About the Artist

Erik Benson: Erik chose landscape paintings to work with for the Art Up-Cycle exhibition, because it’s the vernacular that he is most interested in generally, but also because the specific paintings he selected seemed to be missing something. Erik felt in some regard that his approach was going to be like finishing an incomplete sentence, albeit in a direction significantly different from the one the original artist intended. He wanted to really tune into the original narrative but also add his own voice to the paintings.

Jim Dryden: Jim is not comfortable with the idea of assessing art in terms of “good art and bad art,” so, during the art cycling process, he chose to view himself, not as an art improver, but rather as an art collaborator. Jim found it both interesting and rewarding to respond to the work that another artist had begun – whether “successful” or not. He considered what he would hope for if another artist were to revise his artwork.

With this in mind, Jim set three goals for himself while working on the paintings. He was determined to

    1. Allow himself to be inspired by, and respond to, the work of the original artist.
    2. Respect and preserve something of the original work.
    3. Create a shared vision – his own, plus that of the art originator.

Jim is satisfied that he successfully met his first and second goals. He hopes that he also met the third goal. In Jim’s words:

“I have enjoyed the challenge of this project, but I would like to reinforce the respect due anyone who has the courage to make a piece of art– you are already a hero.”

Nathanael Flink: The original four pieces Nathanael selected for Art Up-Cycle suggested contrasting materiality, yet a similarity in terms of palette. To him they were evocative of objects in adolescence. From the beginning, he knew that his treatments would involve casting, but he spent quite a long time thinking about each piece and his ideas. Working with just a couple of themes, Nathanael began using casting in different ways for each work. Throughout the process, he added other up-cycled objects, like a found gold mirror.

Nathanael’s Art Up-Cycle artworks are an extension of a body of work he has been developing for the last year, involving objects we experience as Americans. Thematically, they deal with questions of commerce, value, personal narrative and angst.

Laura Hallen: Laura’s love for the natural world has turned her toward the absurdity of artificial plants and environments, surrounded with plastic foliage, and our relationships with them. They are a fascinating contradiction: fake ‘life’ that imitates real life, and an unsavory way to fill a decorative void. Instead of being cared for, these artificial plants usually become neglected; creating a lifeless affect that is sad and disappointing. Laura’s reason for working with artificial plants is to continue her method of conserving ‘plant life’ but also to think of them as a visual metaphor for the destruction, substitution, and extinction of real plants. By working with these fictional plants, she feels she is giving them a chance to live an alternate existence in the “natural” habitat of her art.

Within this context, Laura chose an artwork to up-cycle that spoke to her, but also forced her to break out of her comfort zone. The only element from the original painting that remains in Laura’s up-cycled artwork is a small bronze star. This star became a sun that nourished the painted and sculptural landscape that unfurls over the surface of the new painting. To Laura, this was a unique collaborative process with an unknown artist whose work was the ground upon which her own work grew.

James Holmberg: James considers the art up cycle process to be an artistic partnership. It’s a way to collaborate and at the same time, a way to become a single artist. It’s two people at two different times, in this case in 1950 and in 2016, who are communicating with each other through their artwork.

When James was asked to be part of the Art Up-Cycle exhibition, he was a bit hesitant about whether to accept the invitation. But once he saw Anette Wiik’s paintings, he realized what a wonderful opportunity this was going to be. He knew exactly what he wanted to do; he decided to open up Anette’s paintings and simply say, hi.

Anette Wiik completed two paintings of two different places that she seemed to have really loved. To James, these two places appear to have allowed Anette’s mind to wander. This is what attracted him to her work. In his own work, James also attempts to create a space that one can enter and possibly a space where the mind can wander.

Patrick K. Pryor: As a painter, Patrick works from a place of spontaneous intelligence. He generates bold statements that engage mind and heart by using color and gesture to explore abstract ideas of humor, beauty and absurdity. A former environmental engineer and science educator, he also draws from that experience by abstracting forms and patterns from the natural world. Site-specific installations of his work have appeared in more than 140 locations in Minnesota and Canada. As an interdisciplinary collaborator he’s worked in film and video, and with dancers, other visual artists and fashion designers, including Christopher Straub from “Project Runway.” About his work Patrick says, “My paintings are full of many possible narratives, relationships and a little bit of absurdity.”

Jodi Reeb: Jodi’s original works and commissions are in the collections of law firms, healthcare facilities, financial institutions, hotels, and other diverse corporate and private clients. Until recently, her focus has been on content and creating work that’s nature-based and contemporary. Now Jodi is using common materials in the layers of encaustic (molten beeswax) paint to create beautiful, rich surfaces that explore the opacity and translucency of each painting. “By focusing on the surface, I’ve come to understand more about the dynamics of painting with molten beeswax and acrylic paint,” she says. “My most recent work focuses on the singular beauty of the surface. I am also intrigued with how light accentuates the height and depth of the surface, creating light and shadow on and between the layers.” In addition to beeswax, Jodi uses iron oxide, acrylic paint, bronze and copper pigments, graphite and shellac, which she sets on fire to get controlled yet spontaneous surface affects. A graduate of the Minnesota College of Art and Design, Jodi teaches encaustic painting, and actively exhibits throughout Minnesota and the U.S.

Carolyn Swiszcz: Because Carolyn was painting on someone else’s work, she decided to involve a couple of more artists in this project. So she added lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein and her interpretation of a kinetic sculpture by George Rhoads. Please draw your own conclusions.