-inch ball made of felted wool and hair.

The show "has everything from figurative images to things that are a little quirky," said Suzi Hudson, the art center's executive director. "There is a great diversity of strong work."

A three-judge panel will have the daunting task of choosing the best of show, along with two awards of merit, two awards of excellence and three judges' choice awards. Judges Patty Carmody Smith, Guillermo Cuellar and Valerie Frank will confer those honors during an opening ceremony from 6-9 p.m. Friday at Century College.

Last year, Polly Norman won Best of Show for her crystal archive print "Garden Party." David J. Farr's "Tour Eiffel, Rain" and Kraig Rasmussen's "Spirit Portal" picked up Awards of Excellence, while Awards of Merit went to Emily Gray Koehler, George G.I. Moore and Claudia Poser. Noelle Dahlen's "Trees in the Mist" earned the People's Choice award.

The Northern Lights exhibition began in 1973, when the center was known as the White Bear Arts Council. Organizers started the event to provide a high-quality art show in the area, Hudson said.

Since then, the show, which is held annually at Century College, has grown into one of the art center's largest and longest-running programs. This year more than 93 artists from Minnesota and Wisconsin submitted digital images of 323 works to be considered for the exhibition. Art center officials selected 53 of those works that are on view from 8 a.m.-9 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, and 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays in Century's West Campus Theatre Lobby Gallery.

Tim Harlow • 651-925-5039 • Twitter: @timstrib