Archive for the ‘Exhibitions’ Category

Architecturally inspired birdhouses flock to the Museum

March 19th, 2012 by admin Posted in Around the Museum, Exhibitions | 0 comments

Birdhouses of a slightly different feather will be on display in the Museum atrium through April 1. The houses, created by architecture students at North Dakota State University, are part of an annual project called “Architecture for the Birds.” Students randomly choose a Pritzker-Prize winning architect and a species of bird or bat, then set to work on creating a work in the style of that architect that will suit that particular species. The resulting works offer a glimpse into the design and build process vital to the development of a budding architect–plus, they’re a lot of fun to look at. Stop in for a birds-eye view.

This project is overseen by Joan Vorderbruggen, assistant professor of architecture at NDSU.

Lori Larusso’s ‘Pizza is a Vegetable’

February 28th, 2012 by admin Posted in Artists, Exhibitions | 0 comments

Last November, Congress voted for a bill that allowed two tablespoons of processed tomato paste on pizzas to be counted as a vegetable. The decision not only flew in the face of common sense, it also undermined efforts to create more nutritious school lunches, a move that could reduce childhood obesity and future healthcare costs.

Lori Larusso’s installation Pizza is a Vegetable is the newest in our ongoing Art = Food installation series comprised of site-specific works created for Cafe Muse. With her work, Larusso calls into question the various forces that contribute to a modern food culture that would allow pizza to be designated a vegetable, one that leans toward hypercapitalist interests and focuses less on our common health. Utilizing food imagery that calls to mind Michael Pollan’s concept of “pastoral fantasy,” Larusso points out the contradictions and complexities embedded in our food culture and illustrates how our expectation of fresh and healthy food is often exploited—primarily through advertising—to benefit the gargantuan food industry.

Lori Larusso currently holds the James Rosenquist Artist Residency at North Dakota State University. She was born in Massillon, Ohio, and graduated from the University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning with a Bachelor’s in Fine Arts and a minor in Women’s Studies. She earned an Master’s degree in Fine Arts from the Maryland Institute College of Art’s graduate interdisciplinary program, the Mount Royal School of Art. Lori has worked in the community as an advocate and has also maintained a solid studio practice, continuing to show her artworks regionally, nationally and internationally.

Pizza is a Vegetable will hang in Cafe Muse through May.

A memorable night of misfit cups

February 13th, 2012 by admin Posted in Artists, Exhibitions | 1 comment

On Friday evening, we had a capacity crowd for Michael J. Strand’s talk “The Space Between: Art and Humanity.” Despite a shortage of seating and some technical difficulties, Michael delivered a memorable talk highlighting his approach to socially engaged projects and expressing the delight in the stories and lives he has been able to share through those projects.

The evening also served as a kickoff for Michael’s newest endeavor, The Misfit Cup Liberation Project, which asked participants to bring in little-used “misfit” cups and trade them in for a cup hand-thrown by Michael, but only if participants left the cup’s story along with the cup. Everyone was intrigued and delighted by the process, and the stories provided with the cups documented a wide array of emotions, from humor to bittersweet loss.

Click the thumbnails to embiggen.

Misfit Cup Liberation Project installation

February 8th, 2012 by admin Posted in Around the Museum, Exhibitions | 0 comments

Brittany Greenwood, a graduate student in architecture and a member of artist Michael Strand’s Engage U group, installs “orphanages” for the Misfit Cup Liberation Project, an ongoing project by Strand. Strand will put a hand-fired cup in each of the wooden “orphanages.” The public is welcome to bring in their own misfit cup and exchange it for one of Michael’s, provided they also leave a short story about their own cup. Michael will be speaking about this and his other recent projects in a talk at the Museum on Friday night.

‘Art on the Plains’ opens with a bang

February 7th, 2012 by admin Posted in Exhibitions | 0 comments

We had a ball at the opening reception for Art on the Plains XI, held on Saturday, January 28. A boisterous crowd showed up to catch the first few glimpses of this regional juried exhibition, including an impressive showing from the featured artists, many of whom traveled to be part of the festivities.

Artists winning awards during the reception for their work:

1st placeJamie Burmeister, for two works; a video installation entitled The Music Within My Head and an installation of ceramic figurines entitled
2nd placeKeith Taylor. He has two photographs in AOP: Hill, The Badlands, and Rain Cloud, The Badlands.
3rd placeRaina Belleau, for her work Dignity in Dexterity.

Receiving honorable mentions were: Amber Fletschock, Mark S. Manke, and David Sebberson.

AOP XI will remain up until May 20 in the 1st and 3rd floor galleries, and it’s a perfect opportunity to brush up on the work of our region’s most exciting artists.

Special thanks to Dave “Bulldog” Arntson of Milestones Photography for the photos.

A tiny swarm of tiny “vermin”

January 27th, 2012 by admin Posted in Exhibitions | 0 comments

If you come to tomorrow night’s opening of Art on the Plains XI, be on the lookout for a tiny swarm of “vermin.” These little figures, each made by Jamie Burmeister, congregate in groups in the AOP galleries. They’re also hanging out by our stairs, gazing longingly out our 3rd floor windows, and spying on riders in our elevator. See how many you can find the next time you visit. These ceramic figures, which go by the name, are part of a worldwide installation project of the same name.

Incidentally, Burmeister is also behind the interactive installation The Music Within My Head, a rocking chair that plays video and music as the viewer rocks back and forth. You can see a snippet of video here.

“Today it is artists who are asking the large, substantive questions of our world.”

January 24th, 2012 by admin Posted in Exhibitions | 0 comments

(With Art on the Plains XI, we’re examining the rich landscape of the artistic upper Midwest. The juror for AOP XI, Hesse McGraw, assembled an exciting exhibition that displays the complexities of visual art in our part of the world and, in turn, takes aim at preconceptions of the Midwest and reinforces its ingenuity.

McGraw is the curator at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts in Omaha. He provided the following interpretation of AOP XI for our gallery guide. He will also deliver a gallery talk this Saturday night at the AOP opening reception.)

Hesse McGraw, chief curator at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Art

The 47 artists in the Art on the Plains XI live and work in the global Midwest. Although their work emerges fervently from the terrain, culture and ethic of the Plains, it resists and upends the quaint color of this exhibition’s title.

Far from the provincial assurance of American Gothic, this exhibition collectively asserts unease with the flat stereotypes of our home. The image of the Plains presented by their work is a both/and Place — exotic and xenophobic, nostalgic and adventurous, homespun yet rigorous, desaturated, but no less ecstatic.

Werner Herzog’s 1977 film Stroszek gave us a weird and painfully impossible Middle America. That is still here, but this middle ground is contested, its landscapes are more surreal than pastoral, and rural depopulation has prompted a hopeful gallows humor. Rather than sink under the weight of knowing too much — having global perspective but a provincial everyday — these artists create a space of openness, belief and ingenuity. They have rejected cynicism to celebrate the authentic absurdities of life in the Midwest.

The exhibition careens through the fault lines of Middle America: shrinking cities, corporate agriculture, race and class divisions, and meat and potatoes culture. Their works graciously reveal a place whose politics are more complex than stark red and blue and where taste is a battleground.

The last three years — since the last Art on the Plains exhibition — have been a singular and tumultuous period. In the wake of the global economic collapse of 2008, our political structures have become increasingly constipated with useless oppositions and brinksmanship. Yet within this landscape, and self-punishing extremes such as Kansas’ elimination of its state arts commission — artists continue to advance the frontiers of our culture.

Today it is artists who are asking the large, substantive questions of our world. Their training — in deep ingenuity, creative agility, learning to solve problems by asking a different question — is fundamental to locating new ways out of our extant ills.  We are living through an ideal moment to recognize the transformative impacts of art and artists on our world. In contrast to the extremities of our political and media landscapes, one finds radical normality in artists. Theirs is a benevolent danger, intense pragmatism and hyper-rationality.

Art on the Plains XI works to defray caustic misconceptions, even as it opens new veins of thinking through our region. These artists explode our view, granting restlessly expansive perspectives of this specific world.

–Hesse McGraw, 12.21.2011

The opening reception for ‘You Like This’

October 13th, 2011 by admin Posted in Exhibitions | 0 comments

An attendee at the 'You Like This' exhibition voting on a work of art. Photo by Britta Trygstad, Milestones Photography.

Everyone has opinions. In a gallery setting, sharing these opinions can be an important part of the experience. We have the ability to learn new things about ourselves by sharing our thoughts on a piece of art, even if they are opposite from the person standing next to us. With this in mind, the Museum unveiled You Like This: A Democratic Approach to the Museum Collection in the Jane L. Stern Gallery with an opening reception on October 6 featuring great art, music, and lots of opportunity for discussion.

People munched on candied bacon, fresh spring rolls and artisan cheeses while enjoying the sounds of local ambient rock group, Opinions About Dinosaurs. Their sound was new to many people, but because this exhibition is experimental in its own right, it was a great match. Before walking through the gallery, there was uncertainty and anticipation in the air. People were wondering what they would see, why the Museum would choose to have an exhibition like this, and how this all came about. Visitors said the You Like This timeline, which explained each event that led to the opening, and videos featuring interviews with community curators helped explain the process more clearly. You can watch these videos in the gallery or online here. Once everyone knew the scoop, it was time to start voting and sharing opinions.

Visitors were encouraged to interact with exhibition  in a variety of ways. People browsed the exhibition and filled out ballots that asked for a “I like this” or “I don’t like this” response for each piece. Others posted sticky-notes on the comment wall in the gallery about certain pieces or general reactions about the exhibition.  These comments, as well as some gathered earlier in the process and posted on the labels of each piece, are an interesting and central part to this exhibition. Good, bad, or hilarious, the opinions they share spark discussions.

The sticky-note comment wall in the 'You Like This' exhibition.

You Like This is the first crowdsourcing exhibition the Museum has shown. It involved handing curatorial duties over to the Fargo-Moorhead community (rather than a staff-appointed “authority”) to select the featured works of art. This meant they also had to choose how the works would be displayed in the gallery. The curators felt that since the the exhibition was unlike any other at the Museum, the experience of visiting it should be too.  A sofa and lazy boy recliner were placed in the space, the pieces were hung at uneven levels (some very high, some low to the ground), and the use of frames and color blocks behind the art all helped visitors experience the art in different ways than they normally do.

This process has gone through many changes since the first initial survey last spring. Since then, we used more surveys, community curating panels, and lots of discussion to allow the community to handpick their favorite art. At the opening, visitors saw the selections in the order the results indicated by their popularity. Now, a week later as the comment wall continues to grow and the ballot box gets more votes, this exhibition will also continue to grow and change in response to the feedback.

You Like This will run October 6, 2011 – January 15, 2012, so stop in occasionally to see how your votes are changing this reflection of Fargo-Moorhead’s favorite art in the Museum permanent collection.

The exhibition features unorthodox hangings and splashes of color per the requests of community curators. Photo by Britta Trygstad, Milestones Photography.

Before the Opening: What You Should Know About ‘You Like This’

October 5th, 2011 by admin Posted in Exhibitions | 0 comments

Last spring, the Museum called for the community’s help in curating an upcoming exhibition. Now fall is here and it’s time to see the end result in the exhibition You Like This: A Democratic Approach to the Museum Collection. But before you see the art, there are some things you’ll want to know about this special exhibition.

The process began about six months ago with an idea to “crowdsource” an exhibition. The crowdsourcing phenomenon uses large groups of people to create new ideas and projects. The first step for our process was to create an initial survey to decide which types of art and artists the Fargo – Moorhead community calls their favorites. Museum staff worked with a group of community members to narrow down the works of art to a more manageable number using the guidelines from the initial survey. After that, the public voted again in a final survey we posted online in July. Then, we called back the community curators after the final selections were made to choose how the works will be displayed when You Like This opens.

The last two community curating meetings were spent discussing general layout ideas like color choices, framing, and organization of the art. Curators liked the idea that the voting and interaction with the exhibition didn’t stop at the opening, so they brainstormed ways to take in more votes. During the exhibition, visitors are encouraged to interact with You Like This in a few different ways:

  • Ballot boxes in the gallery will allow you to vote up or down on specific works of art;
  • A comment wall in the gallery will capture your thoughts on the exhibition or specific works of art;
  • Interactions through Facebook and Twitter will allow you to connect with others and leave comments;
  • An email address is available for you to send your thoughts and comments.

To hear more from our community curators, check out a short video of what they thought of the You Like This process.

You can probably tell that technology played a large role in this process, and it really has! The Museum learned a lot of interesting things by analyzing the data we collected, and technology also makes it easy for us all to communicate and discuss our opinions.  If  you don’t have a mobile device to use in the gallery, don’t worry – we’ll have a form you can take home so you can respond at your convenience.  After we’ve generated enough comments and votes, the polls will be re-evaluated and each piece’s ranking will change according to the results.

The You Like This opening reception will be 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 6 in the Jane L. Stern Gallery and will have refreshments, cash bar, and music by local ambient-rock group Opinions About Dinosaurs. Admission is free for members, $10 for nonmembers and $5 for students.

The Mothers of Invention Exhibition Series

September 30th, 2011 by Colleen Sheehy Posted in Artists, Exhibitions | 0 comments

(The following is excerpted from the exhibition catalog for See Acts of Audacious Daring: The Circus World of Judy Onofrio, opening September 25. Copies of the catalog are available at the Plains Art Museum store.  - ed.)

With See Acts of Audacious Daring! The Circus World of Judy Onofrio, Plains Art Museum initiates the ongoing exhibition series Mothers of Invention.

Judy Onofrio, 'Flip Flop'

This series will periodically present solo exhibitions of important artists from our region who belong to a generation of women who contributed to opening up the art world since the 1970s. These women came of age artistically in the 1960s and 1970s and now are in their sixties, seventies, and even eighties. They are part of a national and international movement of women who insisted on being taken seriously as artists and courageously endeavored to break into what had been predominantly male terrain. They made art, formed collectives, started galleries, taught at art schools, and gave each other critical and moral support to dismantle the barriers that had existed against women in the visual arts. They changed the art world profoundly, altering ideas about the canon of art history and the meaning of terms such as “masterpiece,” “artist,” “gaze,” and “body,” as well as expanding what could be considered acceptable art materials, subjects, imagery, and boundaries between art forms. Their impact has spread throughout art and culture and is not confined to their own or other women’s work. Indeed, this generation deserves the accolade Mothers of Invention.

Many are, in fact, mothers, a position formerly perceived as an impediment to a woman’s potential as a creative artist. Motherhood was conventional and pulled back toward traditional expectations for females; art was considered a male domain, where creative minds and spirits were unbound by domestic responsibilities or the constraints of child rearing. While most artists featured in Mothers of Invention are mothers (as is our first artist in the series, Judy Onofrio), maternity is not necessarily the subject of their art, even though it is a significant element of their lives.

Onofrio and others were interested in inventing their lives in ways that contradicted societal expectations. Amid the constrictions of the early twentieth century, Sigmund Freud had declared that “biology is destiny”: women created babies while men created art and culture. Much about Freud’s ideas and research has since been discredited or called into question.

Mothers of Invention proves that women can be mothers and artists, nurturing and creative; these terms are not mutually exclusive. Our series points primarily to the fact that these artists have been influential on all of us–as viewers, as art lovers, as artists of all genres and genders. They have given birth, in other words, to the expanded art world that we live in today and sometimes take for granted.

Sideshow Artist

Judy Onofrio, 'Sideshow Artist'

Plains Art Museum is proud to recognize this generation of women artists at an advanced stage of their careers. Our goal is to acquaint new audiences with their work and to remind those who may have seen their earlier art that they are still active, still vital, still experimenting. Not conceived as retrospectives of an artist’s work, the exhibitions in Mothers of Invention will be singularly shaped by the approach of the curator of each project, who will collaborate closely with the artist. These women and their art deserve continuing critical and popular attention and ongoing visibility, which solo exhibitions and catalogue publications can ensure. The Mothers of Invention series thus strives to prevent the erasure of these women from the art historical record, something that has happened repeatedly over the centuries and requires diligent art historians to recover, as we have appreciated recently with rediscovered artists such as Artemisia Gentileschi from seventeenth-century Italy, expanded research on the nineteenth-century American Mary Cassatt, and, closer to home, new documentation on twentieth-century Minnesota artists Wanda Gág and Clara Mairs.


It is fitting to launch Mothers of Invention with the big, bold work of Judy Onofrio, specifically her sculptures that explore the enthusiasm and metaphorical potential of circus acrobats, magicians, and animal trainers.

Onofrio is an iconoclast, breaking rules of the art world right and left, championing outsiders and claiming territory for self-education, women’s expressions, and the value of folk art and common objects. Based in Rochester, Minnesota, and now in her early seventies, Onofrio performs her own “acts of audacious daring” in her work and career. An ardent and largely self-educated student of life, material culture, and art, Onofrio has forged a dynamic career, with dozens of solo and group exhibitions and one of the highest honors for an artist based in Minnesota–the McKnight Distinguished Artist, awarded in 2005.

Judy Onofrio’s art expresses a generous spirit that reaches out to viewers. She embraces a populism of image and material that offers a good deal of pleasure and makes her work particularly enjoyable to broad audiences.

Today, her over-the-top inventive use of materials and labor-intensive methods resonate with younger artists who have discovered the rich associations of folk arts and crafts.9 At the same time that she revels in materials, Onofrio offers philosophical wisdom in physical form. Shouldn’t we all attempt acts of audacious daring, like the acrobat in the sculpture of that title? Isn’t that what life is for–living to the utmost? Who among us doesn’t feel like we have jumped through a ring of fire, or would like to pull off a magic trick, real or metaphorical? Sometimes life calls for such boldness. In Onofrio’s oeuvre, extraordinary figures stand in for all of us facing the many challenges of life. May we be brave enough to approach our own challenges with the confidence and aplomb of Onofrio’s characters.

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