Artists warm to 'Winter in Minnesota' in Blaine exhibit

  • Article by: ANNA PRATT , Special to the Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 10, 2013 - 3:02 PM

Or photograph it. A winter art exhibit is warmly embraced in its fourth year at the Blaine City Hall.

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Sarah Filipi, of Blaine, captured this black-and-white photograph of stark, leafless trees on a snow-covered golf course.

Sarah Filipi, a photographer who lives in Blaine, tends to hole up during the colder months, but recently she’s felt inspired to get outside and bring her camera.

She owes that to the “Winter in Minnesota” art exhibit at Blaine City Hall, which runs through Dec. 27. The show includes a couple of her photos from previous years.

Looking through her body of work, she found that winter shots were few and far between. “I thought, ‘maybe I should get out more and not limit my opportunities,’ ” she said.

Filipi is among 18 artists who offer 40 different interpretations of the season, from the literal to abstract. Wintry landscapes, hockey, sleigh rides, and birds that stay north are just some of the subjects portrayed. The mediums and styles run the gamut.

“Winter in Minnesota” is open-ended, and anyone was invited to submit work. This week, a judge will choose the exhibit’s “best in show,” along with first-, second- and third-place winners.

Gail Speckmann, a Plymouth resident, is a regular judge for the exhibit. Recently, she led an all-day watercolor class at city hall that centered on winter scenes.

Some of her students are participating in “Winter in Minnesota.” “There’s a wonderful interest in the arts in the Blaine community,” Speckmann said.

For her, judging the seasonal show has become a fun tradition. The various perspectives on winter keep things interesting. Artists are always “looking for new ways of seeing, and to get a chance to see it through other people’s eyes is a good thing,” she said.

Shari Kunza, a program supervisor for the city’s parks and recreation department, echoed that. The annual winter show “reminds us that winter is not a barren, desolate season, but one filled with life, outdoor beauty, and wonder,” she said.

A time and a place to paint

Blaine resident Ellie Pflager, a longtime member of the arts council that organizes the exhibits, said monthly art shows at City Hall shine a light on hidden talent in the community. It’s a familiar story: “You drop off your license application [at city hall] and there’s this painting or photo and you recognize the artist’s name as someone you know, who you had no idea could do this,” she said.

Pflager contributed two color photos to the show. One focuses on an icicle-covered evergreen tree in her yard. The shot brings back memories of a day last winter when the sprinkler had been left on accidentally. Water spilled out all over the tree, freezing in place. In the wee hours that day, the sun shone through the icy branches, making the tree appear to glow. “I ran out in my slippers to hurry up and get a picture of it before work,” she said.

Her second piece pictures a snow-blanketed cornfield in Ham Lake, near a friend’s place, she said.

A number of arts council volunteers submitted work, some of which they created during their weekly meet-ups. The council comes together every Tuesday night to make art, Pflager said. She and a couple of other longtime council volunteers started the art “jam sessions” 15 years ago.

Exposure for local artists

For Mark Hinrichs, a Columbia Heights resident who submitted wildlife images to the exhibit, photography has been a lifelong hobby, but this is his first art show. “I’m curious to see what will happen,” he said, adding that he’s already planning to participate next year.

Likewise, when Filipi came upon the art show, she was looking for opportunities to exhibit her work. Filipi quit her job as a paralegal several months ago to pursue her passion for photography.

For the show, she produced a black-and-white print of a golf course that’s characterized by rows of bare trees. The landscape struck her because “there was no snow on the ground. It had the feeling of things being quiet and peaceful,” she said.

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