Art...It's What We Do
by: John G. White
see original blog post at: 
https://listeningstonesfarm.com/2017/08/24/art-its-what-we-do/

Random thoughts are a malady, and one came charging through this summer while judging 4-H projects for a nearby county fair. All through the building youngsters were carrying boxes full of projects for us to judge, and from the look on many of their young, eager faces you could almost identify those who had crammed to complete those projects into the wee hours of the night before.

 

My random thought? Are there artists on the Meander Upper Minnesota River Art Crawl like those 4-Her’s cramming the night before the Meander? Highly doubtful, although there are certainly some last minute coursing as you prepare your studios and work in anticipation of the hordes of folks about to come through. That said, most of us work with our art throughout the year. Not only are we creating new and different works, and hopefully growing individually as artists, but we’re also involved with our work in other instances and venues.

For example, many of us have individual showings around the area. Speaking of myself, my work was involved in three one-person exhibits in two states, two juried shows (including the Horizontal Grandeur) plus showings at two arts festivals. Many Meander artists do this and more … all while creating new works. So I’m not alone.

Since the last Meander I can think of at least three artists who have exhibited at the Southwest Minnesota Arts Council’s (SMAC) gallery in Marshall … Liz Rackl and Edie Barrett, both of Ortonville, and Malena Handeen, of Milan. Handeen also created a mural for a craft beer brewery in Montevideo and was a principal artist creating a four-sided mural on a barn on commission for an organic dairy cooperative in Wisconsin.

Odessa photographer Rob Rakow and I were both in the Horizontal Grandeur, an annual prairie arts juried show sponsored by the Stevens County Historical Society that is based on an essay by the late prairie writer, Bill Holm.

Silversmith Jean Menden and bent wood artists, Dale and Jo Pederson, of Granite Falls, are mainstays at the Brookings Art Festival in July. Pity those who would attempt to keep up with all the pop-up festivals Granite’s Bradley Hall displays at each year.

Then there is Meander artist Deb Connolly, of Danvers, who provides a brief overview of her work as an artist: “Red River Watercolor Society’s National Watermedia Exhibition is one of the shows I do and it is based out of Moorhead, MN.  I have earned “Signature Status” at that exhibition which means I can put the letters RRWS on my watercolor paintings near my own signature.  All of that means that I am a paid member of the Red River Water Society and I have been accepted into the national exhibition three times over a 10 year period. ‘Arts in Harmony’ is an Annual International Show that I enter most years.  It is a multi-media show based out of Elk River. Almost every year I enter the Minnesota State Fair Fine art show, and I had a piece selected by the jury process. The piece that was chosen ‘Lilacs and Oranges’ had been previously accepted into the ‘RRWS National Watermedia’ exhibition and the ‘Arts in Harmony’ show. Besides shows I enter, I hang my art in local galleries. I display my art each year at the Art of the Lakes Gallery in Battle Lake. It is a cooperative gallery where I volunteer my time to hang the gallery and work four shifts per year. I also do the three-day Art of the Lakes Studio Tour each July that they organize – which means I haul my art to a host studio closer to the cluster of artists who display. This small town gallery draws good numbers of lake country locals and visitors and I find it invigorating to display my work along with many great artists and get a chance to work meet and work with them.  I also display at Prairie Renaissance Cultural Alliance (PRCA) in Morris and other galleries that have come and gone over the years.”

This summer Ortonville’s Kathleen Marihart opened her own “The Smallest Art Gallery” on the town’s main street where she and other artists offer a number of classes. Granite Falls’ photographer/artist Melanie Gabbert-Gatchell teaches many classes in the alcohol ink on tile technique, along with other member artists of the Granite Area Arts Council.

Gene and Lucy Tokheim hosts open houses and maintain their rural Dawson area studio throughout the year, creating Norwegian-inspired pottery and paintings. Gene is among the artists who teaches various courses at the Milan Village Arts School.

This is just a sprinkling of activities involving the 39 artists on this year’s Meander. Yes, we are working artists who are intent on creating new and interesting work be it pottery, paintings, jewelry, photographic images or interesting wood arts. For those touring the Meander, rest assured that very little of what you see was produced by cramming through the night before. For us it just doesn’t work that way! For us, our work isn’t a “project” … art is our way of life. Art is what we do.

Discover What Lies “Around the Bend” during the 13th Annual Meander September 30 and Oct 1 & 2

The 13th annual Upper Minnesota River Meander Arts Crawl will be held on September 30 and October 1 & 2, 2016. The Meander is a free self-guided tour of artist studios featuring 40 local artists from 5 counties in western Minnesota. The annual event features the art studios, small towns and family farms found in the Upper Minnesota River region.

For 2016 featured artist Doug Pederson of Granite Falls, the Meander is a “great art weekend when friends get together, reconnect and meet new friends.” Isfeld created a new design for this year’s Meander poster titled “Around the Bend” which depicts scenes of a river winding through the wildlife filled landscape of the Upper Minnesota River watershed.  For Isfeld, the drawing is symbolic of what it is like to take in the Meander.  “You drive about from studio to studio and you never know what you will find around the bend,” she explained.  “Many of the artists in the Meander have been here for a long time and there they are -- waiting to be discovered,”  she added.  “The Meander encourages people to stop and investigate places they have always driven by and learn about the artists connected with that place.”

Isfeld was chosen by a panel of local artists to design this year’s Meander poster.  For more than 20 years, she has been encouraging community based creative expression.  Isfeld teaches art at Renville County West and is the president of the Granite Falls Art Council.  She will be exhibiting her work at the Java River Cafe in Montevideo.

In addition to Isfeld, this year’s Meander features four new artists including painters Naomi Shanti of Ortonville and Woody Peet of Dawson. Scandinavian knitter Pamela Gubrud and Viking jewelry maker Patrice Geyen will be displaying at the Milan Village Arts School.

The weekend will begin with studios opening at noon Friday, September 30.   A Meander Friday Night Celebration will be held in downtown Granite Falls from 6- 10 p.m. that will feature Musical Chairs. For more information, contact the Granite Falls Chamber at 320-564-4039 or visit http://www.granitefallschamber.com.  Also, the City of Watson will be holding a concert by Jerry Ostensoe beginning at 7pm at the Historic Watson Town Hall.

Art studios throughout the region will reopen at 9 a.m. on Saturday, October st, and culminate with a concert by The New Standards Trio in Concert at 7:30p.m. at Memorial Auditorium at 601 9th Street, Dawson, Minnesota.  Tickets are available at the door and sell for $15 for Adults and $5 for Students.  For more information,  contact the Box office: 320-769-2955 ext. 246  or www.dawsonboydarts.org

On Sunday, October 2nd, art studios will again be open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The Meander has become a significant economic development event for the region, according to Kristi Fernholz of the Upper Minnesota Valley Regional Development Commission.  Surveys indicate that visitors travel to the region from eight states and spend money on hotels, restaurants and gas stations.  Fernholz noted that total reported art sales alone in 2015 amounted to $108,207, up from $90,000 the year before.

A free brochure detailing the locations of Meander art studios and events can be obtained by calling 1-866-866-5432. The brochure can also be downloaded at: www.artsmeander.com. More information can also be found on the Meander Facebook page at www.facebook.com/MeanderArtCrawl.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The “Persistent Energy and Enduring Nature of Art" Theme for 11th Annual Meander

The 11th annual Upper Minnesota River Meander Arts Crawl will be held on October 3, 4 & 5th, 2014. The Meander is a free self-guided tour of artist studios featuring 45 local artists from 5 counties in western Minnesota. The annual event has become a tradition for friends and relatives to experience the "hidden gem" art studios, small towns and family farms to be found in the Upper Minnesota River region in western Minnesota.  A Meander brochure can be downloaded from the web at: www.artsmeander.com. More information can also be found on the Meander Facebook page at www.facebook.com/MeanderArtCrawl.

For 2014-featured artist Kristi Fernholz of Appleton, MN, the Meander is an opportunity to collaborate with other artists who are “passionate, superfluid and easy going.” The design Fernholz created for this year’s Meander poster highlights the strength and beauty of three kinds of prairie plants.  Fellow Meander artist Franz Richter of Clarkfield says that Fernholz’s print of Little Bluestem grass represents “persistence,” the one of the Hoary Puccoon plant evokes a feeling of “endurance" and her Prairie Onion print “exudes energy.”  Together they represent the persistent energy and enduring nature of homegrown art and the local landscape that has come to define this regional celebration.

Fernholz was chosen by a panel of local artists to design this year’s Meander poster.  Fernholz was born in Williston North Dakota and grew up in Milan, graduating from Lac qui Parle Valley High School in 1994.  She went on to study photography and received a bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts from the University of Minnesota Duluth in 1998.  Today she lives on an organic farm in the Minnesota river valley near Appleton, Minn., where she pursues her passion of photographing native grasses, prairie plants and landscapes.  For her day job, Fernholz is a Community Development Senior Planner for the Upper Minnesota Regional Development Commission in Appleton.

In addition to Fernholz, this year’s Meander Arts Crawl features several new artists including photographer John White, Chainsaw artist Jordan Dahl of Montevideo, painters Marva (Hayes) Harms and Nancy Bergman of Appleton and blacksmith Nick Johnson of Madison.

The weekend will begin with studios opening at noon Friday, October 3th, and an opening night celebration from 4- 9 p.m. featuring the Granite Falls Walking Theatre, as well as music, food, street theater, historic tours and entertainment centered around the charming downtown shops in downtown Granite Falls.   For more information on Friday’s Opening Night celebration contact the Granite Falls Chamber at 320-564-4039 or visit http://www.granitefallschamber.com.

Art studios throughout the region will reopen at 9 a.m. on Saturday, October 4th, and culminate with a Belle Amour American Jazz Standards Concert at 7:30p.m. at Memorial Auditorium at 601 9th Street, Dawson, Minnesota.  Tickets are available at the door and sell for $12 for Adults and $5 for Students.  For more information, contact the Box office: 320-769-2955 ext. 246 or www.dawsonboydarts.org

On Sunday, October 5th, art studios will again be open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The mission of the Meander artists is to foster the culture and community of local artists, to develop economic opportunities for them, and to increase exposure of the region and its attractions to those from outside southwest Minnesota.  For artist Kristi Fernholz, the Meander is about “helping local artists make a living.”   Like the sturdy prairie grasses that push forth from the earth to create beauty every year, the Meander has put down roots and begins a second decade of creative regional expression.

 

 

Evening Events Enhance Meander Studio Tour Weekend

For the past 10 years, thousands of western Minnesota Art seekers have hit the road during the day to explore the studios and farms featured in the Meander Upper Minnesota River Art Crawl.  At night, the tradition calls for driving to Granite Falls on Friday night for historic walking theater and to Dawson on Saturday night for a special concert.  This year, the 11th Annual Meander evening entertainment will continue the tradition with an original play featuring Granite Falls' Walking Theater: A Cooperative Legacy on Friday, October 3 and a jazz concert by Belle Amour on Saturday October 4th at Dawson’s Memorial Auditorium.

The weekend will begin with studios opening at noon Friday, October 3rd, and an Opening Night Celebration from 4-9 p.m. featuring street theater and entertainment centered around the shops in downtown Granite Falls.  

The walking theater will begin at 7:00 p.m. at the Yellow Medicine East high school auditorium at the intersection of 9th Ave. and Granite Street in Granite Falls.  From there, the audience will move outside and proceed down 9th Ave. toward the main street riverfront, making periodic stops to observe the play unfold amongst the backdrop of notable settings including the Yellow Medicine County Courthouse and Andrew J. Volstead House museum .

Along the way, walking theater goers will be led by local musician Jerry Ostensoe as he guides the audience through the theatrical narrative that is entirely written, produced and performed by local community members.  The performance is free and open to the public and will be followed by live music from Jerry Ostensoe and friends. Food and drink vendors will also be on site. For more information on Friday’s Opening Night celebration, contact the Granite Falls Chamber at 320-564-4039 or visit http://www.granitefallschamber.com.

On Saturday night October 4th Meanders are encouraged to take in the music of Belle Amour --a fun, high energy vintage jazz group that performs a mix of classic American 20's and 30's jazz standards with a touch of international flair.   The performance begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Memorial Auditorium at 601 9th Street in Dawson.  It is the opening event for the Dawson-Boyd Arts Association’s (DBAA)  2014 - 2015  Performing Arts Season.  Concert goers will be treated to the DBAA’s popular Silent Auction that will showcase the art of several Meander artists.

“Every year we look for a Minnesota based group that will be interesting to Meander guests as well as our regular patrons,” said Luanne Fondell, the performing arts director of the DBAA. “We expect that Belle Amour will light up the town and make for a fun evening for everyone,” she added.  Tickets for the program will be available at the door and sell for $12 for Adults and $5 for Students.  For more information,  contact the Box office: 320-769-2955 ext. 246  or www.dawsonboydarts.org

 

 

Business, Art & Government Combine to Make The Meander A Success

The Upper Minnesota River Meander Arts Crawl to be held on October 3, 4 & 5th, 2014 has become recognized statewide as a successful regional arts event with staying power.  Meander organizers often have visitors from other parts of the state inquire about how the event works and asking permission to copy successful elements of the annual self-guided tour of artist studios which features 45 local artists from 5 counties in western Minnesota.   There are many ingredients to the Meander’s success, but at the core, it is the combined leadership and cooperation between local artists, local government and the business community that have made the Meander what it is today.

The Meander is governed by a volunteer steering committee of artists who start meeting in December to plan the Art Crawl which is held in the first weekend of October every year.  The steering committee consists of 6 to 10 artists who are involved with the Meander.  Participation in the steering committee is open to any of the 45 or so artists who are approved Meander artists.  Minutes and meeting summaries of the regular meetings are distributed to the rest of the group via email. 

The role of the Meander steering committee is to establish and oversee the budget, to choose the featured Meander Artist for the event and to oversee and approve the creation of the annual brochure and poster. The Meander Steering committee also helps to distribute the posters and brochures, thank the sponsors and pass along information to other artists and sponsors involved in the event.  Finally, the artists discuss and set the policies regarding who is allowed to be included in the event from year to year.

“Artist control is a fundamental feature of the Meander,” according to Kristi Fernholz of the Upper Minnesota Regional Development Commission (UMVRDC).  “The artists don’t want to get in a situation that they have seen happen with other art crawls and art fairs where non artist participants end up with controlling interests which often can diminish the artistic integrity of the event,” she added.

Another key to the success of the Meander lies in the participation of the UMVRDC, which provides administrative assistance to the steering committee and helps with follow through on artist recommendations between meetings.  Fernholz, herself a Meander artist, also works at the UMVRDC and thus serves as a vital link between the artists and the administrative functions that are required for any successful event.  “We (the UMVRDC) keep track of and disperse the funds in a transparent manner,” said Fernholz.  “We make sure the bills are paid and the the “i” are dotted and “t’s” are crossed.  We make sure that local county commissioners, municipalities and sponsors are kept informed about the event.  It is an essential function,” she added.

The final key component to the Meander’s success lies with the private sector support from area businesses and from non profit and municipal support from area Economic Development Authorities, Convention and Visitors Bureaus and Arts organizations.  “Everything is built around contributions from these businesses and organizations, “ explains Fernholz.   “The artists have to pay to be a part of the Meander, but their investment is magnified three fold by contributions from sponsors and that makes it possible for us to collectively market the event and the region.”

In the end, the Meander can be described as a “win, win, win” event.  The artists maintain artistic control and have created a collective platform to market their creations.  Regional government in the form of the UMVRDC, is able to grow a regional sense of identity and promote regional tourism through the event.  The local business community, economic development organizations and art groups are able to generate traffic and awareness with an eager consumer in a way that does not happen during the rest of the year.

For more information, a  free brochure detailing the locations of the Meander studios will be sent to anyone who calls 1-866-866-5432. The brochure can also be downloaded from the web at: www.artsmeander.com. More information can also be found on the Meander Facebook page at www.facebook.com/MeanderArtCrawl.