Monday, December 7, 2015

Donny Gettinger - Mixed Media

Donny Gettinger

Name: Donny Gettinger

City/State: Minneapolis, MN

Email: donnygettinger at

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I was born and raised in the rural heartland of America. I completed my MFA at Indiana University in 2014 and moved to Minnesota to pursue various artistic endeavors. I first arrived in Mankato and found work at a publishing company which produced titles for the library and school market. It was certainly not my area of expertise, but it definitely proved to be an interesting little life experience. I now work as an assistant artist at James Brenner Sculpture in Minneapolis and also as the Curator/ Gallery Coordinator for the ECRAC exhibition space.

This year I attended residencies at the Grin City Collective (Grinnell, IA) and the Scuola di Grafica (Venice, Italy). I currently have work up at Circa Gallery for This from Here (ending soon) and Altered Esthetic’s 3-D exhibition at the Southern Theater (closes in Janurary), both in Minneapolis. Also, a few pieces of mine are available for “check out” through the Minneapolis Art Lending Library collection (

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

As an artist, my work maintains a focus on the tension and latent potential found within these transitional spaces, while humoring a youth-stricken sense of adventure. I have concentrated on regionally specific subjects, such as the grey space between male adolescence and adulthood within the country landscape and the contradictory reality beneath the popular portrayal of the rural Midwest, to serve as platforms for my work.

I am currently working on projects which integrate a curatorial/ collaborative element into my practice- definitely a new approach, but I think the step is not far from the direction of my previous work. One specific work involves modifying the cargo area of my pickup truck to accommodate for drive-by puppet performances. I plan to line up a set list of local puppet troupes with the end goal of putting on a rotation of pop-up shows which entertain frustrated commuters stuck in traffic. I think elements of the construction retain a connection to country kid car modification/ boredom culture, but within the context of traffic associated with larger populations. I am very excited to get that project rolling in spring 2016. More on that project can be seen here:

How did you decide to become an artist?

I just started to feel comfortable with the title of “artist”. I always wanted and desired to be an artist, but I didn’t feel like I had committed myself to the task until recently- when I experienced what it takes to support a career away from the safe zone of academia. If I had to claim a point when I “officially” became an artist, I would say it was somewhere after a year of surviving the shift from student to a creative person, operating in the real world.

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

There are two statements which continually resurface as I continue my journey as an artist:
“Good art does not have to be serious” and “Be mindful of your hands”.

The second statement was more impactful at the moment of delivery because the person lecturing me was missing a few of their digits. I think of that person every time I pick up a power tool- even a cordless drill.

The first bit of advice is something which has certainly shaped who I am as an artist today. It is such a simple line, but I have found it to answer a lot of the internal debates which occur when creating work. I always start out desiring some sort of profound response or experience to be had by those viewing my work. I assume this result requires the work itself to be serious in delivery or construction- which is not true, and the idea that everyone will have this universal interpretation is so goofy and naive.

I think the compositions and concepts I am most satisfied with after completion, are the ones which cause me to laugh, and possibly leave me with questions. I think this perspective has persuaded me to really embrace humor, both formally and conceptually, as a tool to deliver topics which may be rejected or dismissed if delivered directly. Things can be simultaneously funny and serious, and I feel as though they are better that way.

Many artists struggle to find ways to sell their art.  How do you sell your work?  How do you market yourself?

To be honest, I do not sell my creations very often. Most of the work I love to make is not really available/ able to be sold. I do produce work which is more “wall-friendly” and collectible, but I can’t say that I am successful in supporting my career entirely through the sale of my artwork. I am grateful to work two jobs, despite loss of potential studio time, and not feel pushed to make work which is intentionally commercially friendly. I’d refer anyone interested in purchasing my work to my website ( and to contact me directly ( 



Who are some of the Minnesota artists you enjoy?

 I fell in love with Jenny Schmid’s print work ( when she visited Indiana University during my time as a student, so I am enthusiastic to now be located in the same city. Sharon Louden ( is another Minneapolis-based person of interest- her book of artist essays “Living and Sustaining a Creative Life” is pretty rad. I also really feel a connection to the unabashed poetry style of Paul Dickinson - and seeing his performance in Britni West’s “Tired Moonlight” was awesome. I could go on, but I’ll stop there. This city is a wonderful little crockpot of artists and creatives which I am thrilled to be a part of.

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

Oh, now that could be a dangerous escapade!

First, we would probably get warmed up by checking out whatever is going on at the Walker. (

Then we could peek around some of the places in my neighborhood- SooVac ( and Intermedia Arts ( are my favorites. Then we would make our way across the river and investigate what Northeast has to offer. I have enjoyed pretty much everything I have seen at the Soap Factory ( - which is an awesome space in itself. I would also check out what is happening at Public Functionary (, Altered Esthetics (, and CO Exhibitions (

If time was not a restriction on our field trip, we would stop by the Cathedral of St. Paul ( and I would spend an uncomfortable amount of time staring at Michelangelo’s Pietà. I know it a copy, but it is easily my favorite piece of Renaissance sculpture, and the original was carved from a single block of marble, and Michelangelo was only 24 when he completed it – what a little rock star!

After Church, we would probably head to some form of a watering hole. If I have money in my pockets, I would visit Betty Danger’s (because I love to use artificial turf in my work, and the place happens to be covered in it) or someplace that has karaoke.

In addition to, 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? is awesome for connecting with other artists within the area. It also showcases some excellent writings which expand beyond what’s going on in Minnesota. I definitely visit the site on a daily basis and am not ashamed to admit it. I live fairly close to the Walker, so I usually check their current events calendar for any upcoming screenings or lectures. I try to feel more connected to the art world outside of Minnesota by following museums, galleries, and art magazines on Instagram, Facebook, and Tumblr- it is more far convenient to open an App and have all the separate establishments neatly arranged for you, as opposed to visiting each individual website. Some of the ones I follow on Instagram which I found to be informative:

Do you have any exhibits to promote in the near future?
My work as a featured artist alongside Laura Cornell ( in Ae’s 3-D show  is up at the Southern Theater until January 6, 2016. There are some other great artists involved the exhibition, so stop by and give it a peek!

Image List:

1. Looking Forward,
Walnut, Artificial Turf, Slip Cast Thrift Store Figurine, Decorative Shelf, Light Switch

2. On the River
Mixed Media Performance
Rurally Good Festival, Grin City Collective

3. Math Class Day Dreaming,
Match Book, Artificial Turf, Cherry Wood, Candy Cigarettes, Paper, Negative
3 1/2” x 2 1/2" x 3 1/2”,

4. House Plants and Home Emergencies #4
11" x 8 1/2"

Hot Dog Buns, Single Channel Video Monitor,
variable dimensions

6. Call you later. I’m at the Fairgrounds, Deep Fat Fried iPhone, Varnish 
5" x 2 1/2" x 1 1/4"

7. Donny Gettinger