Why do we save some, toss others?

Published 9:00 am Sunday, August 23, 2015

Art is . . . by Bev Jackson-Cotter

Why did you hang that picture over the sofa? Or, why do you keep that razor blade sharpener from your granddad’s shaving kit? Why do we save some things and toss others? Why, since all human beings are genetically 99.9 percent identical, according to Stanford University research, are we so different in our favorite things choices?

Bev Jackson Cotter

Bev Jackson Cotter

The current show at the Albert Lea Art Center cannot answer these questions, but it can explain why the several interesting and unique artifacts currently on display are special to their owners.

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“These are a Few of My Favorite Things” is an exhibition unlike anything that ALAC has ever done. When you combine a paint-by-number piece, a painting by a world famous Chinese artist and a sculptural blend of items found on an Alaskan fishing trip, you create a display that is at once unusual, serious and fun.

When this theme was proposed, the discussion revolved around those members and visitors who do not consider themselves artists or art collectors and yet enjoy the opportunities that ALAC provides.  When the call went out, they jumped right in, submitting their favorite things and the stories that make them special.

The paint-by-number piece that I mentioned is “The Last Supper” and was done as a Confirmation project in 1963. It is beautiful, and I’m guessing it has a place of honor in the owner’s home.

The Chinese painting was a gift to a local photographer from one of the artists who visited Albert Lea in 1985 when then Gov. Rudy Perpich invited them to Minnesota as part of a cultural exchange program. The Chinese artists spent a week here, setting up a studio in the Green Room of the Marion Ross theater (then Albert Lea Community Theater) and sharing their ceramics, paper cutting and painting with all who cared to visit. They were hosted by the city of Albert Lea, the community theater and Art Center.

The unusual sculpture is a delightful combination of pieces found by a creative thinker while on a fishing trip to Juneau, Alaska. It looks something like a bird in a nest in a tree — sort of.

I would like to take you all around the galleries, talking about the treasures and their stories, but I will mention only a couple more.

There is a wood carving, almost four feet high, of a man standing on the back of a sphinx shape with a woman’s head. The man reminds me of the terracotta warriors from Shaanxi Province in China. It’s a sculpture that makes you pause and ponder. To the owner it signifies the struggle of women down through the ages, their determination and perseverance.

Then there is the fish. The sturgeon, made of wood and copper, is about three feet long and is placed on a base of walnut from the family’s century farm. The artist said that it reminds him of the sturgeon they see while fishing on the Namehagon River in Wisconsin.

Are these items art? Yes! Do they each have a story? Yes! Is this a fun exhibition to meander through? Yes! Will you stop in to see it? Yes! Will you be glad you did? Yes!


Bev Jackson Cotter is a member of the Albert Lea Art Center.