Art exhibit in Fridley takes viewers 'Out West'

  • Article by: ANNA PRATT , Special to the Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 22, 2014 - 1:41 PM

The Artists del Norte exhibit at the Banfill-Locke Center for the Arts highlights different views of the western U.S.

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Tom Dimock’s “Devil’s Tower”

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Linda Lawrence was always a doodler, but she didn’t start making art until her father sent her his painting supplies when his eyesight failed him. That was about 15 years ago.

Her dad, who especially loved landscape paintings, shipped “almost his whole studio,” piece by piece, from his home in Lawrence’s native England to her new home in Andover.

Today, Lawrence is president of Artists del Norte, a north-metro artists group that comes together to support one another’s endeavors, mainly through art shows and workshops.

The group’s latest show, “Artists Out West,” is currently running at the Banfill-Locke Center for the Arts in Fridley, and it includes Lawrence’s most recent experiment: a brightly colored portrait of a man clad in cowboy garb.

The show runs through May 10, with a closing reception that day from 1 to 3 p.m.

As the name suggests, the exhibit reflects on various aspects of the western U.S. It includes nearly 50 works in all mediums and styles — even a cowboy boot that has been repurposed.

Bethany Whitehead, executive director of Banfill-Locke, said the show is a welcome break from the Minnesota winter, with portrayals of a “warm sun, bucking broncos, cactuses and adobe structures.”

One of her favorite pieces is a torn-paper collage from Raynele Schneider titled “View from the Cactus.” It vividly captures the “colors and feelings of the western landscape,” Whitehead said.

Likewise, “Saquaro Vista,” an oil painting by Elizabeth Geiger, gives the viewer a good feel for the arid desert land, she said.

Stretching themselves

Sharyn Erickson, a coordinator for Artists del Norte, said the idea behind having themed shows is to encourage people to go beyond what they would normally do.

She enjoys seeing what people come up with, too.

“There’s probably not a market in the world for what we do. It’s just fun,” said Erickson, whose detailed oil painting “Cactus Flowers” is hanging at the center.

Erickson, who’s been coming to the group’s meetings almost since its 1976 inception, calls her art-making a “compulsion” more than a hobby. As a child she painted on the back of wallpaper, on her own.

These days, she works in the studio attached to her home. “I do it every day. It’s how I relax,” she said. “I have to have a project or I go stir crazy.”

Artists del Norte has about 50 members. In the past, the group has played on other themes related to other locales. For example, a group of members visited Savannah, Ga., where they created pieces in advance of an exhibit titled “Artists in the Garden of Good or Evil”; that was a take on the nonfiction book with the similar title, “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.”

Admiring the architecture

Schneider, who lives in Coon Rapids, did plenty of research at the library when she was trying to figure out what to do for “Out West.”

  • Artists out west

    What: Art with a Western theme.

    Where: Banfill-Locke Center for the Arts, 6666 East River Road, Fridley

    When: Through May 10. The center is open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. Admission is free.

    Closing reception: Saturday, May 10, 1-3 p.m., is open to the public

    Information: 763-574-1850 or e-mail info@banfill-locke.org

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