Jerry Richardson Gallery Talk

January 1, 1970 - to
Jerry Richardson Gallery Talk

Last night, Jerry Richardson delivered some musings on the life of photographer Fred Scheel. Scheel’s photography, along with a number of donated prints from his expansive collection, makes up our current exhibition The Frederick B. Scheel Photography Collection: A New Gift to the Plains.

Richardson is a photographer and a former instructor and communication professional for NDSU. Over his career, he and Scheel became good friends as well as associates, and his anecdotes on Scheel’s work were tinged with pride and humor. Scheel, according to Richardson, was a man who never undertook a task without full conviction, a zeal that carried into both his professional work as business leader and in his creative work as a photographer and poet. It is this part of Scheel’s character that certainly carries over into his photography and his prints, work that resides effortlessly next to the work of the groundbreaking photographers with whom he studied, including Ansel Adams and Brett Weston.

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Gobbling Up the Snow

January 1, 1970 - to
Gobbling Up the Snow

'Star Monster' defies the cold

This winter may have given us more snow than our roofs and streets can handle and it may have dropped us into an intolerable deep freeze, but it could not shake the spirit of our outdoor S.P.A.C.E. sculpture, affectionately known as “Star Monster.”

In fact, he seems to be relishing in it, gobbling up the snow like ice cream while shaking his fist at the snowy sky.

“Star Monster” will remain on the pad through March, at which time we may need him to defy a rising Red River.

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Installing Chris Walla’s ‘Wait & See’

January 1, 1970 - to
Installing Chris Walla’s ‘Wait & See’

(From l to r) Mark Ryan, Frank McDaniels, and artist Chris Walla hang Walla's installation, "Wait & See" in Cafe Muse.

Cafe Muse will have a new look next week thanks to artist and MSUM art professor Chris Walla. Walla’s new work, Wait & See, is part of Art = Food, a series of site-specific installations for the Cafe area. Stop by and take it in at lunch this week. In the meantime, you can see the work of the previous Art = Food artist, Rachel Breen, here.

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Planning Our Next Spring Gala

January 1, 1970 - to
Planning Our Next Spring Gala

Last week, we held the first steering committee meeting for the upcoming 15th Annual Spring Gala, Masterpiece Masquerade, on May 7. Plans for the Gala actually began about two months ago with our marketing committee, which was given the task to set the theme and visual elements. Now, theme in hand, our committee of volunteer leadership and staff is ready to begin the next stage of planning – lining up sponsorships and solidifying logistical plans for the evening.

Planning the Gala is hard work. Even with 15 years worth of institutional memory, each year presents its own set of unique circumstances and potential hiccups. Corralling so many schedules and talents into planning takes, well, a lot more planning. But, starting early means that most of the wrinkles get worked out prior to opening the doors for our annual signature event. It’s not all hard work, either. Planning the Gala is a good departure for us since we get to flex our creative muscles more than usual, and ultimately we reap the return of having the Museum come alive for an unforgettable evening. We’ve had extra fun this year since we’re throwing a masquerade party and imagining our floors filled with masked and costumed attendees. It should be a good time.

Stay posted – more details on the Gala will be coming next week.

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From the Director: A Winter Warmup

January 1, 1970 - to
From the Director: A Winter Warmup

Museum Director Colleen Sheehy

In October, Plains Art Museum added a major new work to its permanent collection—The North Dakota Mural by renowned Pop artist James Rosenquist. This bold painting, displayed front and center on our Ruth and Seymour Landfield Atrium wall, makes me smile every day. Our school groups, college students, and other visitors are enjoying pondering and discussing Rosenquist’s vision of life in North Dakota—its salient experiences, symbols, and memories from nature and industry, culture and history, to vast landscapes and night skies. I invite you to plan a visit, come in for lunch at Café Muse, and spend some time here as an outing this winter season.

When you do, you can enjoy this new painting and nearly two hundred other works from the Museum’s permanent collection, all of which will be filling our main galleries this winter and spring. You will see and learn from art that will remain in this community as a resource for us today and into the future. This is a valuable community asset, and we want you to know it more fully.

The Museum’s collection, now numbering about 3,500 objects, has been built through focused acquisitions ever since the Museum was founded in 1975. Over the last 35 years, directors and curators have recommended new accessions, some through Museum purchase with designated funds, some through donations from artists and collectors. Our Collections Committee, a group of knowledgeable community volunteers, approves donations or requests for new works to be added to the collection. Donors play a critical role in the growth and strength of the collection. Without a large acquisitions fund or endowment for new work, as some large museums have, the generosity of donors is important to the growth of our holdings.

This year, several important collection gifts are being showcased. A full exhibition will present a selection of 300 prints from Vermillion Editions Limited, a nationally-known print shop based in Minneapolis, for the first time since a 1996 gift from an anonymous donor. The exhibition, Vermillion Editions Limited to Hannaher Studio: The Print Renaissance Comes to Fargo, opens on February 5th and is curated by Minnesota State University Moorhead printmaker John Volk. Volk and his students will bring to light the innovations of the artists who worked with master printer Steven Andersen.

In May, we will open an exhibition with a fascinating back story in Collectors, Humble and Extraordinaire: The Herbert and Dorothy Vogel Gift. The Vogels live in Manhattan, where Herb worked until retirement as a post office employee and Dorothy as a librarian. Even with modest means, they amassed a collection of contemporary art numbering over 4,000 pieces. In 2008, they worked with the National Gallery of Art to donate their collection to museums around the United States. One museum was selected in each state to receive fifty artworks in a project called 50 Works for 50 States. Plains Art Museum is the proud recipient of this gift for North Dakota. The exhibition will present all fifty works and demonstrate the experimental approach the couple took toward collecting.

As these exhibitions attest, the artistic riches of the Museum are impressive. Our collection is a great resource for learning, enjoyment, inspiration, reflection, and discussion. This is the community’s collection, with the Museum as the professional caretaker. The collection also is a mark of the integrity of Plains Art Museum. With our accreditation, a mark of professional rigor bestowed by the national organization of the American Association of Museums, donors of artworks can be confident that we will care for, display, and interpret our holdings at the highest levels of museum practice today.

We invite you to spend time with this community resource this winter and spring. Come in to see what’s here: innovations in printmaking, expert photography, inspiring collectors, beautiful images, stimulating ideas, amazing techniques, impressive artists.  I promise, these artists and artworks will warm you up no matter what the weather.

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The Year in Review, Pt. II

January 1, 1970 - to
The Year in Review, Pt. II

(This is the second of a two-part series reflecting on the past year at the Museum. For part I, click here.)

"The North Dakota Mural" was unveiled on October 7.

We saw a lot of activity in and around the Museum during 2010, and a good portion of that activity revolved around the debut of The North Dakota Mural by James Rosenquist. Although the 13 x 24 ft. painting was unveiled in October, the anticipation and preparation for its arrival spanned much longer. After years of working to bring a signature Rosenquist piece to the Museum, after a fire at Rosenquist’s home and studio destroyed the first mural, and after an anonymous donor put forth half the cost, we were thrilled to present the state of North Dakota and our community with such a magnificent centerpiece for visual arts. Rosenquist was unable to make the unveiling due to illness, but he did join us on October 20 to help us celebrate the mural’s arrival.

Although the mural unveiling got a lot of attention, it’s important not to overlook two fine exhibitions we presented this past fall. The Frederick B. Scheel Photography Collection: A New Gift to the Plains, a collection of astounding photography donated by Fred Scheel and the Scheel family, opened on September 17. Andrea Carlson: VORE, a series of 16 mixed-media works reflecting on cultural appropriation, also opened in September. Both exhibitions are still currently on display.

Our Rush Hour Music Series continued this year, bringing some of our regions brightest jazz, folk, and rock artists to our atrium for a free show once a month. Throughout the year, we offered tasty lunch options from Mosaic Foods in Cafe Muse and offered unique gifts in The Store. We closed out 2010 with our popular Noon Holiday Concerts, getting plenty of eager listeners into the holiday mood.

All in all, 2010 was a fantastic year at the Museum, and we couldn’t have done it without our members, volunteers, donors, sponsors, and supporters. You’re all committed folks who value our mission as much as we do. We offer nothing but our sincerest gratitude. Thank you.

Now, let’s get ready for 2011!

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The Year in Review, Pt. I

January 1, 1970 - to
The Year in Review, Pt. I

Over the past year, we saw a full spectrum of events, activities and happenings, from the grandiose to the modest. On the big end, we unveiled a really, really big work of art. On the smaller end, individuals – from children to adults – walked through our doors and simply allowed art to be part of their everyday lives. We’re equally proud of our accomplishments, big or small, and we’re happy to have contributed to the community over the last year.

The Mighty Quinn, a five-person bicycle that was used to power a bike-in movie during Bikes, Art and Community Health Week

Here’s Part I of a snapshot of the year that was. If you attended or were part of any of these programs, please leave your thoughts in the comments:

  • In January, we kicked off our year in exhibitions with Individual to Icon: Portraits of the Famous and Almost Famous from Folk Art to Facebook, an innovative exploration of portraiture that drew together over a dozen artists from across multiple disciplines. The show had numerous highlights, from Christopher Baker’s Hello World, or How I Learned to Stop Listening and Love the Noise, an immersive video installation, to photographs by Annie Leibovitz.
  • January also brought another great year of Kid Quest, our popular, free art experience for families. Held the first Saturday of most months, Kid Quest has become one of the most vital services we offer here at the Museum, serving dozens of families each month.
  • We offered portraiture classes, sculpture classes and watercolor classes in early 2010 through our Experiences for Life program. Our classes are geared toward both children and adults, often working together in the same class. Experiences for Life also offered opportunities for local arts educators to share their expertise.
  • March was Youth Art Month, and to celebrate the Museum exhibited works by hundreds of grade-school and high-school students from across the region. We also had a spectacular, albeit brief, exhibition of birdhouses custom made by NDSU architecture students.
  • As spring continued, we opened the exhibition The White Album: The Beatles Meet the Plains, a mashup of works from our permanent collection with The Beatles’ 1968 The Beatles, popularly known as “The White Album.” The response to the exhibition was tremendous, drawing Beatles fans and visual art fans alike. In May, we held our 14th annual Spring Gala, raising money for our education programs while having a great time.
  • We were incredibly active this past summer offering summer camps for youth and furthering public art projects through Plains Inside Out activities – Hip Hop Don’t Stop; the In the Heart of the Beast residency and program; Bikes, Art and Community Health Week; and Defiant Gardens for Fargo-Moorhead, where the Museum worked with community leaders in Moorhead to determine the future of the Moorhead Power Plant site.

Next, we’ll round out 2010 with a look back at the autumn months.

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