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Seeking Whimsy in the World by Susan Gainen

Shows, Performances, and Exhibitions
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  Thursday, April 18, 2024 - Saturday, May 18, 2024

  Hallberg Center for the Arts - The Underground Gallery

Seeking Whimsy in the World  

by Susan Gainen

in the Underground Gallery

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. 

Seeking Whimsy by Susan Gainen

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. 

Magic of Detail She celebrates the magic of detail every day. In 5th grade, she was sent to the back of the room for being disruptive and couldn’t see the blackboard.  Her parents followed the teacher’s direction and got glasses for her. Between diagnosis and delivery, her Girl Scout Troop went to Rock Creek Park in Washington DC for a 9 am Saturday morning bird watching trip (which she continues to consider as child abuse, but the statute of limitations has run.)  

While her friends pointed to blue birds and red birds, she saw nothing, and having no word in her vocabulary for “delusional,”  she was memorably cranky. The following Tuesday, she got glasses and could see every leaf on every tree and every blade of grass. A magical miracle. 

Career Path Her career path is remarkably free of art instruction, but loaded with art activities.  During the past 74 years, she worked in three time zones as a typesetter,  administrative manager, food broker sales rep,  car sales rep and finance and insurance manager,  lawyer, library science student,  headhun¬ter for lawyers, law school career services director,  national speaker on careers and creativity, and  cooking teacher. She is now a full-time working artist and part-time Costco demo lady. 

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.

 

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Hallberg Center for the Arts, 5521 East Viking Blvd., Wyoming, MN 55092

 

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All Dates


  • From Thursday, April 18, 2024 to Saturday, May 18, 2024

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Date : April 27, 2024