I was in Hudson, WI and Stillwater, MN on Saturday, enjoying two very different forms of art on a rainy, drizzly day.
Susan Armington is the curator of the just ended exhibit “Shedding Light” at The Phipps Center for the Arts in Hudson. (I know, I know. Why didn’t I go to the opening in May so that I could have clued you in? Timing’s everything.) Ms Armington is also a WARM member and mentor so she offered to host our monthly WARM Coffee and talk about the exhibit.
Even though I’ve always thought of myself as an artist, I often don’t understand art. Does that make any sense? I need to have some context, especially for abstract art, and finding out what the artist intended or what their life was like helps me appreciate what I see. That’s why I love books and movies about all types of artists. They have such different experiences and responses to the world.
So the opportunity, once a month, to hear an artist speak about her work is a hugely compelling reason to get me out of my chair and into lots of galleries, both big and small, traditional, corporate, coffeehouse, whatever.
Ms Armington wanted to pull together artists who approached art from a scientific lens. Or science with an artistic edge. There’s an intelligent, thoughtful essay about the exhibit called “Edge of Reason” written by Christina Schmid, one of three managing editors at Quodlibetica, a visual and literary tour de force online magazine about the arts. She better explores the juxtaposition of art and science in this exhibit and, as a bonus, has great images of many of the artworks.
If you have the time and energy, watch the YouTube video “Shedding Light” of the installation and grand opening of the exhibit. It’s really the only way to get a sense of Jantje Visscher’s work, as her clear plastic mylar strips don’t translate well to 2D photographs.
I was disappointed the video didn’t follow the tape timeline Ms Armington had created that connected all of the galleries, starting at the Atrium and continuing along the floors and walls of galleries One, Two and Three, ending with a graphic representation of an oil rig, also created out of black tape. The timeline began with representations of protozoa, then a number of colorful, other-worldly paintings of plankton. If you have any doubts about how beautiful plankton can be, you can take a peek at The Census of Marine Zooplankton website. Some are simply stunning.
After the Phipps, I went to Stillwater to Big Pink, home of an ardent community theatre activist, Jon Skaalen, and longtime friend. (We’ve known each other 25 years now!) Mr Skaalen was once again hosting an afternoon of entertainment, this time to raise funds for the upcoming MACT FAST Fest, a short play festival, held in Alexandria, MN on June 19. I’ve been to his home for a piano recital from an exciting young artist from the country of Georgia (near Turkey) and for an outdoor play on the hillside. He’s the quintessential host, affable, intelligent, generous. He always provides an impressive spread of food and beverages and, more importantly, a wide variety of fascinating performers.
I enjoyed the performances by the actors, especially the original short play “Ring Dem Bells,” with the surprise ending and “Tea Party,” that seemed to skewer a popular politician (M. Babababa = M. Bachman?) in an Oprah-inspired interview. Many guests discovered the masseuse who volunteered for the event and whose tips helped swell the donation coffers.
I must say, if you ever get an invitation from Mr Skaalen for any party at Big Pink, you should go! You’ll have a lovely time, get to experience a real Prairie Style home and meet amazing people who live and breathe their art. If you love community theatre, become involved in MACT. It’s a great way to network and to find the auditions you’ve been secretly craving.
Until next time! –Chris