Monday, September 27, 2010

Lindsy Halleckson

As an emerging artist, I have consigned paintings at various galleries in the Twin Cities, Seattle, and Philadelphia, and have shown my work in exhibitions in Minnesota, Iowa, New York, and Washington State. Also, as an advocate for the arts, I have worked in fundraising and membership for the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, and Ordway Center.
Although my painting has been largely abstract, I am moving towards creating work that poses a more direct statement. My recent work is based on camouflage as a symbol of our struggle for survival in a time of personal economic uncertainty, cultural shift, and political transformation. Camouflage not only equates to function, adaptation, and evolution but depicts survival in my art, life, and culture as well.
The progression of my work draws on my increasing desire to live an environmentally sustainable life and become intimately and consciously involved in nature. I now strive to create works that explicitly convey environmental commentary.
What interests me most is creating objects that are visually beautiful but have a slight hint of something crude or disturbing. I aim to create this discomfort as an invitation to action.

Your paintings are typically created as part of a series. I am familiar with your Clash Series, and, more recently, your Camouflage Series. Tell me about the origins of these projects.

• My series always have some form of meditation on science. In my Clash Series, I wanted to represent tones of music with color. More specifically, I wanted to represent the dissonance in clashing notes with vibrating edges of clashing colors. When two colors that are slightly off-complimentary are paired together, their edges seem to vibrate. After I painted with this idea for a while, the paintings seemed to turn into color studies. I am completely obsessed with color, so I painted hundreds of small 6” paintings with this Clash theme and other themes started to emerge.

• The Camouflage Series came when I got somewhat color saturated with the Clash Series and wanted something new. My mom had given me these chunks of cedar paneling that had been taken out of someone’s closet. I decided to try out epoxy resin and see if I could layer paint and create some sort of shiny effect that incorporated the wood grain. After a couple trials, the painting started to look like military camouflage, so I researched the history of how artists developed military camouflage, made contacts with some professors and researchers who study natural camouflage and evolution, looked at different styles of camouflage around the world, and began to think of camouflage as a symbol for survival.

Do you find working in a series to be liberating or confining?

• Sometimes I feel like I don’t stick to a series enough, but for me, working in these series has helped me develop specific skills and a critical eye. It’s funny- now I feel like I’m really good at dragging a knife across a surface, making an interesting mark, and pairing evocative colors. Working in a series enables you to truly explore an idea and live in it for a while.

• At the same time, I really want to try everything. I have a ton of ideas that I’d love to work on simultaneously, but I know that I should focus on just a few ideas at a time. I’m terrible at finishing projects and great at starting them, so I really need to focus on seeing things through. I try to keep a notebook of ideas and sketches of things I want to work on when I have more time.

I hear that you have started working with sculpture and installation. Why?

• Over the past year or two I’ve been seriously focusing on getting back to being creative and having fun. During the economic meltdown, I was so focused on making work that people would want to buy that I forgot to really focus on and enjoy the work. I felt I had turned into a factory and need to get back in touch with what I want to say as an artist. I’ve been working with epoxy resin, and I realized one day that stuff can be molded into 3-D! It’s obvious, right? But I hadn’t thought that I should make things in 3-D. So, I went on a 3-day artist retreat and planned nothing else but to create a sculptural or installation piece with the resin. There is something more disarming and engaging about installation that cannot be expressed in painting.

What was the best advice given to you as an artist?

• Being creative takes a lot of discipline and hard work, but the hard work should also include some fun.

You have a studio/gallery in the Northrup King Building in the NE Mpls Arts district. How has working in an artist community affected your life as an artist?

• Being a part of the NKB has pushed me to keep making art; there’s always an upcoming deadline. And, being the procrastinator that I am, I need those regular deadlines to get work done.

How does being Minnesota-based influence your art?

• There are infinite reasons to love Minnesota and getting to be an artist in Minnesota, but I love our ability to be connected to a city with extremely talented people but also have remote wilderness within a couple-hour drive. I love to be in the woods, and nature has become extremely important to my life and art. For me, the balance here is ideal. I believe that as I spend more time in nature (I haven’t always), my art becomes more environmentally focused. This is undoubtedly a theme that will be part of my work for the foreseeable future of my career.

Which Minnesota artists do you enjoy?
David Good
Kris Musto
Carl Swanson
Amy Rice

Do you have any exhibits or any interesting things going on in your life or coming up in the near future?

• October 1st Thursdays (10/7/10 6-9pm) and Art Attack
• I’m excited to be embarking on my first artist residency at New York Mills Cultural Center this November.
• Check out the Women’s Art Registry of Minnesota –

Links to Artists and Resources:
Lindsy Halleckson (Web) (FB)
David Good (Web) (FB)
Suzy Greenberg (Web) (FB)
Alison Hiltner (Web) (FB)
Angela Sprunger (Web) (FB)
Kris Musto (Web) (FB)
Elizabeth Erickson (Web) (FB)
Carl Swanson (Web) (FB)
Jeff Warner (Web) (FB)
Steven Lang (Web) (FB)
Joel Starkey (Web) (FB)
Stephen Capiz (Web) (FB)
Allen Brewer (Web) (FB)
Heidi Hafermann (Web) (FB)
Amy Rice (Web) (FB)


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Alyssa Wendorf - Watercolor Artist

What We Do When There Is Nothing To Be Done

Alyssa Ann Wendorff

B.F.A - University of Minnesota, 2005 Alyssa on Facebook

Proud to be a regional artist, Alyssa Wendorff was born in Rhinelander, WI and raised in Madison, WI. Having attended the Univ. of Minnesota in the Twin Cities, Alyssa now lives in St. Paul, MN where she continues to explore notions of site and place. Her work focuses on the shape, experience, and memory of the Midwestern landscape.

"Landscape is the shape of the world. It is the place where experience begins and returns. For me, Landscape is also the shape of memory. It is the place where my mind rests, obsesses, and remembers." - Alyssa Wendorff

Blowing Through

What are you currently working on? How is this different from past projects?
• My latest work is taking a more linear turn. My compositions are becoming spare, and color is taking a backseat role. Basically, I’m trying to simplify for a while and see what happens. At the moment I’m working on a group of larger-scale line drawings based on horizon. I also recently tried my hand for the first time at water based Japanese-Style Woodblock printing, which may be fueling this fire.

We are Not Separated From the Sky

Tell me about your working space and your creative process?
• My workspace is very small. I live in a studio apartment and work there as well. This has definitely limited my scale and choice of media. In college, when space was never an issue, I was working on large paintings, pouring watered down acrylic onto canvas on the floor. Now I work mostly with watercolor and drawing materials, on a much more condensed size of surface, usually paper or board.

My process is pretty straightforward. I don’t journal much or use my sketchbook as much as I probably should. I do take photographs occasionally, though I rarely have them out when working on a piece. Instead, I work from impressions I’ve collected and stored away in my mind, of place, shape, color, atmosphere, etc. I start with one mark, maybe a line or blob of color, and build from there. The process of working with the image as it evolves, as opposed to against it, towards an unforeseen end is what interests me most. I might be most of the way through a work before I even realize what the end result is going to be, or what the image is going to ultimately represent. It is rare that I start a piece with a preconceived notion of what it will be in the end. If I do, it usually turns out to be a disaster.

Stripped Away

If you could excel in some different artistic arena, what would it be and why?
• Music! I love music. I love to sing, and I have always wished that I had stuck with those piano lessons I hated practicing for so much when I was a kid. I wish I could play the banjo.

What was the best advice given to you as an artist?
• This came from my mentor in college, and he heard it from his. He warned me that once I graduated from school and was no longer paying people to do it, that no one would care if I ever made another painting. This really hit home with me, and he’s absolutely right. It’s a hard old world out there for creative minded people, and there is certainly no clear path to professional success as an artist. You can’t just apply for three or four jobs as painter, and choose the one with the best benefits package. An artist must be prepared to be ignored and undervalued at every turn. To be successful, you have to believe in the validity of what you are doing, and continuously find your own reasons to keep working. The only way anyone will look or listen is if you make them, and if you don’t have the toughness and motivation to take the knocks, it won’t be long before you’re working as a banker and painting as a hobby, if at all.

How important was your formal artistic training in your development as an artist?
• Extremely. It loosened me up and gave me perspective. It also beat the ego out of me, “You might be best representational artist in the room, but who cares, what else do you have to offer?” Good point…

Should You Ask Me Whence These Stories, I Will Tell You

What opportunities have you found for displaying your work in Minnesota? What have been your best resources for identifying these resources?
• Other than online resources such as Spring Board for the Arts and, I’ve had my best luck through word of mouth or friends, and friends of friends. Though I’m not so good at it, it’s true what they say about networking. I’ve also learned the truth of the adage, ‘Nothing ventured, nothing gained.’ Don’t sell yourself short, always apply for opportunities you think sound promising, never sell yourself short: You never know when you may get a chance you didn’t really think would come your way.

Which Minnesota artists do you enjoy?
Alec Soth is far and away my favorite Minnesota artist. His photos manage to capture such a poignant feeling of person and/or place. It doesn’t matter how many times I look at one, it will always make me feel something new.

If I were to follow you around on an “art day” in Minnesota, which places would we go? What would we see?
• I can’t help it; I love the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. There’s something about big old art museums with such a wide range of work: I could wander around for an entire day and be perfectly absorbed. And I can go back anytime, it’s like visiting old friends. Going there brings me to my artistic center.

Washing Away

What was the last exhibit you saw and what were your impressions?
• I was recently in NY City, and went to the Guggenheim. First let me say that the building itself is an inspiring place to be. I’ve never been in building better suited for viewing art. There I saw and exhibit of multi-media paintings by Julie Mehertu that were extremely striking. Her work is so energized and full of subtle layering: Seeing them in person (they are HUGE) was awe-inspiring. I’m a landscape-based artist, and so is she, I suspect, and it is interesting for me to see divergent points of view within the same general genre that I’m working in.

Where do you go online for good art resources, whether to find a new artist, or to see what is going on in the art world locally and otherwise?
Springboard for the Arts and are always good jumping off points. I like to search for random terms in Google Images, and follow artists’ blogs and random trails of thought to all kinds of strange places: You never know what you will stumble upon in the early morning hours. Also, I am addicted to Etsy. I fiend for good craft and design: Color and texture are big inspirations for me.

Do you have any exhibits or any interesting things going on in your life or coming up in the near future?
• I am just ending a three-month, one-woman show at Emmons & Olivier Resources Inc., a local environmental firm. There are quite a few corporations in the Twin Cities area that have their own art collections and art directors, that also sponsor rotating shows for local artists at their offices. This is a great opportunity for artists to sell their work, and for people outside the art community to be exposed to contemporary local artists that they may never otherwise encounter.

Alyssa Wendorff

Links to Artists and Resources:
Alyssa Wendorff ( (Facebook)

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Lynn Speaker - Drawing with Gunpowder

Lynn Speaker

Grain Belt Bottling House
Studio 101
79 13th Ave. NE
Minneapolis, MN 55413

Lynn Speaker is a Minneapolis-based artist who received her Master of Fine Arts from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. She is a recipient of a 2007 Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative Grant and is Coordinator of the Women’s Art Registry of Minnesota Mentor Program.

I assume that one of the first things people notice about your work is that you use gunpowder in the process. How did you get started with that technique?

As a drawer I have always been fascinated by the mark making process. I have experimented with many conventional and unconventional drawing media. For example, I have gathered clay pigments from locations ranging from my yard to spots across Minnesota up to the Canadian border and then processed them into drawing materials.

My work with gunpowder stems from experiments with other fire-based materials, burning bark, matches, candles and fireworks. From there I began drawing with gunpowder and stumbled across the process I currently use to create images.
What precautions do you need to take when making your art? Do you need any special insurance to work in your studio, for instance?

The most important thing I have learned is to take a step back, I almost melted my shoes the first time I ignited the gunpowder. Beyond that I always have protective materials and a fire extinguisher. I work outdoors as much as possible so no need to worry my fellow building tenants.

Do you work in any of the more traditional mediums?

There is nothing I love more than the tactile quality of putting charcoal to paper. I think that is where my interest in burning materials first developed. As a matter of fact I have just acquired some wood from a blow down area along the North Shore, which I plan to process into charcoal.

What are you currently working? How is this different from past projects?

I am currently working with burning gunpowder on paper instead of a hard substrate. I’m interested in papers and other fragile materials that can withstand the burn process and how those materials can be layered together. Also I am focusing my imagery to specific locations as a way of marking place and time. This is also related to the processing of the North Shore wood charcoal as I mentioned earlier.

My current work is a direct outcome of my past work; one body of work does not stand in contrast to another. A thread is pulled forward even if the differences seem more apparent than the similarities.

What was the best advice given to you as an artist?

One piece leads to the next and so on; all the rest is unimportant. Just focus on the daily practice of making work.

What role does your educational background play in your current artistic endeavors?

My educational background has some direct and indirect influences on my work. The primary influence would be the select group of strong artists/teachers that I have had the privilege to work with.

Tell me about your working space and your creative process?

My studio lacks a sofa, computer or anything else that can distract me when I am working. It is a functional, fairly orderly space that gets progressively messier as I develop a piece. I like to clear my mind by cleaning the space before I begin a series and just let it fall into organized chaos as the work develops.

I have a variety of objects in my studio that are important to me: a raven’s skull, assorted bones and enough rocks to restock the North Shore. Stones from all over the world, they are markers of place and time and that is something I try to incorporate into my work.

Which Minnesota artists do you enjoy?

Jim Proctor, Kinji Akagawa, Jantje Visscher, Jeremy Lund, Maren Kloppmann, Hazel Belvo, Laura Stack, Teri Bloch, Tom Riggle

Are there any local artists that you would like to see profiled here?

Teri Bloch and Tom Riggle

If I were to follow you around on an “art day” in Minnesota, which places would we go? What would we see?

Probably visiting my friend’s studios. Maybe a trip to the MIA (Mpls. Institute of Art) to visit the Asian Art collection, MAEP gallery and Photography collection; Weinstein Gallery and looking forward to the Yves Klein exhibit coming to the Walker.

What was the last exhibit you saw and what were your impressions?

‘The Voided’ by Eun-Kyung Suh in the MAEP gallery at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. It is a beautifully intricate exhibit that explores memory and the hazy awareness of time passing.

Where do you go online for good art resources, whether to find a new artist, or to see what is going on in the art world locally and otherwise?, Springboard for the Arts, Chicago Art Resources, Women's Art Registry of Minnesota (WARM),,, and many more.

Do you have any exhibits or any interesting things going on in your life or coming up in the near future?The next upcoming event is the Northeast Minneapolis Art Association (NEMAA) Fall Fine Arts exhibition in November. It is held in my building, the Grain Belt Bottling House, so I will open my studio for the weekend.

Beyond that I am preparing work for an upcoming group exhibit that explores four different areas, sculpture, figurative, abstract and nature-derived work from the perspective of gender. Each area has a pairing of one male and one female artist to see if gender affects our subject or process of working.