Finding a Voice Behind the Scenes

January 1, 1970 - to
Finding a Voice Behind the Scenes

Maika Ueno

Maika Ueno spent the last year and a half as an intern with Plains Art Museum working on our permanent collection. Photo by Dave Arntson, Milestones Photography

When Plains Art Museum collections intern Maika Ueno first came to the United States from Japan to study art, she thought that fitting in with her American classmates meant acting like them. However, as a native of what she called a “very traditional culture,” she said it was a breath of fresh air to be encouraged to find her own voice.

In a twist, though, it was that very culture that gave her that voice.

“In art, I am required to express myself. To do this, I need a strong idea. In my art classes, all of the students have different ideas and a different background. In the United States, it’s good to be different from others. I like that,” Ueno said.

“When I started my art classes, I wanted to be like American students. But my teachers told me to respect my Japanese background. It is what made me an individual here,” she said.

Ueno grew up in Tsuruoka, a city located in Japan’s northwestern Yamagata prefecture (province) with a population around 139,000. After beginning her academic career at Akita International University, Ueno took advantage of the school’s exchange program and began to study printmaking at Minnesota State University Moorhead in the fall of 2004. At first, living here was a challenge, especially with the differences in language.

“My teachers taught me proper English,” she said. “They taught me to say food was ‘delicious.’ I got here and everyone said food was ‘yummy.’”

Ueno overcame those obstacles, creating delicate, nature-inspired prints (see below) in the process and having a positive college experience. After completing her bachelor’s degree, Ueno looked for internship opportunities and followed up on a recommendation from an instructor to apply for a year-long internship with Plains Art Museum. She began her internship in February, 2009, and for the last year and a half has been instrumental in helping the Museum complete its obligation to a National Endowment for the Humanities Preservation Assistance Grant, a task that required exhaustive work in preparing and maintaining the Museum’s permanent collection.

Maika Ueno, "Migration III"

Maika Ueno, "Migration III"

Her duties with the Museum included measuring, inspecting and cataloging prints, researching suppliers, mounting artwork, labeling and assigning artwork to storage, and framing and matting prints. In all, she logged over 820 hours of work, as much as a half-time staff member would work over the same time span.

Director of Collections and Operations Mark Ryan said that Ueno’s hard work instantly made her instrumental to Museum operations.

“Maika brought in an amazing level of energy and sense of dedication. She’s professional and brings a sense of curiosity and a desire to learn that ensures things get done right the first time,” Ryan said, “I can’t thank her enough.”

Ueno credits Ryan for much of what she learned over the course of her internship.

“In school, I studied studio art, but I did not know how to take care of collections. I didn’t know that there was such a thing, but taking care of collections is a big study. (Mark) told me how to choose materials for mounting, hinging, and framing and to use only specific materials to protect art and to use a specific method for mounting. Every day was a discovery of new things.”

“The collections part of a museum is behind the scenes, but it decides the museum’s quality,” she said.

Maika working

Maika works on the proper cataloging and storage of a print. Photo by Cody Jacobson.

Ueno also learned how to handle her own art and she is quick to pass her knowledge on to fellow artists.

“I discovered how many artists didn’t know a lot about mounting. I removed artwork from frames and after they were out of their frame, they were awful. I think students should learn how to protect art. The condition of the art reduces the value of the art, and that’s a serious problem,” she said.

Now that her time in the United States is almost done, Ueno is looking forward to taking what she has learned back with her to Japan. She is considering a career in fine art shipping or in collections management with a museum back home. She also intends to keep up with printmaking once she can put a studio together. No matter what she does, she feels that her time studying in the United States, along with her experience with the Museum, has been worthwhile.

“My life in the United States gave me confidence,” she said. “I found that I could jump into a different culture. All my friends had complaints about the cultural differences but I enjoyed them. I didn’t get fed up with eating mashed potatoes,” she said, laughing.

“Difference is natural. It’s important to enjoy it.”

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Finding a Voice Behind the Scenes

January 1, 1970 - to
Finding a Voice Behind the Scenes

Maika Ueno

Maika Ueno spent the last year and a half as an intern with Plains Art Museum working on our permanent collection. Photo by Dave Arntson, Milestones Photography

When Plains Art Museum collections intern Maika Ueno first came to the United States from Japan to study art, she thought that fitting in with her American classmates meant acting like them. However, as a native of what she called a “very traditional culture,” she said it was a breath of fresh air to be encouraged to find her own voice.

In a twist, though, it was that very culture that gave her that voice.

“In art, I am required to express myself. To do this, I need a strong idea. In my art classes, all of the students have different ideas and a different background. In the United States, it’s good to be different from others. I like that,” Ueno said.

“When I started my art classes, I wanted to be like American students. But my teachers told me to respect my Japanese background. It is what made me an individual here,” she said.

Ueno grew up in Tsuruoka, a city located in Japan’s northwestern Yamagata prefecture (province) with a population around 139,000. After beginning her academic career at Akita International University, Ueno took advantage of the school’s exchange program and began to study printmaking at Minnesota State University Moorhead in the fall of 2004. At first, living here was a challenge, especially with the differences in language.

“My teachers taught me proper English,” she said. “They taught me to say food was ‘delicious.’ I got here and everyone said food was ‘yummy.’”

Ueno overcame those obstacles, creating delicate, nature-inspired prints (see below) in the process and having a positive college experience. After completing her bachelor’s degree, Ueno looked for internship opportunities and followed up on a recommendation from an instructor to apply for a year-long internship with Plains Art Museum. She began her internship in February, 2009, and for the last year and a half has been instrumental in helping the Museum complete its obligation to a National Endowment for the Humanities Preservation Assistance Grant, a task that required exhaustive work in preparing and maintaining the Museum’s permanent collection.

Maika Ueno, "Migration III"

Maika Ueno, "Migration III"

Her duties with the Museum included measuring, inspecting and cataloging prints, researching suppliers, mounting artwork, labeling and assigning artwork to storage, and framing and matting prints. In all, she logged over 820 hours of work, as much as a half-time staff member would work over the same time span.

Director of Collections and Operations Mark Ryan said that Ueno’s hard work instantly made her instrumental to Museum operations.

“Maika brought in an amazing level of energy and sense of dedication. She’s professional and brings a sense of curiosity and a desire to learn that ensures things get done right the first time,” Ryan said, “I can’t thank her enough.”

Ueno credits Ryan for much of what she learned over the course of her internship.

“In school, I studied studio art, but I did not know how to take care of collections. I didn’t know that there was such a thing, but taking care of collections is a big study. (Mark) told me how to choose materials for mounting, hinging, and framing and to use only specific materials to protect art and to use a specific method for mounting. Every day was a discovery of new things.”

“The collections part of a museum is behind the scenes, but it decides the museum’s quality,” she said.

Maika working

Maika works on the proper cataloging and storage of a print. Photo by Cody Jacobson.

Ueno also learned how to handle her own art and she is quick to pass her knowledge on to fellow artists.

“I discovered how many artists didn’t know a lot about mounting. I removed artwork from frames and after they were out of their frame, they were awful. I think students should learn how to protect art. The condition of the art reduces the value of the art, and that’s a serious problem,” she said.

Now that her time in the United States is almost done, Ueno is looking forward to taking what she has learned back with her to Japan. She is considering a career in fine art shipping or in collections management with a museum back home. She also intends to keep up with printmaking once she can put a studio together. No matter what she does, she feels that her time studying in the United States, along with her experience with the Museum, has been worthwhile.

“My life in the United States gave me confidence,” she said. “I found that I could jump into a different culture. All my friends had complaints about the cultural differences but I enjoyed them. I didn’t get fed up with eating mashed potatoes,” she said, laughing.

“Difference is natural. It’s important to enjoy it.”

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Spring Gala FAQs

January 1, 1970 - to
Spring Gala FAQs

Our 14th Annual Spring Gala is coming up quickly. On Saturday, May 1, at 7 p.m., Plains Art Museum will transform into a one-night celebration of our area’s arts – we’ll go from “Ordinary to Extraordinary”, as the theme of this year’s Gala suggests.

As with any social event, there are bound to be some questions about the evening ranging from the procedural to the downright curious. To answer these questions, we’ve compiled a quick FAQ section to help you out.

What do I wear to the Gala?

Although the tone of the word “Gala” conjures up images of ball gowns and white ties, the Spring Gala doesn’t demand anything stuffy or ornamental. Sure, you’ll see some finery, but you’ll also see costumes that tie in with the theme. The jeans and sport coat combo is perfectly fine and the vintage dress and scarf combo is fine, too. Ask yourself, “what would I wear for a night out with my friends?” That’s what you should wear to the Gala because, frankly, that’s what it is.

What do I do at the Gala?Gala auction

First and foremost, you’ll want to peruse the silent auction (preview it online here) for your opportunity to bid on works of art by over 90 of the most talented artists in the area, including local luminaries like Modern Man, Walter Piehl Jr., and Star Wallowing Bull. Make a few bids. Maybe you go home with something that not only complements your home, but supports the artist and helps out the Museum with educational programming. Also, the art auction is a great way to start or build your very own art collection.

After that, be sure to listen to the vocal jazz/rock stylings of Julie Buck & Company and, later on, dance to Betty Does. There’s also a wine tasting by Happy Harry’s Bottle Shops, delicious food by Mosaic Foods (more on that below), cocktails by the Sidestreet Grille and Pub, coffee by Moxie Java and desserts by the incomparable Nichole’s Fine Pastry to please the palate. You’ll also be able to view a fashion show by local designers MeJeanne Couture.

And, of course, you can give your friends in attendance a big high five. It’s a party, after all.

What is there to eat?Desserts by Nichole's Fine Pastry

Mosaic has promised a mouth-watering set of treats, including:

  • Whole poached salmon with traditional garnishes and crackers
  • Shrimp cocktail
  • Candied bacon (yes, candied bacon)
  • Chicken sate with spicy peanut sauce
  • Chile molasses glazed pork loin carving station
  • Veggie spring rolls
  • World tour cheese platter
  • Grilled vegetables
  • Fresh fruit

and so much more. It’s a feast, folks. Plus, there will be a full compliment of desserts by Nichole’s.

What kind of people will I see at the Gala?

Everyone from community leaders to artists to art patrons to people who just love a good party. Young and old, they unite around having some fun while doing something worthwhile for the Museum and for the arts in general.

What if I can’t afford a ticket?Gala Goers

We understand. Eighty dollars (or $90 after the 16th) can be a big chunk of disposable income. But, think of it this way. You’re getting an expertly prepared meal with lots of variety (say, $30), wine tasting ($25), two bands ($10), dessert ($10) and coffee ($5), plus you get to peruse the silent auction and get access to the galleries (normally $5) and see a fashion show. In other words, you will be able to experience a really nice night on the town, all under one roof, while helping the Museum provide vital services to our community.

If you can’t afford to come but will still like to make a contribution, visit our donation page. Short on cash but still want to help out? Contact us about volunteering.

Well, then, how do I get a ticket?

Just visit the Spring Gala page on our website. You can make a payment using PayPal or a credit card. You can also call 701.232.3821 or drop by the Museum at 704 1st Ave N.

Any other questions?

Feel free to leave any questions about our Spring Gala in the comments, or email kkerzman@plainsart.org.

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Spring Gala FAQs

January 1, 1970 - to
Spring Gala FAQs

Our 14th Annual Spring Gala is coming up quickly. On Saturday, May 1, at 7 p.m., Plains Art Museum will transform into a one-night celebration of our area’s arts – we’ll go from “Ordinary to Extraordinary”, as the theme of this year’s Gala suggests.

As with any social event, there are bound to be some questions about the evening ranging from the procedural to the downright curious. To answer these questions, we’ve compiled a quick FAQ section to help you out.

What do I wear to the Gala?

Although the tone of the word “Gala” conjures up images of ball gowns and white ties, the Spring Gala doesn’t demand anything stuffy or ornamental. Sure, you’ll see some finery, but you’ll also see costumes that tie in with the theme. The jeans and sport coat combo is perfectly fine and the vintage dress and scarf combo is fine, too. Ask yourself, “what would I wear for a night out with my friends?” That’s what you should wear to the Gala because, frankly, that’s what it is.

What do I do at the Gala?Gala auction

First and foremost, you’ll want to peruse the silent auction (preview it online here) for your opportunity to bid on works of art by over 90 of the most talented artists in the area, including local luminaries like Modern Man, Walter Piehl Jr., and Star Wallowing Bull. Make a few bids. Maybe you go home with something that not only complements your home, but supports the artist and helps out the Museum with educational programming. Also, the art auction is a great way to start or build your very own art collection.

After that, be sure to listen to the vocal jazz/rock stylings of Julie Buck & Company and, later on, dance to Betty Does. There’s also a wine tasting by Happy Harry’s Bottle Shops, delicious food by Mosaic Foods (more on that below), cocktails by the Sidestreet Grille and Pub, coffee by Moxie Java and desserts by the incomparable Nichole’s Fine Pastry to please the palate. You’ll also be able to view a fashion show by local designers MeJeanne Couture.

And, of course, you can give your friends in attendance a big high five. It’s a party, after all.

What is there to eat?Desserts by Nichole's Fine Pastry

Mosaic has promised a mouth-watering set of treats, including:

  • Whole poached salmon with traditional garnishes and crackers
  • Shrimp cocktail
  • Candied bacon (yes, candied bacon)
  • Chicken sate with spicy peanut sauce
  • Chile molasses glazed pork loin carving station
  • Veggie spring rolls
  • World tour cheese platter
  • Grilled vegetables
  • Fresh fruit

and so much more. It’s a feast, folks. Plus, there will be a full compliment of desserts by Nichole’s.

What kind of people will I see at the Gala?

Everyone from community leaders to artists to art patrons to people who just love a good party. Young and old, they unite around having some fun while doing something worthwhile for the Museum and for the arts in general.

What if I can’t afford a ticket?Gala Goers

We understand. Eighty dollars (or $90 after the 16th) can be a big chunk of disposable income. But, think of it this way. You’re getting an expertly prepared meal with lots of variety (say, $30), wine tasting ($25), two bands ($10), dessert ($10) and coffee ($5), plus you get to peruse the silent auction and get access to the galleries (normally $5) and see a fashion show. In other words, you will be able to experience a really nice night on the town, all under one roof, while helping the Museum provide vital services to our community.

If you can’t afford to come but will still like to make a contribution, visit our donation page. Short on cash but still want to help out? Contact us about volunteering.

Well, then, how do I get a ticket?

Just visit the Spring Gala page on our website. You can make a payment using PayPal or a credit card. You can also call 701.232.3821 or drop by the Museum at 704 1st Ave N.

Any other questions?

Feel free to leave any questions about our Spring Gala in the comments, or email kkerzman@plainsart.org.

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Meet Our Portrait Contest Winner

January 1, 1970 - to
Meet Our Portrait Contest Winner

As mentioned in the last post, we’ve been taking submissions over the last few months for a portrait contest inspired by our exhibition Individual to Icon: Portraits of the Famous and Almost Famous from Folk Art to Facebook. We got a great response from a wide variety of talented photographers, painters and graphic designers, all of whom appeared to take great joy in capturing a good portrait.

The winner, chosen by jury, was submitted by Jamie Hohnadel of Kindred, N.D. Her piece is a perfect marriage of uncluttered imagery and use of color:

Jamie Hohnadel, Wishful Thinking

Jamie Hohnadel, "Wishful Thinking", 2008, 11 x 17", digital pigment print

We also liked this image because, in a way, it fit with our Spring Gala theme of “Ordinary to Extraordinary.” Jamie’s print will be part of the silent auction at this year’s Gala and, as a prize, Jamie received a ticket. We’re also keeping her image as our Facebook profile photo for the month of April.

Jamie Hohnadel

Jamie Hohnadel

I had the chance to meet Jamie earlier this week. She is an enthusiastic and energetic high school senior involved in almost every art activity she can get her hands on.

“I love painting, drawing, sculpting, singing, song writing, sewing, fashion design, reading and writing poetry and short stories, and everything involving theater- from acting to set design to hair and makeup,” she said. That’s quite the list. For inspiration, Jamie likes to browse and contribute to the online art community deviantART.com.

Jamie won silver and gold in the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards and plans on attending Minnesota State University Moorhead in the fall, majoring in graphic design. She has her eye on doing work in the music industry.

“When you look at an album cover and you buy it because of the art and you don’t care what they play – I just love that,” she said.

Jamie said her winning image was the result of experimentation with a new camera. Her friend Nicki, the subject of the photo and an actor, pretended to be “dramatic” and struck a pose in front of a telephone pole. Jamie liked the image but cropped out the pole and added a flower to make the resulting diptych. Such a creation seems like old hat to her, given her bristling creative energy.

“Honestly, I think I was just born to do this. I create something everyday,” she said. “I can’t even comprehend a life without art. I’ve worked very hard to get to the point I am at, and it hasn’t been easy. I worked all summer and did art commissions just to save up to buy the camera I took that picture with. My school doesn’t offer a computer graphics class or a photography class, so I taught myself. But if I hadn’t had the support of my family, friends, and teachers, who knows where I would be now.”

Congratulations again to Jamie. Her print will be in our Gala silent auction preview on April 19 and available at the auction the night of the Gala on May 1.

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Portrait Contest Finalists

January 1, 1970 - to
Portrait Contest Finalists

The last few months of watching entries come in for our Portrait Project contest have been a real thrill. It’s been incredible to not only provide an opportunity for artists to engage in the artistic process with the Plains Art Museum, but to see that opportunity so readily grasped by so many talented people. Further, it’s been a treat to see the art of portraiture conceived in so many ways and lending our Individual to Icon exhibition a wonderful companion project. Big thanks to all who submitted.

I’ll post a bio of our contest winner later today. But first, I’d like to recognize five finalists from the contest. Congratulations to them! If you’d like more information about any of the artists or their work, please email kkerzman@plainsart.org.

Morea Steinhauer, "Handout - San Salvador, El Salvador"

Jescia Hoffman, "Growing Up"

Jescia Hoffman, "Growing Up"

Eric Santwire, "Al"

Eric Santwire, "Al"

Yvonne Denault, "My Joy"

Yvonne Denault, "My Joy"

Don Kates, "Don't Mess With Me"

Don Kates, "Don't Mess With Me"

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Portrait Contest Finalists

January 1, 1970 - to
Portrait Contest Finalists

The last few months of watching entries come in for our Portrait Project contest have been a real thrill. It’s been incredible to not only provide an opportunity for artists to engage in the artistic process with the Plains Art Museum, but to see that opportunity so readily grasped by so many talented people. Further, it’s been a treat to see the art of portraiture conceived in so many ways and lending our Individual to Icon exhibition a wonderful companion project. Big thanks to all who submitted.

I’ll post a bio of our contest winner later today. But first, I’d like to recognize five finalists from the contest. Congratulations to them! If you’d like more information about any of the artists or their work, please email kkerzman@plainsart.org.

Morea Steinhauer, "Handout - San Salvador, El Salvador"

Jescia Hoffman, "Growing Up"

Jescia Hoffman, "Growing Up"

Eric Santwire, "Al"

Eric Santwire, "Al"

Yvonne Denault, "My Joy"

Yvonne Denault, "My Joy"

Don Kates, "Don't Mess With Me"

Don Kates, "Don't Mess With Me"

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Visiting Jim Rosenquist and the North Dakota Mural

January 1, 1970 - to
Visiting Jim Rosenquist and the North Dakota Mural

Jim, Colleen and the Mural

Jim Rosenquist and Colleen Sheehy in front of "The North Dakota Mural"

On March 8, our Director of Collections, Mark Ryan, and I visited the painter James

Rosenquist in Tampa, Florida, to see the large mural that he had recently completed as a commission for Plains Art Museum. Rosenquist was born in Grand Forks, N.D. in 1933, moved with his family later to Minneapolis, and eventually went to New York, where he became one of the major artists of the Pop art movement of the 1960s. So having a major new work for his home state is a big deal!

The mural is titled The North Dakota Mural and it is 13 feet high and 24 feet wide. It features imagery of North Dakota collaged together in Rosenquist’s pop art style, with images at different sizes and scales. The painting will be installed on the large wall in the Museum’s Ruth & Seymour Landfeld Atrium.

Jim had arranged to have the mural hung in an open gallery at the Contemporary Art Museum at the University of Southern Florida so that we could view it all put together. The painting is made up of twelve panels that fit together to form the larger piece.

Jim lives about an hour north of Tampa, and his studio is not big enough to display the entire mural. So this was a good move to have it put up in a gallery. We were grateful to the museum for helping Jim and us out with this offer of their space for a couple of days while they were between shows.

The mural is magnificent! We were thrilled to see it and confirm that the commission had been met to our great satisfaction. We had a celebratory dinner that night.

To underscore how unlikely the acquisition of this mural is, this wasn’t even the first mural Jim painted for the Museum. The first burned in a brush fire that consumed his home and studio on April 25th, 2009. Following its destruction, an anonymous donor came forward to assist in funding a second mural. The second is nearly identical to the first, but Jim has remarked that the second one is better. Whatever the case, it was a real thrill to see this portion of our Capital Campaign come to fruition.

At the Plains, we’re getting our building prepared to install the mural, which will be unveiled to the public this fall. Prior to hanging the piece, we need to replace the windows over the Atrium with UV-protected glass in order to keep the painting in good condition. Preparation will begin immediately after our Spring Gala. The mural will be hung in September and an unveiling is planned for early October.

We’re really excited to share this new, beautiful work of art by one of our native sons with the community.

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