Featured in Lake Minnetonka Magazine - October 2018 ‘The Arts Issue’

WKSd LakeMtkaMag.jpg

Featured in the AJW - May 2, 2019

(Photo: Lindsay Marcy)     Meet the Jews of Art-A-Whirl      The annual art crawl in Northeast Minneapolis includes a number of talented Jewish artists    By DORIS RUBENSTEIN  Jewish participation continues to be strong this year in Art-A-Whirl,  the annual art crawl hosted by the Northeast Minneapolis Arts Association  (NMAA). Now in its 24th year, Art-A-Whirl boasts of being the largest annual open-studio tour in the entire country. From May 17-19, visitors can stroll to over 60 locations to see the work of nearly 800 artists in every imaginable medium to see how art is made, ask questions, try their hand at some new art form or maybe even buy a piece.  There have always been many Jewish artists represented at Art-A-Whirl, and this year is no exception. Space doesn’t allow for all of the Jewish participants to be profiled here, but you can find an artist directory, as well as other information about the event, at nemaa.org/art-a-whirl.  Jews have a long history of appreciating artists. In Exodus, two artists are singled out to be recognized by name: Bezalel was the chief architect of the tabernacle (and has an art institute in Israel bearing his name) and Aholiab was his deputy. Who are some of the Minnesotans carrying on this tradition?  Wendy Shragg, of Wayzata, studied design at the University of Minnesota, where she learned about color theory and principles. Her art is full of color, whether in watercolors or oils, or even using digital means to create images that are at times whimsical or visually challenging.   Wendy Shragg creates colorful acrylic and mixed media paintings.   She recalls: “As far back as I can remember, I’ve loved to create, and a few years ago, I began to feel an underlying tug that there was a path I should be pursuing. Since then, I’ve been on a journey of exploration rich with self-discovery. I came to realize that what I was looking so hard to find had been right in front of me all along. By letting go of the looking, and doing what I loved most, I discovered what I had been searching for. The creative piece of my life that had been my joy for so many years was urging me to play, and I realized I needed to do what made me come alive.”  Minneapolitan Andrea Canter has been a photographer of diverse subjects since childhood. She worked at it very part-time until she retired from unrelated work 15 years ago. Her first time participating in Art-A-Whirl was as a guest artist in 2016. This encouraged her to lease a small display space at the Casket Arts Building in Northeast, and she recently moved into a larger studio. While most of her photography is abstract, Canter has lately expanded into painting with acrylics and mixed media — rekindling an early childhood fascination.  Canter says that Art-A-Whirl is the highlight of her business year. “I love sharing my art with a diverse audience and hopefully selling it!”  Brenda Litman, of St. Louis Park, a painter, didn’t get into the art field until her family was nearly grown. She made up for lost time by earning her Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Minnesota and quickly rented a studio in Northeast Minneapolis, just in time for the first Art-A-Whirl. Litman has shown her work many times at Art-A-Whirl over the years.   Brenda Litman cites the influence of nature, as well as Japanese and Chinese calligraphy, in her paintings. (Photo: Courtesy of Litman)   Litman says: “My Jewish heritage provides a framework for my art. The journeys and persecutions Jews endured through the centuries from ancient Egypt to the Holocaust and beyond form our collective memory. I feel for the displaced peoples in the world today, especially those at our southern border.”  Eileen Cohen, an Eden Prairie resident, has her studio in the Northrup-King Building in Northeast Minneapolis and shares it with two other Jewish artists. She’s also the exhibition coordinator at Silverwood Park in St. Anthony and works there with artists of all backgrounds. Regarding her work, she says, “I was particularly inspired by the repetition in the work of Liz Miller and Asako Nakauchi, and the use of simple forms or techniques that resulted in complicated structures.”  Whether your interest in art is strictly Jewish or more universal, Art-A-Whirl offers a rare chance to enter the studios of working artists and learn more about their art and lives.   ***    Art-A-Whirl will run 5-10 p.m. Friday, May 17; 12-8 p.m. Saturday, May 18; and 12-5 p.m. Sunday, May 19 at various Northeast Minneapolis locations. For information and maps, go to:   nemaa.org/art-a-whirl.

(Photo: Lindsay Marcy)

Meet the Jews of Art-A-Whirl

The annual art crawl in Northeast Minneapolis includes a number of talented Jewish artists

By DORIS RUBENSTEIN

Jewish participation continues to be strong this year in Art-A-Whirl, the annual art crawl hosted by the Northeast Minneapolis Arts Association (NMAA). Now in its 24th year, Art-A-Whirl boasts of being the largest annual open-studio tour in the entire country. From May 17-19, visitors can stroll to over 60 locations to see the work of nearly 800 artists in every imaginable medium to see how art is made, ask questions, try their hand at some new art form or maybe even buy a piece.

There have always been many Jewish artists represented at Art-A-Whirl, and this year is no exception. Space doesn’t allow for all of the Jewish participants to be profiled here, but you can find an artist directory, as well as other information about the event, at nemaa.org/art-a-whirl.

Jews have a long history of appreciating artists. In Exodus, two artists are singled out to be recognized by name: Bezalel was the chief architect of the tabernacle (and has an art institute in Israel bearing his name) and Aholiab was his deputy. Who are some of the Minnesotans carrying on this tradition?

Wendy Shragg, of Wayzata, studied design at the University of Minnesota, where she learned about color theory and principles. Her art is full of color, whether in watercolors or oils, or even using digital means to create images that are at times whimsical or visually challenging.

Wendy Shragg creates colorful acrylic and mixed media paintings.

She recalls: “As far back as I can remember, I’ve loved to create, and a few years ago, I began to feel an underlying tug that there was a path I should be pursuing. Since then, I’ve been on a journey of exploration rich with self-discovery. I came to realize that what I was looking so hard to find had been right in front of me all along. By letting go of the looking, and doing what I loved most, I discovered what I had been searching for. The creative piece of my life that had been my joy for so many years was urging me to play, and I realized I needed to do what made me come alive.”

Minneapolitan Andrea Canter has been a photographer of diverse subjects since childhood. She worked at it very part-time until she retired from unrelated work 15 years ago. Her first time participating in Art-A-Whirl was as a guest artist in 2016. This encouraged her to lease a small display space at the Casket Arts Building in Northeast, and she recently moved into a larger studio. While most of her photography is abstract, Canter has lately expanded into painting with acrylics and mixed media — rekindling an early childhood fascination.

Canter says that Art-A-Whirl is the highlight of her business year. “I love sharing my art with a diverse audience and hopefully selling it!”

Brenda Litman, of St. Louis Park, a painter, didn’t get into the art field until her family was nearly grown. She made up for lost time by earning her Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Minnesota and quickly rented a studio in Northeast Minneapolis, just in time for the first Art-A-Whirl. Litman has shown her work many times at Art-A-Whirl over the years.

Brenda Litman cites the influence of nature, as well as Japanese and Chinese calligraphy, in her paintings. (Photo: Courtesy of Litman)

Litman says: “My Jewish heritage provides a framework for my art. The journeys and persecutions Jews endured through the centuries from ancient Egypt to the Holocaust and beyond form our collective memory. I feel for the displaced peoples in the world today, especially those at our southern border.”

Eileen Cohen, an Eden Prairie resident, has her studio in the Northrup-King Building in Northeast Minneapolis and shares it with two other Jewish artists. She’s also the exhibition coordinator at Silverwood Park in St. Anthony and works there with artists of all backgrounds. Regarding her work, she says, “I was particularly inspired by the repetition in the work of Liz Miller and Asako Nakauchi, and the use of simple forms or techniques that resulted in complicated structures.”

Whether your interest in art is strictly Jewish or more universal, Art-A-Whirl offers a rare chance to enter the studios of working artists and learn more about their art and lives.

***

Art-A-Whirl will run 5-10 p.m. Friday, May 17; 12-8 p.m. Saturday, May 18; and 12-5 p.m. Sunday, May 19 at various Northeast Minneapolis locations. For information and maps, go to: nemaa.org/art-a-whirl.

Featured in an online article on TCJewfolk

Jewish Artists Preparing For Art-A-Whirl   If you’re planning to visit some of the 800 artist studios during “Nordeast” Minneapolis’ 24th annual Art-A-Whirl from May 17-19, you’ll certainly want to be sure to support the Jewish artists who are participating in it. There are too many to feature here, but if you go to the event’s  website , and scroll through the many names (and faces), you’re sure to find a minyan’s worth of Jewfolk there!   TCJ:   In a nutshell, what’s been the artistic journey that brought you to Art-A-Whirl?    Wendy Shragg:   I studied design at the University of Minnesota, where I learned about color theory and principles. As far back as I can remember, I’ve loved to create, and a few years ago, I began to feel an underlying tug that there was a path I should be pursuing. Over the past few years, I’ve been on a journey of exploration rich with self-discovery. I came to realize that what I was looking so hard to find had been right in front of me all along. By letting go of the looking, and doing what I loved most, I discovered what I had been searching for. The creative piece of my life that had been my joy for so many years was urging me to play, and I realized I needed to do what made me come alive.  Brenda Litman   Brenda Litman:  After graduating from college, I married, raised two sons with my husband, Ted, volunteered, and made art. When our youngest was 16, I embarked on an exciting journey returning to the University of Minnesota. to pursue art seriously, earning a BFA and an MFA. Subsequently, I found a studio in the California Building, northeast Minneapolis, and participated in the very first Art-A-Whirl. I have participated in many since then.   TCJ: Are there any local artists that have been influential in your work?    Wendy Shragg:  While I am inspired by many, I can’t credit any one artist with being influential to my work. I’m an active observer of life. I tend to see the world with the curiosity of a child, always exploring, always thinking, always wondering. I notice everyday objects through my own unique lens, and I allow my imagination to run free.   Brenda Litman:  I am influenced by the Minneapolis art community and the artists in my building, However, the major influences on my abstract paintings are 1. the forces of nature which surround, nurture and sometimes circumscribe our journey through life and 2. the gestural stroke of ancient Asian calligraphy in the looser modes. I feel the calligraphic stroke, the gestural stroke, and the handwritten word are all natural means of human communication. With the stroke, I indicate we are an integral part of nature.   TJC: How has being Jewish influenced your life and your artistic output?    Wendy Shragg:  At our core, each of us has a divine spark; an energy that is uniquely our own. This is referred to as our neshama (soul). Working in an intuitive artistic style, I surrender to that inner power. I create intentional space for my art, get in tune with my neshama, and allow the creative process to flow.   Brenda Litman:  My Jewish heritage provides a framework for my art. The journeys and persecutions Jews endured through the centuries from ancient Egypt to the Holocaust and beyond, form our collective memory. I feel for the displaced peoples in the world today especially those at our southern border.  In my Immigration series, I use the metaphor of nature’s garden. All who live in our nation inhabit that garden forming a rich mosaic of entwined blossoms; the ethnicities, the races, the people who immigrated over time and built our country. I celebrate them and the hard-working people now aspiring to make our country their new home.  Tikkun Olam is our desire as Jews to “heal the world.” Art heals and can hold messages as well. I often reference the ocean in my paintings. Vital to the life of the earth, the ocean lives but is endangered as it warms. In my series “The Wave, the Sky, the Expressive Stroke”, the gestural stroke indicates we are at one with nature and a key to our planet’s evolution.

Jewish Artists Preparing For Art-A-Whirl

If you’re planning to visit some of the 800 artist studios during “Nordeast” Minneapolis’ 24th annual Art-A-Whirl from May 17-19, you’ll certainly want to be sure to support the Jewish artists who are participating in it. There are too many to feature here, but if you go to the event’s website, and scroll through the many names (and faces), you’re sure to find a minyan’s worth of Jewfolk there!

TCJ: In a nutshell, what’s been the artistic journey that brought you to Art-A-Whirl?

Wendy Shragg:

I studied design at the University of Minnesota, where I learned about color theory and principles. As far back as I can remember, I’ve loved to create, and a few years ago, I began to feel an underlying tug that there was a path I should be pursuing. Over the past few years, I’ve been on a journey of exploration rich with self-discovery. I came to realize that what I was looking so hard to find had been right in front of me all along. By letting go of the looking, and doing what I loved most, I discovered what I had been searching for. The creative piece of my life that had been my joy for so many years was urging me to play, and I realized I needed to do what made me come alive.

Brenda Litman

Brenda Litman: After graduating from college, I married, raised two sons with my husband, Ted, volunteered, and made art. When our youngest was 16, I embarked on an exciting journey returning to the University of Minnesota. to pursue art seriously, earning a BFA and an MFA. Subsequently, I found a studio in the California Building, northeast Minneapolis, and participated in the very first Art-A-Whirl. I have participated in many since then.

TCJ: Are there any local artists that have been influential in your work?

Wendy Shragg: While I am inspired by many, I can’t credit any one artist with being influential to my work. I’m an active observer of life. I tend to see the world with the curiosity of a child, always exploring, always thinking, always wondering. I notice everyday objects through my own unique lens, and I allow my imagination to run free.

Brenda Litman: I am influenced by the Minneapolis art community and the artists in my building, However, the major influences on my abstract paintings are 1. the forces of nature which surround, nurture and sometimes circumscribe our journey through life and 2. the gestural stroke of ancient Asian calligraphy in the looser modes. I feel the calligraphic stroke, the gestural stroke, and the handwritten word are all natural means of human communication. With the stroke, I indicate we are an integral part of nature.

TJC: How has being Jewish influenced your life and your artistic output?

Wendy Shragg: At our core, each of us has a divine spark; an energy that is uniquely our own. This is referred to as our neshama (soul). Working in an intuitive artistic style, I surrender to that inner power. I create intentional space for my art, get in tune with my neshama, and allow the creative process to flow.

Brenda Litman: My Jewish heritage provides a framework for my art. The journeys and persecutions Jews endured through the centuries from ancient Egypt to the Holocaust and beyond, form our collective memory. I feel for the displaced peoples in the world today especially those at our southern border.

In my Immigration series, I use the metaphor of nature’s garden. All who live in our nation inhabit that garden forming a rich mosaic of entwined blossoms; the ethnicities, the races, the people who immigrated over time and built our country. I celebrate them and the hard-working people now aspiring to make our country their new home.

Tikkun Olam is our desire as Jews to “heal the world.” Art heals and can hold messages as well. I often reference the ocean in my paintings. Vital to the life of the earth, the ocean lives but is endangered as it warms. In my series “The Wave, the Sky, the Expressive Stroke”, the gestural stroke indicates we are at one with nature and a key to our planet’s evolution.