REGIONAL- A traveling art exhibit featuring about two dozen multimedia pieces inspired by the new Ancient Cedars Trail in Tower will open in June at the Lyric First Stage Gallery. The exhibit will …
REGIONAL- A traveling art exhibit featuring about two dozen multimedia pieces inspired by the new Ancient Cedars Trail in Tower will open in June at the Lyric First Stage Gallery. The exhibit will move in subsequent months to Ely, Hibbing, and finally Cook.
Eleven area artists, working in oil, watercolor, pen and ink, acrylic, fiber arts, mixed media, and woodworking are all part of the exhibit, titled Ancient Cedar Trail: An Artistic Exploration 2021.
The inspiration for the artistic group came from Joan Hunn, of Ely, who then recruited artists she knew from their work that had been on display in local galleries, as well as artists from Duluth.
“Joan had moved to Ely from Duluth last fall and discovered the trail,” said Sue Rauschenfels, one of the artists in the group. “She had a vision of honoring the trail and interpreting the trail through artistic works.”
Many of the artists did a group hike on the trail in January. Some had been on the trail before, but for others it was a new experience.
The trail system was built last spring and summer and includes about two miles of looping paths that wind through a large area of old growth upland white cedar, some of which date back to the 1880s, along with many large pines. The route starts with a 500-foot-long boardwalk through a swampy area, then moves up and around large rock formations that offer views of both Lake Vermilion and the city itself. The trail is located off the Mesabi Trail, a short walk from Tower’s train depot, and has become a popular hiking destination.
“This fit really well into what I do with my painting,” said Wendy Rouse. Rouse and her husband moved to Ely about five years ago. The couple worked in the restaurant industry, but Rouse studied art and painting in college, and she often taught painting over the years.
She and her husband were married 40 years ago, and they spent their honeymoon in the Boundary Waters.
“I get a lot of inspiration from the boreal forest,” she said. Rouse grew up in Duluth, but once married lived on both the east and west coasts.
“Every time I left Minnesota, I ended up coming back again,” she said. “We love this area and its little towns.”
Now retired, she has more time to devote to her painting, focusing on still life paintings in oil. “I paint realistic renderings in unrealistic settings,” she said. “I am really interested in how man and nature interact in the woods.”
She often brings home small natural items she finds in the woods to paint, alongside other found objects, including a small toy moose included in one of her paintings in the show. She sells her work at Lizzards Art Gallery in Duluth, as well as through smaller shows in other northeastern galleries. Her arrangement with Lizzards Gallery is “an artist’s dream come true,” she said. The gallery will take any paintings she brings in, an unusual agreement. Other galleries, she said, want works that they feel will sell, in certain sizes and price ranges.
Rouse first hiked on the trails last summer, after reading about it in the Timberjay. When asked to participate in this show, she said it was a natural for her and she quickly agreed.
Rauschenfels took over the task of organizing the logistics of the show. While the artists wanted to host an exhibit site in Tower, there wasn’t a suitable venue that could offer enough space or staffing to handle sales. Each artist committed to creating two works to display in the show, as well as one piece to hold in reserve if one of their pieces is sold. Anyone purchasing artwork from the sale has the option of taking it right away or letting it remain in the show and receiving it when the final show is over at the end of September. If an artist’s piece is sold and removed, their reserved piece will go on display.
Eventually, some pieces might end up on display in Tower once the Lake Vermilion Cultural Center gallery space is completed. Additionally, each artist in the exhibit has created an eight-by-ten-inch piece of original artwork that is being mounted into a concertina-style book. The book will be on display with the exhibit at each of the four galleries. Plans are to then donate the book to the LVCC for permanent display.
Jim DeVries, from Britt, comes to his art with his training as a naturalist. He was also familiar with the cedar trail, having visited it last year.
“It was an easy yes,” he said, “especially after walking the trail. It’s such a beautiful trail with lots of inspiration.”
DeVries saw a porcupine in a large white pine on two different walks on the trail. He took photographs with his phone, and then he created a pen-and-ink drawing that is part of the exhibit. He also has entered an acrylic-on-canvas painting of a scene from the trails “blue loop,” of one of the many moss-covered rock outcroppings that can be viewed on the trail.
DeVries visited the trail again with his family on Mother’s Day weekend and was pleasantly surprised to see several other families out hiking.
DeVries, a naturalist at the Laurentian Environmental Center, has had more time to devote to his art after the center shut down temporarily due to the pandemic. While he had studied art in college, he was discouraged by a professor who claimed he wasn’t talented. Taking up drawing and painting about five years ago, he discovered his talents, and has displayed his work at Northwoods Friends of the Arts in Cook and the Lyric in Virginia.
Where to see the exhibit:
In June, the exhibit will be at the Lyric First Stage Gallery, 510 Chestnut St., Virginia. Gallery hours: Thursday through Saturday, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.
In July, at The Art Corner, 301 W Sheridan St., Ely. Gallery hours: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., and Saturday from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. Hours July 7 – 12 are 10 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
In August, at the Borealis Art Guild, 214 E Howard St., Hibbing. Gallery hours: Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
In September, at Northwoods Friends of the Arts, 210 S River St., Cook.Gallery hours: Wednesday through Friday 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., and Saturday 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Participating artists: Jim DeVries, of Britt; Wendy Rouse, Pamela Davis, Jordan Gawboy, of Tower; Nancy Ensley, of Ely; Louise Laakso Lundin, Jeff Argir, of Hibbing; and Linda Glisson, Margie Helstrom, Nan Stubenvoll, Sue Rauschenfels, of Duluth.