Art Fete: A visual feast in Burnsville

  • Article by: LIZ ROLFSMEIER , Special to the Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 9, 2012 - 6:24 PM

65 artists from the Burnsville Visual Arts Society are showing their works at the 30th annual Art Fete, which opened this month.

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Alison Price hangs Sheri Grube’s “Under the Sea,” which combines crushed glass with vivid fuchsia, purple and green strokes.

Photo: LIZ ROLFSMEIER, Star Tribune

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When Annie Young of Burnsville started losing her sight a few years ago, the last color the painter could recognize was orange.

So in her painting, "Oh Jenny -- No Need to Worry," now on display at the Burnsville Performing Art Center's 30th annual Art Fete, a large owl gazes at the viewer with giant, brilliant orange eyes.

"The eyes are so cool," she said. "They are like big saucers."

The vibrant owl sits on a landscape of circles, meant to represent "how we spin ourselves into a flurry," Young said. She found inspiration for the piece from a co-worker who loves owls and "tends to worry a bit too much," and this brought to mind a favorite quote: "I give all my worries to God because he's going to be up all night anyway." Young's faith drives her work; the triangles she incorporated into the owl's body represent the holy trinity.

Young said she doesn't want to be known as a blind painter but rather a painter who happens to be visually impaired. Her paints are marked with braille labels, and she uses wire, quilter's pins and painter's tape to create shapes on the canvas and then navigates the colors around those shapes.

The process takes time, and her current project, a detailed, layered field of flowers, requires painting one yellow petal of each cosmos at a time. She lets each petal dry fully to avoid smudging the piece or muddying the paints. "I'm jones- ing to work on it, and I have to wait," she said.

"Usually, I wasn't painting that detailed," she said. "Now I'm feeling more confident in what I'm doing."

This year's Art Fete ("fete" is French for "fair") contains works from 65 artists from the Burnsville Visual Arts Society. Society member Alison Price said more non-representational works have appeared from members over the past few years. "It's been kind of a shakeup for the arts community down here," she said.

James Edward Scherbarth's oil and wax painting "Eleanor" is one of them. The abstract piece features two panels bolted together: a muted pastel panel with a weathered look against a bold lime green one. "I thought it gave it the jolt it needed, and yet it's still kind of quiet," he said.

"I wanted to do something in that color palette thinking of spring," said Scherbarth, of Burnsville, "just to get me away from all the earth tones and darker colors that I had been working with." Due to the floral feel, he named the piece after his grandmother, who grew peace roses.

Art Fete shows the work of artists using a wide variety of mediums -- collage, photography, watercolor, pastel, digital. Tabitha Wiger, an Apple Valley resident and recent art graduate from the College of Visual Arts in St. Paul, contributed "Grabbing Hands," a set of articulated wooden and wool hands, from her new "cyborg series."

Wiger said advancing technology, particularly the merging of the human body and technology, interests her. "A lot of people can't afford this new technology," she said. "A lot of people are eventually going to go off on their own and come up with alternative solutions, and this series is kind of visualizing that."

She is building a full robot out of wood and wool and creating a novel and photo book with similar themes.

The 30th annual Art Fete runs through April 14 at the Burnsville Performing Arts Center.

Liz Rolfsmeier is a Minneapolis freelance writer.

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