FMVA Channels Moorhead History in ‘Time Warp’ Constraint Show

Walking into the Historic Comstock House feels like stepping back in time.

Because it’s been carefully preserved, each room of the 134-year-old Victorian home looks like the Comstock family left for the afternoon and could breeze through the door at any moment.

The everyday objects and personal souvenirs that Solomon G. Comstock, the first Clay County attorney, and his family left behind continue to serve as symbols of their accomplishments, contributions to local history and cultural experiences  – especially their art collection.

Art collections generally evolve over time, and after a walking tour of the house, members of the Fargo Moorhead Visual Artists pondered, “What kind of pieces would the Comstock family display if they still lived in the house today?”

Artists address the question in the FMVA’s upcoming annual Constraint Show titled “Time Warp” at the Historic Comstock House, 506 8th St. S.

“Comstock House” by FMVA member and artist Ellen Jean Diederich. Photo courtesy of FMVA.

Constraint shows encourage artists to expand their thinking and provide an interpretation on a particular theme.

“Time Warp” challenged participating FMVA members to think about what type of art the Comstock family would display today based on information they gathered from the house itself.

This is the first time the FMVA is showcasing a constraint show at the Comstock House, which is owned by the Minnesota Historical Society and managed by the Historical and Cultural Society of Clay County.

“Art has always been a constant throughout human existence, and even though the Comstocks weren’t artists themselves, they appreciated and collected art,” said Matt Eidem, the director of museum operations at the HCSCC.

“Rhinestones and Pearls” by FMVA member and artist Theresa Paul. Photo courtesy of the FMVA.

Solomon G. Comstock was an ambitious lawyer, politician and businessman in Moorhead’s pioneer days. His wife, Sarah, started the first library in Moorhead and was active in the Moorhead Women’s Club.

Like their parents, the Comstock children Ada, Jessie and George committed to lifelong education and made lasting impacts in the community in their own ways.

FMVA artists channeled the Comstock family history for the Constraint Show in a variety of media, including portraits, oil paintings, jewelry, watercolor and more.

“The constraint (for the artists’ submissions) is that the Comstock House is a historical site,” said FMVA President Troy Pedersen. “You can’t insert nails wherever you want. You have to hang your art on a nail where art has hung for over 100 years.”

“Homage to Joe” by FMVA member and artist Sue Morrissey. Photo courtesy of the FMVA.

“We hope the artists were able to take some influence from the Comstock House and where pieces will be hanging,” Pedersen said. “And we hope they have a sense of the history of the Comstock House, the family’s travel and what art they’d be influenced by today.”

Eidem said the FMVA Constraint Show will be a fun way to blend history and art and engage new audiences.

“It’s an interesting type of (art) show,” he said. “I’m hoping it will bring a lot of people through the (Comstock House) front door.”

If You Go

What: FMVA “Time Warp” Constraint Show

When: Public reception 5 to 7 p.m. on Thursday, July 13; the exhibit is open 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, during Comstock House events, and by appointment, July 11 through Sept. 8.

Where: Historic Comstock House – 506 8th St. S., Moorhead.

Info: Call (218) 291-4211 to set up a tour. More information on the Comstock family is available at https://sites.mnhs.org/historic-sites/Comstock-house.

This article is part of a content partnership with the Fargo Forum and originally appeared in print on Monday, July 3, 2017.

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