Serving the Upper Mississippi River Valley Arts Community

2013 is “The Year of the New” at the Minnesota Marine Art Museum (MMAM) in Winona, and it is about to reach its crest! Here is a little summary of an exciting, transformational season at your art museum:

Thanks to a tremendous team of Museum leadership and designers, the MMAM has a new visual identity, resulting in new logos, new print material, and a new website. From now on, you can stay connected with the MMAM at www.mmam.org.

Thanks to tremendous donor support, the Museum is upgrading its lighting to one of the finest LED systems in the world. This new system exceeds the Museum’s standards for lighting quality and will utilize almost 90% less energy than the old one. It will be installed in all of the Museum’s galleries by the end of September.

On September 15, the MMAM will unveil 6 new jaw-dropping masterpieces to its collections to a special group of Museum donors. These pieces will be on public display beginning with the finale of “The Year of the New” – the opening of the Stephen and Barbara Slaggie Family Gallery.

Funded through inspiring generosity by the Slaggie Family Foundation, This major expansion will increase the Museum’s main gallery space by over 2,200 square feet, add an additional hallway gallery and increase the MMAM’s storage space. The Gallery Dedication Weekend for MMAM members, donors and volunteers is September 28th and 29th, with the new space being open to the general public on the 29th.

I hope that you are as excited about the “New MMAM” as we are, and I invite you to stay connected with us as we continue to grow in dynamism and surprise in quality.

– Andrew J. Maus, MMAM Executive Director

Slaggie Family Gallery Exterior - Final II

The River Arts Alliance and Winona Parks & Rec are happy to announce the sixth year of the FAMILY ART DAY Extravaganza to be held on Saturday September 7, 10am to 2:30pm at JAYCEE PAVILION, Lake Park. This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts & cultural heritage fund and with generous support from Slaggie Family Foundation, King Foundation, Winona National Bank, Wenonah Canoe, WSU Art Department, and US Fish & Wildlife.

Family Art Day is an interactive art adventure for all ages. The goal of the art day is to celebrate the arts through fun family art activities that continue River Arts Alliance efforts to promote arts in the community through hands-on activities and experiential learning that provide exposure to different art mediums and develop appreciation for the processes of making art while having FUN!!!

THE EVENT IS FREE & OPEN TO ALL AGES.  Attendees will be able to move from one activity to another.  Most could complete many art pieces and processes in the course of the day and could have numerous pieces in process at one time.  Try your hand at throwing a pot on a wheel, make a glove doll, paint a mural and many other art projects. Some are new and some we have every year. The hours for the art projects are 10am to 2:30pm. Registration period begins at 9:30am and continues throughout the day.

Come early to signup with your favorite artist:
Sculpt with Michelle Cochran.
Make marbleized paper with Morro Schreiber & Dan Grimslid
Finger-paint with John Durfey.
Learn to tie knots from Tom Dukich.
Learn bookmaking with Jill Krase.
Make a cool necklace with Patty Albrecht.
Paint a mural with Julia Crozier.
Make a glove doll with Leslie and Jack Zantow.
Learn to paint with watercolors from Kathy Delano.
Learn to paint with acrylics from Barbara Feiten.
Make paper with Ray & Margaret Kiihne, Kirissa Grams.
Make puppets with Jill Marie & Joe Pigott.
Make a small mosaic with Monta May.
Throw a clay pot on a wheel with, Fred Fletcher, Rachel Vogel, Bea Salisbury and Mickey Maslowski.
Decorate a kite with Julie Johnston.
Do marble painting with Heather Kasper.
And others

Put September 7 on your calendar as a day to have FUN at Lake Winona.
For the art activities, contact Bernadette Mahfood at 452-4506 or hotflashdesigns at hotmail.com
For more information and updates contact the City of Winona Parks Department at 457-8258.

WSUartsUpdate

Once the students and faculty at Winona State are settled into the new fall routine, with the brisk winds stirring the leaves up and down the campus, the university’s cultural events begin in earnest. We welcome the larger community to our performing arts, visual arts, and eclectic speaker series events. Hopefully parking and logistics won’t keep you away! Remember that all campus parking lots are available to everyone starting at 5:00 p.m., and the metered spots behind the Performing Arts Center are free after 5:00. Many events are also free, and the revenue from the ticketed performances goes directly into supporting the production of our live music and theatre events. Read on, and add these dates to your own “things to do” September calendar!

This year’s all campus theme is “Civic Action: Meeting the Challenge to Improve Our World.” On Tuesday, Sept. 10 @ 7:30 p.m. in the Somsen auditorium the Lyceum Series will present Paul Loeb, author of Soul of a Citizen, which has been called a handbook for volunteers. Loeb explores what leads some people to get involved in larger community issues while others feel overwhelmed or uncertain, what it takes to maintain commitment for the long haul, and how community involvement and citizen activism can give back a powerful sense of connection and purpose.

The Watkins Gallery will showcase recent work by WSU Art Dept. faculty, including drawings, paintings, mixed media, printmaking, and sculpture. Exhibit dates are August 26 through Sept. 25, with the opening reception and gallery talk on Wed. Sept. 4th @ 4:00.

A terrific “faculty showcase”, the annual concert for the WSU Chapter of the National Assoc. for Music Educators is Tuesday, Sept. 24 @ 7:30 p.m. in the PAC Recital Hall. This is just a sampling of the talented musicians we have in the WSU Music Dept.

The Pulitzer Prize winning play ‘night, Mother by Marsha Norman will be performed Sept. 26-28 @ 7:30 p.m. in the  Dorothy B. Magnus Black Box Theatre. This moving, provocative story features two actors playing a mother and daughter who face the ultimate breaking point in their relationship. Directed by Jim Williams.

Plan Ahead!
Bring the kids and grandkids to the 47 classic Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie. Performance dates are Oct. 10-12, on the PAC main stage. Directed by Vivian Fusillo.

For more information, and to order tickets, please go to www.WSUArtsTickets.com.

Ryan Kim over at GigaOM has recently discussed a new Forrester Research study that examines what might happen over the next five years in the field of mobile communication. Currently 83 percent of Americans own a cell phone and of those about 42 percent own a smartphone. In five years nearly all cell phones will be smartphones and those devices will be far more powerful than those we hold today.

What this means is that the way Americans find, access and use information is about to radically change. Instead of using books, newspapers, magazines, radio and television to find and learn new information, we will increasingly turn to the high power computers we now call a phone. If you already own a smartphone, I suspect you are seeing this happen right now.

Because of this the area arts community needs to begin rethinking how it connects with its audience. The community needs to begin developing what Ryan calls a “mobile-first” strategy. Mobile devices won’t just become one of several ways the audience discovers art, they will increasingly become the only means.

The reason for this is quite simple. Mobile devices are becoming so powerful that using them to access information is becoming the easiest, fastest and cheapest way to find what you are looking for. Also this likely won’t occur at some point in the remote future. Instead the transition will probably be complete in less than 10 years and possibly as few as five.

So what does a “mobile-first” strategy look like? At this point I can’t offer a complete picture, but based on how technology has developed in the past I have a few general ideas on what a viable approach might look like.

Despite the massive changes we have seen in information technology over the past 40 years, we know it is rare for a new technology to develop entirely from the ground up. As a result we can probably assume these newer mobile technologies will begin by building on top of existing approaches. All this new mobile technology won’t immediately replace our existing computers and networks, but begin by simply extending it.

From a practical point of view we will need to stop assuming they only way people will be viewing digital information will be at home or work on a large screen monitor.  Instead it will increasingly be viewed on small hand held devices. More importantly we can no longer assume a computer is something people will use only a short period of time each day, but rather something that will be available to them all day long.

This summer Winona will host two large festivals that will attract several thousand people. These individuals won’t come solely for the plays and concerts that will be offered as part of the festivals. They will also be looking to discover what else the Winona community has to offer.

Many of these people will turn to a smartphone to find out. The only question is “what will they find?”. If they fire up a location aware application like Yelp, Google Maps or Wikipedia will they find our art galleries, museums, theaters and parks? If they do find these places, will there be enough information available to figure out what these places offer? Finally will that information be in an easy to read, mobile friendly format or will they have to fight to find what they need?

During my recent vacation to south Florida, I made extensive use of local search applications on my smartphone to help me find things to see, places to eat and where to spend the night.  These applications, like Google Places (aka Maps) and Yelp were quiet helpful and I visited many places that I otherwise wouldn’t have discovered.

When I returned to Winona, I decided to fire up these applications just to get a feel for what a visitor to Winona might see.  What I discovered was rather disappointing.  Most of the listings were incomplete and even inaccurate.  Businesses were often misclassified and places that had closed years ago were still listed.  Many had either never been reviewed, or worse, had only one or two extremely negative reviews.

It is currently estimated that about 45 percent of the population in the US carries a smartphone and it will probably increase to 80 or 90 percent within 3 or 4 years.  Given how easy these applications were to use, it is likely that they will become the primary means people use to find places to visit when they travel.  If the information about a particular town or location isn’t accurate or reliable, it is likely that visitors will simply either move on or visit only previously known locations.  For example, a visitor would probably choose to eat at a familiar fast food joint rather than take a chance on an unknown local restaurant.

At the very least, local artists and arts organizations (galleries, museums, theaters, etc.) should consider reviewing their listings on these sites to ensure the information presented is accurate and complete.  Those who are interested in supporting our community and our local arts community in particular, should consider checking the listings for some of their favorite locations.  If there is a local place you really enjoy (e.g. a good restaurant or retailer), consider reviewing the site so other like minded travelers will be encouraged to visit.

To edit information that appears in Google Maps and Google Places, you can visit Google Map Maker.  To edit information in Yelp, simply visit the Yelp site, search for places you are interested in and edit the relevant information.  Please note that both sites are moderated and any changes you make won’t take effect until someone has reviewed your changes.

Also your changes are more likely to be accepted if you create an account at either Google or Yelp and log in.  This way a moderator can contact you if they have any questions and notify you when the changes are accepted. [Note: During the Yelp account creation process, Yelp asks for your email password to scan your address book for other Yelp members.  This is optional and I recommend that it be skipped.  While I believe Yelp is just doing what it says, for multiple security reasons you should not make a habit of giving your email password to anyone, no matter how trustworthy.  The only required personal information you need to provide is a valid email address.]

Although I have yet to use it extensively, Wikipedia has just released an Android app that makes it easy to search for Wikipedia articles based on your current location.  If you examine a Wikipedia article that discusses a particular location (e.g. Winona) you will notice that the article’s writer (anyone can be a writer) are beginning to add geographical coordinates.  I expect that in the future this information will be particularly useful for discovering and learning about interesting new places.

Winona Art Walk

The 11th annual Winona Art Walk (formerly Christmas Art Walk) will be held 9am – 5pm, Saturday, November 19. For the second year the Art Walk is the Saturday before Thanksgiving. Here’s a chance to support the local economy and over 30 regional artists who make glass, jewelry, paintings, ceramics, carvings, wood, textiles, photography, baskets, Christmas ornaments and more.

Maryann and Rick Frietsche’s Coconut Gal Designs, in the Winona Mall, will join the Art Walk again this year. Maryann uses semiprecious gemstones, shell, bone, horn, freshwater pearls and sterling silver in her original jewelry designs. You can also see some of her work at the Acoustic Café.

The Minnesota Marine Art Museum, 800 Riverview Dr., will again be a part of the Art Walk. Visitors can enjoy four exhibits. The museum will do a program with Leo (“Lyon”) Smith IV on that day (November 19th) from 1-3pm. Again, he will have a table set up and will be available to informally talk about his latest sculpture, a Claude Monet, and will be available to take reservations for reproductions.  In the gift shop you will find reproductions by folk artists Leo and Marilyn Smith, and Touchstone glass paperweights by local artists, Cathy and Colin Richardson.

Yarnology, 79 W. 3rd St., is the new yarn shop downtown. Owners Gaby Peterson and Kelly Momsen will feature gorgeous yarns from around the world, classes for beginners and improvers, and a welcoming place to sit and create!

Magnolias gift shop, 177 Lafayette St., is a ‘must see’ now representing 15 area artists. In addition to baskets and quilted runners, quilted wall hangings, handmade soaps, colorful aprons, local photography, ceramics, hobo bags and felted wool purses, Magnolias also carries Christmas ornaments, Polish pottery, Winona mittens, & metal décor.

Visit the Daniel Grimslid Studio, 159 E. 2nd St. to see Dan’s figurative lithographs and drawings as well as his printing equipment and his lovely garden in the back.

 

Julia Crozier’s Blue Heron Gallery and Studio, 168 E 3rd St, opened in November 2007 and now represents 20 regional artists. In addition to Julia’s exciting new contemporary paintings, the gallery carries several local artists’ work including Jack Honeywell, Carol Slade, Dirk Nelson, Larry Veeder, and Mary Solberg.

Lynette & Peter

New this year a group of artists who often open their studios will be set up a Gallery for a Day, 62 E. 2nd St.Artists include the following: Lynette Power, Rivertown Pottery, joins the Art Walk with her new bronze Otter sculpture, clay sculptures, oil lamps, wall pockets with bromeliad air plants, and assorted pottery. Also Diné (Navajo) artist, Peter Teller of Rough Rock, AZ, joins the group with his figurative drawings, and his clay and stone sculptures. Don’t miss their new collaborative standing clay figures.

Bernadette

Bernadette Mahfood, Hotflash Designs will be showing decorative glass tiles as well as her exquisite glass bead and fiber jewelry. See her fun new earring designs. And Walken Ratajczyk will have his latest kilnformed glass work available for sale. Mary Singer will show her latest paintings.  Mary Denzer of Seven Bridges Pottery, with her functional high-fired stoneware and porcelain pottery, Jean Colette with her handpainted silk scarves and ties, Denise Lorenz with her quilts and jewelry and Roger Meyer with turned wood bowls will all be showing at the Gallery for a Day.

Mary Singer

Heads up artist and arts lovers.  MPR just reported that some Minnesota republicans are wanting to take the cultural legacy part of the amendment (Monies) to build a Vikings stadium.  Treachery!  Treachery!

An art-filled life

A friend asked me about art opportunities for her son (who spent his morning making masks)… and I said:

There are some venues around here that offer art opportunities. We can talk about them sometime. But I want to say that while it is grand to get kids together to make art, I think it’s more important to make sure that the creative creature that lives inside of each of us has a chance. Parents are the best incubators for that creative creature.

I think that the critical thing is to encourage constant experimentation… making art is experimentation – pure, wonderful, exasperating, beautiful experimentation – it’s giving in to the urge to “what if…” something, to take a bit of this and a bit of that and put them together to make a new thing. It doesn’t have to be limited to traditional art activities – building a snow fort or baking a pie or making some contraption can be experimental – and if it is, you’re feeding the creative creature.

The most important thing for raising a child (or an adult) to live an art-filled life – to be blessed with the indescribable lightness of being that art generates – is to be willing to totally wreck havoc in the name of experimentation, to be willing to put the journey and the finding out ahead of things like order and propriety and everything else that shuts down the creative mind, that forces us to be those cogs in the machine.

I was very lucky as a child – my parents did not have much, but they let us play with almost everything they had. The contraptions we made were applauded and treasured – even when they had to be scraped off the sidewalk, or painted over, or dismantled so that dinner could be put on the table, or, or, or…

I was “sewing” before I started school, “building” before I was out of grade school… I learned how to use tools, how to make stuff from bits of this and that, how to fix things, how to “see” what might be, how to be fearless in my experimentation – to know “I can do that…” whatever “that” was.

And all because I was taught that the creative creature was important, that it was the most important part of me – the part that made me alive – the creative creature was me. Life was all about the making and thinking and looking and finding… All those doings done, all those thoughts thought, they stayed with me throughout my life. Even in the times when I was too afraid to make art, when life demanded too much of me to be able to spare the energy, I still was art-filled.

And one day I came back to it.

So, would I like to make my living making art? Hell yes. I’d love to… and I am really stubborn, so maybe it will happen.

But it’s ever so much more important to just be making the art.

The weather has taken a turn.  It’s cool today.  Autumn is blowing through the leaves the the Azure maple tree in the front yard.   Although the landscape is still green it feels different looking out at the neighborhood.

As I sit here watching the children get off the bus and walking up the hill to their homes, I drift back to an Autumn long ago in Catskill, New York.  We lived and taught in Catskill our first year of marriage.

Fall in upstate New York was spectacular.  We experienced it with bravado.  The Hudson River Valley School of painting was founded in the area in the middle years of the Nineteenth Century by Thomas Cole.

Our morning drive to work followed the Hudson River for eight miles Glimpses of the mountain that rose sharply, a palisade, five miles to the West would flash in our sleepy eyes.   Over the hill, past the bridge across the Hudson, we’d dip into the village and drive past Cedar Grove, Thomas Cole’s home.  We’d cross Kaaterskill Creek and onto Catskill Senior High School.

In early October, the vivid reds and oranges, brilliant chrome yellows seemed to have painted the cloves and peaks of the Catskill Mountains.  That’s how I remember it, maybe because the colors were so strong and rich.  The colors have emblazoned themselves on my mind.

To get a sense of the colors we experienced the Hudson River Valley, visit Fredrick Church’s painting, “Autumn” at the Minnesota Marine Art Museum.  Church was a student of Thomas Cole. Each time I see the painting it brings me back to that special Autumn in 1967.  The remembering is always more meaningful in Autumn.

Recently there was a post in a forum asking for advice on setting a price for artwork:

“I need some pricing help! How do you guys price your art to sell? … I don’t want to become another artist who charges a fortune and no one buys anything. HELP! How do you guys charge for your art?!?!”

Of course I have an opinion… which goes something like this:

First and foremost, you need to be fair to yourself. You need to be setting a price that pays you a living wage… no one should ask you to work for less. Some artists price emotionally instead of using a good business model which is unfortunate because it causes other artists a lot of grief (and explaining) and really confuses art buyers, especially new or casual buyers. Artists who price emotionally also run the highest risk of either drastically underpricing their work, or becoming one of the ones you mention who cannot sell their work because they’ve way overpriced it — and both of these experiences can defeat an artist who is just getting started in the market.

So how do you determine the right prices, how do you hit that sweet-spot between undervaluing your work and pricing yourself out of the market? And what exactly is your market?

First I want to address the idea of “market”…In the past your market was pretty much defined by your geographic region, the area you were willing to drive or ship your work to. These days your market can be wherever and whoever you conceive it to be. With the various online tools available to us now, location is no longer the limiting factor to determining your market. That said, it is even more important than ever to carefully consider your portfolio. Don’t put every single piece you’ve ever done on a website, Facebook, or Linked-In. Put only your very best work out there. If you cannot decide which pieces best represent you, poll your friends and family (try really hard not to be put off by their comments and suggestions). And if you feel like you absolutely must put that piece you did ten years ago (when you were first learning your trade), be aware that it probably doesn’t represent your current abilities and strengths, and it will affect how buyers evaluate the worth of your work.

The formula for determining price is really quite simple (however it is really hard to get comfortable with). You need to take into account your time, materials and supplies (and their associated costs), and overhead (a portion of your household expenses if you work in your home or all of your studio costs if you maintain a separate studio). Materials, and to some extent, overhead are relatively easy to determine. Time can be a real bugaboo… especially if you haven’t been paying attention to how long it takes you to do a piece. You will need to initially make your best guess, and then become obsessive about keeping track. You’ll need to decide if you’re comfortable including planning and deliberating within your billable hours, along with the time it takes to learn a new skill or process… In general I usually weigh that decision based on the exclusivity clause: am I going to be able to apply this planning/deliberation/learning to future projects or is it only applicable to this one project or this one commission? Once I have that figured out I can decide how much of it — if any — should be built into the price of an art work…

The other conundrum you need to think about is the wholesale / retail price issue. If you EVER intend to sell in galleries or shops, you must be selling to individuals at a price that would be comparable to what a retailer would price your work at for a significant period of time before you begin to move your work through a retail establishment. No gallery will pay you the same amount you have been selling at — they cannot, they also need to make a living wage. They are going to expect to purchase your work at 40 to 60% of what you are currently selling it for, so be sure to add that markup into your calculations when selling to individuals. If you get into a gallery or shop, and they learn that you are underselling them, you will loose the gallery and probably not find another soon.

There is often quite a bit of guilt and a whole lot of uncertainty for most artists when they are pricing for individual sales. What you need to remember is that you deserve that extra compensation BECAUSE you are acting as your own retail agent… which is taking up your valuable creative time. You are out on the streets looking for customers; you are enduring arts fairs and festivals; you are searching for commissions. That is ALL work that you need to pay yourself for doing.

So, easy as pie, right? You can do this with your eyes closed and both hands tied behind your back, right? Excellent… but there is something else you need to also be thinking about… Worth.

Perhaps the most difficult area regarding pricing work that an artist needs to consider is determining worth. Worth trumps the pricing formula every single time — it’s the monster under the bed that makes us all doubt and second-guess our art and our art practices.

Worth is different than price — worth is determined by the quality of your work and its future value. Quality is a moving target that is most clearly demonstrated by your attention to detail, your technical skill, and your devotion to artistic growth. It requires a reflexive, often ruthless, self-evaluation that is honest and informed.

Luckily, if you pay the utmost attention to quality, future value will likely take care of itself.