You Are What You Art

By anne
May 21, 2006 - 22:00.

My friend Karl took some pictures of me at Art-A-Whirl this weekend and what I’ve noticed is how HAPPY I look in all of them! Whenever I’m surrounded by that kaleidoscope of media and messages, I’m literally in heaven. The proverbial kid in a candy store has nothing on me (besides which, my purchases don’t end up spoiling my supper).

This year’s “whirl” landed smack in the midst of several social engagements, and my time was limited to four hours in the Northrup King Building. That’s too bad—there is so much more to see. I especially had wanted to visit Ellen Rindal’s Firebrick Gallery and Cafe at 1121 Jackson Street NE, a new venue for talented local artists to display their work, and where the purchasing public is lured by coffee and edibles. The good news is that most of the artists who belong to host organization Northeast Minneapolis Arts Association have websites where you can view their work, and will welcome you into their studios during set hours or by appointment.

I have to say my biggest thrill of the day came early. After stopping at the table where Springboard for the Arts took our donations to its Artists’ Emergency Relief Fund, we strolled into the gallery of Andrée Tracey, a painter whose work I’ve long admired. In fact, a former boyfriend and I acquired one of her works years ago, and it is now in his possession. Long story. Anyway, as it happens, Andrée was unloading the remaining paintings in that series at bargain prices to make way for new work, and I heard the Long Eared Owl call my name. She (the owl, not the artist) now adorns the wall in my dining room that separates indoors from outdoors—a perfect segue to the pool. I feel watched over (in a good way) by the luminous eyes of the goddess Athena’s favored bird, whose voice I’ve always loved, and who amazes me with absolute silence in flight.

As we strolled past everything from retro art underwear (which separated Karl from a $20 bill) to Zen table ceramics by Kate Daly…past the surrealist paintings of Margo Cavis and the gigantic kinetic (moving) sculptures by Jack Pavlik, I marveled at the newness of it all, at the same time as I was comforted by its familiarity. I’m at home amidst art, and I enjoy the dedication, sensitivity and quirkiness of its creators.

A young man named Joshua Haycraft sipped a beer on a slipcovered sofa in one gallery. Turns out he makes contemporary mixed-media sculptures, one of which is a wall-mounted shrine called The Goddess of Time. I’m considering it for the meditation room I’d like to build (if Josh will sell it…he is still attached to his only-just-completed piece, but I’m twice his age and clearly need more help from the Goddess of Time than he does).

After picking up a baby gift at Barbara Kochevar’s Fleece Me studio, as well as greeting cards and a print of a woman with wine by Nancy Patrick Carney and more cards (for framing) from printmaker Gwen Partin, I was drawn by forces I dared not resist into the gallery of Denise Venables—jewelry! Like I need more of THAT. But I was channeling my checkbook. And besides, my mind was cluttered with the clamoring of jasper and coral and amber and coppery beads saying, “Pick me! Pick me!” I obeyed. I picked two necklaces, two sets of earrings, and a bracelet, all for less than the price of a bottle of domestic wine and two entrées at Cosmos. My favorite piece is the octagonal pendant of jasper, a ba gua that will grant me good fortune, according to the I Ching.

While I mostly go to galleries, museums and studios to look (and touch, and talk with the artists), I go to Art-A-Whirl to shop. It’s a great way to support our local artists, and to make sure they keep turning out beautiful and challenging work. I believe, after all, that our environment becomes a part of us. We take in the colors and textures and spaces and movements as nourishment. I remember a sign in my elementary school cafeteria: You Are What You Eat. I think there ought to be another banner inside every school and every workplace in America: YOU ARE WHAT YOU ART!

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