Drawn to the arts

Published 1:50 pm Saturday, January 15, 2011

Bev Jackson Cotter shows off multimedia prints of plants and foliage that she is featuring. Harlan Bang displays two pieces he is featuring at the Albert Lea Art Center All Member Show.

Thomas Mullen has no great aspirations in submitting his framed photography to the Albert Lea Art Center All Member Show.

He simply loves photography, and displaying his photos in the show is something he’s always wanted to do.

Mullen is just one of several Art Center members whose art will be on display for the next month at the Art Center’s annual All Member Show.

“Amaryllis” is among artist Beth Tostenson’s watercolors on display at the Albert Lea Art Center All Member Show, which kicks off today. -- Michelle Haacke/Albert Lea Tribune

The month-long annual exhibit, which has been going on for more than 20 years, features pieces from local artists. It’s a members-only show for those who belong to the Albert Lea Art Center and all pieces must be framed for hanging. Each member-artist can submit up to three pieces.

“The idea is to get not necessarily professional artists, but everybody who’s interested in art to show their work,” said local artist Bev Jackson Cotter. “It’s fun to see the variety of work that comes in.”

Artist and Art Center member Bonnie Broitzman agreed, adding it’s a great way to network and to give exposure of the arts to children. She was 13 years old when she saw her first original painting and decided to pursue the arts.

“The arts in our community are so important and this brings everyone together — the artists and the community,” she said.

The show is also a way for locals to experience having their work in a gallery; for new, budding artists to have their work hanging side-by-side with that of professionals like as Mark Kness.

Kness has been painting for 30 years, professionally for the past two. His wildlife acrylic paintings of ducks won him the Minnesota Duck Stamp in 2003 and 2010. His acrylic painting of a pin tailed duck flying at dusk, on display at the All Member Show, made him a 2007 federal finalist.

Mark Kness shows off two acrylic paintings in the Albert Lea Art Center All Member Show.

He doesn’t do a lot of shows, but he does like to do this one because of the exposure. Being a professional artist is challenging, he said, so this keeps it fun.

“I keep telling myself not to take it too seriously, it needs to be fun,” he said.

Kness is also displaying acrylic paintings of wolves and mallard ducks.

His wildlife acrylics are among framed oil pencil sketches, watercolor paintings, photographs and multimedia prints of everything from the outdoors to animals, people and foliage had already been submitted. Organizer Ruth Olson expected enough pieces to be collected before the show begins today to fill three galleries in the Art Center.

“It can be any medium: pottery, watercolor, oil prints, posters, sewing,” said Olson. “It’s just really fun and we get to see what our friends have been up to.”

Mullen has been photographing on his own, and for close friends and family, for 30 years. A former elementary art teacher, his photographs have the appearance of a seasoned professional.

Ruth Olson arranges a few of the pictures submitted for display in the Albert Lea Art Center All Member Show, which starts today.

“At Rest” is a peaceful shot of a canoe tied to a dock, with the canoe mirrored in a still body of water. “Shades of Monet’s Garden,” taken in Oregon, features green lily pads on glassy-surfaced water with pink flowers, resembling the paintings of it’s namesake Claude Monet, a key artist in the Impressionist movement.

Ruth Olson shows off three watercolor paintings she will have on display at the Albert Lea Art Center All Member Show, which starts today.

Mullen specializes in nature close-ups, using a “regular” camera — no wide angle lenses or attachments.

“I have to get pretty creative sometimes,” he said, adding it would be nice to do a show someday.

This is also Olson’s first time exhibiting her pieces in the show. She is currently studying under local artist Beth Tostenson and submitted three watercolor paintings, “White Blooms,” “Falling Leaves” and “Mr. Rooster.”

Her inspiration for “Mr. Rooster,” which is a watercolor painting of a rooster mounted on a burlap matte and framed in red, for country effect, came from a how-to book in the Art Center Gift Shop.

She is proud of her efforts and hopes others will follow suit in showing off their work.

“I really encourage people to get with it because there’s so much you can do,” she said.

Broitzman also wished to thank Lu Callstrom for all of the work she has put into the Albert Lea Art Center and these annual shows.

If you go

The open house for the Albert Lea Art Center All Member Show will be from 1 until 3 p.m. Sunday. The event will feature live music and coffee. Exhibits will be on display through Feb. 19 at the Albert Lea Art Center, located at 224 S. Broadway Ave. The Art Center is open 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays.