Several Meander artists from the Upper Minnesota River Valley, including locals Dale and Jo Pederson and Franz Richter are being featured in a special exhibit at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD).
A reception honoring the artists will be held on Friday, Sept. 14, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the MCAD Concourse Gallery at 2501 Stevens Avenue in Minneapolis.
The event is free and public is invited to attend. The exhibition will end on Sunday, Sept. 16.
Featured Meander artists in addition to the Pedersons, of Granite Falls, and Richter, of Clarkfield, include Audrey Arner and Richard Handeen, of Montevideo; Malena Handeen, of Milan/Big Bend; Karen Jenson and Gene and Lucy Tokheim, of Dawson. Malena Handeen will also be performing some musical selections at the Friday evening reception.
According to the MCAD website, the exhibition, “In The Field: Artists from Greater Minnesota,” is a showcase of the variety and depth of work being created by Minnesota artists outside of the Twin Cities metropolitan area.
“The exhibition came as part of an initiative to get artists who live out state an opportunity to have a venue where their work can be seen, and to help support their work through that kind exposure,” said Jay Coogan, president of MCAD.
The show serves as a capstone to the college’s Greater Minnesota Arts Initiative. Over the past year, and with support from the Bush Foundation, the college taught two design in the community classes focused on the Upper Minnesota River Valley and the greater Grand Rapids areas. The students met with local residents and discussed creative ways to use skills learned at MCAD to help address challenges faced by rural communities. Based on the community discussions occurring in these classes, MCAD developed a summer fellowship program where students lived in the Montevideo and Grand Rapids areas for two weeks.
Throughout this process, the college came into contact with many rural artists dedicated to practicing their art while also working to ensure that Greater Minnesota’s vibrant and eclectic arts scene continues to flourish. “In the Field” is a sampling of the work of these talented and dedicated individuals.
“MCAD is really tending toward grooming artists to be able to function as community members. It’s our hope that we can demonstrate how you can live in a rural place and do art, and be involved in other endeavors,” Arner said.
Coogan echoed Arner’s explanation. “The goal is to get students to think about how one can both work in a rural setting and have an active arts career and also how the arts can play a role in Minnesota communities in terms of economic development,” he said. “Something like Meander is a good example of that. I think also things that sort of happen around that, where people might get exposure to that arts festival, but become aware of where these artists are from. Many of the artists involved also have other businesses that could benefit from exposure as well.”
Page 2 of 2 - Students assisted Clean Up the River Environment (CURE) with their projects designed to connect people through river, art and the re-use of empty buildings in the towns of western Minnesota.
“We worked with CURE and we also worked with the Milan Village Arts School and the Granite Falls Chamber of Commerce, looking at ways that they might expand their programming, coordinate their programming and reach a larger audience,” Coogan said.
“I’m really excited about the artists taking part in this show, they’re some fantastically talented people. I’ve met all of them, and they’re doing wonderfully creative work.”
Jeremy Jones contributed to this article.