Posts Tagged 'Twin Cities'

Art & Libraries

Hello, hello!

It’s been a great summer, bizarre weather notwithstanding. Some of you I’ve been able to see in person, which is a true treat for me. I keep forgetting that people change and grow, especially those under 20. It’s a wake-up call. Must keep learning and exploring to keep up with all of you!

Paper Sculpture left in Nat'l Library of Scotland

For those of you in the Twin Cities, I have learned something new through my library contacts that you may not have seen yet. Hennepin County Library System now has a way to access the art that’s being exhibited in its library branches!

“View art located in Hennepin County libraries at You can search by location, artist and category, and view pictures of public art photographed by Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD) students. Photography was supported with Minnesota’s Arts and Cultural Heritage Funds.”

Last year I reported on libraries featuring the art of Rita Kirsch Dungey: Viewing and Buying Art, Karen Searle and Lucy Rose Fisher: The Art of Aging and by Bette Globus Goodman and Jody Stadler: The Art of Aging II. With this system in place, even friends in other states could see examples of the art we’re enjoying here in the metro. It’s an exciting time for artists. If you have time, check it out.

Apparently, fresh art is happening in the libraries in Scotland as well. It all started in the Scottish Poetry Library last March with a mysterious paper creation left anonymously on a table. Then another was found in a second library and then a third, by which time people started spreading the word.

The image above is the second in the series. Go to the blog Central Station to see the entire post, filled with multiple pictures of the sculptures and a timeline of the appearances. It’s a wonderful article about someone (an individual? a group?) who so loves libraries that they’ve dedicated hours of creativity not only in each art piece, but in the accompanying tags that hint of their broader purpose.

Paper Dragon & Egg found in Scottish Storytelling Center

Here’s a second image from that article, of a lovely piece found in a window. I highly encourage you to check out the Central Station Blog as the authors did an incredible job of getting all the photos and tracking the story. It happened all this year, with new art discovered as recently as August.

Isn’t the world a fantastic place?

Hope you’re all observing the art we have around us, whether it’s a blue sky and outrageous clouds, trees bedecking themselves in glorious color or the art of a full library. Enjoy! —Chris


Women Fiber Artists’ Challenge

Hello again!

Yep, you may be noticing a trend with my posts. I feature lots of women. I do happen to know some fine male artists and maybe I’ll highlight some of them in the future. In the meantime, I’m fascinated by the women here in the Twin Cities and the work they’re producing. They inspire me to keep pushing my own horizons a bit further, for which I’m grateful.

On Saturday I saw “Serendipity,” the current art show at the Burnsville Performing Arts Center. They have a lovely gallery space with tall walls which the Fiber Artists Study Group was determined to fill. They made a pledge that they’d each create a piece that was 108 inches for this exhibit. For those of you without a calculator, that’s 9 ft high! A definite challenge.

I’ve known Joan Kloiber, of the Fiber Artists Study Group, for almost two years and have been very interested in the nature of their group because of its success. They manage to meet every week, which is almost unheard of these days, and each meeting lasts three hours! Most of the members have been participating for over a decade. Obviously they’re doing something right.

I met Ms Kloiber when several of the protegees of the WARM Mentor Program decided to extend the learning experience by meeting regularly. As a result, eight of us gather in each other’s homes every two weeks to talk about art, the process of creating it, our lives and goals. It’s been a stabilizing influence in my life, giving me something to look forward to when none of my projects seemed to go as planned. I was relieved last summer to find that the other seven wanted to continue meeting after our program ended.

Over the course of several conversations with Ms Kloiber, she shared with me the unique challenge of female fiber artists. Because they work with fabric, they are continually evaluated, by the arts community as well as by the public, as crafts people, not artists.

"Atmospheric Invasion," by Joan Kloiber

I’m curious. Does this piece seem to you to be something you’d casually throw on top of your bed? It is fabric and stitching and applique. But I believe the similarity ends there. This image is from a postcard Ms Kloiber produced. On the back she states “When looking at this quilt I hope the viewer will think about the impact of the “invasion” of electronics into our various atmospheres: ecological, social, educational, etc.”

Most of the other pieces in “Serendipity,” are likewise making statements about the environment, women’s roles, cultures, families, and an appreciation of nature. The fact that they use fabric as their medium is secondary. The messages they are attempting to convey trumps the familiarity of cloth.

I’m surprised that this is still an issue that these women face every time they apply for a show. There are three-dimensional pieces in this exhibit that belie the fiber they’re constructed from. There are technical marvels that make you wish you could watch the piece during construction. There are flights of fancy unusual enough to make you forget you’re looking at anything related to fiber. Of the 59 works, 47 are of a smaller, less overwhelming size.

For the show, Elna Goodspeed created a haunting series about trees including “Sunset,” “Summer Solstice,” and “October.” Dawn Carlson Conn reinvented a rainbow for “Hidden Wholeness” and “The Liminal,” rich blues and greens, with the help of satin thread. Kathleen Smith added beads to wool felt and silk for “Beautiful Blues” and actual shells to “In the Crevice of the Waves.” Linda Davis called forth stunning colors and organic shapes in her series “Halfway Between Shibori and Jackson Pollack.” You can see most of these on the Fiber Artists Study Group website by clicking on this link. The images don’t capture much of the texture or dimensionality, but the colors are glorious!

Yet I haven’t mentioned Cyndi Kaye Meier, Dina O’Sullivan, Joan Parsons, Tricia Spitzmueller, Doris Staub Petrie, Susan Stein or Karen Wallach. There’s an amazing breadth of accomplishment in one room at the Burnsville Performing Arts Center right now (through the beginning of Jan). Click on Meet the Artists section on their website to learn more about each of them.

Art engages our emotions and our minds. People need art to make sense of their place in the scheme of things and in order to access lasting pleasure. It’s also an effective way to comment on the problems society sometimes produces. “Serendipity” is a visual interpretation of a tactile medium. It’s also a challenge successfully met.

Thanks for visiting! —Chris


Women Artists


I have been very lucky in my life. I grew up in an artistic family, with parents, grandparents and other relatives happily creating all around me. More recently, I found the Women’s Art Registry of MN (WARM) and discovered even more people who live lives full of art.

In case you didn’t know, a new cycle in the WARM Mentor Program will start in January. Maybe you’re one of the fortunate ones who has signed up to be a protegee? If you are in the Twin Cities and are ready to reach for the next level in art and life, click on the WARM website. Timing is important; the program only opens every two years.

Layl McDill & a peacock Silly Milly cane

This is my former mentor, Layl McDill of ClaySquared. She is constantly creating new work and then just as steadily, she sells it. Ms McDill teaches classes at her gallery. She’s fun to be around and extremely easy-going. And oh so patient.

Brenna Busse at the Powderhorn Art Festival

Brenna Busse is also a mentor. Two of my friends were her protegees during the last cycle and both felt like they had won the lottery with her. Ms Busse is intentionally spiritual and values-driven. She’s also a smart business woman. I like her because she’s positive and forward-thinking. Ms Busse would keep you on track, if she was your mentor; she’d help you see the big picture and stay true to your heart.

Delayne Hostetler, in character

Delayne Hostetler isn’t a mentor in WARM, though she easily could be. Instead, she’s been my role model for beau coup years. (I’m not even going to say how many years because I don’t want to embarrass either one of us. Let’s just say, a good loooong time.) She’s an amazingly warm and talented woman with a Wicked sense of humor and a delicious dark side.

Ms Hostetler is a Master/Mistress at the MN Renaissance Festival, producing art of the highest quality. She has her own shop there, called Mayfaire Cottage, selling framed and unframed prints, cards and other paper goods. Walking into her shop is like being transported to olde England. It’s delightful, with flowers and fairy touches where least expected.

Robin Hood, copyright Delayne Hostetler

Isn’t this fun? I love her cards because I get to share a bit of the magic with friends. I probably visited her shop during my first trip to the Renaissance Festival. Frankly, I was so overwhelmed that I’m not sure what I saw. I do remember spending a fair amount of time blushing, due to the comments of some of the strolling entertainers.

Ms Hostetler is not only an established artist, she’s also a thoughtful and generous friend. These are all gifts from her! I’m pretty sure the thimble is one-of-a-kind; it has a Christmas blessing on it. And the booklet is a delight because it’s made with all my favorite things collaged inside. There are two entire pages dedicated to tea and treats! I love it. A fabulous birthday surprise from many years ago.

Best Friends, copyright Delayne Hostetler

The large print, Best Friends, is available on Ms Hostetler’s website and yes, it too was a gift. I swear I didn’t badger her for it. The little booklet commemorates our friendship with personalized, colorful drawings.

I’ve had this sun and moon on my walls for many years. The sun has a sand texture and the moon is glossy. Again, I’m pretty sure they’re unique.

If you have an artist in your life, you may have art from them. Congratulations! You are probably an art supporter. In some way you have touched them and in return, more art is created. Artists create work as a response to life. Not to pay the bills. Not to fulfill a quota. We work because our hearts need the release art brings. That’s a wonderful feeling, but rarely does it pay the bills. Or if it does, it’s because somewhere, earlier, someone believed in us and helped get our business started.

There’s a wonderful 2008 documentary that will be shown on November 17, at 7 pm at MCAD in Minneapolis. It’s called “Who Does She Think She Is?” and is sponsored by WARM. No cost, but a donation is appreciated. Click on the title or go to for details. Help support our artists!

Thanks for all you do. —Chris


Minneapolis City Hall Art


As much as I love art, I have another craving that goes even further back. It’s for paper. Paper and crayons, then pencils, then pens and then every medium I could get my grubby paws on. And they usually were a mess because I’m one of those artists that just can’t stay neat. If I’m painting, I’ve got it on my fingers, my pant legs and often smeared over an eyelid. It’s not a pretty sight, but there’s no doubt about me being mesmerized by the sheer joy of fresh sheets and lots of color.

So, imagine my excitement when I went through the Minneapolis City Hall a few weeks ago and found not one, but two brochures with photographs in them! And one of them is a thing of beauty, a full color, fold-out, many-paged brochure with actual design elements. Hog heaven. (For me that is. I’m sure your heaven would be much more discriminant.)

"Father of Waters"

It looks like I took this photograph at midnight, but I assure you it was midday. The camera I’m using is a Canon digital and not meant to record the things I force it into. That’s both the pain and pleasure of being a tyro. I make a great number of mistakes, but I also have the joy of accomplishment when I manage even a little task.

You can pick up one of these glossy brochures at the information desk on the 4th St side (nearest the Mississippi River). They’re produced by the Municipal Building Commission and they include a self-guided tour, using stories of past ghosts and present Peregrine Falcons as lures.

A better draw for me (I can’t resist a pun) is the chance to walk through the underground tunnel to the Hennepin County Government Center.  You get to walk under Hubert H. Humphrey!  His statue is on the 5th St side, right in front of the Light Rail Station.  I like all the sneaky passages around the Twin Cities, but I’m especially fond of underground connections.  It makes me feel like native whenever I wind my way through one.

There are a ton of great details in this building, including these panels of ironwork.  Unfortunately I have no idea what purpose they served.  They’re about the size of doors, but they have window-like handles on the bottom.  Can someone tell me?

Images of this hall in the wedding brochure show multiple tables covered in linen, sparkling tableware, upscale flowers, graciously elegant balconies and a marbled main floor.  It would be a dreamy location for a wedding or a high society tea party.

The building itself is lovely to look at, especially with its green, candy-colored roofs. Not quite as pretty as St. Paul’s Landmark Center, but then what really can compare?

This friendly face is at the base of the “Father of Waters” statue along with a turtle, whose head is harder to see, along the right. The alligator seems an odd choice until you read that the statue was originally commissioned by the City of New Orleans.  I like the symbolism.  It is in a government building, after all. It seems a fair warning to all who enter that, like the river, it can be helpful but sports sharp teeth.

The 42 heads around the elevator banks are known as Grotesques, though these two don’t particularly qualify. I think it’s wonderful that craftsmen from a century ago could indulge in the whimsy of a multitude of unique expressions and remind us not to take ourselves too seriously, even here.

I’m so glad Minneapolis created this gem, restored it after years of hard use and then shared it with the public through this lovely little brochure.  If you find yourself downtown, locate the clock tower and walk on over to see a well-preserved, gracious moment in time.

Hope you’re enjoying the art around you…  —Chris

The Art of Aging II

I’m still aging! The spots on my wrist and right hand have become more pronounced. I find myself reading articles all the way through about reversing aging’s effects. What once was an esoteric topic is suddenly upfront and personal. I think of my grandparents, long gone, almost daily. If I want to face this as calmly as they did, I’d better change my attitude.

I decided to look for role models in the artistic community. Last week I went again to The Art of Aging exhibit currently shown at the Minneapolis Central Library. The first time I visited, I focused on Lucy Rose Fischer and Karen Searle’s works. Now I wanted to see what Ms Goodman and Ms Stadler had to say about aging.

Bette Globus Goodman installed huge fabric panel prints of her photographs that lightly respond to a breeze. The image that struck me the most was “Leah: A Woman’s Measurement of Time.” This woman, with years reflected in her eyes, looks intently at you from above. Because of the movement of the fabric, the image seems alive, making the experience a little unsettling. I felt like a fish on a hook, trying to wriggle away from her intensity.

Another large fabric panel was entitled “Kathy: Cancer is Probably the Most Unfunny Thing in the World.” Ms Goodman was asked by Kathy to document her ongoing experiences with cancer. Like Leah, she looks directly at the viewer, with wide open eyes. Again, there’s a direct connection that I can’t avoid.

I think that’s Ms Goodman’s true gift. Whether taking candid, sensitive shots of elderly mothers and their adult daughters, or hands that are wrinkled from age, she manages to express each person’s love of life. These are images of truth, not despair or grief. That’s a tremendous feat, when one’s subjects are deep and difficult as these.

Jody Stadler works in charcoal, pastel and acrylic. She moved to the Twin Cities from Ames, IA, primarily for the art connections available here, leaving friends and family to pursue her passion. (I’m originally from Iowa, so any reference to the state gets my attention.)

I was fascinated by “Monie, the Pianist at 100,” the first of four annual pieces of her aunt (great aunt?) Maureen. It continues through “Monie at 103, in her Rose Recliner.” The woman’s hands, carefully resting in front of her, are the hands of a musician. Her eyes meet the viewer’s from the side. Though she’s a century old, something in her manner says that she knows a great deal and that we’d do well to remember it.

She also created two provocative pieces, also in charcoal, called “Annie, Angry” and “Annie, Resigned.” This woman had a Do-Not-Resuscitate order on her medical records, which wasn’t honored. Ms Stadler gave the woman’s frustration a voice and a wider audience through these works. It’s a strong example of how art can keep an issue alive and help others see the emotional cost of those who can not fight for themselves.

Not all of the art is about women. There are many pieces that feature men facing age, including “The Mathematician at 80: My Bill.” There’s also a great deal of whimsy in the exhibit, as in “The Great Arsenic Lobster.”

This exhibit was presented in collaboration with MN Creative Arts and Aging Network (MNCAAN), the Metro Regional Arts Council (MRAC) and from “the vote of the people of Minnesota on Nov. 4, 2008.”

This was a helpful exhibit to me. If nothing else, I learned that others are as surprised as I was by the reality of aging. More importantly, it shows a way to use my art to advantage. Maybe we can reclaim a position of honor and respect that elders used to have. It’s as hopeful a thought as I’ve had in months. Maybe ageism can even be inspiring?

Here’s to my grandparents and all of the other elders who continue to pave the way… –Chris

(Logistics: the entrance at the top of the escalator isn’t open. Try entering through the 2nd floor of the main library.)

Art in The Twin Cities 2

Welcome back!

Last Saturday, May 15th, I attended Art-A-Whirl. Hopefully most of you know what that is, but some may not. For those of you who do, feel free to scoot further down the page.

Art-A-Whirl is presented by the NE Minneapolis Arts Association (NEMAA) and is billed on their website as “the largest open studio and gallery tour in the United States.” Like the St Paul Art Crawl, they too have a fall event, only the name is different: The Fall Fine Arts Show.

The AAW event is located in 11 landmark studio buildings, 10 art galleries, 14 smaller stand alone buildings and 28 associated venues. Most of the buildings have multiple studios; the Northrup King Bldg has over 190 artists. Even the relatively small Q.arma Building has 18 arts-related studios and the Keg House has 10.

As usual, I had to make some tough choices right away; I knew I wouldn’t see everything. That’s the hardest part of these events, but it’s made easier by knowing that I’ll choose different buildings next time. Alternating keeps everything fresh!

I started off in the small Keg House because I wanted to see my mentor’s art. Layl McDill, of ClaySquared, has transformed her gallery space into a workshop studio. When I visited she had an impromptu class of clay makers, mostly children, hard at work. The other half of ClaySquared, run by husband Josh Blanc, had a full gallery of tiles on display as well as samples in process which I could examine.

In the same bldg I also visited the Brain Injury Association of MN’s gallery of art. There was a live demo’ by an artist who was working despite a debilitating stroke and, on the wall, a number of fine arts pieces that I wanted to take home, including Brian Foster’s “art to stand on.”

Although there was more to see, I walked to the Grain Belt Building to view the Polymer Clay Guild’s exhibit. I need to join this organization! They have monthly meetings I’m interested in; definitely on my to-do list.

From there I met Kat Corrigan, a former WARM protegee, and fun artist. She paints soulful dogs (blue!), the most delicious trees and intense skies (more blue!) and she’s a member of L7, a group that was kind enough to strongly urge us, the newest protegees, to form small groups to support and inspire each other throughout (and after) the mentorship program. I hold a special spot in my heart for these seven artists because I daily benefit from the group that resulted.

I left Kat to see Deb Splain’s work across the atrium. I’m not sure if she knows of the envy she generated with her piece “Mending Souls” at our first protegee meeting last fall. She has texture that defies description (I won’t try) and a seemingly endless ability to put deep symbolism into her paintings. And she’s just getting started!

To me that touches on one of several gifts I’ve gotten from the Women’s Art Registry of MN’s mentor program: 1) I’ve met and got to interact with successful, working artists that treated me like an equal, 2) I’ve met 20 artists at the beginning of their careers, got to watch them develop and then leap far away from my expectations and 3) I received access to visual arts that I only dreamed about before joining. There’s always been an active arts’ scene here in the metro’ area; I just needed to have it pointed out.

Next time: The third and final installment of Art in The Twin Cities. Thanks for visiting! –Chris

Art in The Twin Cities 1

Welcome back!

I love living in Minneapolis and St Paul. It’s amazing. I moved up here originally because of the multitude of cultural opportunities. I quickly fell in love with the large swathes of trees and parks in the urban areas; it was so incredibly green. It was beautiful here and entertaining, but only after I made lifelong friends did I suspect I’d stay.

I was exposed to the music and theatre stages fairly early as most of my friends were either drama majors or musicians. (What can I say? I was very lucky.) I adored the Guthrie Theatre and Theatre in the Round, of course, but also reveled in In The Heart of the Beast Puppet Theatre, The Southern Theatre and the statewide volunteer-run organization: the MN Assoc of Community Theatres. From MACT I learned about the annual Fringe Festival, which is 11 days of some of the most adventurous independent theatre available in the US; look for it again in August.

As for music, my partner was quick to find lesser-known bands at local hotspots like the FineLine, the 401 Bar, First Avenue and the smaller venues, including The Coffee Grounds, The Ginkgo Coffeehouse and the long-running, diversified programming of The Cedar Cultural Center. I first learned about groups before they hit the national airwaves by listening to the ever-inventive KFAI Radio. The programs I like best are “Pam Without Boundaries” on Tuesday mornings and “Womenfolk,” on Sundays. Give yourself a treat and tune in! (Little known fact: my favorite band title, to date, is Front Porch Swinging Liquor Pigs. Does it get any better than that?)

Recently though, I realized there were even more reasons to live up here. I was introduced a few years ago, belatedly, to the visual arts’ scene.

It was so exciting. There were art galleries in downtown Minneapolis that I could wander through, one after another, eat snacks and drink wine! I was surprised. What did it mean? Who were these artists? Why were they letting me in their small studios, along with long lines of other wanderers?

Over time I learned that the artists often lived elsewhere and rented these spaces to create their art. I still remember the huge equine sculpture made out of found objects that towered above me. And so many glorious paintings worth thousands of dollars. It was thrilling to have gallery owners approach me as a potential buyer.

From there I was introduced to the St Paul Art Crawl. It has a spring and fall event in a variety of locales. Over the years I found myself exploring several of the Lowertown St Paul buildings, the Rossmor Building (on 10th and Robert Streets) and the Dow Building (on University Ave).

For example, this year at the Rossmor I saw trendy necklaces and hair clips (semi-precious stones and peacock feathers) at Olive Jewels. There were photographs that captured the dark beauty of trees as well as the integrity of those who work outside at Steffen Ryan Photography. On another floor, large richly colorful pastels created by artist Roxanne Richards drew in buyers. And breathtaking, elemental images of water, ice and rock photographed here in Minnesota were being sold by Tierza Loskota Photography.

Like the plays and the bands, the visual arts here are vibrant. I’ve been exceptionally fortunate in my choice of home. Beauty pervades.

Coming soon: the art and artists of NE Minneapolis’ Art-A-Whirl. Thanks for checking back! –Chris


Minneapolis, Minnesota

I love art and sharing the joy of it with others. I started this blog in order to talk about art, crafts and the process of being an artist and to encourage people to think of themselves as creative. Whether it's choosing our fashions, decorating our homes or planning our gardens, it's all art.

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