Stillwater art show has up-north cabin feel

  • Article by: TIM HARLOW , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 10, 2012 - 9:28 PM

A show at the Stillwater Artists Guild Gallery celebrates those carefree, lazy days at the lake.

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One of Doug Ross' paintings

This past week's near 60-degree weather may have some people thinking about summer trips to the lake and cabin. That's what's on the mind of Jane Dierberger, who curated "Sky Blue Waters," a new show with an "up-north" theme on view this month at the Stillwater Art Guild Gallery.

Doug Ross' portrait depicting the rugged terrain and vibrant colors of the timber-lined shoreline of Lake Superior is the signature piece in the show, which features landscapes oil paintings, burl wood bowls, birch bark baskets, pottery and photography by well-known artists from the area and region.

It also was the inspiration for the show, which will continue through March 31 in the Historic Isaac Staples Sawmill at 402 N. Main St.

Dierberger had seen Ross' "Above Lutsen" painting in a show at Lakeview Hospital in Stillwater and immediately fell in love with it.

"I was at Lutsen Lodge climbing on the rocks up there, and everywhere I looked I saw those colors," Dierberger said. "When the sun hits the shoreline, the rocks were glowing yellow and red. There were so many brilliant colors, I felt like I was in one of his paintings."

With that vivid image indelibly etched in her mind and the words "Sky Blue Waters" running through her head, Dierberger asked the retired University of Nebraska art professor to display his paintings at the Stillwater Art Guild Gallery and built a show around them.

Ross' paintings hang on the wall of the River Room, which Dierberger calls the "jewel of the gallery."

It's there that she curates shows that change monthly. Past offerings have included classical Dutch paintings, an exhibit of fine art by local tattoo artists, and works by students who had their work declared "Best in Show" in the Stillwater School District's DaVinci Fest.

Complementing Ross' paintings are works by Ojibway artists Pat and Gage Kruse. The father-son duo, descendants from the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe and members of the Red Cliff Band, practice the Native American art form of carving birch bark into two-dimensional scenes depicting trees, flowers and nature-scapes. Their works are currently part of a traveling exhibit "Mni Sota: Reflection of Time and Place," and have been displayed at Tweed Art Museum in Duluth, the Plains Art Museum in Fargo, N.D., and the Mayo Clinic in Rochester.

The show also features photography by Carol Seefeldt of Scandia, oil paintings by outdoorsman Bob White of Marine on St. Croix, and burl wood bowls by Tom Blahnik of St. Charles, Minn.

Along with vacation photographs and souvenir postcards from the 1930s and '40s and hand-painted signs to give the room the cabin feel, "Sky Blue Waters" has its share of oddities, too, including an antique canoe and hand-carved fish decoys by Stillwater's Tim Spreck.

"There is the juxtaposition of the old and new in this show," Dierberger said. "This is really unusual [and good] stuff here."

Tim Harlow • 651-925-5039 Twitter: @timstrib

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