WHAT: “Resident Artist VI: Creative Collaborations”
WHEN: Opening Reception: Friday, April 2, 7 p.m. - 10 p.m., Show runs April 1 to May 1
WHERE: Altered Esthetics, 1224 Quincy Street N.E., Mpls.
The life of an artist is often a solitary one, tucked back in a paint-speckled studio, chopping away at the latest opus. While isolation is a common stereotype of the occupation, the folks at Altered Esthetics have made it their goal to promote the communal aspect of art. Their upcoming exhibit, “Resident Artist VI: Creative Collaborations,” demonstrates the benefits of putting two heads together by featuring a collection of joint pieces.
In the past, the Resident Artist exhibits have allowed artists to display pieces that didn’t necessarily fit into Altered Esthetics’ themed shows. But when it came time for this year’s event, the board decided to do something different, picking up the broad theme of collaboration. Some of those submitting had already been working together, while the gallery paired up others for unfinished pieces.
“It’s a chance for artists to interact with one another,” said Kristin Thompson, exhibitions director at Altered Esthetics, “to reach outside of their medium and try something different, or to meet another artist within the community that they hadn’t known before.”
In Thompson’s eyes, collaboration brings a unique dynamism to artwork. Those commissioned to finish pieces tweaked the first artist’s formula, adding their own idiosyncratic take while keeping close to the original intent. Meanwhile, those who worked together on pieces were able to test their skills in an unfamiliar environment.
“It was a really cool process, because you don’t know what to expect and it forces you to use some new techniques,” said Kara Hendershot, Altered Esthetics communications director and one of the featured artists in the upcoming show. “It teaches you to let go of your expectations of what the piece is going to look like, and to just go with the moment.”
For her submission, Hendershot teamed up with Gallery Director Summer Scharringhausen. Calling themselves Happy Accidents, the pair set out to produce a laid-back, organic piece, free from the solemnity that can often plague the art world.
“Our little philosophy is just to paint and let ourselves lead what happens instead of having to come up with some grand plan,” said Scharringhausen. “The range of ideas that you come up with are a lot wider when you’re working with someone else and when you’re not tied down by anything.”
Their carefree collaboration resulted in “Penelope,” a plywood board covered in David Lynch-inspired weirdness. The painting, which was ultimately chosen as the exhibit’s featured piece, shows a set of wide-eyed dolls standing in front of a decaying Minneapolitan backdrop, winter hats adorning their creepy little heads. The piece is funny, strange and would warrant deeper analysis, if that weren’t completely against the point.
For both Hendershot and Scharringhausen, “Resident Artist VI” is an opportunity for artists to develop their craft, branch out into new stylistic territory and, perhaps most importantly, converse with the art community.
As Scharringhausen put it, “I think for other artists to see collaborations, it opens up the possibility that you don’t have to just sit in your hole and do your thing. We can come together and do this.”
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