Above: "Denying the Thread – Specimen #135," ceramic relief sculpture by Hudson artist Susan Strand-Penman. One hundred and thirty-five refers to the estimated number of birds that die from hitting U.S. Bank Stadium. Photo provided by ArtReach St. Croix. 

As traditional museums and galleries slowly reopen, ArtReach St. Croix’s mobile art gallery slaps on wheels and takes off to three different locations in Minnesota. This year's show, “Mending,” features damaged objects by 25 local and regional artists that aim to spark conversations about a chaotic, uncertain world. 

The mostly outdoors opening takes place tonight, July 30, from 6-9 p.m. at ArtReach St. Croix, 224 N. 4th St., Stillwater. To ensure social distancing and enough time to view the exhibition inside the mobile art gallery, preregister online at https://bit.ly/2WoB7Ce. There is also a Zoom reception from 7-8 p.m. for those who can't attend in-person.

“One could say that the works in this exhibit have been rescued by the artists from an otherwise abandoned existence and granted a new timely mission, to facilitate a needed reflection on our human condition, vulnerabilities, and hopes in this time of crisis,” said guest curator William G. Franklin, a professor of contemporary art and critical theory at Minneapolis College of Art and Design.

Each object in the show tells a story inspired by this pandemic year. Artist Lauren Bina's piece "#2020" used to be one of two jadeite glass bowls that she and her partner received at their wedding. About a week ago, she said farewell to her beloved object when it fell and broke.

"It seemed appropriate that after all those years of use, this would be the year that my favorite bowl was destroyed,” said Bina.

Christopher Harrison's piece, "Hammer," comes to the show directly from his studio. "Its paint-coated exterior alludes to the fragility of existence in service to our human needs and wants," said Harrison. "In this case, my need to create."

After its opening night debut, the mobile art gallery starts its three-part tour. It will be at Brown’s Creek Trail near the Zephyr Theatre in Stillwater on July 31-Aug. 2, Afton State Park on Aug. 21-23, and at Lake Elmo Regional Park Preserve from Sept. 5-7.

Because anything can happen during a pandemic, visitors should check online at artreachstcroix.org for gallery hours and location information. For those who aren’t attending in-person, there will be interactive virtual artist talks available on Instagram Live over the course of the traveling exhibition.

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