If visits to the Minnesota State Fair’s Miracle of Birth Center and meditation tent leave you wanting for more, down some Nordic waffles and head to the Fine Arts Building. This year at the 107th annual Fine Arts Exhibition, I found 10 pieces you should be sure to see.
‘Midway, Minnesota State Fair’
See it for: A chance to play “Where’s Waldo.”
In this hyperdetailed depiction of a manic State Fair scene, James Boyd Brent of Minneapolis has created a delight for the eyes. Can you find a stuffed teddy bear that has fallen to the ground? A lit-up Ferris wheel? The pervasive funnel cake stand? Mermaids who apparently are just hanging out on land? This scene has it all, like the fair itself.
‘Van Gogh With Gray Felt Hat’
See it for: Innovative use of material.
Minneapolis artist Toni Dachis re-creates a classic self-portrait of Van Gogh, red beard and all, using only art magazines. It is maximum kitsch. Dachis, who received a BFA in graphic design from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, has been making papercuts for a while, using mere slices of glossy paper to portray pop culture icons including Prince, Andy Warhol and Marilyn Monroe.
See it for: Capturing the essence of Minnesota’s longest season.
There are few places where winter is colder than here in Minnesota. St. Paul artist Nadia Alenov’s 30- by 45-inch photo/encaustic painting captures the solitude of an ice fisherman’s house located somewhere on one of the 10,000-plus lakes. The sense of isolation is heightened by visible inroads in the snow, which give viewers the sense that someone has traversed the icy lake’s surface. But we do not see any people present.
‘Surrender to Certainty (Apologies to Rene Magritte)’
See it for: A funny engagement with a popular historic painting.
In contrast to the many representational and abstract paintings at the fair, this oil-on-canvas painting caught my eye because it is trying to express something humorous. Dean Trisko of Minneapolis pokes fun at the famous painting “The Treachery of Images: Ceci n’est pas une pipe” (1928-29) by Belgian surrealist artist Rene Magritte by making his own rendition in a similar style. Here, a piece of silver pipe has the words “Perhaps it is a pipe” written out and taped to the canvas. More points for playing on the fact that there are many types of pipes.
See it for: A sharp attention to detail.
This highly detailed pen-and-marker drawing of caribou in various poses, by Sarah Ann Nelson of St. Paul, shows a deft attention to detail. Some of the caribou are fully filled in and shaded while others are mere outlines, giving them an eerie, ephemeral sensibility and reminding us of nature’s fragility.
See it for: Its trickery!
In this sendup of trompe l’oeil paintings, which create the optical illusion of a three-dimensional work, Michael Wodnick of St. Paul painted the word “Verso” (meaning the reverse side) on the back of what appears to be an old painting. We can only wonder what the front looks like.
‘MN Farmer’s Market’
See it for: Its literalness.
With summer approaching an end, one of my biggest regrets is that I did not go to the farmers market every week. This celebration of farming life by Kim Pettengill of Plymouth made me smile. It was also just cheesy enough to be #MinnesotaWow.
See it for: Ojibwe beading techniques.
Francisca El Zeenny of Lakeville is an educator with the American Indian Education Program. Her pouch utilizes traditional Ojibwe beadwork on a small leather purse.
‘Choi Hung Estate, April 1, 2018. 5:33 p.m.’
See it for: Wonderful composition and bright colors.
Eric Mueller of Minneapolis photographs one of Hong Kong’s oldest public housing estates, whose name translates to “Rainbow Estate.” This name makes sense because it’s the most colorful.
See it for: Its wild use of assemblage.
Attila Ray Dabasi’s incredibly busy assemblage artwork combines a collection of pearls, fake jewels, silver spoons embroidered with gems, and much more on a 2 ½-foot-high oval-shaped piece of metal. On top of that, the North St. Paul artist mounts a golden plaque, with a little plastic balcony where two small porcelain pigs stand. One is labeled with its meat classifications — loin, shoulder butt, etc.— while the other wears a blue-and-red hat and winks at the viewer, with a giant grin across its fat face. Little American flags are embedded throughout the sculpture, suggesting a subtle political critique of greed.