Talent Scout

Archive for December 2009


Book Review: The Art of the Idea by John Hunt

This book has received a lot of press lately and has a wonderful and entertaining website that features excerpts from the book. It’s hard not to be inspired by Hunt’s claim that it is ideas that move the world forward, and he refreshingly articulates that anyone can play: there is no hierarchy to original thinking. The Art of the Idea provides a toolbox for achieving excellence and provides a lifeline to those who find themselves stuck in a rut. Besides the great content I love it’s visual appeal which features 20 original paintings and collages by the internationally acclaimed South African artist Sam Nhlengethwa. And it just feels good in your hands with weighty paper and a thick tag board cover. This is a book I will go back to over and over and it’s a quick read at 135 pages.

An added benefit is that all profits of the book go to Room 13. Room 13 is a unique initiative that provides an environment for underprivileged children to unfold their imagination. Here they can express themselves in anything from painting and drawing to drama, poetry and storytelling.

The Art of the Idea: And How It Can Change Your Life

Retailer That Makes Art Accessible: Gallery 360

CIMG1796 I have driven by Gallery 360 at 3011 West 50th in the SW Minneapolis, Linden Hills neighbor too many times to count.  Several friends have recommended it and last year I received a bracelet  that I love and wear all of the time.  Today I decided to stop and see what everyone was talking about.  As a first impression, I loved the eclectic mix of fine art and hand crafts made by skilled artisans, mostly local. Gallery 360 owner Merry Beck hand-picks paintings, sculptures, and mixed media, as well as ceramics, clothing, jewelry, and gifts for this contemporary gallery and retail shop.

I was particularly drawn to Natasha D’Schommer’s still life photography and Jennifer Davis’s narrative mixed media work. It was fun to browse a great selection of fresh and modern designs from local and national artisans including jewelry maker, Emily Johnson featured in my November 2009 blog posts.  The staff is friendly and knowledgeable, I highly recommend stopping by this delightful shop.


Jennifer Davis--Pale, 24x9, acrylic, graphite on panel


Natasha D'Schommer--Star Prairie, 8x8, photo transfer on marble



Inventive hooks from recycled handles


Bracelets crafted from recycled signs


Gallery 360, 3011 West 50th, Minneapolis, MN

Book Review: Dear James—Letters to a Young Illustrator

I discovered Dear James through Eric Hanson’s recent review in the Minneapolis Star Tribune.  R.O. Blechman’s book  which features letters to a mythical illustrator contains sound advice for anyone in the creative world.

What peaked my interest most in Hanson’s review was on Blechman’s writing about the vital importance of pursuing odd ideas, of being different; the creativity of mistakes; the usefulness of shortcomings; of open-mindedness; how smaller opportunities open the door for larger ones; the necessity of effort; of beginning something big or small, of failing occasionally and learning from it.

I thought this was a wise and inspiring book on creativity. It’s a quick read at only 145 pages.  I really related to his discussion on working full-time and being an artist.  Blechman brings in examples from Hemingway, T.S. Eliot and other famous experts.  He reflects that one doesn’t necessarily have to be at odds between your working life and artist life–that one can often be a refuge from the other.  I love that!

Dear James: Letters to a Young Illustrator

Do Creative Spaces Matter? Studio Visit with Jill Stafford

Surroundings are a great stimulant and they can easily inspire or depress us. Or worse yet produce indifference which can stop creativity all together.  To me, the important thing is that the space move me in some way and that it encourages a passionate state of mind—whether that’s angst or fear or delight.

I love looking at artist’s spaces.  To see their raw materials, things they collect, projects in process, how they organize or what books they read.  Last week, I visited Jill Stafford’s home studio in an early 1900’s row house.  Her studio, a converted formal dining room multifunctions quite beautifully and efficiently for  Jill’s diverse creative projects including mixed media, knitting and sewing.  Take a look and tell me what you think.  Music is by Tommy Dorsey–Clambake Seven w/Bud Freeman.

Series 3: Opposites Attract—Conversations with Artist, Ingrid Restemayer

In my final series of conversations with Ingrid Restemayer, I posed this question:

Is there a significant person or persons in your life who has influenced your thinking and attitudes about your work?

“My family is definitely the most influential. I often reference coming from a long familial line of fiber artists and craftsmen including generations of quilters, tatters, crocheters, knitters and woodworkers.  My  immediate family made DIY a lifestyle long before it was a trend.

“But separate from family,  there are a number of artists who have touched my life and without whose influence I wouldn’t be doing what I do today.”

Although Ingrid shared many influential individuals, one stood out. It is the story of contrasts with Ingrid’s college friend and artist, Christy Puetz.

“Christy and I first met and studied together at the University of North Dakota where we both graduated with BFA’s, concentratiing in Fiber Arts.  Christy has influenced my work for decades first, as young students where I was obsessed with  process and a focus on the formalistic qualities of the medium at hand.  Christy was the opposite, she used the medium simply as a venue for her ecstatic expression.  I saw creativity ooze from her fingertips and was fascinated by her freedom and less dependent nature surrounding craftsmanship.  My devotion to craftsmanship could sometimes get in the way of invisioning a satisfying end result.  This creative tension was really good for us, pushing and pulling each other to one side or another .  Today,  we still draw upon those early lessons and continue to guide and encourage each other.  I think we are both better artists for it.”

Ingrid surprises me with her new exploration of color. Still evident though is her exquisite craftsmanship including thousands of french knots.

Ingrid Restemayer--Etching, Stitching & Handmade Paper

Christy in contrast has a wonderful free form style and almost controlled chaos in her work.

Christy Puetz, Princess Meatball, 2007

Using playful found objects, Ingrid explores less structure in her stitching. Perhaps influenced by Christy at some level?

Ingrid Restemayer, Redwork--Checkerbox

And Christy’s recent work highlights her beading craftsmanship.  Lessons learned from Ingrid?

Christy Puetz, Blue Ringed Octupus Skin, 2008

Series 2: Pushing Boundaries–Conversations with Artist, Ingrid Restemayer

With funding from the Jerome Fiber Artists Grant, Ingrid  took her detailed stitching techniques to a grander scale.  Pushing outside of the boundaries of her traditionally framed format, Ingrid’s grant project opened up new possibilities for something more monumental, creating a 40-foot long delicate piece of assembled handmade paper, whose surface was entirely hand-stitched. Her project appropriately titled, Perseverance is estimated to have nearly 94,000 stitches.

The Jerome Fiber Artists Project Grants are awarded through the Minneapolis Textile Center. The program is designed to expand the opportunities and support of emerging fiber artists undertaking a specific artistic project.

Please bare with me as I learn how to assemble audio and video together. It’s pretty rough but I love hearing the artists voice and point of view. This is series two in a three part series on my conversations with Ingrid.

Series 1: Conversations with Artist, Ingrid Restemayer

Ingrid Restemayer Ingrid Restemayer is a printmaker and fiber artist working fulltime out of her studio in Northeast Minneapolis. This is series one of three posts about my conversations with Ingrid and her insights on creativity.  Ingrid and I originally met when we were members of the cooperative artist gallery, Rosalux in Minneapolis.  We had a two person show together called Stitch.  It was a natural pairing given the stitch, often used in both of our work is a connection to previous generations. Rather than a pragmatic practice, the stitch is an intentional mark, a means of expression.

Ingrid’s use of stitch is disciplined, influenced by generations of fine crafters her work reflects traditional embroidery techniques while incorporating other process-intensive mediums through collage. I am always struck by the intricacy of her work. Etchings on handmade papers and forms made from hundreds, sometimes thousands of hand-stitched threads.

Ingrid Restemayer, Illustrated Koi 1, Etching on handmade paper, cotton printmaking paper & hand-stitched cotton thread (22" x 30")

Commission Work: It’s Not About Me

I’ve heard nightmares about doing commissioned art projects but so far the three that I’ve done have been very rewarding.  Maybe it’s my product development and retail background that helps me understand it’s not about me but solving the customers needs.  In this case, I was given a proposed size of 112” wide by 18” high.  It would be placed over the bed spanning from one nightstand to the other.  Oh and it was for a male client, so no dresses! (WHAT!)  Other than that I had creative reign.  I was excited by the challenge and thrilled that I would have my first piece displayed in New York.  How could I maintain my vocabulary and still satisfy my clients needs?

After visiting the space,   I was out wandering around New York and passed a men’ retail storefront.  It hit me like a bolt of lightening.  Really, it was almost too easy.  There in the window were several men’s dress shirts perfectly folded.  I loved that it still had a fashion and clothing reference too.

My client, Andrew Flesher of Gunkelman Flesher was opening their New York interior design studio so this piece had the potential to be seen by many of their clients.  Featured here are 3 of 11 shirts total. Each shirt can stand on it’s own but the collective group and the repetition has a really great visual impact.

What You Wear (R)-1

Marilyn Stevens, What You Wear (3 of 11 shirts total)

One of the cool details are the shirt labels. I partnered with Zac Stafford on a poem titled, What You Wear. Each line of the poem was placed on the inside label of the shirt.

Marilyn Stevens, What You Wear (detail)

Here it is installed.  It really looked amazing in the space.


Gunkelman Flesher's NY studio apartment


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