Sunday, August 30, 2020

2020 Minnesota State Fair Fine Art Exhibit

The Exhibit that almost wasn’t.

Due to the pandemic crisis most of the activities of the fair have been curtailed. One that was rescued from Covid-limbo was the Fine Arts Exhibit. It was held in the same hall with the same entry requirements but was now a ticketed event with a limited number of admissions per 90 minute block of time. We went on opening Friday night; there was a ton of space available for social distancing. I did manage to recognize a couple of people with their masks on so there were some opportunities to interact (albeit at 6 feet away.) This year there were several works which referenced George Floyd and the riots that ensued from his murder.

The painting was, as usual, the most imposing type of art work. It seemed to come in three broad categories: Paintings done from photos, homages to historical styles, and embarrassing. There were some very fine entries, however, here is a fine example of Trompe-l’œil from Preston Lawing:


A work in a different medium that caught my attention was Tamsin Barlow’s lino print Near Rochester. In this photo-shopped age it was a pleasant surprise to see a clean and elegant black and white image.

In photography it seems that there are about four main types: Cell-phone pictures, dramatic portraits, street photography, plus the usual nature and wildlife clichés. Some people send in the same kid of work year after year—I can even tell who shot it before I read the label (I’m looking at you, Shelly Mosman and Amy Ballinger.)

The sculpture is usually the only group that has a sense of humor. This year was an exception, I wasn’t as “wowed” as I have been in previous years. Textiles and fabrics are always quirky but I was not that impressed. Ceramics and glass left me unmoved as well.

There was, however, something new under the sun. Michelle Mildred had done what she call a “digital painting” on an iPad which was then transferred to canvas. Very strong in its sense of design, it was beautifully executed, although it did remind me of 1970s record album art:


All in all, this year’s exhibit was certainly better than nothing. It’s been 47 years since the first time I had an entry in the Fair, to be in again was a kick. There were a couple of other old-timers from that group in the show this year: Joyce Lyon and Rod Massey!

You can view the entire catalog here.

You can get a trippy virtual tour of the exhibition here.

I’ll post some previous State Fair “greatest hits” photos Wednesday to get back into a State Fair Mindset.

See all of my Minnesota State Fair Fine Arts posts here.

By Professor Batty


Blogger jono said...

This has been making news around the state. I keep looking for yours, but they didn't pan by it when I was looking. :(

Blogger Professor Batty said...

In the virtual tour go to the floor plan view. Near the upper left hand corner is a spot of red. Click just to the right of it, my pic is on the right.

Anonymous Nicole said...

I was so happy that we got to see you at the exhibit, and that was definitely the highlight :) I'll be honest, I left somewhat bored with the overall exhibit, BUT there were some jewels that I really enjoyed seeing. The photos that I liked, I REALLY liked :)

Blogger Professor Batty said...

Another year, another fair! Hope to see you at and in the show next year!

Post a Comment