Saturday, November 26, 2011

Emily Chesley - Painter

Emily Chesley

Altered Esthetics featured artist for
12/1/11 - 12/17/11
Reception Friday 12/2 7-10pm
Artists' Discussion Saturday 12/17 3-5pm

Name:Emily Chesley
City/State:St. Paul, MN
Website: profile:
Facebook page: (Optional)

Tell me about your work? What are you currently working on? How is this different from past projects?

Right now I am working on a Sketchbook Project. I signed up way back in June or July for it. I picked a theme, Time Travel, and they sent me a sketch book. I have to fill it and send it back by the end of January. They will scan it for their online database, I understand that it will be searchable as well. Then they load up their sketchbook library van and tour the United States, London, England and Sydney, Australia with all of them. People can check them out and take a look at them. Then, when the tour is done, my sketchbook will become part of their permanent collection at the Brooklyn Art Library. There is a barcode on the back for the tour, so I can track its journey. I plan on posting pins on a map on my website so others can follow too.

I have also been working on a show with cats and birds. There is a focus on the seasons, which I like to explore. This time around there is a little bit of exploration into the hunter/prey aspect of life. I will be tying that into the overall cycle of life with the seasons. I tend to focus my subject matter on the painting of portraits of people, but I like painting cats too. I guess this was an extension of things I have done before. I have also started doing some work that is more on a graphic story telling end. I have created some paintings that aren't specific people but more about an idea that generic people are involved in. It was a way to show personal feelings and personal expression with some distance attached to it, so that someone wouldn't be able to say, "oh that was me, is that how I made you feel?"

Overall though, I have a desire to explore human nature. What are the experiences that are inherent, that we can't get away from as humans? By focusing on these experiences I hope to connect with other people. If I paint these things then anyone could look at the painting and connect to it somehow, even in a small way. I want there to not only be the realities of life but a presence of hope and light in my work. I wonder if looking to animals might be a way to understand human even more.

Javier and Miz Kitten

"What is Art?" is certainly too big of a question to ask here, but what do you hope your audience takes away from your art? What statement do you hope to make?

I hope that my viewers feel less alone. Essentially we are all alone. What we as humans do is strive for connection, community and acceptance. I like to focus on what makes us the same, makes us human while celebrating our beautiful differences. If I can make a connection with someone through my art, a connection that makes them feel a little less alone in this world, then I will have accomplished what I set out to do. I also look at a balance of dark and light. I represent depression with darkness and hope with a light source. I try to have a light source in every painting because I think that hope is what keeps me going and maybe it will be helpful for others too. I think that a lot of the art being produced today has too much of a focus on negative so I strive to be countercultural to that.

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

Always say yes because you can figure out how to make it happen.

Blending into an Untitled

Tell me about your work space and your creative process.

My work space is currently a front porch sunroom that is adjacent to my bedroom. There isn't much space, and I am still making it function, but there is the most amazing natural light in there during the day! Light is a very important thing to me and being able to paint. I have painted in basements before, because that was the space available, and it doesn't work very well for me. It may be a slight seasonal affective disorder thing, a lot of artists/creative folks struggle with that.

I really like to work in series. I take a theme like cats and birds and put it to seasons, or figure out a way to do variations or multiples. I love color and will represent seasons that way, or will unify the series by painting the same color background. I work in oil and have enjoyed developing a method of layering and developing my paintings. I like to think about what is underneath, for example skin under hair, or a darker color under something light that I want to have depth. I also like to paint 4 or 5 paintings at once, when I have the space for that. It is a helpful method for oils because when I get done with the first layer and it needs to dry, I can move onto the next painting in the series and use similar colors (because they are all ready mixed.) Unification is important to me with my work, mostly I accomplish this with my color use. Never use a color just once in a painting, is my rule.

Image of artist

Who are some of the Minnesota artists you enjoy?

Brandon Sweet ( is a photographer friend of mine, I really enjoy his portraits.
Theodora Brass is a local burlesque artist and costume/prop maker. She is so creative and I really love her work too!
Jesse Golfis ( uses color really well and I like his use of brush strokes and texture. He has been painting public icons. I also really love his spirit and energy.

I have good friends who are wonderful artists that started out here in MN but have moved on to bigger markets. I love their work a lot so I will include them too: Tonja Torgerson ( and Dana Johnson (

If I were to follow you around to see art in Minnesota, which places would we go? What would we see?

We would spend a lot of time at the Walker art Center (, because I work there, but I enjoy going to the MIA ( as well, maybe better. I really enjoy paintings and sculptures from the 19th and early 20th centuries: Degas, Matisse, Van Gogh, Monet, Cezanne. My favorite exhibitions there were the Degas show and the Pre-Raphaelites show and I am excited to see the 'Edo Pop' show there as well! My favorite Walker show was 'Benches and Binoculars', I really enjoy the Blue Horses and Chuck Close portraits.

If I am going to a show then it is because I am either in it or I have a friend who is. Altered Esthetics ( is a local gallery I frequent for shows. Also the Color Wheel Gallery (

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,

The Ever Solid, the Ever Changing

Do you have any exhibits to promote in the near future?

I have a show up now at Dunn Brothers in Roseville, on Fairview till early January but what I am most excited about is the Altered Esthetics show "Rescue Me III" this December. I was chosen as the featured artist for that show, the opening reception is Friday, December 2nd 7-10pm.

What can we expect to see from you in the future?

Hopefully more paintings, I am in the thinking part of the process for a triptych (or it may become a more drawn out series) that shows an awakening and a searching/discovery of the self. I am going to start a sketchbook study for the project as well, to help me plan and process. I like what I have found myself producing in the Sketch Book Project I mentioned before and I might adopt that kind of approach for other projects too. I like doing research for my projects and the sketch book seems like a good way to record all that research in one place as well as keep a quick reference for myself. I also end up with a nice little finished product when I am done with that too.

I also hope to have the cat and bird show finished and out on view soon.

Glance of Summer

Sunday, November 20, 2011

What was the best advice given to you as an artist? - 2

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

All of the responses are taken from the 100+ interviews archived on

"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.
Lindsy Halleckson (Interview)

Economy of brush stroke. And the Golden Ratio 1.61803399 also known as the Golden Mean. Look up the Golden Ratio on Youtube.
Kevan Willington (Interview)

Don’t become a waitress.”
Beth Loraine Bowman (Interview)

I can't remember any specific words of wisdom that I ever received from anyone in particular, but I would like to give a shout out to M.C. Anderson of the former M.C. Gallery which used to be downtown back in the day. It was my first experience showing in a gallery and M.C. tolerated me hanging around and asking annoying questions about the art world which was really where I learned great deal about how things work in the world of art and commerce.
Terrance Payne (Interview)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

In the Galleries

Local Artist Interviews frequently features the work of several galleries in Minnesota.  Click the image to read gallery profiles and interviews with the artists they feature.

To have your gallery or museum featured, click here.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Jennifer Danos - Installation

Untitled (On the Ideology of Public Things 1), 2010
Jennifer Danos

Name: Jennifer Danos
City/State: Minneapolis, MN
Website: profile:

Jennifer Danos was born in 1975 in Chicago and studied at both the Rhode Island School of Design (BFA 1997) and the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (MFA 2004). She has been exhibiting her work locally at venues like the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, the Rochester Art Center, and Franklin Art Works, nationally at the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs and the Peeler Art Center in Indiana, and internationally at Galerie Analix Forever in Switzerland. Jennifer is the recipient of a Jerome Study & Travel Grant (2011), a McKnight Visual Arts Fellowship (2008) and a Minnesota Artist’s Initiative Grant (2008). She currently lives and works in Minneapolis where she teaches in the Sculpture Department at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.

Untitled (Poured Concrete 6), 2007

Tell me about your work? What are you currently working on? How is this different from past projects?

I just finished a project at the MAEP galleries at the MIA with Natasha Pestich and Marcus Young. This whole project was much different than past exhibitions from start to finish... Natasha, Marcus and I worked on our proposal for the MAEP for almost a year and a half. We knew that we had a lot of overlapping interests and that we were fans of each other's work, but we had to really hone in on what our common interests were to address for the project, and built into that was why the MAEP galleries (and why the MIA) for our collaboration (and by collaboration I mean conceptually - we each worked on our own pieces for the show). We all came at the idea of "Semblances" (the concept we were working under and the title of the show) in completely different ways since our practices are so varied, but we worked hard throughout the year of planning to make sure that we kept the cohesion and the main focus in mind to guide our decisions. So the intense way that our projects were playing off of each other required negotiating so many variables (including ourselves), and that was new for me.

Now that we've finished that project, I'm starting new research... still related to my ongoing ideas and questions (see below), but looking for new ways to think about them and manifest them... maybe (hopefully) make some new discoveries??? We'll see what happens!

Untitled (Poured Concrete 4) & Untitled (Glorified Hallways 1), 2007

"What is Art?" is certainly too big of a question to ask here, but what do you hope your audience takes away from your art? What statement do you hope to make?

Hm, that is a big question - I'm going to have to refer to my statement since it's the latest version of what I've been thinking about those questions ( I always feel my statement needs to be changed/refined, but this is where it's at right now):

My sculptural interventions exploit the human instinct to filter experience. Our constructed environment contains myriad cues that consciously and subconsciously affect how we think about, feel about, and interact with a given site. A person enters a space and intuitively chooses which details to interact with or neglect. Intuition is not a mysterious sense, but a learned behavior through repeated experiences. I am interested in this cognitive process and finding ways to offer opportunities to more intentionally shape our intuitive response, thus increasing our sensitivity when encountering an environment.

By calling attention to material qualities that are likely to be missed through this filtering, my work subverts the expectedness of private and public spaces. Entering my installation, one is confronted with elements that are familiar, but most likely outside of typical notice: those things in the periphery that one is conditioned to look past when entering a particular environment. I take advantage of architectural details that are physically evidenced through different activities: from construction, to human use (proper and improper), to care and repair. Or sometimes these details are the product of chance. Each artwork is made for a specific space, addressing the subtle features in the physical site. For example, I have re-created debris that accumulates on windowsills, re-imagined patterns made in the process of constructing building surfaces, and re-presented throw-away objects left behind in a given space.

I am concerned with how these subtle cues can aid in, disrupt, or hopefully form our instinctive decision-making. In addition to all of the effects of the physical cues, we bring our own personal history to the space, which further complicates our interpretations and subsequent behavior because of our individually biased expectations and assumptions. This is where the everyday collides with the aesthetic experience. These interventions serve as metaphors for larger experiences concerning the blurred boundary between seemingly incongruent categories: natural and artificial, accidental and intentional, real and perceived. The demarcation between elements, such as between objects and surfaces, or features that “belong” and do not belong, becomes flexible, malleable, un-fixed from traditional rules. Ultimately, I want to engage the conscious and subconscious nature of observation to encourage individuals to actively see each space by questioning the constructed intentions of the space and reconsidering habits and definitions.

Untitled (Architectonic Obtrusion 1), 2008

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

Well, two things. The first was early in my career as an undergrad. My professor at the time, David Frazer, told me that when he graduated college he did what he needed to do to support his studio practice by seeking out a job that would pay the bills and also afford him time to think about his work while on the job - and not have to take his job home with him mentally or otherwise.

He said he worked as a truck driver for the first few years out of college and the whole thing made sense to me - it freed me up from the stigma attached to not getting a job "in your field" right out of college, and it made the art practice the priority. Of course, over time, I began to find work in my field (teaching at MCAD, for example), but that came naturally and when I was ready.

The second thing came much later and came as a surprise when I took my class to see a lecture at MCAD by comic artist, Kim Deitch (I believe it was in 2006). Kim said that he got in a rut with his artwork and felt like he wasn't making anything interesting. It dawned on him that he couldn't make interesting art if he wasn't an interesting person having interesting experiences. So he set off on some travels and changed the way he lived. I absolutely agree with what Kim said, but had never been able to put my finger on it, much less articulate it - so I try to pass that on to my students semester after semester (and keep it in mind in my own studio).

Tell me about your work space and your creative process.

My work space is my home office and whatever site I'm working at for the project. I don't have a studio (but am fortunate to have MCAD to fabricate things as needed). I do a lot of research on-site (photos, measurements, observing), reading about relevant ideas/artists, thinking, note-taking, thinking, re-thinking... and then most of the work happens on-site. It's hard for me to speculate on how something is going to look and feel until it's actually installed (or at least some test version is there), so it's often a mad rush at the end.

Untitled (Wood 2), 2008

Who are some of the Minnesota artists you enjoy?

Natasha Pestich (working on website now!)
Marcus Young
Ruben Nusz
John Fleischer
Scott Nedrelow
Bruce Tapola
Luke Aleckson
Scott Stulen
Chris Larson
Margaret Pezalla
Kate Casanova
Andy DuCett
Aaron van Dyke
Ute Bertog
Jan Estep

Hmmm, there are so many, I'm sure I'm missing a few...

If I were to follow you around to see art in Minnesota, which places would we go? What would we see?

Walker Art Center
Rochester Art Center
Minnesota Institute of Arts & MAEP Galleries
Dressing Room
Franklin Art Works
Soap Factory
Location Books

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?

e-flux (mailing list):
re-title (mailing list):
art agenda (mailing list):

Do you have any exhibits to promote in the near future?
I am currently showing in the MIA's MAEP gallery...

"Semblances" Jennifer Danos, Natasha Pestich and Marcus Young
MAEP galleries at the MIA
Artist Talk - Thursday 11/17/2011 - 7pm in the Gallery
The show runs through 1/1/2012

February 2012 Johnson Gallery, Bethel University. St Paul, MN.
March 2012 Seerveld Gallery, Trinity College. Palos Heights, IL.
July, 2012 Spaces Gallery. Cleveland, OH.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Gina Louise - Sculptor - Painter

Gina Louise

name: Gina Louise
MN page:
Facebook page:

Gina Louise is a sculptor and painter born 1972 in St.Paul, Minnesota, USA. In 1994 she received her B.F.A in Sculpture from Minneapolis College of Art & Design.
 Within Louise's artwork, the most predominate propositions materialize as an acknowledgment to what she sees as both the important visual conversations as well as the tactile leftover layers of our unified human imprint upon the landscape in flux. The structural footing which visually underlies all of Louise's art is her reverence for the "Industrial Installations" of her childhood, IE. oil refineries, grain elevators and concrete batch plants.

Fundamentally, her work investigates the compositions we may pass daily which might otherwise be overlooked; the underdog compositions, the scraps of our existence.

Through her sculpture, this compositional conversation generally presents itself simply with the materials themselves. For example, the juxtaposition of steel, concrete, plastic and soft fabric elements. However, within her painting and drawing this consistently spills out as flattened form and line referencing the chosen context.

Tell me about your work? What are you currently working on? How is this different from past projects?

For the last 15 years I have been working as a sculptor, creating large scale pieces with steel, concrete and epoxy for museums, zoos, aquariums and private residences across the US. However, During the last 4 months I have taken a sabbatical from doing sculpture full time during the day and painting at night to focus strictly on the 2D work for my upcoming solo show "S.E.A.10" which opens 11.11.11 at Cult Status Gallery.

There will be 150 pieces, each one referencing a moment pulled from within the landscapes of South East Asia. In addition, I am making several pieces for the "Beauty School Dropouts" show at Gallery 13 which opens on 11.12.11.

The pieces for "Beauty School Dropouts" are a complete departure from my usual inspiration in that they are referencing the female body in the context of modern society.

While the individual pieces for S.E.A. 10 are themselves not rigidly rendered, my self imposed parameters of process were methodical in nature. My intent is that each piece is a visual conversation reduced further and further down. In this way the true disposition of each moment being referenced is able to unfold.

Part 1: pictures
I am by no means a photographer, however it was ultimately necessary to document the compositional junctures that grabbed me, so I could work with them upon returning to the studio.

Part 2: drawings
Next, using the photos as reference, I drew from them. Only 5" x 8" in size, they are small drawings meant to be held close.

Part 3: paintings
Lastly, no longer referencing the original photograph, only a completed drawing, I distill and paint said compositional moment.

At 24" x 36", each painting is larger than the corresponding drawing. However, the paintings are small enough to still feel intimate.

"What is Art?" is certainly too big of a question to ask here, but what do you hope your audience takes away from your art? What statement do you hope to make?

While all my artwork is an offering to others as a visual acknowledgement of the way I see, I hope that the experience of viewing my work is personal to them. it is not necessary to see the way I see, but perhaps there is a momentary shift. In turn, I do believe that it is only through making that I will ever get close to understanding the layers of our existence which I hold dear;
construction sites, 
oil refineries, 
batch plants, 
broken pavement, plastic scraps, trains, 
concrete, and steel structures. 

What was the best advice given to you as an artist?
My Dad, Charlie Grote, taught me through example that to honestly create beauty, one must work ,work, work, work, and not ever be afraid of getting dirty.

Kinji Akagawa shared with all of his students at MCAD many bits of sage wisdom, but the one that I keep forever in my pocket is "you cannot create in a vacuum".

Tell me about your workspace and your creative process.

In order to be able to fully focus on my S.E.A.10 series, I set up a studio for the time being in Seattle. Here at the studio there is a wonderful south facing, sliding glass door with a deck from where I can see the mountains. Inside there are numerous older wood crates (originally for fruit and ammo) stacked vertically, holding books, tools, paint cans and random bits of colored plastic. On the wall, a sweet painting by Christopher (CAW) Williams, and by my side, Mildred the bulldog.

The crates are an attempt to create order but usually the order has to be put back together every few days as it starts to spin into chaos while I'm working.

My working methodology differs quite a bit from 3D and 2D. While work from either dimensionality consistently reference structure as form, they each commence in seemingly different operational modes. With this new body of 2D work I am simply taking the initial compositional moment that drew my attention and exploring it through the act of sifting, pulling and flattening visual information.

Who are some of the Minnesota artists you enjoy?
Shannyn Joy Potter
Christopher Williams
Allison Hiltner
John Grider / Broken Crow
Shawn McNulty
Erin Sayer and her Gallery, Cult Status.
+ ALL her ladies that currently make up THE CULT SISTERS. the original core includes the following super talents :
Mark Edward Hayden
Todd Peterson
Louis LaPierre
Tara Costello
Caroline Keefe

If I were to follow you around to see art in Minnesota, which places would we go? What would we see?
1st stop would be AMBLES for it is truly the closest thing to heaven in my mind. What could be better than a machine and hardware shop / tool bone-yard / scrap yard?! Plus the owner is .... well, someone needs to put him in a movie. Ambles is my one stop resource and inspiration destination.

2nd, the studios of Shannyn Joy Potter, Tracy Olson , Duanne Ditty, and Mike Welton in the Northrup King Building. They each consistently remind me how truly beautiful art can be to experience.

The train yard along HWY 61 by Pigs Eye.
In addition, the train yard along HWY 61 by Pigs Eye.

And lastly, My parents property in Denmark Township where they have created a 20 acre earthwork/ living sculpture.

Where do you go on-line for good art resources, whether to find a new artist, or to see what is going on in the art world locally and otherwise?
In addition to learning about artists in-depth through your interviews on LAI, the 3 sites that I simply relish are:

The Dirt Floor

What can we expect to see from you in the future?
If the S.E.A.10 show goes well, then hopefully I can start on plans to head back to Bangkok. My overarching hope for this show is to raise funding to travel back, and in conjunction with the Empower Foundation, make art alongside the amazing women who are part of the Sex Workers Union.

My desire is to have an exhibition with their artwork that is able to be shown in their home city of Bangkok and also here in Minneapolis. In the mean time, I will be starting straight away on my next 2 series. The first is inspired by the structures within the villages of Juan Mata Ortiz and Santa Rosa, Chihuahua Mexico. The show dates for this series are TBA for this but will be opening in Los Angles, CA sometime in 2012.

Concurrently, I will be embarking on what I hope is a long running series relating to spatial form and structure within major Shipping Harbors as well as processing the nature/necessity/nurture of their qualified existence. Finally, for each of the above mentioned series', including S.E.A.10, there will be a corresponding book published cataloging each body of work.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

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

This is the first in an ongoing series of posts which answer the question, "What was the best advice given to you as an artist?"

All of the responses are taken from the 100+ interviews archived on

"What was the best advice given to you as an artist?"
    "My high school art teacher, Ron Chagnon, told me “never give up on your art”. He allowed me the freedom to explore my artistic style and helped me better understand some of the influences and direction my work was taking on..." - Matthew Albers (Interview)

"Find the joy in the entire process." - Corey McNally (Interview)

    "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." - Alyssa Wendorf (Interview)

    "Stay true to your own unique expression. Don’t change your style or technique because you think it will sell more or appeal to more people, because people will sense that you are not being genuine. People want to see what is ‘you’." - Kara Hendershot (Interview)

    "One piece leads to the next and so on; all the rest is unimportant. Just focus on the daily practice of making work." - Lynn Speaker (Interview)