Grand Marais Art Colony Tour d'Art a success

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The Grand Marais Art Colony’s first Tour d’Art, held September 28, 2013, was a grand success.  The event featured four homes from Schroeder to Grand Marais whose owners, according to Executive Director Amy Demmer, designed their dwellings around their art collections rather than placing art as an afterthought.

Fifty-seven art enthusiasts traveled in Arrowhead Transit buses from home to home.

Back at the Art Colony, a wine and cheese reception was followed by a presentation by local artist and Minneapolis College of Art and Design Professor Emeritus Hazel Belvo, who talked about the artwork of local artists she had curated for the exhibit surrounding them in the main hall. 

“Artists come here because they’re inspired by nature,” Belvo said.  She talked about how the artists whose work she had chosen demonstrated natural themes in their work, from Bonnie Cutts’ paintings of brain cells to Nancy Seaton’s glass totems – “a perfect example of inspiration from nature” – to plein air paintings by Neil Sherman, whose work she called “very poetic.”  One of her own paintings, a vibrant red tree trunk inspired by the Little Cedar Spirit Tree in Grand Portage, is called “The Matriarch” and exhibits her interpretation of the tree as a personage.

Ken Bloom, director of the Tweed Museum at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, concluded the event with a discussion on collecting art.  “I do have some experience collecting art,” he said.  “Fortunately, I’m spending other people’s money!”

The day’s tour demonstrated four very different ways of collecting art, Bloom explained – as a story of where the owners have been and who they’ve met along the way, as the legacy of a sculptor that “generously” included work by others as well, as an “extraordinarily personal” expression of community, and as an academic sampling of various types of art.

“Everyone is collecting something,” Bloom said, and collecting art is about developing relationships.  He pointed out that works on paper – such as paintings -- are extremely vulnerable, and textiles are even harder to preserve.  In the western art world, the least functional works of art, such as paintings, tend to make the most money.  Prices are affected by supply and demand, he said, and for a good profit on the sale of art, “two glasses of wine and chocolate – that’s the secret!”

The tour of homes was a fundraiser for the Grand Marais Art Colony, which seeks to support artists, promote art education, and nurture art in the community.  Cook County has the highest number of full-time artists in Minnesota per capita, Executive Director Demmer said, and it ranks very high nationally as well.  She expressed appreciation to the event sponsors, Betsy Bowen Studio, Kah-Nee-Tah Gallery & Cottages, Last Chance Studio and Gallery, Sivertson Gallery, and Stephan Hoglund Studio.

The next Art Colony Tour D’art is scheduled for October 4, 2014.  Said Demmer, “We all need more art in our lives.”