Plains Art Museum Hosts Free Noon Holiday Concerts, Gallery Talks

January 1, 1970 - to
Plains Art Museum Hosts Free Noon Holiday Concerts, Gallery Talks

Plains Art Museum is again hosting the popular Noon Holiday Concerts, offered free every Monday through Thursday for the first three weeks of December. Enjoy performances by area musicians over the lunch hour and take in the museum galleries for free with a purchase of lunch from Blue Goose Café, which will serve up a full buffet during the concert series. In addition, free gallery talks will be offered on Art Boom: The Tri-College Faculty Show from 1 – 1:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, through Dec. 11.

Shop for unique gifts in The Store, the museum’s gift shop, and have them wrapped for free. Members get 20% off store purchases from Nov. 28 – Dec. 18.  The Museum is also holding a Holiday Sale at the Center for Creativity on Saturday, Dec. 6 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., with ceramic works created by students, Open Studio participants, staff, and teaching artists.

The Noon Holiday Concerts are sponsored by Minnesota Public Radio.

Performances and Gallery Talks:

Week 1

  • Monday, Dec. 1 – Concordia Sax Quartet
  • Tuesday, Dec. 2 – Dave Ferreira Trio, and at 1 PM: Faculty Showcase Gallery Talk: Paintings
  • Wednesday, Dec. 3 – Darin Henze & Friends
  • Thursday, Dec. 4 – Marjorie Schlossman & Margie Bailly, and at 1 PM: Faculty Showcase Gallery Talk.: Photography

Week 2

  • Monday, Dec. 8 – Clarion Quartet
  • Tuesday, Dec. 9 – NDSU Student Chamber Ensembles, and at 1 PM: Faculty Showcase Gallery Talk: Ceramics and Sculpture
  • Wednesday, Dec. 10 – Darin Henze & Michelle Gelinske
  • Thursday, Dec. 11 – NDSU Brass Quintet, and at 1 PM: Faculty Showcase Gallery Talk: Prints and Drawings

Week 3

  • Monday, Dec. 15 – Silver Winds
  • Tuesday, Dec. 16 – NDSU Faculty Chamber Ensemble
  • Wednesday, Dec. 17 – Sarah Morrau & Bekka Devries
  • Thursday, Dec. 18 – Dakota Rose String Quartet

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“In Crypt” turns mundane into monumental

January 1, 1970 - to
“In Crypt” turns mundane into monumental

Wall Portrait for webMaking a Scene: Wischer turns page on household object
By John Lamb
The Forum, Nov, 17, 2014

Photo by Mark Anthony

Stephen Wischer has been letting his fingers do the talking. All summer he’s been cutting and conditioning about 50 tons of discarded phone books in preparation for his installation at the Plains Art Museum.

The work, “In Crypt: On New Worlds Re-Ordered,” features about 3,000 phone books stacked and screwed into the atrium wall, creating a surface that looks like an aged, crumbling brick wall. The grand scale of the construction plays against the flimsiness of the paper pages, and the nature of the phone tomes gives the artist plenty of platforms to dissect.

Wischer, an associate professor of architecture at North Dakota State University, cut through about 20 million phone book pages to give his wall the right look and feel.

“After they are destroyed, they become symbolic again,” he says. “There is a vestige of culture, of future mortality, a memorial for the people within.”

The work is up through Feb. 22.

Q: What’s this project about?

A: One idea was to explore Vitruvius story of the coinciding development of language and architecture in contemporary terms by collapsing two fundamental units of Western civilization – books and bricks – into this ruinous wall.

As with any temple, always a larger symbol made from many smaller symbols, books have traditionally pointed beyond themselves as “containers” and “transmitters” of knowledge.

I have always been inspired by works that interconnect diverse cultural themes, and I wanted this installation to speak of many things simultaneously, things ancient and modern, mundane and monumental.

Q: Why telephone books?

A: Phone books are ideal to create these kinds of ironic tensions. Alone, phone books are recognizably about the efficient transfer of information and goods. In the installation, there is a disruption of the common association and use of these books, a transformation of standardized, everyday items into unique forms.

Encrypting the direct information of the books into the installation opens a space of interpretation. Now the familiar can be seen as many things.

Q: Why are some edges of the books more frayed or distressed?

A: The process was as much destructive as creative. Many books were left outside over the summer, so they took on various patinas. Others were cut with a saw.

Either way, this has much to do with ruins – ones created by nature or human-made ones. Having these opposites present draws various references into the work and helps to affect the experience of time. One always feels time is different in the presence of a ruin. The phonebooks are also ruins, becoming an obsolete form of communication.

Q: Why do some areas seem more orderly, more neatly stacked and others seem more loosely stacked?

A: Things can only appear to fall over when they are in the context of something stable. Juxtapositions create uneasy tensions among references.

For example, the stacked bricks don’t really align with the bendable materiality of paper or the geological feeling of the wall. The perishable properties of paper contrast with the perceived sturdiness and brittleness of masonry. It’s about integrating opposites.

Q: Why is there blood on some of the books?

A: Sacrifice and warfare are part of the brutal beginnings of all religions and civilizations, and the reason much architecture was created. The blood used for this installation is no longer “sacrificial” but rather a byproduct of our consumerist culture, the productive blood of fast food, for example. It seems that, in a hidden way, brutality is still very much part of who we are. The cow’s blood is used to collapse references between then and now, to see similarities in what initially appears to be different.

If you go

What: Stephen Wischer’s installation, “In Crypt: On New Worlds Re-Ordered”

When: On display during regular museum hours through Feb. 22

Where: Plains Art Museum, 704 1st Ave., N., Fargo

This exhibition is supported in part by hibu/Yellow Pages

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Scholastic Art and Writing Awards gains North Dakota affiliate to recognize state’s creative teens

January 1, 1970 - to
Scholastic Art and Writing Awards gains North Dakota affiliate to recognize state’s creative teens

North Dakota teens with talents in the visual and literary arts have a new advantage in the 2015 Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, now in its 92nd year. For the first time in the history of the contest, North Dakota entries will be judged on a state basis rather than in a multi-state regional competition.

callartistThe newly formed North Dakota affiliate of the Alliance for Young Artists and Writers is a partnership between the Red River Valley Writing Project at North Dakota State University and Plains Art Museum, both based in Fargo.

“This allows us to have in-state judging and a state awards ceremony for North Dakota teens who participate,” said Kelly Sassi, director of the Red River Valley Writing Project and associate professor of English and education at NDSU. “There were only about 20 entries from the entire state of North Dakota for these awards last year. With $10 million in scholarship awards available at the national level, we feel strongly that more North Dakota students should have the opportunity to compete for these awards.”

The 2015 deadline for submissions is Dec. 17, 2014. Details of the art and writing categories, and entry and submission requirements, are available at Questions about the North Dakota judging may be directed to Olivia Edwardson, state coordinator, at

A ceremony to recognize all North Dakota winners, as well as an exhibition of visual art winners, will be held at Plains Art Museum on Feb. 17, 2015. Gold-level winners by state will move on to the national competition.

The Scholastic Art and Writing Awards were started in 1923 by Scholastic founder Maurice Robinson. They are the nation’s highest honor and largest source of scholarships for creative teenagers.

In partnership with more than 100 local affiliate organizations, the 2014 Scholastic Awards received 255,000 submissions across 28 art and writing categories. Notable Scholastic Awards alumni include Andy Warhol, Truman Capote, Joyce Carol Oates, Ken Burns, Sylvia Plath, Robert Redford, Stephen King, Lena Dunham and many more.

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Creative Voices series starts Nov. 13 featuring Laura Youngbird

January 1, 1970 - to
Creative Voices series starts Nov. 13 featuring Laura Youngbird

wdressar08Artist Laura Youngbird will share insights about her work as the first speaker in the Creative Voices series, which will feature talks by Native American artists. The talk on Nov.13 starts at 6:30 p.m., and is free and open to the public.

In addition to her work as a professional artist, Youngbird teaches at Circle of Nations School, an inter-tribal, off-reservation boarding school for youth in grades 4-8 located in Wahpeton, N.D.  Youngbird’s sculpture Waabi-Giziibiigiingwe (White Washed), is part of the Museum’s permanent collection and is currently on exhibit in the first floor gallery.

This talk is part of an ongoing series in conjunction with Plains Art Museum’s new project, Creativity Among Native American Artists. The project is aimed at bringing visibility to Native artists in North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, and Wisconsin through expanded exhibition, professional development, and programming opportunities at the Museum. The project will also build a network of artists, Native and other nonprofit organizations, and audiences across the region.

Join the event on Facebook

Creative Voices: Native American Artists at Plains Art Museum
Thursday, November 13, 6:30-7:30 p.m.
Free and open to the public, light refreshments provided


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