Listen: 26321.wav

On this regional public affairs program, MPR’s Nancy Fushan, with assistance of Claudia Hampston and Roger Gomoll, look at four artists of the Upper Midwest. Fushan interviews sculptors Mariann Angelica, Catherine Mulligan, Steve Beyer, and Judy Onofrio, who discuss their works, thoughts, and views of themselves in society.

Read the Text Transcription of the Audio.

(00:00:00) Art is a place where the mental wheels are allowed to spin free. It's another Think Tank. There are think tanks at Princeton huge corporations have think tanks but artists are little individual think tanks that are letting their wheel spin a little Freer than other sorts of life will allow and I think that helps all of society grow because ideas that spin-off of art or technology that spins off of art or art that spins off of Technology all have a mutual growing effect. I think it's a very exciting time. Sculpture is an art of space and time during the past half century. We've seen sculpture expand beyond the Museum's the mantelpiece and the garden you can find the art form along highways in Nebraska. You can find it in hilly stretches of the California coast and some would argue. We even have our own personal sculptures inside with the infinite variety of form and space around us for Minnesota sculptors are setting their own courses and their spaces are not limited to the region for Marion Angelica of Duluth. There's no real Midwest or Minnesota style. This is a small world these days were all in communication with the East Coast the West Coast. We all read and see what everyone else is doing and the aesthetic is universal. It's not just even across the United States, but it's around the world right now that there's so much communication that we're all working diversely and all have Compadres and spirit in other places not necessarily in our region in the Fargo Moorhead area. Catherine Mulligan agrees that increased communication has been paralleled by increased individualism. I think there probably is certain like (00:01:47) experiences that one brings through their work. But as (00:01:51) far as the finished product, (00:01:53) I have not noted this and the shows I've (00:01:56) seen of Minnesota artist. It seems to be everyone's working in their own Direction Steve buyer who sculpts medal in st. Paul approaches the question of regionalism from a slightly different angle labeling an artwork as one thing or the other be it Regional or avant-garde serves no constructive purpose for him (00:02:14) for me the idea of an avant-garde or of work that supposedly is on The Cutting Edge is as limiting an idea. As any of the other isms that have come out of our criticism. Limiting in terms of giving all of us a kind of structure by which we were supposed to live for me. It's more important to find a kind of personal structure the true in my own life and in my work in that way the idea of a Cutting Edge or novel on guard is almost redundant. I understand it and at times I buy into that idea but it's not the it's not a kind of goal that I'm shooting for (00:03:02) anymore. If you go along with the premise that in sculpture the region is indeed the world. How do you treat sculpture motifs which may resemble a particular area for example one sculptor in the Moorhead area Lowell Ryland uses railroad ties asphalt waving motions in his work those elements are all part of the northern Minnesota Landscape, but despite the parallels Mulligan a colleague says that that Motif cannot be considered Regional I don't think so because he talked about taking the plowed fields and the cracks during the drought we had here a few years ago and then liking it to the cracks in the asphalt he saw in Connecticut. So I think one is a product of varied experiences and they synthesized through and come out as your aesthetic but regionalism does exist for Marion Angelica. She sees motifs in specialized art forms around the Duluth area. There's something very interesting going on in rural, Minnesota. People may debate whether or not it's quote unquote Fine Art. There are some lovely traditional art going on that's being kept there that is not being kept in the urban environment. However, as far as artists who are working on the Contemporary Art scene, I think no matter where you are. If you're keeping up with what's going on and working hard at what you're doing that you really with with the urban people. There's no difference Angelica brings up another question the artistic Divergence between urban and rural sculpture Steve buyer of Saint Paul is conscious of his own concepts of that split because it is one that he's confronted in (00:04:39) himself, you know in thinking back about my childhood, I grew up in a small town in central Minnesota and played a lot in the woods played by the river did a lot of things out in the country, you know, it kind of hunting fishing recreational sort of thing and also just playing as a kid, so a lot of the things I bring to my work, Our about those things that happened to me there about the spaces in a fish house there about the spaces in a pump house. You know often times people in the country have to have their own pump for bumping their water and they have to build these little sheds over them to keep the pumps dry there about those kind of mysterious spaces. So in that way I bring I guess I bring some real kind of things to my sculpture, but very definitely I am more of an urban person. I enjoy cities and enjoy the energy in a city. More so than I do in a rural setting. Do you design your work for (00:05:44) urban areas? Very (00:05:45) definitely very definitely (00:05:48) what did have a different feel if you were designing it for a rural (00:05:50) setting. I think it would have to I don't know how exactly it in thinking about my pieces when they get very large and when they are outdoors, I begin to approach that question and as of yet, I don't know what's going to happen. I don't know how it's going to work. I can't see my piece of sitting in front of a piece of architecture stay on a City Mall. I don't Envision them there why not for a variety of reasons? I think it's unrealistic to ever expect that they'll be there. They aren't pleasing enough. They aren't catchy enough. They aren't a lot of things enough. Or too little to be in those spaces. They aren't fun enough. They aren't popular enough. (00:06:34) Well, okay aside from the sculpture garden at the Modern Art Museum in New (00:06:40) York. Where will they go? Where will they go? I think in parks. possibly in a kind of Garden area within the city. I don't know what that would be (00:06:54) that's surprising you're naming things. That would be (00:06:57) more rural more. Well in a sense I am talking about softer kinds of areas. I guess not softer more private (00:07:03) areas buyers works are large dark forms, which often resemble sarcophagi some consider him a conceptual artist a popular label which buyer (00:07:12) dislikes conceptual for me or conceptual art for me drags up some things that I don't like lack of emotion in the work a kind of cool objective view of of what goes on around us in a kind of Information collecting that a lot of conceptual artists do they will measure out how big this hole is how deep it is etcetera etcetera. So it's straight information. What I want to make in my work is a space that has a clear sense of of itself, I guess pared-down not with a lot of Superfluous things if I can help it. Superfluous in terms of little expressive thing here or a little detail there or a little addition here that makes it look Artie. You know, I'd like to cut the art (00:08:10) out buyer also Compares his sculpture to prayer and spirituality (00:08:15) when I enjoy my work the most is when it's the most silent. In a kind of space and in a space in myself when the emptiness, you know becomes full and it at The Emptiness almost starts to talk. (00:08:31) He's worked for much of his artistic life with Urban materials specifically steel and other (00:08:36) metals. It holds some kind of Fascination for me the fascination being its strength its coldness. It's Difficult that it's difficult to work with difficult to form. There's something very masculine in it for me. There's a kind of closeness for me with it. And I don't understand all about how that works. It fights back a little bit. It has a nice Edge. a very crisp Edge a clean Edge Some materials don't I mean obviously soft sculpture fabric sculpture doesn't have that for me. I need that. I need that kind of dialogue with the material. (00:09:30) What about what about the scale? I mean you're working. (00:09:36) That's an emerge Dimension, right? That's an important issue. And I mean I go back and forth with that if I had my druthers, I would work very large for a variety of reasons one is so that people could literally be in the pieces. The other is that it would force a context for those pieces. They would have to be outside. They would almost have to be in a public place. And in that way, it's the old public sculpture discussion about getting art out of the Museum's and into a public place. I believe in that very (00:10:10) much working on a large-scale also appeals to Angelica. She takes small units of ceramic sculpture and builds them into huge forms because when one is immersed, One is able to feel directly the experience is intense. And that's how I began to get into things that people could actually enter because I felt that that was a much more intense and more direct experience than simply standing there and viewing an object the work that I've been doing for. The last two years is really not appropriate to people's homes spaces and homes are just too small. This work is designed for much larger spaces the individual individual units work very well in a home, but they don't carry the exact feeling that I would like to get the all-encompassing feeling. It's hard to work with spaces that big because when I finally get a piece done, I set it up in my living room and I back up and I bump into the walls. Fortunately. The Tweed museum has been very helpful to Young Artists and has allowed me to put my work up there so I can get a feel of what it will be like in the the spaces that I really want it to exist in her current work is just another step in an artistic Evolution. I started off as a quite quite traditional sculptor working in bronze casting marble welded Steel. And move from there being very disillusioned with the New York art scene, which I was at that time very close to into making Pottery because Pottery wasn't as tainted by the art world and I've also found that after making my living as a functional Potter that I moved closer and closer and closer to the sculptural again until I find I'm now in the middle of it all over again Angelica describes her new works as interior environments the pieces that I'm making right now are very thin the actual material there is far more space than there is physical material there. But what I'm trying to do is create an aura of an environment with these thin objects paste in particular distances from one another So I call them interior environments to keep it very straight that they're not exterior environment because the environmental movement in art generally deals with Earthworks large external exterior spaces, and I'm working with the space that architecture and closes the works that I'm dealing with now have another level of concern beside creating an environment for people to move within that is that I feel that people turn to and appreciate what they call Quantum quote again primitive art art that was made. As part of life in cultures that were not as technical technologically advanced advanced as ours. I found reading and observing myself and observing people. I knew that people had profound reaction to work like that and I asked myself why and decided that our culture is yearning for something as direct to express. Feelings and ideas in us that are hidden by our highly sophisticated culture and highly sophisticated technology and my work reflects that to that I'm trying to affect people at a very basic gut level. So besides creating environments, I'm trying to hone in on people's almost instinctual basic reactions Rochester sculptor, Jew D'Onofrio also works in clay observing changes in her Works form at the moment the works that I've just finished our little more formal than they have been in the past. My Works have always dealt with a certain sense of very personal expression in relationship to sensuality and humor and soft against hard and playing with lots of different ideas. I'm still doing that. It's just coming out in the end result looking a little bit more formal at the moment. But onofrio has also worked in soft or fabric sculpture which provides a much different kind of shape problems of space and material have caused her to broaden her definition of sculpture. I've been vacillating back and forth with that for the past couple of years of dealing with concern for space and not using I can absolutely not Turn for the object at all to whipping back and dealing with it. Again. It's sort of the same way. I use materials. It's like materials whatever whatever happens to work use it and I have I tend to have of just a physical romanticization towards using the media clay. I go back to it again and again, but it doesn't mean that and the same hand I'm using rubber and cloth and paint and lots of other things whatever the particular piece in progress on a free o says, she's influenced by her environment the physical surroundings of Southeastern Minnesota. I love the landscape in the midwest a haystack sandbags on the highway concrete tires using up out of the streets got cracks and sidewalk sides of buildings a million and things I'm just continually foot photographing them and sorting them out and thinking about them and re-evaluating ideas for Catherine Mulligan. The major influence goes beyond the landscape. I think mine comes just out of my lifestyle. The varied people that I spend time with from truck (00:15:59) drivers to store owners to (00:16:03) children and Friends of all professions. I think that plus every all the stimuli that's coming in around me is mainly I think I'm a product of where I am who I am and what I'm seeing all the time Mulligan sees her current work as a product of the 1970s. Her sculptures are formed from Port acrylics a flexible plastic material. I like to still keep the solid mass and work in the spatial quality or the illusion of space through the transparency of the media that I work in the reason initially that I started working with (00:16:43) this material was that color is a very important part of (00:16:48) my life as I grew up. I think color (00:16:50) was one of the most important (00:16:52) things from the the quilts that Grandmother and I made together as a child through the minimal color of the valley as I drive across it. So if I'm working in the bright decorative sense or in the minimal almost spiritual sense of the valley, I think color is very important in this media was one way I could speak another element of Mulligan's work is light. However, it's not the traditional use of light on Surface to form Shadows rather. The sculptor allows light to penetrate her forms causing an illusion of space and that illusion often runs counter to her more traditional concerns of solid Mass. I feel that I am working alone and I feel I'm hanging onto the the comfortable old coat with the war and binding in the fact that I do like solid spaces as I love that space But somehow coming out of the 50s and I still like to know that the mass is there and Going (00:17:54) back to brancusi and (00:17:57) I like to know a solid form is there the sculptors finished piece is the communication link with his or her audience. And each of the sculptors has a particular approach and attitude toward those who may be viewing their work Angelica for instance wants a psychological tie very often the underlying themes in my work. I have a definite thought. Has to do with the inner psychology of each of us now my works are not narrative. They don't tell a story. However, I hope the creation of the environment the materials I use the forms that those material take and the space that I incorporate into them will impart. This sort of feeling to the viewer and they'll begin to experience the psychological experiences that I'm thinking of. I very often watch relationship and interactions among people and some of the things I see I find are very important to all of us as functioning humans and that's another level that my work deals with but never in a realistic or a direct sense. Hopefully, it will create an aura Mulligan has a similar idea of the relationship between artist and audience. It's important that art is communication and you feel that since that you do want to draw The Wider Circle and make that Unity. Another thing. I sense all the time that you are the extension of your art and you are as important as Because somehow you are speaking to people and you become that piece the opportunity of verbal communication between artist and audience intrigues onofrio who thinks viewers will learn to approach sculpture and all art in new ways. There are different levels of relating to my work. I think that people either walk in on it and are attracted to it on a sheer sensual level there walked in they because I deal with a lots of ambiguous forms that you kind of get could be one thing or it could be another thing or it could be I'm playing with that that they may be confused by that very ambivalence that I'm playing with they could be totally grossed out by it and not understanding of it all of those things. That's why the past few years. I've been pretty much involved in trying to be connected with the exhibition and talk about my work and kind of give make a commitment to talking about it explaining where it's coming from and giving a level of reference. Buyer agrees with onofrio, although he doesn't believe increased audience awareness is easily (00:20:40) achieved for the most part audiences are trained as I was to look at Art and that you either like it or don't like it and if you don't like it you walk away from it immediately. It's the kind of thing. I think that Madison Avenue has done to all of us that if we don't get the message in the first 30 seconds, we (00:20:56) discarded does it have a place in our daily (00:20:59) lives? That's and I don't know I think less and less there are very distinct kinds of things that an artist can do that will help other people in their daily lives. I believe that Otherwise, I wouldn't do it. I give them an experience and I guess one has to draw one's own conclusions and one will experience them in a variety of ways obviously and I don't know how people put together all that data. I mean for some people those pieces are are frightening morbid have reminded people of ovens at Dachau all kinds of things like that for other people. They're very innovating. There's a kind of joy in it. There's a kind of acceptance of death In life, you know that whole thing, so I don't know it for me there for me there. For me, they're almost joyous. Because they are accepting of a lot of different things and it's not pretty and it's not wonderful. It's not that kind of Joy. They're more realistic for me. They're just not lying about a lot of stuff. I would like my work to be viewed and I kind of one-on-one situation A Friend put it this way. He liked to have a gallery where he would let one person in and he locked them in there for an hour with one piece. That's the kind of rigor that I demand of myself when I deal with my work and other people's work and I'd like to demand that of my audience that's not a possibility. Obviously, we'd all be charged with kidnapping or something. So that's a That's the kind of context I'd like to create and and with that goes the kind of silence and Solitude and contemplative - that you know, that could (00:22:48) breed. And with that also goes the artists manipulation of his audience. (00:22:53) That's what it comes down to. I know that sounds Fisher stick and everything else, but I do believe artists manipulate. Some two more degrees than others. But if if you dig a trench say on Earth build an earth peace and you dig a trench and people have to walk through it. You are controlling their space. It does sound fun. Yeah, it's wild. I've just realized that the other day because for so long I've tried have wrapping home, but I'm cool and I'm a nice guy and I'm sweet and I'm all this other stuff and it comes down to the fact that I'm you know, trying to manipulate someone space hopefully for the better (00:23:36) as we become manipulated by the sculptor. We also become aware of the space around us Angelica sees that as a major function of sculpture in society. There's been a move in the last 10 or 15 years of sculpture, too. Make the public aware that sculpture is not something that you simply possess that you buy a bust and you place it on your mantle and from this basic idea grew several art movements. The conceptualist movement was fiercely fighting the idea of possession of an artwork the Earthworks movement environmental movement that sent huge scale like crystals work was also fighting against that very idea what those movements have brought to light is that in truth. There is sculpture all around us that if sculpture is to deal with ideas form space that everywhere you look there are ideas form and space and the way artists have gathered their ideas from their environments in all of history. All those things are out there for all of us. Generally sculpture artist defined as having a human manipulating whatever the materials may be or ideas, maybe to create the effect. But all the raw material is there and so it does all exist everywhere. And of course all of art is getting incredibly broad. When at one time dance was defined as a separate art and music was decided to find as a separate art. You find that the Arts are now melding at all the different Corners everybody's coming in their sound sculpture and there's hat there were happenings on performance art of all kind is going on. So everything is sort of melting together. And with that comes an awareness that the aesthetic and the artistic is everywhere. Everywhere to be found and taking that one step further. That means we may all be sculptors people who like to isolate art from Life forget that each of us creates our own space any person living in a room piles his Goods in one corner, and another is creating a space and rearranging materials and with sensitivity. It can be done artistically and it can lend to the Harmony and serenity that can be in Life or the excitement in life and all of the sculptors see their art form currently at a point of expansion for Jus D'Onofrio ceramic sculpture is now Without Limits. I think it's all over the ballpark in sculpture. It's all over the ballpark in art in general, you know, there's just everything going on in reference to Ceramics in particular when I was first involved in Ceramics, like in the 60s the technical wherewithal the Space-age material - and everything was not nearly as readily available as it is now now, I mean, it's just it anything you want to do you can do and whether it be, you know ranging from working with are brushes and slip casting and all kinds of any kind of images crisp and clean or is whatever is rough and crunchy. It's all everything technically was kind of resolved. And so now it's just a matter of dealing with ideas Catherine Mulligan agrees. You're totally aware of the things that are going around you read a lot you look a lot you travel one (00:27:13) important shows are coming in that you want to experience and (00:27:16) touch but it's still for me is a very personal thing but I think in another vein, you're all a product of the same time of certain similar experiences because of those times. So I think simultaneously artists are doing the same things. You think you've done something you haven't seen before. And you open up a book and you see someone that's working and exactly the same Concepts and ideas and struggling to solve that aesthetic problem that you are and it's pretty exciting to know that you are not alone. But that sense of global art can also play against the Artist as noted by Steve (00:28:01) buyer because of the frustration that that breeds I think people will look inside more and they'll look to a more individual more personal kind of art whatever that is, you know for me, it's it's one thing and for do D'Onofrio it'll be something else, you know, whether it's a personal iconography a personal mythology, whatever but I do believe it's going back inside there have been key people that have been chosen I believe to be. Examples of an ism say minimalism. There are key people that were chosen to lead us in that Quest because everybody now knows that's how it happens. I think more and more people will want to be leaders. You know, and and I think ultimately what we've seen to is that it doesn't matter. If your leader of an ism you just got to live with (00:28:58) yourself and we end with this final comment on the general direction of sculpture from Marion Angelica. The 1970s particularly have been An era of non movements there have been many many movements many individuals going off in their own Direction. Previous to that there have been movements that have taken the Forefront and then hangers-on to follow those movements. This is an exciting time because many things are flying out in many directions new materials are becoming quote-unquote acceptable by the institutions of art whenever The Cutting Edge is moving forward. It's a time when I don't think art brings Serenity or peace of mind or even a clear understanding of where it's going or what's going on because it's a struggle up there on The Cutting Edge directions in sculpture was made possible with the assistance of Roger Jamal KC CM Moorhead Claudia. Hampsten WS c d Duluth and Jennifer O'Neill que él se in Rochester. I'm Nancy Fusion.


Digitization made possible by the State of Minnesota Legacy Amendment’s Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund, approved by voters in 2008.

This Story Appears in the Following Collections

Views and opinions expressed in the content do not represent the opinions of APMG. APMG is not responsible for objectionable content and language represented on the site. Please use the "Contact Us" button if you'd like to report a piece of content. Thank you.

Transcriptions provided are machine generated, and while APMG makes the best effort for accuracy, mistakes will happen. Please excuse these errors and use the "Contact Us" button if you'd like to report an error. Thank you.

< path d="M23.5-64c0 0.1 0 0.1 0 0.2 -0.1 0.1-0.1 0.1-0.2 0.1 -0.1 0.1-0.1 0.3-0.1 0.4 -0.2 0.1 0 0.2 0 0.3 0 0 0 0.1 0 0.2 0 0.1 0 0.3 0.1 0.4 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.4 0.5 0.2 0.1 0.4 0.6 0.6 0.6 0.2 0 0.4-0.1 0.5-0.1 0.2 0 0.4 0 0.6-0.1 0.2-0.1 0.1-0.3 0.3-0.5 0.1-0.1 0.3 0 0.4-0.1 0.2-0.1 0.3-0.3 0.4-0.5 0-0.1 0-0.1 0-0.2 0-0.1 0.1-0.2 0.1-0.3 0-0.1-0.1-0.1-0.1-0.2 0-0.1 0-0.2 0-0.3 0-0.2 0-0.4-0.1-0.5 -0.4-0.7-1.2-0.9-2-0.8 -0.2 0-0.3 0.1-0.4 0.2 -0.2 0.1-0.1 0.2-0.3 0.2 -0.1 0-0.2 0.1-0.2 0.2C23.5-64 23.5-64.1 23.5-64 23.5-64 23.5-64 23.5-64"/>