St. Croix Valley Architect Mike McGuire Revealed as a “Painter in Disguise”

The influential designer – himself inspired by the St. Croix River – shares his life’s original creative work.




2 minute read

Untitled painting by Mike McGuire
Untitled, by Mike McGuire

For more than 50 years, Mike McGuire has been designing houses and businesses throughout the St. Croix Valley, many with precisely-framed views of the river itself. The architect’s work is almost instantly recognizable by its airy spaces filled with exposed natural wood, often using twinned beams as ceiling joists, with soft light and a sense of being intertwined with its natural settings.

McGuire’s notable creations include the park buildings at Wild River State Park, the Dock Cafe, which has arguably the best view of the river of any restaurant (not counting the seasonal Marine Landing b.o.t.m.’s deck), the St. Croix Watershed Research Station’s main building in May Township, as well as numerous private homes. He has had an important, influential, and productive career in architecture.

Mike McGuire design
Mike McGuire design

But years before McGuire built his first building, he was putting brush to canvas. McGuire says he has been painting “for most of his life.” Now, he is revealing this aspect of his artistry. An exhibit opening next week in Stillwater will present his two-dimensional creations.

“McGuire’s paintings incorporate a host of disparate influences – from the Depression-era Regionalists and Realists right through Modernism and into Abstract Expressionism – yet the bulk of his work remains solidly grounded in Midwestern landscapes and other familiar imagery that he routinely encounters while making his way to his studio or driving around the St. Croix River Valley near his home,” a press release from ArtReach St. Croix says.

The other two artists included in the show were selected to set the feeling of McGuire’s home, his studio, and many of his buildings. Fiber art and pottery decorate his spaces, and the work of Tim Crane and Morgan Clifford will contribute to making the gallery resemble McGuire’s muses.


  • “McGuire’s Natural Habitat” will be on view October 1-November 7 with an opening reception on Thursday, October 1 from 6-8pm.
  • The galleries at ArtReach St. Croix are open Wednesdays through Fridays, 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. and Saturdays, 12:00-4:00 p.m.
  • ArtReach St. Croix is located at 224 N. 4th Street, Stillwater, Minn.
  • Additionally, a tour of McGuire’s studio in the Commander building at 406 Nelson Street in Stillwater will be available on Friday, October 23 from 4-8pm.


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One response to “St. Croix Valley Architect Mike McGuire Revealed as a “Painter in Disguise””

  1. Bill Avatar

    Great piece, Greg.



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St. Croix Valley Architect Mike McGuire Revealed as a “Painter in Disguise”