The 20th Annual National Juried Watermedia Exhibition Presented by the Red River Watercolor Society June 17 – July 28 at the Historical and Cultural Society of Clay County Opening reception Tuesday, June 18, 6 – 8 p.m. redriverws.org
While the landmark of the 20th Watermedia Exhibition may cause you to think of the tradition of watercolor painting, it’s important to remember that a generational transition also involves a sense of evolution. The oldest cave paintings are likely watercolor, or something close to it, yet practitioners blending pigments with water for application on paper or other surfaces can still offer up surprises.
That notion also figures centrally in Red River Watercolor Society’s (RRWS) 2013 iteration of their beloved national juried exhibition. Amongst more traditional landscape/figure/still life watercolor pieces, you’ll find non-figurative and experimental work, and innovative approaches to media like casein, ink, and gouache. A blend of old and new, a mix of the strange and the familiar. It’s what you’d hope for in an event spanning a generation and well embodied by Genady Arkhipau’s Seal Harbor, above, which provides the repose of an idyllic scene with the blocking, layering, and bold strokes of a contemporary practice. All together, the exhibition gestures toward watercolor as a democratic medium, open and waiting for artists of all ages, skill levels, and approaches.
Last week, Chicago’s Field Museum opened Fractured: North Dakota’s Oil Boom, an exhibition of photography and documentary video from western North Dakota’s booming oil fields. As far as we know, this is one of the first museum exhibitions outside of the state that has put the North Dakota oil boom under the microscope. Developed by photographer Terry Evans and documentary filmmaker Elizabeth Farnsworth, the exhibition puts forward the issue as we’ve come to know it all too well: vast oil interests bring huge economic gains and work to make the United States more energy independent, but at stake are many small communities in the western part of the state and the possibility of irreparable harm to local habitats. If you’re not going to be in Chicago any time soon, you can view much of Evans and Farnsworth’s reaction to their project on their blog.
‘Happy Birthday’ might just be in the public domain after all
When you go out to a restaurant for someone’s birthday, do you find the alternate versions of Happy Birthday a little weird? I do (you can view my favorite alternate Happy Birthday here, at 2:28). Why do restaurants do this? For years, Warner/Chappell Music has been claiming a copyright to Happy Birthday, the one we sing in our homes around cake and candles, and collecting licensing fees for it, so restaurants work around it with their own versions of the song. But, all of that may soon change. A documentary film company has been compiling a evidence to suggest that Happy Birthday actually belongs in the public domain. They’re filing suit against Warner and it may result in Warner paying back hundreds of millions of dollars to people who were unfairly charged licensing fees. Boing Boing has the scoop.
‘Summit Series’ by Zhimin Guan Opening reception Thursday, June 13, 5 – 9 p.m. ecce gallery ecce216.com
For his new body of work, painter and MSUM associate professor of art Zhimin Guan found inspiration in places old and new. A recent visit to the Sichuan Province in Guan’s native China provided him with landscapes–mountains, forests, sunsets–and the calligraphy training he received from his father during his youth provided him with symbols. For Summit Series, he melds the two into works that blend the representational and the abstract and invoke our internal relationships with nature.
The 54th Annual Midwestern exhibition, Signed.Sealed.Delivered June 18 – September 1, 2013 Opening reception Tuesday, June 18, 6 – 9 p.m. therourke.org
It’s not often you get a large bone in the mail.
It’s also not often when your task after opening the mailbox is to take that bone and put it on display in a museum.
The bone, submitted to this year’s 54th Midwestern juried exhibition at The Rourke by Moorhead artist Mike Marth, fits into the show remarkably well when you consider this year’s theme: Signed.Sealed.Delivered. The theme itself is derived from the 100th anniversary of the construction of the Moorhead Post Office, the building which now houses the Museum.
Marth wasn’t alone in sending his work through the mail. Many of the artists who submitted work to the exhibition used the mail or post office paraphernalia (like stamps, envelopes, or mail itself) as a component of their work. Rourke Director Tania Blanich was overjoyed with the spirited response from artists and loved the way their submissions relate to the building’s past.
“People are fascinated by this building,” she said, “and it’s had this fascinating trajectory from being a post office to being the Red River Arts Center to housing the Plains Art Museum and now the Rourke. This building has always been about communication.” Blanich added that artists in the Midwestern used their work to comment on the Rourke’s place on the National Register of Historic Places and on the roles of history and legacy in our lives, a notion that lends unique understanding to Marth’s bone.
“There is a lot of collage and assemblage in this show,” Blanich said, “and there’s a connection with communication as a layered thing, and each artist has given us a narrative about how we communicate.” She adds that the use of collage and assemblage suggests artists were eager to work in a more tactile fashion and harken back to the more tangible trappings of mail delivery lost in today’s prevalence of email and Facebook.
To that last point, this year’s Midwestern also asks intriguing questions about communication within the context of a building as a central gathering place in a community, a notion also informed by recent financial troubles at the U.S. Postal Service. What is lost as the artifacts and places we once used to communicate over great distances go away? And, what is the role of our community spaces in light of those changes?
Blanich credited Midwestern juror Michael Strand with capably pulling these themes together.
“A lot of this work intrigued (him) since he works in a participatory fashion,” she said, eluding to Strand’s social practice work which often involves the distribution of ceramic cups and plates through unorthodox channels, like the mail.
“He really enjoyed the the craft and the thought of distance and modes of communication coming together in the work,” Blanich said.
Image: Mike Marth’s artwork for the Midwestern, titled Endova Road, arriving at The Rourke. Image courtesy of The Rourke.
I swatted at some mosquitoes last night. And not just a random few, but like seven or eight a minute. Winter went too long and spring was wet and short, but make no mistake. The arrival of the bugs can mean only one thing: summer.
Like the mosquitoes, plenty of summer arts activities and exhibitions are also arriving in droves … but unlike the mosquitoes, we’re glad they’re here.
Through the week
At the Fargo Theatre: Kon-Tiki and Before Midnight. Be sure to check out their kid’s film series, too. [Fargo Theatre]
Why mob a tiny park? Because it’s there. Pack Ole Tangen Park, an event to call attention to Fargo’s parks and the legacy of Ole Tangen, will take place this evening at 5:30. More over at their Facebook event page: [Pack Ole Tangen Park/Facebook]
Prairie Public will air the documentary Minot Rebuilding Dreams at 8 p.m. CT. The June 2011 flood in Minot, North Dakota, devastated nearly half the city’s homes. Could the disaster have been avoided? And what is being done to assure it doesn’t happen again? [Prairie Public]
It’s the second Corks and Canvas Art and Wine Walk of the season this Thursday evening in downtown Fargo. It looks to be a doozy; there’s been plenty of Facebook chatter about related events and demos going, and the weather looks to cooperate, so the turnout should be awesome. The fun gets going right around 5-6 p.m. at most locations. Details: [Corks and Canvas]
Not to miss if you’re downtown for Corks and Canvas: the opening of painter Zhimin Guan’s exhibition of new work at ecce gallery. Guan has worked Chinese calligraphy into this new set of abstract work and the effect is breathtaking. 5 p.m. [ecce gallery]
The Fargo Theatre will screen the film Lost in Living, a documentary by local filmmaker Mary Trunk exploring the relationship (and tensions) between motherhood and creative expression (The Forum had a nice writeup today, which you can view here). Trunk and Plains Art Museum CEO Colleen Sheehy will lead a discussion following the film. 7 p.m. [Lost in Living/Facebook]
FMCT will hold its annual fundraiser, Wine and Roses, at 6:30. A ticket gets you a wine tasting, a shot at some silent auction items, and plenty more. [FMCT]
The FM LGBT Film Festival is starting up a monthly film series with screenings every third Thursday of the month at the Pride Collective community center in Moorhead. This week’s film is The Stranger in Us. 7 p.m. [FM LGBT Film Festival]
Outdoor music continues downtown with the finale for the FM’s Finest local music series, with performances by Poitin, Heavy is the Head, and Go Murphy. 5 p.m. – 10 p.m. [Downtown Fargo]
At the Listening Room, Minnesota singer/songwriter David Stoddard will be stopping by to tell some stories and sing some tunes. 7:30 p.m. $10 recommended donation. [The Listening Room]
Tina and her Pony (Appalachian folk) will join Brandon Jordahl (folk/hip hop) at the Red Raven. 7 p.m. [Red Raven/Facebook]
The 54th (!) Annual Midwestern juried exhibition opens at the Rourke with a reception from 6 – 9 p.m. This year’s theme, Signed, Sealed, Delivered, pays homage to the 100-year anniversary of the building’s original use as the Moorhead post office, and much of the art plays off that idea. [The Rourke]
Another milestone will be reached just down the road at the Hjemkomst with the opening of the 20th Annual National Watermedia Show, presented by the Red River Watercolor Society. The opening goes from 6 – 9 p.m. [Red River Watercolor Society]
Image: Mark Strand, Deliver Us From Evil, inkjet print, 24 x 22′. Photo by the author.