Three Exhibits Years in the Making

One benefit of living in an area with a strong and long-standing arts community is witnessing the growth of other artists over the years. In February and early March, it was a pleasure to see three mature Minnesota artist's work on display at three Twin Cities galleries. 

Gwen Partin's Landscapes of Touch, Works on Paper exhibit at Form and Content Gallery is a show that teases the viewer with each piece. The detailed working of forms, textures and techniques are that of a serious person who sees beauty and humor in nuance. With a subtle and pleasing color palette, the works draw you in to discover the details of each piece. These are not works to be viewed from across a large gallery. Each piece has twists and turns leading the viewer to little discoveries. What at first appears to be an uncomplicated drawing reveals itself to be a combination of printmaking techniques, collage and drawing. Dots forming a grid across a surface reveal themselves as small loops of thread. Like a good Rumi poem, Partin's work always has a little something unexpected - a twist in perception. 

Images courtesy of the artist

Partin's compositions are made up of familiar but abstracted textures, patterns, shapes and colors based on natural observation. The approach is repetitive, persistent and meditative. These are works that show a mastery of technique and content developed over years of visiting and revisiting themes and materials. The display includes four books created by Partin, inviting the viewer into a tactile experience in parallel with her expressed sensory observations. 

Landscapes of Touch is on exhibit at Form and Content Gallery until March 25, 2023. The gallery is open Thursday, Friday, Saturday, 12:00 – 6:00 pm.

Gwen Partin’s Website

Frank Big Bear's work, Ghost Dance of the Great Mystery at Bockley Gallery is an example of an articulate approach toward those things in life that are difficult to articulate. Big Bear's organic geometric style, using vibrant color-pencils on black board, sings with color and line and bodies and spirits. Some of the compositions are ecstatic with representations of earthly landscape and myriads of people and animals all leading up to the heavens filled with stars, galaxies and what might be called spiritual notation. Other compositions are portrait-style drawings of people with strong colored shapes, patterns, and lines intersecting with their form. In the portraits, there are several horizontal lines (dashed and solid) dissecting the form, as if Big Bear was playing a game of Exquisite Corpse with himself, changing color and geometry in each section. 

Images courtesy of Bockley Gallery. Photo: Rik Sferra

Big Bear's work has a natural organic style that belies the years of work that have informed his choices.  There is an ease to these ecstatic compositions, evidenced by the masterful spacing of objects, overlapped and interrupted with abundant skill. Despite including the entire cosmos in a drawing, Big Bear shares just enough and not too much. This is a powerful exhibit of work, confidently crafted, drawing the viewer into Big Bear’s world of the spirit, earth and colorful entities.

Ghost Dance of the Great Mystery was exhibited at Bockley Gallery from February 10 to February 25, 2023.

Amy Sands has been working with traditional and digital printmaking for many years. Her exhibit at Highpoint Center for Printmaking is part of the 2022 McKnight Printmaking Fellowship exhibition.  Over the years, Sands' work has become more fragile, more diverse and more engaging.  The delicate nature of her art exudes a strong presence. The room in the exhibit with her work Ancestral Garden calls the viewer to stay, relax, listen and breathe in these representations of nature. Here a series of prints based on diffused photos and a series of five large hanging stencil monoprint banners share space with a sculpture of printed cutout leaves tumbling from a grouping down to the floor. 

Through diversifying her media and stretching into different techniques, Sands has focused her message and impact rather than diffusing it. The work, and the experience of it, has become richer and more rounded. The room has become a microcosm of Sand’s body of work, a curated experience of nature. Layering has long been a tool in Sands' capable hands. Here the layering has been used to great effect within individual works while building up and extending through to the relationship between works, transporting the viewer to a new place.


The McKnight Printmaking Fellowship Exhibit at the Highpoint Center for Printmaking runs from January 20, 2023 to March 18, 2023.

Amy Sands Website