Portraits of the River as a Beloved Landscape

Exhibit features two perspectives on St. Croix River from above and within.




3 minute read

Mark your calendar for a special St. Croix River poetry event related to this art show on October 2! Sign up for the email list to make sure you hear about it.

Paintings by Susan Armington
River paintings by Susan Armington. None of these photos do the work justice — please go see it for yourself! (Greg Seitz, St. Croix 360)

Layers of dark greens from a rainy July, pale blue shadows on the snow, and the interaction between people and the river adorn the walls of ArtReach St. Croix’s gallery in Stillwater during the Bend in the River show, on display now through October 11.

The human relationship with the St. Croix flows through the works of both participating painters. For Susan Armington, this interaction comes in the form of the stories of people who know and love the St. Croix (including me). Her “River Stories” paintings feature fragments of words woven into the water.

During her artist residency last summer at the St. Croix Watershed Research Station’s Pine Needles Cabin, Armington solicited handwritten stories from the community. She then cut them up and spliced them into the wavy currents of her paintings, adding layers of context to the scenery.

Armington describes the art as “atmospheric, with deep colors, lots of greens, and bits of shimmering.” In addition to several works of mingled water and words, Armington also created “mini maps” of the St. Croix. The paint is thickly layered on these small, square canvases to make topographic maps, depicting the river’s characteristic bluffs and braided channels and islands.

These birds-eye views also pair her work nicely with that of her partner in the show.

Work by Tom Maakestad
Work by Tom Maakestad

Tom Maakestad’s works are almost all painted from aerial perspectives, showing off the lines and curves of land shaped by moving water. He seems to find pleasure in how rivers shape the earth – perfect curves, teardrop islands – but the human element is at play here, too.

His pieces show the streets of Marine on St. Croix and square tiles of farm fields next to the river, and the shapes and lines of the roads present a more orderly contrast to the natural routes of water.

Events and hours

I am excited to announce that I am helping Susan host a “River Reading” at the gallery on October 2. It will feature poetry by myself and Laurie Allmann, the St. Croix River Twitter Haiku Challenge — when everyone is invited to share their short poems — and more. Stay tuned.

A Bend in the River will be on display Thursday, September 4 through Saturday, October 11. The St. Croix Galleries are open Wednesdays–Fridays, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., and Saturdays, 12-4 p.m.  ArtReach St. Croix is located at 224 N. 4th Street, Stillwater, Minn.

As a Take Me to the River event, A Bend in the River will have extended hours the weekends of September 20-28. The gallery will be open Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sundays, 12-4 p.m. More information is available here.


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If you have any questions, please email greg@stcroix360.com


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Portraits of the River as a Beloved Landscape