The K.K. Berge Gallery is hosting two artists this month with vastly different artistic styles. Through May 15, the paintings of Sharon Schuetze and the pottery of husband and wife duo Aron and Jena Levandowski will be on display for the public.
On Thursday, April 19, the Granite Falls Area Arts Council hosted an open house for the artists. Local residents browsed the display artwork and listened to presentations from the featured artists.
Schuetze, who lives in Spicer where she has a studio and fine arts gallery, primarily works in watercolor, acrylic, and oil. She holds a Liberal Arts degree with a studio arts major from the University of Minnesota. Schuetze is also an active member of the Willmar Area Arts Council and the Southwest Minnesota Arts and Humanities Council.
She began by painting landscapes, and says that her style “exhibits richness and clarity of color, with bold splashes and intricate detail often combined in the same painting.” The painter is particularly drawn to local culture and rural landscapes, and explains that her artwork is her way of honoring these personal connections.
Religion plays another important role in Schuetze’s artwork. She explains that “scriptural references from the Bible are often included in my work to glorify God and acknowledge His hand in all of creation.” Paintings on display at the Berge Gallery are from “The Gate Series; Visual Interpretation,” a new series that will eventually include all 63 books of the Bible along with an accompanying memory verse.
Pottery by Aron and Jena Levandowski of Dassel is also on display this month at the Berge Gallery. The husband/wife duo gave a short presentation during the open house where they explained how they met and began their pottery business.
Both have backgrounds in graphic design though they eventually pursued their hobby in pottery as a full-time career. Aron, who grew up in the Twin Cities, was told by a college adviser that he couldn’t make a living in pottery. “I worked to prove them wrong,” he declared. Jena is originally from the Iron Range, and would use the excess firebrick generated by the closing of local mines.
The two artists meet in 2002, and quickly shared a membership at Fired Up Studios in Minneapolis. “When I’m working, I’m kinda obsessive,” Jena confided to the audience during the open house. When their passion for pottery became too much for the relaxed environment at the studio, the couple moved to Dassel in 2005 where they purchased an old house, shortly after getting married.
The pottery they create incorporates earthly glazes and traditional designs. According to the couple, mugs tend to be the most popular items their sell. Aron usually ‘throws’ the clay and molds it into the correct design, while Jena focuses more on glazing and decorating the pieces. They work in their basement, which they converted into a full-time studio complete with their own kiln.
The couple now split their time between pottery and raising twin girls. Aron and Jena said that although they still enjoy creating and selling pottery, life commitments mean that they will need to reassess how they spend their time. Jena expressed a desire to one day teach pottery, though the two seemed at ease with taking things year by year.
Paintings by Sharon Schuetze and pottery by Aron and Jena Levandowski will be on display through May 15 at the K.K. Berge Gallery, and select items are available for purchase upon request.