COMMUNITY | ARTS AND CULTURE

Matt Brown | 1.14
Fran Gray | 12.13
Laughing at Race in Clybourne Park | 8.13
Minnesota Museum of AmericanArt (MMAA): The Studio Sessions - Minnesota Artists in 1970s | 8.13
Brandon Flesher | 3.13
Jeff Nelson | 2.13
Mary Esch | 1.13
Anna Vazquez | 12.12
Mark Gerard | 9.12
West End Evolving into Mecca of Metalwork | 9.12
Elizabeth Fritz | 8.12
Violin Guild of America | 7.12
Susan Weinberg | 6.12
Halle O'Falvey | 5.12
Claire Kayser | 4.12
Carol Jasin | 3.12
Gabriela Sweet | 3.12
Michael Conroy | 2.12
Mike Hazard | 1.12
Steven Gores | 11.11
Beth Barron | 10.11
Sara Diedrich and Joseph Clegg | 9.11
Dan Bruggeman | 8.11
Dan Wing | 7.11
Book Review: Giving Back to Our Animals | 6.11
Mark Granlund | 6.11
Steve Prokop | 4.11
John Yust | 3.11
Gayle Cole | 2.11
 
Editor’s note: West End Arts, a committee of the West7th/Fort Road Federation, is a group of artists, neighbors and friends organized to promote and foster arts in the West End by encouraging and connecting artists, and extending arts into the community through exhibitions, live performances and educational outreach. All who live or work in the West End are welcome to join. See westendartscene.blogspot.com.

 
West End Artist Profile: Matt Brown [IMAGE]

by Lia Rivamonte

Artist Matt Brown’s show, “NOLA Series,” was on view in October at The Acme Academy of Arts on West Seventh. The work was well suited to the large, sun-filled space, if only for the size of the paintings ranging from 8 to 14 feet wide and sometimes as tall. The artist was glad to be able to spread the artwork out and view it from a distance. He had not had that chance since he began working on them in his home studio in the Little Bohemia West Seventh neighborhood about three years ago. “It was time,” he said, “to see what I was doing and to see if they all hung together in a coherent way.”

[IMAGE]Matt jumped at the opportunity to use Nance and John Davidson’s gorgeous multi-use space for his first exhibition in many years. His efforts were well rewarded. He met friendly passersby from the community and renewed acquaintance with artists he’d known from earlier in his career and who responded favorably to the work. Though the canvases are rolled up and stored away for now, he is energized and ready to begin painting additional works for the series.

“The series is, in part, about nature vs. culture,” said the artist. This is a conflict that has been a common theme throughout his artistic career that began when he was a student at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. NOLA is an acronym for New Orleans, Louisiana. The paintings consist of what look to be old-fashioned family portraits set in front of backdrops with scenes of devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina. Matt got the idea when he was rummaging through boxes of family tintypes. He noticed how oddly they were staged using painted backdrops of exotic locales unrelated to the people being photographed. The artist has taken numerous trips to New Orleans, volunteering with a church group to help rebuild the housing stock. The trips piqued his interest in that city and the cultural, societal, economic, and political dissonances that are so evident there and that are mirrored in the larger U.S. To those who are outside of it, images of catastrophe hold a strange fascination. That disconnect is the subject of the “NOLA Series.”

[IMAGE]While these paintings are very different from the artist’s older work that rarely show human figures, they may be faintly familiar to those who have seen Brown’s earlier paintings, where he often juxtaposed disparate objects. In one series of panels, for example, he depicted wheelbarrows and disproportionately large rocks.

Matt started out as a sculptor but he said, “Inexplicably, the work grew flatter and flatter.” Soon color became important and he began attaching the objects he built to the wall. In one instance, he remembers, he constructed the seat of a bench, pushed it against the wall, and merely painted the back on the wall. Although he sometimes incorporates sculptural components into his installations, Matt considers himself a painter and has mostly dispensed with the carpentry — as an artist, that is.

He has used his carpentry skills to pay the bills while raising a family in St. Paul. Currently, Matt serves as Construction Specialist for Community Neighborhood Housing Services with offices on Harriet Island. Originally from the Boston area, he is a longtime Twin Cities resident and enjoyed a visibly active career as an artist in the 1980s and early ’90s. Family obligations pulled him away from exhibiting, but Brown has always maintained a studio and plugged away at his art. The kids are grown and Matt is passionate about his work as ever. There are sure to be more shows down the road for this artist. Perhaps even beyond the Old Fort Road.

Lia Rivamonte insists on full disclosure — she and Matt Brown are wife and husband. Lia recently launched LiaWrites, a comprehensive writing service for individuals, businesses and nonprofits, and is a recent recipient of a 2014 Minnesota State Arts Board grant to support her fiction writing. See liawrites.com.

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West End Artist Profile: Fran Gray: A Life in Art [IMAGE]

by Jerry Rothstein

When Fran Gray decided to retire from managing The Mad Hatter Coffee Café and Teahouse, her son Dave Thune, Ward 2 City Council member and owner of the St. Paul Gallery next door, decided it was the perfect time to mount a retrospective of Fran’s life in art. Dave says, “My mother Fran instilled a love of art in me as a boy. In 1960, she brought me at the age of ten to the opening of a new art gallery in Moorhead — The Rourke Gallery. I later became the Assistant Director of that gallery and began my own career in art. I used to watch her applying photo oils to the portraits that my dad took, bringing a rich, natural color to the faces. She encouraged me to draw and draw, even when it was in a brand new book I’d been given.

“All of us were proud when she attended art school at Moorhead State and then went on to Goddard College for her Masters! She grew as an artist with shows and sales of her work. Her career as the Photo Doctor was another direction, moving her into the digital world with her newest works. I’m so proud to open this exhibit at the St. Paul Gallery: ‘Fran Gray — A Retrospective.’”

[IMAGE]When she was growing up in rural North Dakota, she remembers receiving a box of colored pencils from her grandfather, who worked at the courthouse in Pierre SD. She loved to make little drawings with them—color was an early love, and a silver pencil fascinated her. Her first lessons of any kind came at junior high in Fargo. The art teacher challenged the class to paint a bowl of petunias in watercolor for their grade. Fran’s effort drew high praise, and that painting is in the show.

As she had the chance, Fran tried using other media and continued to draw what she saw. She took as many art courses as she could in junior high, but there weren’t many resources at the high school. After she married, she continued to study, taking every adult education class that was available. She had so many credits that she decided to push ahead and get her B.A. in art, and was able to work in oils, watercolor, encaustic, tempera and drawing in more depth. It took her ten years to complete her B.A., and when she learned about a master’s program in Art Therapy at Goddard College in Vermont, she applied and was accepted.

[IMAGE]The Goddard program included summer school in residence and practicum work back home the rest of the year. For that she worked in the Fargo Public Schools and at the Southeast Mental Health program, mostly working with “talented and challenged” kids. She completed her master’s in two years.

Along the way, Fran began to learn photographic oil coloring and negative retouching, and put these skills to work in a photo studio with her husband. While raising kids and working, she still took art classes whenever she could — her first oil painting from this period is in the exhibit.

After divorcing, Fran continued to work in photo studios and once in a photo lab, but after a while she decided to create her own business taking advantage of her considerable skills. The Photo Doctor offered retouching, restoring, coloring — all hand work. She worked in her basement and met clients at the kitchen table. Her own photographs became popular — portraits of families and children often being used as Christmas cards. Her restoration work became more expert and a source of many customers.

With more and more computer programs becoming available, Fran learned this technology and hoped that her business would take off after she moved to St. Paul. That did not happen, though, and she found herself creating a neighborhood gathering place at the Mad Hatter that is already sorely missed by many local residents. Fran says, “There were all kinds of challenges and fun, working with people who were mostly thrilled with the outcomes.”

The exhibit features a life’s work since that watercolor of the petunias by a twelve-year-old girl, and includes examples of restorations, retouchings, oil coloring and airbrush work.

The exhibit continues through December 31. Gallery hours are consistent with The Burn Unit’s — enter through 945 West Seventh. St. Paul Gallery, 943 West Seventh, 651-373-6527.

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Laughing at Race in Clybourne Park [IMAGE]
Theater Review by Tamar Neumann

In the program for Clybourne Park, Guthrie Theater’s latest production, there is a quote from the playwright Bruce Norris. Talking about his plays he states, “I want there to be an argument,” which may lead you to believe that his plays must be serious, hard-hitting and thought-provoking.

What that statement fails to imply is that his arguments lead to side-splitting hilarity caused by racially awkward situations. This particular production not only embraces the awkwardness already written into the script, it amplifies the situations to the point of helpless laughter. We laugh because it’s true.

The play begins in the 1960s with the white family whose home is purchased by the Younger family in Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun. We get to see their side of this story. Are they really racist? Why are they moving? What meetings are held in the neighborhood to discuss this “problem?” All of these questions are answered with Norris’ imagination, and I’ll venture to say you won’t be displeased with the results.

The second half of the play revisits that same house in 2009. The house has traded hands many times and is currently owned by a black family that is selling it to a white family. The problem this time? They don’t want the white family to move into their neighborhood and remodel the house. The first half of the play is full of the outright racism you would expect, while the second half is full of the political correctness that has become such a part of our modern lives.

The Guthrie’s production is just as tightly produced as the script is written. Each actor manages to play both characters (one in the first act, a completely different one in the second act) with creativity and daring. As an audience member, this play provided an extra bonus because it allowed me to see the actors’ range through their two different characters. Bill McCallum as Russ/Dan and Ansa Akyea as Albert/Kevin seemed to have somewhat larger transformations, but all of the actors were marvelous at switching from one role to the next, and making each role believable.

The set, designed by Rachel Hauck, was excellent. It starts out as an upscale home in 1959 and somehow transforms, during the fifteen minute intermission, into a 2009 crack house, complete with a shopping cart in the kitchen and a car seat bench in the bedroom. The pace of the play did not slow even to allow the audience a moment of laughter (which did cause a few missed lines of dialogue because the laughter was impossible to stop), which contributed to the overall feeling of the professional production.

By the time this show ends, you may find yourself leaving the theatre with sore muscles and feeling slightly uncomfortable with yourself and your race (no matter what self or race that may be) — and that feeling of uncomfortable satisfaction is exactly what great theater should give its audience.

Tamar Neumann is a professor of English by day and a theater lover by night. She is involved with the vibrant theater community in the Twin Cities, and an active member of the Playwrights’ Center.

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Minnesota Museum of American Art (MMAA): The Studio Sessions: Minnesota Artists in the 1970s
[IMAGE]
“I hope that viewers will appreciate the connections that these photos make between the artists and their work, and that they will get a sense of the artistic community that developed some 40 years ago and that is still important in our lives.” – Victor Bloomfield

In the early 1970s, Victor Bloomfield, Professor of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Biophysics at the University of Minnesota, embarked on a project to document the Twin Cities art scene through photography. Bloomfield was inspired by Italian photographer Ugo Mulas, whose images of New York artists, New York, the New Art Scene, was published in the mid-1960s. Bloomfield’s pictures evidence a k[IMAGE]nack for compelling portraiture and off-the-cuff documentary photography. The Studio Sessions: Minnesota Artists in the 1970s features a selection from this important body of work, displayed alongside an artwork by each artist photographed. Some of the artist selections are from the period; others are more recent pieces that demonstrate the artists’ evolving practice. The exhibition offers a range of mediums, including paintings, prints, sculpture, and ceramics.

The Studio Sessions: Minnesota Artists in the 1970s encapsulates a critical time in local history. Bloomfield’s pictures are defined by a compelling, evocative naturalism, beautifully capturing regional artists in their studios absorbed in their work or posing for the camera. When viewed with the work of the profiled artists, Bloomfield’s photographs highlight the enduring power of Minnesota’s creative community.

[IMAGE]Studio Sessions curator and MMAA Curator of Engagement Christina Chang, stated, “I’ve been introduced to ever-expanding and intricately related networks of local artists, many of whom are still actively practicing art though they may have been out of the public eye for many years. It has been really fun to connect with all of these artists and see their reactions to photographs of themselves taken four decades ago.” In interviewing some of these artists, all agree that this moment crystallized the local art scene through their collective effort to bring greater visibility and recognition to Minnesota artists. Their labors have clearly paid off, as the Twin Cities continues to thrive as a place for artists, arts lovers, collectors, scholars, and more. [IMAGE]

The two artists shown here, Mary Griep and Jerry Rudquist, have had distinguished careers since the days of this exhibit. Rudquist (1934-2001) was a longtime Professor of Art at Macalester College. Know as “a guru of color, genius with a brush,” he exhibited widely. Griep has exhibited nationally and internationally, and has been Professor of Art at St. Olaf College since 1988, specializing in drawing and painting (see marygriep.com).

Public Opening: August 15, 7-8:30 p.m. Join artists from the exhibition for a 1970s themed event including light refreshments, exhibition-related participatory activities, and DJ Booka B’s set list of funk, jazz, and soul. 1970s attire optional, but encouraged!

MMAA Project Spac e, 332 N. Robert Street, St. Paul. Information at 651-222-6080 or see mmaa.org.

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West End Artist Profile: Brandon Flesher [IMAGE]

How I began writing? Well, it just sort of happened. I never studied writing or thought to become a writer. While growing up I always enjoyed reading and focused most on reading fantasy. In my teens I began collecting comic books like the X-Men and a few titles from Jademan comics. When I did start to read with some level of seriousness I was drawn to reading philosophy.

As a kid, though, I read mostly comic books. I began to write when I was about twenty-six and until then I did not read poetry except what was required for high school English. I never really got into poetry and was more interested in plays by Shakespeare and the Odyssey and Iliad (both read as plays) but I couldn’t really say I studied them in depth.

When I decided to read something other than comic books I took to philosophy, reading Goethe (pretty tough at that age), Kierkegaard, Socrates, Plato and Nietzsche (also pretty tough). I enjoyed the peeling back of the layers and finding what was hidden under the surface. I enjoyed finding the truth within me from self-examination and the psychological state of “Man” as expressed in philosophy. Philosophy and plays have had a lasting influence on the poems I write.

Goethe’s Faust and Shakespeare’s plays have been the most influential. I like the content of philosophy and the cadence of plays. Plays may not always rhyme but they usually have a meter or cadence similar to a song.

Music is another pretty strong influence in my writing from artists/bands VnV Nation, Assemblage 23, Cold, Radiohead, Starsailor, and Tool, to name a few.

[IMAGE]When I write a poem I do not have a particular form or style in mind. I get an idea for a line and go from there, ending when I feel it’s done.

The poem takes on a shape of its own, and I never know if it will be completed in a few minutes, or (this is pretty rare) if it will take up to a few weeks. I’ve found it really helps to always have some paper and something to write with around no matter where I am or what I’m doing because I never know when a line will pop into my head. I have tried to remember a line for as many as twelve blocks while walking my dog Ringo because I’ve forgotten to bring paper with me. I’ve imagined if the line is good enough I could hold it in my head until I get to a notebook.

I’m still working on that one, though. Most often the line is gone by the time the walk is over.

I started writing poetry in 2001 to capture and organize my feelings to help me deal with a relationship break up. I have been writing on and off since. I didn’t handle the break up well and of course I was miserable, but if it had not happened I might not be writing now. So, on that level I have to say I have some gratitude for the hard times. One day, while sitting around thinking, it came to me that I felt a need to write poetry. I’m still not sure why it came to me but it did. I thought, “What do I know about writing poetry?” I had to be honest with myself that I knew nothing about poetry.

After a week or two I came to realize that my knowledge or lack of it did not matter. It only mattered that I start writing, not what I wrote or how I wrote, just that I wrote. I find poetry is a good fit for me since all through my English courses the teachers always said my sentences were too fragmented. Well, I figure you have to play to your strengths. Fragments work well in poetry so it’s a natural fit. Here’s a short one to give you an idea of my style.

Three Hundred Ninety Eight

The assumption of the presumption of the first thought
The book read before the pages upend
So sure of our perspective
Judge and jury
With no time for deliberations
For fools they be who are not to our thought receptive
Fact and fiction fall before pretext
A self-conscious guise to feeling
Where ego stands
Right and wrong crumble

I moved to the West Seventh area in 2000 from Moline, IL and found an apartment in the 200 block of Goodrich Avenue. I bought my current home in 2007 roughly 300 feet from the apartment. I really enjoy the area here and explore it regularly walking Ringo. Just don’t ask for directions because I’ll probably just get you lost because I still don’t remember many street names. I work as a heavy equipment operator at a bulk commodities and grain elevator in St. Paul, mostly operating a shovel.

My poems are pretty personal so I felt I had really put myself out there when I published my first book. Mary Hogan Bard and Deborah McWatters Padgett prodded me to do some public reading at Claddagh Coffee. I’m beginning to get used to the vulnerability of sharing my words and now I’ve done three public readings.

After this book I’m looking forward to a second book (in the works), more readings, and, well, just learning what life offers and accepting it with a smile.

Thanks to Deborah McWatters Padgett, author of Solving Lonely, The Sea in Winter and A Story Like Truth for editorial and content assistance in writing this profile. Find out about her work at padgettstudios.com.

And thanks to Blake Hoena, owner Flat Sole Studios, Mary Hogan Bard, owner Claddagh Coffee and to everyone else for your support and advice. Chasing Shadows is my first book. It consists of one hundred poems written between 2001 and 2012 and is available through www.brandonflesher.com or through Flat Sole Studios.

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Artist Profile: Cartographer Jeff Nelson [IMAGE]

by STINA JACOX

Jeff Nelson, St. Paul cartographer and artist, was born on the day his father bet, and won, on all four quarters of a Vikings/Rams game. Jeff’s dad never bet again, and his son, well, he is renowned for his intricate chalk board art and mythical lands mapped out in precise detail.

Jeff says his earliest inspiration was his grandfather’s collection of National Geographic maps. As a boy, he often visited his Grandpa’s resort on Pelican Bay in Orr, Minnesota. Left to freely peruse journals, atlases and the carefully bound Nat Geo collection, the kid from the Iron Range was immersed in a fantastic voyage. “I knew I would have to make stuff with my hands to be happy. I have always been fascinated by maps — I am more inclined to read a book if a map is included, like Treasure Island, The Hobbit, or Mutiny on the Bounty.”

Jeff and his family moved to the Twin Cities when he was eight. He drew and built things throughout his childhood and earned a degree in English from Moorhead State. “I worked for Caribou throughout high school and college — I was well equipped to enter the coffee gulag,” he jokes, as he worked around the Cities at various coffee shops and cafés. As a Caribou employee, his chalkboard art began to receive notice. “I designed and drew the chalkboard menus for my shop. Other managers would hear about them and ask me to do theirs — it’s like having a portfolio on view for everybody!”

“Over the course of the next six years I had enough chalkboard work to do it full-time. At first it was primarily small cafés, but word-of-mouth brought in business from many places. I have drawn for Summit Brewery, night clubs, jewelry stores — any place that has a chalk board.”

Maps
Jeff’s first map was of Heirloom Tomatoes. “It was the only thing I could grow, so why not a map?” His first map sale was of “Colonies of Pie.” “I did extensive research for this one,” he laughs. “Some friends took pity on me and bought it!” Jeff’s imaginative cartography is a thriving enterprise.

He works on commission, as well as selling favorites via Etsy.com.

As the proud dad of three children ages three, seven, and nine, he already sees their personal artistic attributes. “My nine-year old is fascinated by blueprints and diagrams; the seven-year old is in an abstract phase and draws things like an eyeball with pigtails. Theo, our three-year old is still in that gelatinous monster phase.”

To see more of Jeff’s work, visit his Facebook page: Jephemera on Facebook. To purchase a map go to Jephemera on Etsy.com. To contact Jeff: Jephemera.com or e-mail jeffnelsonillustration@gmail.com or call 651-785-5812.

Freelance writer and photographer Christine “Stina” Jacox is an 18-year resident of the West Seventh neighborhood. Stina is also the proprietor of Front Porch Studio, offering casual portraits and photo art. See examples of her work at 7thfreelance.biz and click on the Front Porch Studio tab.


 
Right-Brain Creativity Emerges through Art[IMAGE]

by Mary Esch

“Any job that can be reduced to a set of rules is at risk. If a $500-a-month accountant in India doesn’t swipe your accounting job, TurboTax will. Now that computers can emulate left-hemisphere skills, we’ll have to rely ever more on our right hemispheres.” “Logical and precise, left-brain thinking gave us the Information Age. Now comes the Conceptual Age — ruled by artistry, empathy, and emotion.” Daniel H. Pink, Revenge of the Right Brain.

I’m a visual artist and have taught observational drawing classes for more than ten years. I’ve taught classes at Como Zoo and Conservatory and at St. Catherine University Life-Long Learning. Currently, my classes are offered through St. Paul Public Schools Community Education. I hope to offer my workshops to corporations. I believe right-brain mental processes are of great importance today for the corporate and small-business professional and not just for the counter-cultural artist.

For the past six years I’ve been an instructor and devotee of the book Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. Author Betty Edwards breaks down the steps for the mental process that an artist goes through to make a drawing or to think “outside the box.” I’d always taken this process for granted because it comes naturally to me. The artist has free and easy access to the right-brain hemisphere. How? By genetic predisposition, early education in which the right-brain attributes are not neglected, or someone later in life teaches them how to access the right-brain. In any case right-brain creativity and drawing is a skill that can be learned.

Betty Edwards expands on Roger Sperry’s theory that certain mental processes are relegated to either the left or the right hemisphere. Often they work in concert, but generally speaking the left-brain is analytical, sequential, and verbal. The right-brain is more relational, emotional, and responsible for synthesis of visual information.

I teach a series of dra[IMAGE]wing exercises that allow a transition from left-brain thinking (dominant language-based) to right-brain seeing (subdominant visual). I honestly don’t know which side of the brain lights up when students are drawing. Something does light up, but that light seems to be snuffed out when the students start to talk. In using verbal skills the students unknowingly shut down the flow of their right-brain activity. In order to coach students to draw accurately and with insight, I attempt to suppress language and cultivate silence. Students can then develop their right-brain ability to focus and use spatial observation.

As I stated above, right-brain creativity is of greater importance today then ever before, particularly for corporations. They need employees who are ready to compete in a lean market place developing interesting products and cost-effective solutions. Business professionals need a break from routine; they need to tap into right-brain activities. They need opportunities that incorporate visual, random, and intuitive thinking processes in order to create new configurations as they respond to new and difficult problems. To this end, my drawing classes, through the use of right-brain activities, bring these opportunities to businesses as well as individuals.
I invite individuals and companies to consider this learning experience. For companies, a custom class can be conducted for staff at your premises.

My next classes, Introduction to Drawing and Right-Brain Creativity, run from January 31-March 21 (Thursdays 6:30-8 p.m.) and April 11-May 30 (Thursdays 6:30-8 p.m.). Classes are held at Creative Arts High School, 65 East Kellogg Blvd. Registration begins January 4 — to register call 651-744-3072 or go to commed.spps.org. You can also contact me directly at 651-224-1637 or mryesch@netzero.com.

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 [IMAGE]
Music, Yoga and the Brain

My name is Anna Vazquez and I have come to know and appreciate the West End Community only recently. I live part-time on a houseboat on the Mississippi River and love the healing energy of the river. I am a cellist, yoga teacher, and brainwave trainer who is drawn to the healing potential of these arts and disciplines, with a Doctorate in Performance, Alignment Yoga Teacher Training, Kripalu Spiritual Lifestyle Training, Open Focus™ and Neurosynchrony Certification. Also, I recently became a certified leader of Chronic Disease Self-Management workshops.

As a classically trained cellist, who has been performing for 30 years, I have also enjoy exploring where music, spirituality and healing overlap, and music as the grounding for devotional chanting.

I found River Garden Yoga Center this past winter and fell in love with the place. I am grateful to Jeffrey Austin, the owner, for creating such a supportive environment, where I can bring my yoga teaching and cello music to help students learn to heal and move, and to become centered and celebrate.

I am interested in working with people who may have never considered doing yoga. I know firsthand how important yoga can be — no matter how old you are, how much you weigh, whether you have a chronic condition or have lost flexibility. I’d like to reach people who are skeptical that their body will ever feel okay again, much less good. I want to demystify yoga and make it practical and relevant to a broad population. I focus on basics of posture, healthy movement patterns and breathing. I build from foundational poses that directly transfer to movement needed to live a long, independent, and confident life.

Why am I so passionate about yoga? Through my experience teaching and practicing yoga, I am able to come “home” to my Self and create a wonderful sense of ease, freedom and space to experience the fullness of life. I find a balance of internal and external strength, rejuvenation and optimism that I don’t easily experience elsewhere. I deeply enjoy the sense of community that is generated when we practice yoga together.

When I ask myself what healing means, I believe it involves going to the deep places inside our selves, the places that may be uncomfortable, where we feel unresolved or stuck. Then allowing and inviting breath, spaciousness and sunlight into the broken places of sadness, isolation or shame — using the salve of music, kindness, patience, breathing, and conscious movement to restore balance and to bring movement to a joint, or a life pattern. As we experience conscious movement in our hearts, minds, bodies and breath the world around becomes less rigid and impersonal.

I am fascinated by the mind-body potential in humans and how we can transform ourselves “from the inside out.” As a Brainwave Trainer, I help people understand how to work with their state of mind and the content of the mind. Human brains are hard-wired to focus on the negative and this creates problems for many of us. Through brainwave biofeedback, and specific Open Focus™ exercises for the mind, we can learn to develop healthy brain patterns.

Open Focus™ was first developed by one of the pioneers in brainwave research, Dr. Lester Fehmi, with whom I studied. I created my business, Brainwave Virtuosity, and I provide performance coaching and brainwave training to musicians and others seeking to build self-regulation skills, defuse stress, and heighten creativity and confidence. I have worked with individuals (from Minnesota Orchestra members to aspiring students) and organizations.

My yoga classes integrate foundational poses, healthy alignment and breath patterns, Open Focus™ exercises and meditative cello improvisation. My approach is warm and personalized to meet the each student’s needs. I guide students to develop a comfortable, joyful experience with their bodies, to learn how to quiet the mind, and come “home” to the Self.

My offerings at River Garden Yoga Center include: Gentle Yoga for Every Body! Wednesdays 10:30am-12pm and Saturdays 11am-12:30pm (lower studio). Ageless Yoga: Body, Breath and Mind, Fridays 10:30am-12pm.

For detailed information, contact Anna at 651-487-5073, annavazquezyoga@gmail.com, or see www.rivergardenyoga.com.

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Artist Profile: Mark Gerard  [IMAGE]

I grew up in the Merriam Park neighborhood in St. Paul, Minnesota and presently live in South Minneapolis. Without any formal training, I have always felt the pull to express myself creatively. In the beginning I experimented with paint on large canvas in a Jackson Pollack sort of way, discovering the beauty and satisfaction of raw, free expression and abstraction through movement, balance and color.
I started working in recycled materials in 2008. Being a more physical person, I contemplated working with stone and timbers for paths and landscaping. I began working with glass and tile while renovating the homestead, doing mosaic design in many areas throughout the house. In a previous house I installed a floor in an upper room with scrap I had accumulated from wood floors I installed the few months prior to the project. In the beginning I felt I had an untapped energy and needed an outlet to satisfy a need to create. When my obsession with the house began to impose on the family, I knew it was time to refine my projects and seek out ways to create with my recycled and earthen materials so that others could experience something beautiful, created from refuse. Since then I have created about 20 pieces.

[IMAGE]My interest started in wood material while working for a hardwood floor contractor. There was so much wasted material, and I began liking the earthiness of the wood. Custom design wood really appealed to me, and coming from a mindset of recycle and reuse I began thinking about a good outlet for the use of this scrap. Now, I see what I have and use images to work my mediums. I get a feel for when I’m on the right track. Through my creative exploration, I stumbled upon the works of George Morrison, the creator of many a profound, wood collage masterpiece. Needless to say, I was inspired. To this day, wood collage continues to inspire me as well as most other natural or previously used materials. The possibilities are endless.
[IMAGE]
The first piece I did was mostly recycled wood from work projects. I even used clutter I found in my garage, things found in alleys from road trips and dumpster dives. Then the next experience was finding wood on the north shore and I knew I had to take the pieces and do something with them and use them to enhance what I saw without too much extraneous material. After working on a project, there are some pieces left over, and these pieces of material I would spill out on the floor and start working on them. They take on a life of their own and I go with what the flow of the material makes me feel. Connecting with George Morrison’s work helped me to start, in my own way, creating pieces that work with the type of material I found. Perhaps geometric, perhaps more natural, perhaps more spiritual in shape and space. The material does have an effect on the feel of the piece.

My future projects may include free-form wood turning, iron work, glass, plywood that I may be able to paint on or maybe an old cabinet door, and many other resources I feel I could be creative with. I like to work big; I like to work with things I can physically interact with. I feel most comfortable when working on art. As a creative thinker I walk the line of reality and fantasy. I am just beginning to get momentum.

Nature, spirituality and wood can be profoundly satisfying. My nature responds to the responsibility we have for the recycling of these natural byproducts of daily living. I love working in an abstract manner to create my pieces. I believe people tend to look harder and use their imagination a little more freely with this kind of art.

I enjoy expressing what these materials move me to create, whether it be profound, spiritual, rhythmic or humorous.

(top) “Stoneman,” wood and stone. (middle) “Spooked Warrior” explores many found materials. (above) “Dancing Angel” emerges in three dimensions.

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West End Evolving into Mecca of Metalwork [IMAGE]

Marty Hicks, a longtime West End resident, is hosting a bronze pour outside his backyard studio on October 20 (2223 Stewart Ave., St. Paul. More information at hixwerx.com).

Marty is an active member of the Guild of Metalsmiths, an affiliate of Artist Blacksmith Association of North America (ABANA). The Guild received a donation of foundry equipment in 2011 and Marty took on the project of bringing it back to life. He applied for, and received, an Artist Initiative Grant from the State Arts Board to set up the equipment and purchase safety clothing, materials, and supplies to pour bronze for the purpose of creating artwork with metal. The October pour is the first of two pours he will host, open to the public. This is a great opportunity to learn a little bit about bronze and casting bronze sculpture.

Marty has 35 years experience working metal. He started casting bronze in high school. Since then he has been welding steel, casting iron, hammering copper and bronze, and artist blacksmithing.

A mold making session is scheduled Oct. 13, 1-4 p.m. Activities for the Oct. 20 pour will start early in the day and highlight between 6 and 9 p.m. The rain date is October 27.

There are limited materials available to the public to have an object cast. If you are interested in making a mold, contact Marty at 651-492-0899 or see details at facebook.com/HIXWERX.

Marty Hicks is a fiscal year 2012 recipient of an Artist Initiative grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board. This activity is funded, in part, by the Minnesota State Legislature from the State’s arts and cultural heritage fund with money from the vote of the people of Minnesota on November 4, 2008.

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Artist Profile: Elizabeth Fritz [IMAGE]

We’ve all been there — 60 hour work week, kids to shuttle around, social commitments filling our evenings and weekends. Where is the time and space for self fulfillment? This is where I was in my life. I had made a decision to focus on my children and my work and had no space left to nourish my creative side. Trust me: while this sounds selfless, it is not. Eventually my life became so overwhelming I had to take some time for myself and this was when I decided to finally pick up a paintbrush and see what I could do. I didn’t even realize it, but I had been talking to my sister about trying oil painting for ten years. When I told her I was starting she told me it was about time, and it was.

I am a self-taught artist. I have a history of painting on both sides of [IMAGE]my family. On my maternal side, my grandmother Arlene and my great Aunt Florence were both oil painters. On my paternal side, my Aunt Marie is an oil painter. Basically we are a big bunch of very creative and somewhat eccentric people. Growing up, my Aunt Florence’s painting of “Rebecca at the Well” hung in our living room. I was drawn to its beauty and composition, especially the colors she used. My mother was a volunteer docent at the Minnesota Art Museum and at the Minneapolis Institute of Art. She was always studying paintings at home and teaching us about them too. I was exposed to great art my whole life because of her. I was also blessed to travel and study abroad. I studied art history while living in Madrid, had a wonderful teacher and continued to be so intrigued by oil paintings. I did not know why. While touring in Europe I was able to enjoy the great works of Western art and particularly felt a connection to the work of Vincent Van Gogh and creative expressionism. The textures, colors, and vibrancy of the work are exciting and energi[IMAGE]zing to me.

Four years ago, when I finally took the time to explore painting, I went to the art supply store for the first time and purchased a brush, a palette, canvases, a table easel, and red, yellow, blue, white and black oil paints in tubes. I put my purchases in my car an[IMAGE]d headed to our family cabin on the North Shore of Lake Superior. I spent the long weekend alone painting the view of the lake, rocks, and trees from the front room in the cabin. It was so relaxing and fun at the same time: mixing colors, experimenting with brush strokes, just getting lost in my work.

Since that day four years ago I have painted more than 40 pieces. Some, as small as six by six inch still lives of nature birds, to landscapes as large as six by five feet. My first public show was in February of 2012 at Claddagh Coffee on West Seventh. Showing my work publicly was very affirming of my decision to nurture my creativity and care for myself. I was deeply moved to have my work admired and many pieces purchased. The show also led to several commissioned pieces and another small show at Claddagh coming in September, a series of paintings of scenes from Ireland. I will also be showing another collection at Sister Sledge Coffee in Minneapolis in January 2013.

Art and painting are very personal to me and continue to be a part of my journey. I encourage everybody to step out of their personal confines and try something creative — you never know what the results may be. You just might be surprised!

You can reach Elizabeth Fritz at elizabethafritz@yahoo.com.

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Artist Profile: Violin Guild of America [IMAGE]

by Jerry Rothstein

The historic Louise Building at 265 West Seventh (part of the Rochat-Louise-Sauerwein Block of 1885), has been home to disciplines with deep cultural roots. Stuart Loughridge practices the art of painting in the Western tradition; the Shuharikan Dojo brings the Eastern discipline of Aikido to the community; and now, William Bartruff and his Violin Guild have arrived, making and repairing violins and other stringed instruments and teaching those skills to a community of eager learners.

Guilds of craftspeople have existed in many forms for more than two millennia. Bartruff’s model — a master artisan making and teaching at the same time — and guiding and supporting his students as they advance in their practice, is a familiar one.
In a way, Bartruff’s decision to establish the Violin Guild was a reaction to the “establishment” Violin Society of America, which Bartruff feels does not provide younger violin makers with the teaching and support they need. Already in touch with his own students and others who wanted to become makers and repairers, he began teaching in his basement, which became inadequate as the Guild grew in numbers.

The space on West Seventh was mentioned by old friend Stuart Loughridge, and Bartruff has created a well-outfitted workshop space that is light, airy and full of tools and molds of the craft.

Teaching is Bartruff’s primary focus now. He has a place where anyone can come and learn—and even make a violin by hand in ten weeks! Later he plans to develop some competitions for makers, with outside judges.

[IMAGE]The Violin Guild of America offers a two-year course of study to earn a Violin Maker certificate, which is awarded to students who complete the course of study. It is open to all beginning violin making students. Each year is composed of three twelve-week terms. Classes are held four days a week, Monday through Thursday, four hours per day, with a required lab on Friday. First year: Becoming a Violin Maker: First term: build a violin; second term: build a viola; third term: build a cello. Second year: Mastering Violin Making: First term: build a violin; second term: build a viola; third term: instrument and bow repairs.

William Bartruff’s first encounter with stringed instruments came early. He studied violin, and at the age of ten came to possess a damaged viola. A music teacher at the local high school (in Dubuque, Iowa) repaired it, worked with William to make a violin, and also was his music teacher for the next five years.

Bartruff continued to play and study after the family moved to California, was accepted at the Julliard School of Music, and studied with Lillian Fuchs — “Violist, teacher and composer considered to be among the finest instrumentalists of her time” [Wikipedia]. Then, in Minnesota, he finished a history degree at the University and continued building violins.

As we were talking, one of William’s students brought out a violin he had acquired and asked for information. Watching William handle, examine, categorize and identify the instrument in less than a minute provided a direct definition of what expertise is all about. He identified the dating, assessed repairs and grafts (they were well done), and placed it as a German violin of the 1820s potentially worth $15,000.

Another aspect of Bartruff’s expertise is his knowledge of wood and what species suit the different parts of the violin. He finds 150-year-old straight-grained pine in old barn wood for tops, and knows the dealers who import from Eastern Europe and Africa. Stradivarius used African mahogany and Balkan maple. Bartruff has copied the great maker’s molds and made violins that “sound like the original.” One key is to use old wood — “The sound is instantly old.”

[IMAGE]Bartruff says, “My making days are coming to an end,” as he deals with progressive arthritis, but he plans to teach all his life. He also plays with the St. Paul Symphony Orchestra.

Part of the guild concept is support for the students to be established as makers themselves, and Bartruff’s extended network of dealers helps them sell the instruments they make, and he approves. They are competing these days with decent instruments from Bulgaria, Romania, China and Germany. The Violin Guild’s hand made instruments are in demand.

Bartruff was heading to New Orleans to teach a two-week class at Loyola University in repair work. It was clear that in his absence the workshop would be busy and productive.

Violin Guild of America, 265 West Seventh, vga.us.com.

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West End Artist Profile: Susan Weinberg

by Jerry Rothstein

For the Jewish people, memory and the act of remembering are essential practices. They occur in every aspect of liturgy, ritual, holy days and personal observance.

Susan Weinberg is a local artist whose work explores Jewish identity and is concerned with the question of who will tell Jewish history for future generations. The work focuses on family, cultural and community history with artwork that has story embedded within it.

Paintings from her exhibitions inspired by journeys to Lithuania (The Silence Speaks Loudly) and Radom, Poland, where her family originated (A Hole in Time), explore the ways Lithuania deals with its Holocaust history, the tiny remnant of the community that remains, and the prewar Jewish community of Radom.
In addition, Weinberg has worked on a series of interviews with Jewish Minnesotans as part of the Jewish Identity and Legacy Project, in partnership with Sholom East and the Jewish Historical Society of the Upper Midwest, financed in part with funds provided by the State of Minnesota through the Minnesota Historical Society from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund. Two of her subjects, survivors of the Holocaust Sam Saide and Walter Schwartz, are residents of Sholom East in Victoria Park. After recording their stories, Weinberg created artwork that incorporates these stories to tell the legacy of the broader community.

The Holocaust survivors had stories of loss, loss of family and the lives they had lived prior to the war. They talked about memory, remembering what happened during the Holocaust, the need for the state of Israel and the need for peace. Many talked about anti-Semitism both here and in Europe. Still others spoke of sharing ethnic foods with their non-Jewish neighbors whether it was in the Ukraine or the Iron Range. And they talked about being Jewish. About the freedom to now be Jewish in the United States. They talked about legacy in terms of practicing the Judaism they learned as a child. Of embracing Yiddishkeit (the quality and essence of being Jewish) and having it integrated into one’s life, not into little “cubby holes.” They also talked about the legacies that they had been handed down and continued; blessing the candles, telling the stories, mothering the children and honoring the parents.

The stories were often visually rich and the subjects often relished the retelling. Some stories were painful. Many were deeply moving. Some could state their identity and legacy clearly. More often they told stories out of which it emerged, not neatly packaged, but evident nonetheless. Together they give glimpses of the life experiences that create identity and in turn the legacy of the broader Jewish community.

Susan’s work from these projects is on exhibit at the Eiger-Zaidenweber Holocaust Resource Center (HRC — located at the Sabes Jewish Community Center, 4330 S. Cedar Lake Dr., Minneapolis: call 952-381-330 for information and hours). The HRC is a resource center open to all who wish to access resources for studying the Holocaust. The exhibit is sponsored by the Jewish Historical Society of the Upper Midwest, Talmud Torah of Minneapolis, the Tychman Shapiro Gallery and the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at the University of Minnesota.

[IMAGE]Sam Saide: “The Warsaw ghetto was bombed…. So what they did is to blow up the rest of it, the rest of the building and they covered up the other ones. Then I had to do clean up with the bricks and the Polish people came in and they were buying those things, the bricks from the Germans. When they got in they had to pay so much and they had to show me a piece of paper, how many bricks they need to buy. So I gave them the bricks they needed to buy and sometimes I ask them if they have bread or something like that. Pretty soon they got smart, they brought me a bread, they brought me a salami, and I gave them those bricks. I gave them instead of 20 bricks, I gave them 25 bricks. See the five bricks they had a hole on the wagon and they put it in the hole, because the Germans they count the bricks when they went out.Susan Weinberg: “The painting is titled Bricks for Bread. I often am drawn to the stories that reveal some detail I had never heard before. Who knew that the Germans not only destroyed the Warsaw Ghetto but also then sold the bricks to the Poles?”
[IMAGE]
Walter Schwarz: “My mother’s history is that at age five her family moved to the United States, so my mother was brought up here. That was the reason why she was able to get the family out of Romania. . . . She was not a citizen because she was a child, but her parents were citizens. She had to show evidence to the American consulate that she had been in America. By chance her sister who lived in America was a good friend of her former teacher and she once met her and asked her, “Is there any evidence that my sister Bessie was your student?” She says she has a class picture. So she presented that class picture and said this is Bessie here. So my mother had to show that picture to the American Consulate and said, ‘This is me, I was there.’ And she spoke perfect English of course; she had gone to school here. And on that basis she was able to get a visa to get the whole family in.”   Susan Weinberg: “Walter’s story had many elements to it. He had the good fortune to be able to catch the last train, the last boat in exiting the country. He also had a circular theme, beginning the war in Czechoslovakia and ending it there as well. I also could picture his story of finding his relatives as they cracked the door open suspicious of this man in uniform. And of course his role as a Ritchie Boy was an important element in his life. In trying to capture his story I took more of a collage like approach with elements of these stories.”

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West End Artist Profile: Halle O’Falvey — Art and Healing [IMAGE]

by Stina Jacox

Between 1866 and the late 1980s, state run hospitals were filled with people with unnamed mental illnesses and disabilities. Farina, “inmate/patient #215,” spent 17 years, 10 months, and 13 days at Anoka State Hospital before she died of heart disease. Institutionalized after giving birth to her last child, she most likely suffered from post-partum depression. She never saw her children again. Bess, a brilliant pianist, was subject to mood swings and “spells.” She was committed to the St. Lawrence State Hospital in upstate New York. Though separated by geography, these women share a common thread. Their sacrifice was born of a time in which laws allowed family members and hospital superintendents to commit those judged “insane.” Restorative justice projects across the country seek to overcome anonymity with education and art, breathing life into the stories of people like Farina and Bess.

photo: Remembering with Dignity Program self-advocates with Halle on a visit to the studio of Ann DePrey.

[IMAGE]Nearly 20 years ago, Minnesota disability lawyer, Luther Grandquist, found numbered grave markers in Moose Lake State Hospital Cemetery. He shared this information with Advocating Change Together (ACT) member and former institutionalized inmate/patient, Gloria Steinbring. Armed with this information, a coalition of self-advocates and allies, individuals and organizations founded Remembering With Dignity (RWD), an organization that began working to ensure that people who lived and died at state hospital institutions and were buried in unmarked or numbered graves, would receive a headstone engraved with their name, birth date and date of death. RWD also supports people with disabilities in leadership roles.

photo: Halle’s business card, made up of work from the first SEE THEIR FACES program.

Halle O’Falvey, well known to Community Reporter readers as the author of the monthly column Birds In Particular, became involved with RWD in 2008. “After 18 years of restoration efforts, 6,697 of the more than 13,000 people now buried, rest with the dignity of a named grave marker,” Halle says.

“In 2009, I was inspired by the artist Mary Gibney and the ‘Mug Shots and Found Faces’ exhibition in Minneapolis. I realized that she wanted to give faces to the formerly nameless institutionalized and applied for and received a Schmidt Foundation grant. The first SEE THEIR FACES project was born. Today these are people who would have been out in the community. They would not have been an embarrassment. They would not have been invisible. This project is about people with disabilities painting people with disabilities.”

[IMAGE]Halle beams when she talks about finding the artist-participants and her path to community art. An energetic woman with upswept hair and vibrant clothing and accessories, she infuses a conversation with the joy and excitement of the projects, people, and activities around which she builds her life. At the center of Halle’s love of art and her desire to embrace those around her is the work she does that is inclusive and interactive, designed to inform and move.

photo: Halle’s quilt: “Red.”

As project manager on the SEE THEIR FACES and SEE THEIR FACES, session II, Metropolitan Regional Arts Council grant (legacy money), Halle partners with people who themselves face the challenges of disabilities. As one participant remarked, “That could have been us (in institutions).” Through a series of workshops held at Acme Academy of Art at 937 West Seventh, these emerging artists, assisted by professionals like Halle, Jamie Winter Dawson and Kim Berry, are creating the vivid portraits for SEE THEIR FACES, session II.

The eldest of eleven children born in twelve years, Halle is a St. Paul native who is at home in the West End. She has embraced not only the artist within, but also her deep appreciation of differently abled people. Her journey is a truly remarkable one.

A mixed media artist and designer, she has created haute couture, deconstructed clothing into new, vibrant garments, and was a stitcher at the Guthrie. At InterAct, whose mission it is to create art that challenges perceptions of disability, Halle worked as a costume designer and stitcher.

Halle is also skilled in paper making and quilting. For the latter, she draws upon a very personal creative vision, and the women of Gee’s Bend. After the death of a friend’s father, she gathered up the most intimate pieces of a life lived: the man’s flannel pajamas, a handkerchief, a well-worn shirt, and his last bed sheet. Out of these, she created a lasting quilted memorial for his family. Similarly, after a 95-year-old friend suffered a stroke (a seamstress, like herself), it was Halle who worked with her as she struggled to manipulate fingers betrayed by the sudden attack upon her brain.

It is clear that Halle’s personal and public commitment to art runs deep. As she continues to help the artists prepare for SEE THEIR FACES, session II, she is herself a student, pursuing a degree in Integrated Master’s of Art Education at Leslie University. Her dream is to “someday be the art director of a school and day facility, where people with disabilities hang out.” As stated by Dr. Ernest Boyer of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching: “The arts are essential parts of the human experience, they are not a frill. We recommend that all students study the arts to discover how human beings communicate not only with words, but through music, dance, and the visual arts.”

SEE THEIR FACES, session II, will be on display at the Acme Academy of Art 937 West Seventh, on June 1, 6 to 9 p.m. and June 2, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

To see more about this landmark project combining the processes of portraiture, genealogy and restorative justice, click on this YouTube link: youtube.com/watch?v=1g5RC7Kji0Q.

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West End Artist Profile: Claire Kayser [IMAGE]

I was born an identical twin and have been passionate about art ever since I can remember. I grew up in northern Alabama and visited my dear aunts in Louisiana each year — they sparked and nourished my interest and love of painting.

I come from a long lineage of artists — painters, photographers and writers — and my art is part of my being. I believe that our creativity is from the soul, and it is connection to God.

photo: Claire Kayser and her student show at Claddagh.
Credit: Jerry Rothstein

I have been blessed with a family that supports my production and teaching, and I am most grateful. I'm a lover of God, life and people and see the world through rose-colored glasses. In painting, I enjoy painting real-life images, turning the mundane into something more beautiful or interesting. I’m most drawn to the figure, as the figure embodies all the elements and principles of composition to portray, and breathing life into it is an additional challenge that I love. My most popular subject has been cows. I’ve sold every one, even one half-finished, still on the easel.

[IMAGE]I have been teaching for about nine years in St. Paul, and with my twin sister in Alabama and in Tuscany. My husband Tom and I started out in Chicago in 1995 and moved to St. Paul (his hometown) in 1998. We have three children, all born between 1997 and 2000. I pursued my painting feverishly when the children were young, yearning to have enough time to create. Tom has been a huge support in our 17-year marriage, allowing me the time to devote to my art and ultimately building a home studio space where I can produce and teach painting. I started my painting classes then and continue teaching in the studio space to this day.

photo: Live in the Moment

I teach everyone from beginners to advanced painters. I love the rewarding feeling when a student “Gets it Right” on the canvas. The best feeling is helping a student in her journey find the joy that painting can bring. For that, I am grateful. To God be the glory. [IMAGE]

My own work is part of collections across the United States, and is included in the show at Claddagh Coffee that features many of my current students. I have also shown in Athens, Alabama, Chicago, Edina and Stillwater. I am also a portrait photographer specializing in senior portraits. With my twin sister, Carole Foret, who also paints and photographs in our hometown of Athens, Alabama, I take groups on “Tuscany Painting Journeys” each September (see caroleandclaire.com).

I call my weekly painting class Color Café, and teach it in six-week blocks for of two-hours each. Each six weeks I have a different schedule of free paint plus specific assignments dealing with color theory, mixing, perspective, and all elements and principles of design, and will end with a constructive critiquing session. I also offer Paint Parties, in which groups of six to eight people can come to paint in a relaxing atmosphere. There’s a theme or subject matter to paint. These sessions provide a great way to test the waters of painting. In the summer I offer Kids Art Camps — three-day workshops and a fun atmosphere for young people to paint freely. Finally, I offer private lessons. Detailed information is at clairekayser.com, or call me at 651-983-2743.

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West End Artist Profile: Carol Jasin
Artist, Stylist, Teacher and Businesswoman
[IMAGE]
Carol Jasin with her apprentices:
Cosette France, Molly Bodensteiner and Shauna Erickson.



by Jerry Rothstein

Carol Jasin sewed doll clothes as a child — the first sign of her creativity. At 25, at loose ends, she looked around for a direction — beauty school caught her eye and she was able to get a grant to help pay for her education. She soon realized that she had found the right direction.
Four years ago, after more than two decades in the business, she created Tease, a multifaceted salon where you can find all the usual hair, nail and esthetic services and then some. Tease itself has an attractive style and flair, Jasin says, “We are not pretentious. Our salon is a comfortable and uplifting place to be.

Carol began offering an apprenticeship program last year. It is an after-license education “like grad school,” partly to assure herself that her staff meets her own high standards, as all apprentices become Tease employees. The program lasts six months in which students master the five basic hair styles—long layer, bob, graduated bob, pixie and men’s styles—in addition to a great deal of advanced learning in technique, texturizing “from within,” shaping, creating volume and releasing the curl.

[IMAGE]Carol points out, “A good haircutter is like an artist — it’s like the old story of how a great sculptor’s work takes away all the nonessentials from a block of marble, leaving the form within revealed. Haircutters also cut away the excess to reveal the right results.” [Editor’s note: Of course, if things go south, the marble does not grow back.]

Molly is one of Carol’s first three apprentices. She studied at Aveda. As a teacher, Carol is very interactive. Molly will shadow her and observe; Carol will talk through he way she works. Then Carol observes Molly working and shares what she sees. Molly and the other apprentices — Shauna and Colette — are also learning a lot about the business side, products, promotions and the community services to which Tease is committed. “It is a challenging process,” Molly points out. “It is helping me to build on what I already know, and to advance my talents.”

The Tease team includes Carol, owner and creative director; her husband John Figge, operations manager; and Joshua Richard, salon manager. There are two master stylists, two advanced stylists, three junior stylists (apprenticeship grads) and seven independent stylists on the team.
[IMAGE]
As a haircutter, Carol works to make each client’s experience unique and personal. This idea also resonates with her creative work as a jewelry artist, which she began a few years after she started doing hair. Her technique often involves a combination of deconstruction and creation — she takes things apart (often old or antique) and uses the components to make new jewelry that is complex and symbolic, with each piece unique. On display at Tease, with new work arriving regularly.

Tease has recently become a Bumble & Bumble salon — a mark of accomplishment in the business. The designation can’t be bought; you must be chosen. With it comes a lot of support for the business, including participation in Bumble & Bumble’s training center for both the business and the education side. Staff development resources fit well with Carol’s determination to “grow my staff with loyalty to Tease.”

Tease Salon, 961 West Seventh, 651-292-0029; teasesalonmn.com.

[IMAGE][IMAGE][IMAGE][IMAGE][IMAGE]








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Gabriela Sweet: Artist and Neighbor [IMAGE]

by Stina Jacox

On a blustery Sunday in January, the sounds of Rhizosphere emanate from the tropical garden at the Como Park Conservatory. The group, featured as part of the Music Under Glass series, ignores the occasional drip of condensation and mesmerizes their audience with the lush sounds of Native American and Chinese flutes, clarinet, guitar, accordion, and steel guitar. The latter two instruments are the specialty of Gabriela Sweet, a 13 year resident of Watson Street in the West Seventh neighborhood.

Although her day job is as a coordinator at the Liberal Arts Language Center at the University of Minnesota, Gabriela is firmly rooted in the world of music; in particular Zydeco and indigenous music. A founding member of the bands ZoloGo and Bayou Hazard, she has played bottleneck slide guitar and accordion all over the region. In 2005, Gabriela appeared with Mila Vocal Ensemble on A Prairie Home Companion. Currently she plays accordion with Z Puppets Rosenschnoz (zpuppets.org/home), a Minneapolis based puppetry company “on a mission to delight children and adults with feats of imagination.”

Gabriela attributes her passion and aptitude for music to her parents. “Music was always present in my house, growing up. My mother was an amazing vocalist, classically trained. She also played the piano and organ, and directed choirs. My dad also had a wonderful voice.”

One of the factors that led her, and partner, Mike, to buy on Watson, was Mahler Music Center at 907 Randolph, just three blocks away. “I go there pretty often; they do great work on my accordions, and maybe someday I’ll actually buy a new one from them!” She notes that on a recent work day she was waiting for the bus and saw Ken from Mahler’s. “He stopped to chat and asked ‘How’s that accordion doing for you? Holding up okay?’ Where else but in West Seventh, eh??”

Affairs of the stomach also influenced their choice of property! Hot City sandwiches have been on the menu for Mike since the 1980s. Gabriela notes they still go there for food at least once a week.

The fusion of Gabriela as artist, neighbor, and thoughtful observer is evident in her love of Crosby Farm Regional Park. “Crosby is a big deal for me. The river is a constant, and it is constantly changing, which means that all the land around it constantly changes too. Sometimes we can’t get onto many of the trails at Crosby because it’s flooded, or maybe we try it anyway, and get ‘brownie feet’ (where your shoes get so covered with mud that you can hardly walk). At the end of summer we go out on the Magnolia riverboat with Jazz 88’s evening cruise, enjoying great live music and the beautiful summer night. People go and hang out on the little dock and enjoy the last bits of warmth.”

If you would like to meet Gabriela, she will be appearing with Z Puppets in March. The performance dates are March 12th at Highland Park Library (10:30 to 11:15 a.m.) and March 16th at Rondo Library (11 a.m. to noon). She will play accordion for their production: “In a Fool’s Kitchen: A Classic Battle between Chef and Lobster.” Reviewers rave, “Z Puppets Rosenschnoz is Muppet-class” and “Bursts at the seams with wild energy, creative genius and sheer fun!”

Although Gabriela is not currently scheduled to play any gigs in the West End, her fans would like it if she would. If you want to hear some Zydeco to warm up a chilly spring night, email sweetga@mac.com.

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West End Artist Profile: Michael Conroy [IMAGE]

by Michael Conroy

Although I had always done art, even as a child, I didn’t begin to paint until I was nineteen years old. When I started I painted watercolor portraits.

In 1982 I found a teacher, Renee Reilly, who gave art lessons out of her basement studio in South Minneapolis. Over three years I took about sixty classes from her. Then, in 1985, I began to produce paintings independently from what I had learned in the classes.

(Pictured) The Steamer. Top right: Bridge Over Waterline; Center, Moonglow; Bottom: Tree and Water Illusion.
[IMAGE][IMAGE]



It took a while before I was influenced by any major artists. As I gathered more knowledge about painting, my work progressed, and I was influenced mostly by modern artists like Andy Warhol, Picasso and Willem de Kooning.
Presently I am able to show my work twice yearly. I approach galleries and venues across the Twin Cities with new work as often as I can. I have won several awards through the Bloomington Art Center and other shows.
I am involved in a show called Artability, which occurs annually in October. I work for the show during the summer months under the employment of a nonprofit organization called People, Inc. I also share time with other artists and am always seeking shows and connecting with both new and established painters.
I have made four limited edition prints that have been for sale in Twin Cities galleries for fifteen years and have sold more than 750 copies.

My new show, called “The Stone. The Water. The Land” is at The Frameworks in Highland Village until February 25. This is my third show at The Frameworks.

Gallery @ The Frameworks
2205 Ford Pkwy, Highland Park
In Highland for 38 years, managers Bill Rondano and Pam Fechter are especially enthusiastic about the last three and a half years, during which they have featured shows of original art by local artists. Conroy’s show is complemented by works of the Minnesota Society of Sculptors that features original bronzes by Greg Conboy and Thomas R. Zahn. The gallery also displays jewelry, ceramics, glass work, paintings, drawing and photographs. New shows begin every six to eight weeks. For information call 651-698-3372 or see frameworksMN.com.

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Artist Profile: Media Mike Hazard [IMAGE]

I am a community reporter. I praise people with pictures and poems and videos. This montage of pictures and stories tells my story.


Apple of their Eye
I feel I was born and raised to be an artist. My mom, Mary Hazard, is a scholar whose life work, “Elizabethan Silent Language,” is a magisterial multidisciplinary study of the Renaissance in England. She taught me to see that even jewelry embodies meaning. Her writing is as beautifully composed and ornate as one of Queen Elizabeth I’s outfits.

My dad, Patrick Hazard, is a writer whose peripatetic travels are blogged at My Global Eye. A champion of new media before it was old hat, he taught film in his poetry classes. He likes to joke that his “revenge on America was bringing Monty Python to this country” when he worked as an academic consultant to Time-Life Films.

On Sundays my family visited museums. On one of those weekend outings I saw a film called “Dead Birds” by Robert Gardner. It made me want to be a filmmaker. Friends now with Gardner, a legendary anthropologist and maker of anthropological films, in retrospect my life has an almost predetermined arc. My life was meant to be mine.

Bat Man
A double major in art and English at Macalester College, I love to play with images and words. This has created a life as an artist wherein I make videos (with pictures and words) and I write poetry and I photograph. Sometimes all three parts of me come together in one work. For instance, I made a video poem called “Weird Wood.” It was shown at and then collected by the Museum of Modern Art in New York. This portrait of the late Kirby Puckett, Bat Man, is in that mix.

[IMAGE]Mr. Positive
Making a documentary with a Fort Road legend, Carl Bentson, has changed my life. When I get down, I ask “What would Carl do?” This never fails to perk and pick me up. I earn a living working as an artist in the schools, teaching people of all ages how to make videos and photos. Whenever I show “Mr. Positive,” people are moved.

One of the things I love about my job as a teaching artist is I get to work with really great teachers. One of the greatest is Barb Nagle. She writes, “I’m a middle school teacher and I showed ‘Mr. Positive’ to my students. I am often tired of my seventh grade students being so negative and disrespectful toward each other. Many of them do not use the resources and talents they have and complain constantly about how ‘boring’ their lives are. I showed this video to see what kind of impact it would have on them. You could hear a pin drop in my room. Many of the girls had tears in their eyes and the boys were speechless, which was a miracle in itself.

“Some of my students are in foster care. I think they ‘woke up’ and developed a sense of appreciation for what they have because of this documentary. After the video, it was so quiet in my room, I didn’t say much, but I challenged my students to go out to nursing homes to volunteer; help neighbors with yard work; and be more like Carl. Many students promised they would. If it can touch my seventh graders, it can touch anyone.”

Like “Mr. Positive,” most of my films are in the public library. You might also search for michaelhazard on YouTube where I have a hundred films on line, and many are available at Amazon and the Minnesota History Center store. For more, visit my website, thecie.org.

Local Color
Walking daily with my camera and notebook, I seek the extraordinary in the ordinary. I lived near the bottom of Ramsey Hill from 1983 until 1999 when I moved downtown to Lowertown Lofts Artists Cooperative. My clinic is United Family. OK, most people don’t bring a camera to their physicals, but here is a snapshot of an extraordinary individual, my nurse Nimo.

[IMAGE]Your Body Grows Alert When You Hurt
Nimo is real. The debate about health care is abstract. Real is when you hurt and you need care and Nimo is there. A nurse at United Family Practice Health Center, Nimo teams with Tim Rumsey, my doctor. I bring them apples.

After we clicked this picture, and she moved on to help another patient, I asked Dr. Rumsey about Nimo. “A couple years ago a woman came in the clinic in the middle of winter. It was 20 below. She did not have a coat. When she left, she was wearing a jacket. Nimo gave her the coat off her own back.” Nimo said, “Your body grows alert when you hurt.” Rumsey: “She is wise.”

Double Take
My current documentary in progress is “A Happy Collaborator.” It’s a portrait of a filmmaker, teacher of film and media activist named George Stoney. In progress since 1999, you can see the nearly finished documentary at the Docuclub at IFP Minnesota (2446 University Ave. West, Suite 100, St. Paul. Showtime is 7 p.m. on Friday, January 27, 2012. For info, call 651-644-1912).

Good media, I have learned from Stoney, is made when the maker and the subject collaborate.

Frederick Manfred says in the film we made together, “American Grizzly,” “I think the reason that I write used to be to put something down and it would be there for keeps. But I think mostly it’s that I get a second life out of life. I get my own life that I live every day eating pancakes and loving my children, and some ladies. And then in the books, I live yet another life, in the lives of these people, so I get a double take out of life. I get two lives out of it. The first one vanishes and the second one gets into a book for a little while and stays there.”

Finally, I make portraits of people to see others as they are, and then you can see too. We get a double take out of life.

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Artist Profile: Steven Gores [IMAGE]

When I think about my beginnings as a composer in St Paul, it was my Uncle Wally who turned me on to some of the great players and old tunes that still influence my compositions today. Before him, it was a few lessons and some experimental time at the piano that got me interested.

I guess one might say that my Minnesota roots aren’t exactly straight laced. A little bohemian and a lot German, my father, a good-hearted patriarch, who had been raised in Hampton, Minnesota, had had a few run-ins with the law before I was born. In the thirties his vocation was “running rum” in southern Minnesota. He served for the crime, bought a bar in Hampton, and became one on the other side with the law. He was shot when nabbing thieves who had tried to rip off his tip board money. He survived — and earned a reputation as a local legend. My mother, Maryann, sold cigarettes in the Frederic Hotel in downtown St. Paul. Her father, my grandfather, delivered milk on Selby Avenue by day and played piano in the big bands at night. As for my music, well, I think the color of these stories reflects the diversity of my style. I have studied and practice the classical finger techniques with great discipline, but am a mellow rogue when I write and play.

I started creating songs on my grandfather’s piano when I was about eleven. I was an average kid in school. I competed in sports and did what was required, but I always made time for music, and always had the support of my peers. A friend recently reminded me of our daily ritual: he would lie on the couch, listen and wait. He recalled the versatility of the sounds as I practiced this passion. Then we could go bike around town.

To this day, I have never ever walked away from composing. I studied business at St. Thomas, but continued to create compositions — often late into the night. I read everything I could about technology in music. I studied and often invested in updated keyboards; I became a bit obsessed with creating sounds. My studio, above a tire store on University Avenue, was a modest facility by industry standards. But it was what I could afford. In that space, I was able to teach myself how to record and produce so that I could do it all.
At first I was purely a studio musician and rarely performed my original work live. I would write, record and produce and then sell on CD Baby. With the development of Internet radio, this marketing avenue created an international listener base. I would earn a tenth of a penny a download. I wasn’t making the big bucks, but I had listeners and a fan base on four continents. My early (1987- 2002) techno music is still popular in Japan, and Europe; the New Age and Jazzical albums are most popular in Brazil and the U.K. When I receive my download payments now, it is about sixteen pages of purchases for a total net of about $27. Humorous really, but these are global musical connections that would have never occurred before the Internet.

As time has passed I have become a “live” player. I have played hundreds of gigs from nearly every genre and with many talented musicians and songwriters. Learning other artists’ music has broadened my horizons and musical knowledge. Like many performing musicians, I will improvise while staying true to the piece. I feel it keeps the songs and performances fresh and allows a bit of personal style to resonate. I continue to be motivated by the suppleness of the art form: music composition is a complete freedom of expression. Rarely is it played the exact same way, yet it can be performed and appreciated again and again in different settings. On November 26th, I will be playing with a longtime friend and superb vocalist, Joanne Bolles at the Sail Away in Afton. We have been performing as J.A.S. Jazz for over five years now in wineries and restaurants throughout the area.

I have recorded numerous albums of original music for over twenty years, and if you asked me about my genre, I would have to call it a “shifting muse.” Curiosity of sound has always melded my mental seed, and self-production has allowed experimentation in several areas. I’ve been in funk, jazz, pop and even semi-country bands, taking away elements and ideas for later compositions. I am currently working with a prolific young songwriter/artist, Red Arrow Sky, whose blend is indie rock with a Mandarin (as in language) twist. It is energetic, fun and bombing in creativity. We hope to release his CD before November 1, 2011. I have another CD that has just been released, “Unseen,” that combines the sounds of guitar and keys. I will be releasing a new album of jazz piano compositions in early December. On the complete other end of the spectrum is my composition that I teamed with North Shore songwriter Michael Hyde and vocalist Ebony Washington. “Belles of Heaven” is a fabulously uplifting spiritual piece that has been performed in a limited Christian market with an outstanding reception. Plans are to produce the single for the holiday season.

In a final note, some St. Paul readers may remember my original trio “First Light.” We started performing concerts in 1991. The combination of piano, flute and flugelhorn put life into specific compositions. I was able to write and produce music with a dynamic blend. We still get together for an annual concert in Como Park, and will do special performances, but like most musical groups, our personal directions have changed. As a producer/arranger/engineer, I have been very fortunate. I have worked with many local songwriters and musicians. It is a rich experience to see an artists’ love of creative music come alive in production. It is an honor to perform live with so many talented professionals. All in all, it makes for a pretty satisfying career.

[Editor’s note: For information about Steven’s concerts and CDs, and a November 19 “Wordless Way” CD release concert, e-mail goressteven@aol.com. Also see stevengores.com, where samples of his music are also available. Albums are available for sampling, purchase and/or download on CDbaby.com.]

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West End Artist Profile: Philip Rickey [IMAGE]

by Philip Rickey

I have lived in St. Paul since 1987, and have had my studio on Drake Street in the Fort Road neighborhood since 1990. I am a sculptor and work in stone and wood. My wife, Mary, is a painter, and she and I bought and renovated the building for studios and rented the adjoining Soo Line property for parking and to store my heavy and large stone collection. Having the indoor and outdoor space has afforded me the opportunity or curse to acquire many stone blocks of various sizes, and a whole collection of logs, flitches, branches and boards inside, which my mother fondly called my “wood library.” My creative juices thrive when my ideas combine with the real material bringing about many of the sculptural or place-making ideas that I create. Mary and I each occupy a studio, and we rent the other three to artists, thus creating a small, though not cohesive artist work space.

I design large and small-scale public art and streetscape projects, and manage the estate of my father, a fellow sculptor, George Rickey, organizing exhibitions of his sculpture in both the United States and Europe. He made kinetic sculptures from simple geometric forms constructed in lightweight stainless steel sheet metal that move in the wind. I make sculptures that are only kinetic when you physically walk through, around or by their multi and serial shapes. They are heavy and stationary, yet change optically when viewed from different positions.

So I grew up in an artist’s household. My father not only created wonderful kinetic works in stainless steel and achieved fame during my childhood, but he was interested in other artists and what they did. He wrote an important book on Constructivism (1967), so throughout my life, I was surrounded by my father’s and other artist’s artwork, both contemporary and from the past, and immersed in visual activity. When I started making sculpture in high school, I went as far in the opposite direction as I could think of and began by carving Henry Moore inspired sculptures in wood. After high school, I lived in Berlin, Germany for a year before going to Cornell University, and studied stone sculpture with an important influence for my current media, stone and wood. With him, Japanese sculptor Makoto Fujiwara, I also had my first personal exposure to making works destined for a public place. Makoto, two other students and I submitted an entry for a competition in 1979 that we unfortunately didn’t win, but that experience gave me the interest in the public realm that persists today.
A number of years after moving to St. Paul, having received an MA in sculpture from the University of Iowa, I realized that I needed more experience, tools as it were, to really be able to get commissions in the public arena. This prompted me to study landscape architecture at the University of Minnesota. I now have part of an MLA degree, and that course work and the other work I did subsequently, gave me the understanding and experience to do what I do today, both managing my father’s estate and making sculpture for placement in public places.

[IMAGE]At my Drake Street studio, I develop, carve, grind and polish my stone sculptures that are then transported to their eventual site and installed. I also work on smaller scale works in wood; sculptures that can be picked up and viewed in your hand or on a table. It is interesting to work at both scales; the private allows investigations of ideas that find their way into larger works for public spaces.
I have finished public art projects at various locations around the Twin Cities and outstate. I did the Two Rivers Overlook across from Fort Snelling by the entrance to Crosby Farm Park and the western end of the Samuel Morgan Trail, and Community Vessel in Minneapolis at East Calhoun Parkway and West Lake Street. Like the Overlook and the other public art projects I have made, it is a place, a small corner park with sculptural benches and elements. My most well known public artwork is the Paul Wellstone Memorial up north (south of Eveleth), which I designed with Bill Sanders, the St. Paul landscape architect. It is a six-acre site with different artistic “moments” along paths through the woods.

I am currently working on a new public project, an exciting sculptural orchestration along the streetscape in front of the University’s new Biomedical Discovery District, just north of TCF Stadium on 6th Street SE. My project animates the 500 feet landscaped street from 21st to 23rd Avenues and is about 35 feet wide. My columnar basalt ensembles are in conversation with the multilayered landscape designed by Damon Farber Associates in Minneapolis. This project illustrates my creative process as it has evolved. I first did small sketches in my journal that I carry everywhere, and thought about this site all through May and most of June before I actually began to draw any of my ideas on paper. From the beginning of my thinking about it, I considered the whole, broken into smaller parts the way a piece of music or a choreographed dance is. I could not think of any other way to animate and control the whole space over the time of such a long and narrow space. It had to be episodic. I also thought about how one would experience it over time as a pedestrian, a cyclist or a motorist, those being the three modes of movement through the site.

Since the whole site was so big, at the beginning, I could not conceive of how the different ideas would form a whole. I drew many drawings in pen and ink and also worked over some quick sketches with brush and wash creating shadows. After I had done a lot of sketches for each of the four movements (that is what I called each part, like in music) I began to work on the five foot long, one inch to ten feet, scale drawing of the site, composing with the different parts. This initial scale drawing and my pen and ink sketches of the different parts of the plan were presented to the oversight committee. Their responses were taken into account during the second iteration of designing; the action was moved inward on the site from the street to be in the middle of the pedestrian walk, and a conceptual design budget was developed. In the last and final phase, which I just completed last month, further editing and changes were made to fit the budget and a nine foot scale model was made, which gives a very good idea of what it will look and feel like when installed late in the summer of 2012. This work will be called Minnesota Suite: Spatial Choreography in Four Movements. I will be polishing many of the cut basalt stones in my side yard and in front of my Drake Street studio starting next spring.

When I work in the side lot next to the tracks, I love looking at the west side river bluffs beyond the ADM elevator. That sight is especially beautiful now in the fall as the leaves begin to change and also in the winter when the late afternoon yellow, red and orange glow from the setting sun touches the ice that billows out of the crags in the far river bluffs and turns them beautiful colors. I tell friends, half joking, that I have a river view. I can’t see the water moving, but only that layer of the bluff above the nearer urban scape and parking lots down at the end of the street. In this quiet out of the way place right near downtown, I have found a wonderful refuge to be able to make my large predetermined works for public places or my more intimate musings in both stone and wood. It has been a great place to work all these years.

Two Rivers Overlook is at a historic heart of our area. (right) Rickey’s “Minnesota Suite” is being built of the University of Minnesota campus.

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Lowertown Artist Profile: Crossing the River [IMAGE]

by Beth Barron

I decided to take a huge leap, a daring adventure. I decided to move to St. Paul from the serene, coziness of Linden Hills in Minneapolis. I picked the farthest most industrial region of St. Paul: Lowertown. Despite the shock my friends have expressed and their concern for my sanity, I am now a resident of the Lowertown Lofts Artists Cooperative. I am sure that this is the place for me. I fell in love with the building at 255 E. Kellogg Boulevard, when I visited in 1995 and could only fantasize living an artist’s life. I had a family and the thought of focusing only on my work was impossible to imagine. But a seed was planted. And last year my daughter left for college. The door opened to the world. Scenarios blew about.

I snooped around Lowertown, but the only place that appealed to me was the Artist’s Lofts and I was told that they weren’t accepting applications. I was disappointed but adventure was in my spirit and I was willing to follow any call that arose. As summer reached its peak, I got that unexpected call that a vacancy had occurred and applications were being accepted. I was one of three artists that were offered interviews. I was the lucky artist and was offered a spot. The enormous task of packing up and condensing my family’s memorabilia (and life) to a few boxes for storage began.

[IMAGE]As I write this I am moved in, and unpacking some of the very boxes I packed two months ago. And I eagerly look forward to the day, very soon, when my work and the expression of all I might be and feel will surround me on a daily basis. I feel honored and very lucky that I get to be a part of this community. I hope I am able to share my gifts and that they will be appreciated.

My primary means of expression has been embroidery. With a real studio space, I look forward to what will be born. Living with my work will greatly change my habits and the medium I work in. Thank you, St. Paul, for the opportunity, the foresight and the understanding that artists need places like Lowertown to survive and thrive.

I’d like my work to be a monument to the resiliency of the human spirit and a wish for wholeness. Within each piece is emptiness, chaos, paths chosen or passed by, despair and repair. I rip and tear fabric that once belonged to someone else. I burn the cloth or use it to wipe the floor. I pick up band-aids that lie on the ground. Are they symbols of pain or symbols of healing? I find these remnants of others’ lives to be moving. I work these scraps together by hand, one stitch leading to the next.

Needle in needle out, the work is a meditation. The work is filled with intention and devotion. I listen for and feel the rhythm of the piece. I strive to attend to the mark. Sometimes taking a stitch as if it were the first and/or the last.

I will forever be compelled by the “stitch” and the metaphor of it as a “mark” to catalog time, events and emotion. The line of the stitch fascinates me, knowing as I follow those marks that my life will unfold.

I am humbled by the infinite quantity of stitches that have been sewn by generations of women. Their work is the work that inspired me to practice. I know that those stitches carry within them secrets, prayers and dreams.

Beth Barron is a new resident of Lowertown.

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West End Artist Profile: Sara Diedrich, Joseph Clegg [IMAGE]

Sara Diedrich

I work in my home, an 1890s Victorian on the West End, teaching private voice and piano lessons. I open my door to 30-40 people every week: adults, children and families.

I was a performer for 20 years, making my living with my voice. I grew up in a musical family, in West St. Paul, taking lessons at Henly Music and at the Chimera Theater (in the old Science Museum). I was also in the band and choir at St. Joseph’s. As a young adult I sang, played guitar and piano in bands to support myself. Studying classical music in college, and performing pop, rock and folk music to make ends meet was what I knew how to do, so the move to teaching others how to sing was a logical step for me.

I graduated from college with a music degree and a K-12 teaching license and could not find a job in the St. Paul Schools. A friend’s mother ran a music school and hired me to teach guitar. That job grew into piano and voice lessons, and a second job teaching voice at a high school. I worked there for three years until I had built up enough students at home to teach here full time. I have students as young as 5 years old, and as mature as 55. I teach Monday through Friday year round.

I have a particular philosophy regarding piano lessons: I want students to love music. I want them to become adolescents and young adults who don’t want to quit playing because they love being able to perform music that appeals to them. This means teaching a lot of popular music, using YouTube tutorials, and having an open mind regarding what is “appropriate” piano repertoire.

Voice students come to lessons for all kinds of reasons. Some students need help becoming soloists for their choirs; teenagers want help preparing auditions for musicals, show-choirs and college music scholarships. Whatever the reasons, I love to help singers learn how their voice works and to develop their skills and musicianship. The students recently performed in the studio’s annual spring recital.
There is nothing more fulfilling to me than being such a positive part of so many lives. I am frequently asked if I still perform, to which I usually respond, “I don’t have time,” which is true, but I no longer want to give up my evenings and weekends to entertain people. I have a talent for teaching and I can’t imagine doing anything else.

I also do a lot of listening that is not music related. I listen to students vent over homework, family squabbles, boyfriend trouble, college preparations — you name it, they tell me about it. I am sometimes more counselor and mentor than music teacher, to the adults as well as the kids. The relationships I foster with students, and the confidence that comes to them through their individual accomplishments, are the most fulfilling parts of my job.

I have been teaching here since I bought this house in 2002. I have made some alterations to the interior to accommodate a private studio on each floor. I had to knock down some walls to fit the grand piano into the dining room. I have two Siberian Huskies, who frequently sleep under the piano during lessons, and there is a waiting area for students and parents in my living room. There is also a new studio on the second floor, in which my colleague Joseph Clegg will also teach classical voice and piano.

I am very excited to have Joseph teaching here in the studio. He brings a different approach to vocal teaching. He is a fantastic musician who has as much experience as I do, but has worked more in opera and can better serve the many tenor and baritone singers who frequently request lessons. St. Paul is a very supportive community for music and education. Not only do I feel valued by my students and their parents, I feel that I am giving something important back to my community through my work.

Joseph Clegg

I recently moved to St. Paul to begin a studio partnership with Sara Diedrich. I have been involved in performing vocal music for 20 years, and I have taught voice lessons for more than 10 years.

I was first involved in music during Middle School in Winona, Minnesota, where I was a choir member. In addition to sports, I wanted a way to meet friends, and be involved in group activities. Early on, I found that I could sing a very broad range of notes, and because of that I often sang in multiple voice sections during songs. I found that vocal and piano music were a great emotional outlet during the often tumultuous times of being an adolescent. I have been involved in music ever since, gaining more solo experience during high school, where I sang in chorus and lead comedic roles in our yearly musicals. In addition, I remained a concert choir member and took private voice lessons on the side. I enjoyed seeing the results of practice and dedication take form during this time.

My educational background includes a degree in Music Education from Minnesota State University, Mankato (K-12 and General Music), and a Master’s Degree in Opera Performance from Wichita State University. I have taught choir and general music in the Minnesota public school system. In addition, I have taught private voice and chamber choir as a Teacher’s Assistant during graduate school. I continued my work as a vocal educator at the private Arboretum Music School in Waunakee, Wisconsin during my three-year stay in Madison.

My goal as a music educator is to encourage students, give them practical tools to improve, and have each one find the best, personalized way that they can learn. I believe that no two students will learn in the same manner, and that finding what applies to each individual is most important.

I use a technical approach to singing that involves getting to know your own voice as a musical instrument. Each person possesses a different vocal tract and resonator system. Through working with breathing techniques, voice and range building, and vowel coloring, I seek to find the most natural and effortless sound possible with each student. I also offer beginning piano lessons.

While writing my profile I learned that I was accepted into the Minnesota Opera Chorus for a three show contract this upcoming season. I think performing strengthens me as a teacher, and I love singing opera. Here at the studio, we have no music genre preference. Students who wish to improve in popular music, music theater or classical music are all welcome. There are certain core fundamentals in singing, and taking voice lessons here will help students grow and improve in any form of vocal music. For further information see stpaulmusiclessons.com.

Editor’s Note: More information on St. Paul Music Lessons is available at stpaulmusiclessons.com or by calling the studio at 651-291-0072.


 
West End Artist Profile: Dan Bruggeman | 8.11 [IMAGE]

As a young man, I spent my summers working on a family farm in northern Iowa. Clearing ditch weeds, detasseling corn and bailing hay, I was fascinated by the concept of the “sectioned” rural landscape that I encountered. In the rural Midwest, regardless of the topography, the land has been surveyed and roads have been built to define each square mile. Within each of those squares is 640 acres that define the farm economy. As I contemplated this fact, it occurred to me that the imposition of this geometric grid upon the landscape was an assertion of human authority/dominion over nature unlike any other.

Though I now live in an urban area, my interest has not strayed from an early curiosity about the relationship between humans and their environment. My studio is in an old manufacturing building about a block from the Schmidt brewery near West Seventh. I’ve been painting there for about ten years. Last winter, I hired an arborist to help me identify the trees that surround my studio. I was curious about these trees, which seemed unlikely survivors amidst the compacted and gravelly soil of this semi-industrial area near the Mississippi River. The trees run in irregular lines along the railroad tracks and the roads at the boundaries of the property. After surveying the more than two-dozen trees, the arborist concluded: “These are mostly nuisance varieties: white poplar, cottonwood and ‘junky’ buckthorn. If you want to get rid of them, I wouldn’t blame you.”

Regardless of the quality of their pedigree, I was drawn to these trees. Quite to the contrary, I had been painting them and gathering the debris from around them to add to my collection of artistic subjects. I’m that eccentric guy you may have seen walking with my head down, occasionally picking things up from the ground and contemplating them, as if they were treasures.

[IMAGE]Today, urban and semi-industrial neighborhoods betray their origins within the rigid geometry of city plans imposed upon a once natural setting. The paintings in my recent exhibit at Groveland Gallery in Minneapolis are a meditation on process, place, history and natural objects. For nine years, since the acquisition of my dog, Mia, I have paid careful attention to the ground on our daily walks. As I walked, I sought to transcend a mindless activity by forcing myself to be conscious of the objects in my path. Eyes downward, I could not help but notice feathers, eggshells or a carpet of fallen leaves on the roadside — all confined within the rigid geometry of the city. I was forced to consider the context from which these objects arrived at the location where I had discovered them. I would collect the objects I found and arrange them on a big table in my studio. It made sense to paint these objects, just as they appeared on my worktable, on top of maps and other scientific illustrations that I have collected over the years.

What emerged are paintings that reflect a merging of opposites. For thousands of years, plants, animals and their byproducts have fallen and collected upon and into the soil. We have constructed our community upon this surface, and, consequently, we define ourselves upon the layers of organic matter that we inhabit. At some point, we will join the objects that precede us into the earth; meanwhile, we reside above ground. Ground is the contact point between our being and the earth. It serves as a physical and metaphorical repository for our lives and a gathering point for all things that have submitted to civilization and the pull of gravity.
[IMAGE]
The black pigment used to paint the animals at Lascaux was made of manganese dioxide and ground quartz; and almost half the mixture was calcium phosphate. Calcium phosphate is produced by heating bone to four hundred degrees Celsius, then grinding it.

We made our paints from the bones of the animals we painted.

(top) Ayd Mill 1 (acrylic on board).
(left) Lexington (acrylic on board).
(right) Oxford (acrylic on board).

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West End Artist Profile: Dan Wing | 7.11

I grew up in several small towns in southern Minnesota. I loved going down to the river. There was always a river. I learned a lot about life in those days. I remember catching frogs, stickleback minnows and turtles. Streams and rivers had far more life in them then, before the days of corporate farming. “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” is still one of my favorite books. A lot of my spirituality is drawn from life near the river, and I have always gravitated to river towns. I eventually landed in Lowertown after finishing my bachelor’s in art at St. Cloud State. Today I own a duplex in the West Seventh neighborhood with a beautiful view of the Mississippi.

I approach my work with a sense of adventure. Beginning each piece with the same mindlessness I had when, as a child, I would gaze at clouds, discovering grotesque and wonderful creatures. The pieces evolve from the mindlessness of random lines and effluvium into a hybrid of synthesized forms. The images are realized as I mindfully edit the work. The resultant images are mesmerizing, visceral and surprising. There exists, in much of the work, a narrative that is both familiar and yet alien. While I am drawn to the abstract qualities of painting and drawing, I can’t completely abandon imagery. The work maneuvers stylistically between surrealism and formalist abstraction Although I am very process oriented, I consider the finished piece to be a specimen of inquiry, much like that of any scientist or explorer — a snapshot of the journey.

Much of my current work is inspired by impressions I have while bicycling along the bluffs on the Mississippi in St. Paul. There are tons of wonderful incongruities littering the landscape that invite contemplation. On a bicycle one can see not only the forest, but also the trees.

I am drawn to forms and structures I observe in nature. I strive not so much to imitate, but to invent. I believe art to be a completely human and therefore synthetic invention that can only reflect that which is natural within us.

A tree can be metaphor for lung. Roads carry vehicles like corpuscles in our veins. No matter how hard human beings try to separate themselves from the world, the world conspires to assimilate them. I am simultaneously attracted and repulsed by the incongruity of the human effect in the landscape and on the natural environment. For me, art provides a method in which to reconcile this dichotomy, and examine my relationship with the world populated by seemingly alien beings.

After having a brief and fairly heated encounter with the world of fine art in the 1980s and early 1990s, I found myself taking a hiatus from my studio to use my artistic talents in a career more commercial in nature. With the recent downturn in the economy, I made a commitment to start spending time in the studio. Being unencumbered by the pressures that normally plague artists in their quest for survival, I was free to approach art on my own terms.

Editor’s Note: See Dan’s work at “A Retrospective of an Invisible Artist” at Vine Arts Center, 2637 27th Ave. S, Mpls, 612-741-1408, which runs through July 30. The exhibit features work he has done since the mid- to late-eighties, with an emphasis on recent studies.

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West End [IMAGE]Artist Profile: Mark Granlund | 6.11

I have been working with West Seventh residents and businesses for the last few years to beautify the avenue, as the Arts and Gardens coordinator for the St. Paul Department of Parks and Recreation. I’m responsible for the public gardens and public art collection in St. Paul. Collectively, these responsibilities add up to a program called Blooming Saint Paul. I have worked with the West Seventh Business Association, Fort Road Federation and Kent Petterson, to provide sponsorship opportunities for hanging baskets, planting tree rings and providing mulch for public gardens on city property.

The Blooming Saint Paul program helps neighborhoods and citizens with local beautification projects and recognition. One part of this program is the Blooming Saint Paul Awards. Beginning May 1, St. Paul gardens can be nominated for a Blooming Saint Paul Award. These awards go to exemplary gardens and plantings in the city. There are seven categories of awards: residential, business/institutional, environmental, art in the garden, volunteer garden on city prope[IMAGE]rty, vegetable garden and gardening advocate. In 2010, several awards were won along West Seventh. The Fire Department won for their green roof, Mississippi Market won for their rain garden and Kent Petterson won the gardening advocate award. I have enjoyed being part of the great improvements and civic pride that are happening in the West End.

I am also an artist who paints, of all things, flowers. My artwork, for several years, has focused on botanical subjects. As an accomplished watercolorist and drawer, I have won awards for my botanical paintings and have exhibited them in many venues throughout Minnesota. Most of the subjects for my art are growing in my yard and neighborhood, located in St. Paul’s Midway. Tulips, lilies, tomatoes and cabbage are some images I have created. My favorite botanical medium is watercolor. I create my paintings with a layered approach — developing different aspects of the painting with each layer until the last layer gives the breath of life. I have also taught art classes for many years. I was instrumental in starting the education department at the Como Park Zoo and Conservatory in the late 1990s and developed the successful botanical art program there.
I have always been a good drawer, even in elementary school, and doodled and painted my way through high school. When I decided to go to Bethel College, in Arden Hills, Minnesota, the only course of study I was really interested in was studio art. At Bethel, I had a fun and excellent teacher named Dale Johnson who encouraged me to go to New York City to get my Masters of Fine Arts degree, which I did at City University of New York–Brooklyn College in 1988.

Although I have focused on painting, I have also always written. My most recent art project is “The Book of Bartholomew,” a series of illustrated short [IMAGE]stories about twenty-somethings finding their way in this world. These stories are available online and I am illustrating these stories with several other Twin City artists, including the West End’s Mary Esch, who has illustrated two stories. One of Bartholomew’s main traits is his desire for fresh local food. I have developed a spin-off from this project called 20food.net, where six twenty-somethings blog about their experiences of growing, finding and cooking fresh local food for the first time.

If you are interested in beautifying your neighborhood through gardens, plantings or public art, you can contact me at mark.granlund@ci.stpaul.mn.us or 651-632-2454. If you are interested in the Blooming Saint Paul program, you can find more information at stpaul.gov/naturalresources and click on the “Arts and Gardens” button at the top. You will also find a Blooming Saint Paul Award nomination form at the website. Please nominate a garden or planting in your neighborhood! The award nomination deadline is July 8, 2011.

If you are interested in seeing my art, go to my website: markgranlund.com, read my stories at bookofbartholomew.com and see what twenty-somethings are doing about food at 20food.net.

Pictured: Jack-in-the-pulpit, watercolor. Tiger striped tulip, watercolor. Tomatoes, watercolor.

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Book Review: Giving Back to Our Animals | 6.11

Animal Healing, The Power of Rolfing® Structural Integration
by Kelly Jones Hicks

Unconditional love from a pet is a gift we pet owners receive multiple times a day. It’s the biggest perk of pet ownership. Whether we are conscious of it or not, their very presence in our lives encourages healing on many levels. And they remain loyal despite our rainbow of moods, looking only for food and love. In turn, don’t we want them to have fun, age with ease and feel no pain during their brief sojourn with us? Toward that end, I’ve recently discovered Rolfing® Structural Integration, a form of bodywork that produces amazing healing results on a physical, spiritual and emotional level for both humans and animals.

Briah Anson, M.A., author of “Rolfing®: Stories of Empowerment,” has written a new book on the Rolfing® process and the benefits for animals. In “Animal Healing, The Power of Rolfing® Structural Integration,” Briah Anson presents over three dozen profiles of 56 different animals, both domestic and wild, going through the Rolfing process. Briah makes a convincing case that Rolfing Structural Integration (SI) can produce profound lifestyle benefits to animals from birds to horses.

Any animal suffering from movement limitations resulting from injury, disease, surgical trauma and even old age experience relief and recovery. Rolfing SI also contributes to the rehabilitation from secondary or tertiary responses to trauma — the muscle spasms, soreness and compensatory patterns that linger long after the wounds heal.

Examples of the creatures profiled include cats, dogs, horses, birds, llamas, eagles, an owl, a cougar, and an endearing moose named Mike. Each chapter includes a description of the animal from the owner’s perspective as well as a description of Briah’s analysis. Photos accompany the stories so readers can really see the animal’s reaction to the Rolfing SI treatment — deep relaxation. Most chapters include before and after photos, which are powerful testaments to the work.

The book is organized around types of recovery. One chapter covers animals that have experienced rehabilitation from issues derived from birth defects, acute spinal injuries, and hip dysfunctions. Rescue animals experience trauma as they transition from shelters and kennels to new homes. You’ll read about the dogs, cats and even guinea pigs that have moved from impatience and anxiety to ease and calm after a few Rolfing sessions.

Another chapter tackles animals as athletes, while the Rolfing process unleashes the competitive potential of show horses. Many injuries and traumas could not be resolved using conventional veterinary medicine.
Briah volunteered over two years at the National Eagle Center in Wabasha, where she worked with several injured eagles to help rehabilitate and heal them. You can see these eagles at the Eagle center today. Just ask for Angel, Harriet, Donald or Columbia.

From puppies to geriatric canines, bigger-than-life cats and a cougar, the effects that Rolfing SI has on these animals is life-changing and significant.

Rolfing Structural Integration was developed over 60 years ago by biochemist and physiologist, Dr. Ida P. Rolf. Briah Anson, M.A., has been performing Rolfing SI for over 30 years. She is a pioneer who has taken this transformative bodywork for humans and applied it to animals, producing five educational videos on this work. She currently has a private practice in St. Paul. Read more about Rolfing SI and animal healing at briahansonrolfing-animalhealing.com.

“After numerous sessions with Angel, I maximize our connection,” Brian Anson.

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Steve Prokop, Bookbinder: An Artist Profile[IMAGE]

I’ve always been interested in books. I remember even back in grade school, St. Stan’s, I’d pass delightful and magical summers rummaging through the dusty used books and National Geographic magazines in the Goodwill Store on Kellogg Blvd. downtown.

At Hill High School, paperbacks required for class reading were circulated by the school for the guys and were soon worn out. I came up with a method to help preserve the binding. The beginning of a life-long hobby of bookbinding!

After a number of different careers, about seven years ago I decided to start an at-home bookbinding business. I have the bindery in the basement of my home and business has gradually grown over the years. Not only do local people call in for an appointment to have me look at their old cookbook or family heirloom Bible (or a new Bible a few years old and already coming apart!), but I get books from New York, California, Texas, and a number of other states.
Photo: (right) Steve Prokop working on a Jewish Old Testament.

Most people think of bookbinding as leather covered, gold tooled designs on special books. I don’t do that kind of bookbinding — the extravagant type of specialty binding. Rather, I do preserving and repairing of books whose covers are coming off or whose pages are falling out. Sometimes I make books. Recently, I reformatted an Ojibwa hymnal for reprinting and hand bound it with linen thread, and made a plastic laminated covering for durability.[IMAGE]

Book repair consists of two aspects: structural integrity and appearance. Structural integrity is the practical need to hold the pages together and protect them with a covering. Appearance is the covering material (leather, book cloth, etc.), headbands (colored fabric at the top and bottom of the spine), ribbons, and spine/cover design.

My philosophy as a bookbinder is to change as little as possible the appearance of an old book as I attend to its repair. Bookbinders or commercial binderies just remove the old covers, trim the uneven pages (which may also remove handwritten notes on the margins, especially in Bibles), and simply re-case the pages in a new modern book cloth. However, I treat each book differently in view of the particular repairs needed. An old treasured book should look like an old treasured book!

I take great pride in the work I do and I treat each book as if it were my own.

[IMAGE]The equipment I use for bookbinding is all manual — even the 36-inch blade, 1870s-era guillotine paper cutter I use has a handle! My other equipment includes cast iron book presses (one is from the former St. Catherine College Library Bindery), and a traditional binder’s plough of two blocks of hardwood with big wooden screws, which bookbinders have used for the last 500 years or so.

Photo: Steve’s 1870s guillotine cutter still slices cleanly
through phonebooks with the pull of a lever.


I grew up in the West End, just a few houses down from St. Stan’s. Now I live further down West 7th Street, near St. Paul Avenue. All the older generation of Prokops have passed on, and all the younger ones have moved out of the old neighborhood. I’m probably the only one who lives closest to my roots.

Steve’s company, Special Bindings, offers Bible and book repair, journals and photo albums, notebooks and ring binders, wedding ceremony books and small edition publishing. To reach Steve Prokop, Bookbinder, call 651-698-1477 or see specialbindings.com.

Photos by Jerry Rothstein

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West End Artist Profile: John Yust

Metal Work: Making the Sparks Fly[IMAGE]

(right) Exterior sculpture at United Family Practice Center, 1026 West Seventh Street (blacksmith: Myron Hanson). Photo credit: John Yust

I am passionate about both architecture and metal work. Architecture is about creating the stage; metal work is about refining the details. When metal work is thoughtfully and meaningfully executed, it simply makes the stage a better place in which to live.

Why custom metal work?
  • I get to take an intriguing idea, think about its form in metal, play with it, develop and refine it, choose appropriate materials, and then execute a unique product of art.
  • I have always loved metal work that is hand made, hand worked, and one of a kind (especially one that has no modern welds).
  • When one deals with smaller projects, it is easier to control quality, scale, proportion, and detail.
  • There are no bounds for being inventive and creative and it leads to interesting puzzles that are solvable.
  • Some of the challenges of metal work are to consider and determine how joinery occurs, fastening happens, and what finish is appropriate.
  • When hot, metal work has the innate capacity to be malleable and plastic, allowing for opportunities of great expression in forming the work.
  • Metal work can be sustainable, resourceful, and recyclable; this I have always found intriguing. Metal that some people consider waste or junk may often be reformed and reconfigured into new beautiful forms.
  • Metal work, when done well, has the power to evoke powerful human emotions and awe.
  • I love to tell stories; it is always easy to tell a great story working in metal.

[IMAGE]
(left) Dragon head, recently featured in the exhibition “Iron 2010” at the National Ornamental Metal Museum in Memphis, Tennessee (blacksmith: Tom Latané).

My background


I am a licensed architect with a niche practice in custom metalwork design. I established my own business in 1993 (Yust Architectural Services), serving residential, commercial, and industrial clients. I have lived in West Seventh for almost 40 years.

My career has been influenced by my exposure to music, art, history, museums, travel, and community. Growing up in Wichita, Kansas, my parents were much older than my peers’ parents and both were teachers; my father taught piano and my mother taught high school Latin and art. Our family outings were to museums, galleries, historic sites, and classical music events.

After graduate studies in architecture at the University of Minnesota, I worked many years for one of my professors and mentors, Valerius Michelson, who had been clerk of the works at Saint John’s University with Marcel Breuer. Michelson was a first generation modernist (like his hero, Le Corbusier) and he always referred to me as an arts and crafts architect; a comment that I always took as a compliment.

Integrating the art and craft of metal work with architecture allows me to create designs that bring together my interests in art, architecture, and history. I delight in collaborating with metalsmiths to create work with artistic integrity. My designs include custom gates, railings, hardware, grave markers, signs, pot racks, door handles, cemetery arches, hinges, finials, fountains, sculptures, flag standards, planters, hooks, mug racks, par fitness equipment, and kitchen utensils. Examples of my work in West Seventh are noted.

Projects in the High Bridge Neighborhood [IMAGE]

Architectural Designs | Historic restorations:
  • Schroeder residence, 194 McBoal
  • Martin Weber house restoration, 202 McBoal
  • Charles Yust residence, 151 Goodrich
  • Yust Architectural office, 476 West Seventh
Architectural Designs | Vernacular accessory structures:
  • Michael Justin studio & garage, 183 Goodrich
  • Padgett’s Red Barn artist studio, 274 Goodrich
Architectural Designs | Building enhancements:
  • CSPS Hall elevator addition, 385 Michigan
  • Day by Day back room, 477 West Seventh
Architectural Designs | Metal Work Designs:
  • Front fence at Schroeder residence, 194 McBoal (blacksmith: Myron Hanson).
  • Shutter strap hinges at Padgett’s Red Barn artist studio, 274 Goodrich (blacksmith: Myron Hanson).
  • Park fitness equipment, Pleasant Park by Open School, Harrison Avenue and Garfield Street (blacksmiths: Myron Hanson and Marty Hicks; woodcarver: Fred Livesay).
  • Door handles at Saint Mark’s Lutheran Church, 550 West Seventh (blacksmith: Tom Latané).
  • Exterior sculpture and bike rack at United Family Practice Center, 1026 West Seventh (blacksmith: Myron Hanson).
(above) Door handles at Saint Mark’s Lutheran Church, 550 West Seventh Street (blacksmith: Tom Latané)

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West End Artist Profile: Gayle Cole | 2.11 [IMAGE]

I grew up near St. Louis, Missouri, and have lived in different parts of the country throughout my adult life. In 2004, I returned to Minnesota after spending several years in Madison, Wisconsin. I have made my home in a small apartment in the West Seventh neighborhood since that time.


Although my work has gone through different stylistic phases over a long period, for the most part it originates in abstraction. I began doing art in junior high school. I had an art teacher who introduced his classes to the elements and principles of design through a series of collage projects. In that way, the abstract characteristics of a piece became the prominent concern. In high school I started to focus on drawing and began to paint. I also read, and looked at numerous reproductions from art books at the public library. I kept painting, and the work started to develop out of itself.

[IMAGE]A particularly prolific time was in the early 1980s at St. Cloud State University, where I had a studio space and was able to work on larger canvases. Now, the size of my work has scaled down, since I work in the corner of my living room.

In recent years, the work has taken on a representational aspect, either as invented landscape or in a series of small pieces that involve a central vessel image. Although the subject matter can be recognized as object or landscape, these images do not fall into the category of realism. They have their roots in an abstract approach.

Over the years, I have been influenced by other art, including work by Matisse, Cezanne, the abstract expressionism and Richard Diebenkorn. I am also influenced by processes in the natural environment: day and night; rain and clouds; the moon sweeping through the sky; the presence of water in rivers and lakes; seasons and the like. The landscape paintings that I am most satisfied with suggest processes in nature and are more than a static scene. While my experience of the Midwest is reflected in the compositions, the images are all invented and built from within the edges of the canvas. I am open to visual effects in a painting that would not occur in the actuality of a realistic depictio[IMAGE]n.

The vessel paintings are also pure invention. A general shape and its placement are established at the beginning of a work. By a series of applied marks, colors, lines and shapes, the work develops within its own internal structures, building upon itself in an intuitive way, until the whole is resolved. While the result is recognizable as a vessel, it is not a realistic representation of an actual piece of pottery. Instead, the vessel image becomes a scaffolding for exploring formal qualities in an abstract way.

Each new canvas presents possibilities for new solutions, as well as the use of familiar visual vocabulary. Each painting affords the opportunity to explore a new configuration and be confronted by unforeseen surprises as the piece evolves. I am guided both by previous experience with the medium of paint and by exploratory intuition in the creative process.


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