Please Note Memorial Day Hours:

Friday, May 24th: CLOSED
Saturday, May 25th: OPEN for our Free Last Saturday Art Classes for Kids, 1-3pm!


Susan Gainen

Susan Gainen

Susan Gainen is a Whimsical Wildlife Documentarian, Abstract Painter, and Author, who has been privileged to meet and document thousands of whimsical creatures from Minnesota and around the world in the comfort of her living room studio.  She also explores abstract images with tiny shapes and spaces that represent “every piece looks better because of the pieces that surround it.” 

Her show may spark your imagination or at least help you believe that there is something outside the corner of your eye that needs exploration. It is hosted by her friends Mr. Piano Owl (from her book The Parliament of Owls, and Elegant Blue Cat (from the third Clowder of Cats), and the Small Friends’ Research Institute, a wholly imagined international non-profit that supports artists seeking to find and document whimsical creatures. 

Who is Susan Gainen?
Susan Gainen’s first art memory is wanting to fingerpaint all over everything all the time. Her Mother wisely put a stop to that with crayons.

Active Art Life  She did the elementary school crafts, Girl Scout crafts, summer camp crafts (still has lanyards to show for it), hippie crafts, quilting (learned from a neighbor), wire sculpture (a 5-foot tall 3-legged bird), painted Plaster of Paris eggs, and became obsessed with needlepoint. In 2009 she replied to an ad for “Introduction to Watercolor” from the late, lamented and beloved Split Rock, and her life changed forever.

Throwing Off Previous Constraints  Before encountering watercolor, she was constrained in color choice by vendor offerings: crayons, yarn, fabric, etc. With watercolor – in case you didn’t know – you can have or make all of the colors. Armed with scissors, glue and acrylic paint, the threw off the limits imposed by paintings she didn’t like, and cut them up to make paper mosaic.

The Show: Two Prime Directives  Hosted by Mr. Piano Owl, Elegant Blue Cat, and the Small Friends’ Research Institute, this show will take visitors  through whimsical spaces dedicated to one of Susan’s two Prime Directives: Spread Whimsy.

Visitors will meet creatures from The Lost Cave Paintings of Saint Paul, The Wild Parrots of Saint Paul’s Grim Winter of 2013, The Parliament of Owls, Climate Change Warriors including The Curlews, Mr. Fish and His Aquatic Warriors, Fierce Flamingos from her upcoming book The Flamboyance of Flamingos,  some Starry Night Creatures (Cat, Rooster, Panda), and a paper mosaic cat.

The Second Prime DirectiveVisitors will also be introduced to her other Prime Directive, which inspires abstract paintings featuring tiny shapes in tiny spaces: Every Piece Looks Better Because of the Pieces that Surround It. These include Rings and Links, Rice Blocks, and the backgrounds of many of the Whimsical Creatures.

Susan Gainen