Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Liquid Lightning Two



Sharon is finding her muse once again with new approaches to her painting. In the beginning, it was welding and metal art. Then it was making collages out of old National Geographic magazines. The particular arts and crafts exercise didn’t really matter as long as they suited her fancy…if even for the moment.

Sharon first became a metal head after a career in academia and business. She learned to pinch metal around stone like Giacometti and apply torching like Motherwell. She was comfortable with heavy metal in her hands and blue-yellow flames framing her face.


A couple of years ago Sharon took classes from Vesper College located in the heart of Nordeast. Vesper is one of those non-profit schools offering classes in such esoteric areas as metal bending, torching, welding and stone sculpturing. Sharon loved it…and I love the fact that she’s found a new outlet for her creative juices.




Now she has expanded her creative expression far beyond metal art. The medium that Sharon pursues is less important than the act or process that she goes through to get there. She began with classes on alcohol ink painting at the old NKB (Northrup King Building) in NordeEast Minneapolis.



Alcohol ink is an acid-free, highly pigmented, and fast drying medium used on non-porous surfaces. By mixing alcohol inks an artist can create a vibrant marbled effect. For many enthusiasts, it’s a new way of artistic self-expression. It means discovering the almost magical ethereal mutations that take place when alcohol colors mix and integrate into themselves. It’s layering colors, mixing tones and textures, morphing shapes and sizes into a kaleidoscope of  bastardized offspring’s of color. For its many disciples the process is full of constant discovery and, often times, pure amazement at the results. It’s like trying to cup liquid lightning in your hands.


By the end of this last season in Palm Springs, Sharon had expanded her artistic expression to cover a gamut of new avenues. She moved from the Palm Springs Art Center to specialized classes to her own roughhewn studio in our garage.




Then this spring, she discovered the White Bear Center for the Arts and a new medium called ‘cube art.’ Now it’s exploring new techniques at the Plaster Center for the Arts and International Market Square where some of her work is being displayed.





But it always seems to come back to Norde East and the NKB building. Even as the neighbor-hood grows with its artistic enclaves and new breweries, it retains its old charm.


Little has changed there since I camped out near the University of Minnesota. It’s the same old neighborhood just 55 years later. Millennials are rediscovering the place where they can be urban and ‘in the city.’ With establishments like Psycho Suzi’s Motor Lounge and Fried Bologna Vintage, how could they go wrong?

Fifty years after the West Bank of the University of Minnesota harbored the disenfranchised, the hippies, and other malcontents of a similar ilk that population or their decedents have now moved to the Northeast part of Minneapolis. In an unplanned, almost organic metamorphosis of a cityscape, this unwashed morass of creativity has moved west. Old Nordeast, an eclectic enclave of blue-collar Eastern European nationalities, has become the new West Bank.



But instead of hippies, now people of color, Hispanics, artists of every variety, house flippers, yoga gurus, craft beer specialists, software developers, and other creative types are flocking to the area. A new variety of business has also sprung up whose main purpose is to breathe life into the arts for a whole new generation, young and not so young. These include art classes of every type, including metal sculpting.






The roughhewn, anti-fashion, individualistic, truth-seeking individuals whom I find so fascinating all hang out there. Now my wife does too. It’s not as compact as Dinky town but the atmosphere is much the same. It’s almost as if inquiring minds once again scream for an exploration of life’s truths in that modern version of old Bohemia.

So while I’m there I want to soak up the atmosphere and perhaps build a nest someplace where I can just write to my heart’s content. It seems like a good place to explore the recesses of one’s mind, mining whatever thoughts and ideas might be lingering there. I’ve got a companion in the arts now, sharing the same excitement I feel every time I put finger to pen or keyboard.




Strange how after fifty plus years, some things change and yet many things remain the same. Now I get to explore my creative self with Sharon alongside me doing the same.