In mid-July, ArtReach St. Croix’s Mobile Art Gallery was at Point Douglas, a popular swimming beach and fishing destination in Prescott, Wis. It is also where the St. Croix and Mississippi Rivers converge. The placement of an art exhibition in a park setting was exactly what organizers were aiming for: showcasing works of art about the natural world within the natural world. The goal is to challenge people to reflect more deeply on their surroundings.
Since May, the Mobile Art Gallery has been on tour throughout the St. Croix Valley. In July, it began displaying the exhibition “Awakening: Inspired by Interconnections” at state parks and art locales. It will continue making stops at some obvious—and not so obvious—locations in August and September.
“We were intentional in choosing to set up the Mobile Art Gallery at Point Douglas,” says ArtReach St. Croix Executive Director Heather Rutledge. “It allowed us to juxtapose the artists’ retreat at the starting point of the St. Croix watershed with their work on display at the confluence of the St. Croix and Mississippi Rivers.”
“Awakening: Inspired by Interconnections” features new work created by artists who attended a retreat in the sand barrens ecosystem of northwestern Wisconsin, near the headwaters of the St. Croix River. Sixteen artists participated in the 2021-2022 What We Need Is Here seminar series, an annual program exploring the role of art and sustainability. Anastasia Shartin of the Phipps Center for the Arts in Hudson, Wis., curated the exhibition.
For “Awakening,” the What We Need Is Here artist cohort focused their attention on the concept of symbiocene, an emerging concept regarding a new era in which the interdependence of humans and the natural world is celebrated and prioritized. The trip to the St. Croix headwaters region deepened their understanding of symbiocene. The resulting works seek to go deeper, look further, and examine more closely that which cannot be seen.
“Putting art in the landscape via the Mobile Art Gallery is a powerful way to remind people that we are all interconnected,” continues Rutledge. “‘Awakening’ celebrates those connections, especially those that are unseen or as yet unknown.”
Additionally, 2022 marks the 50th anniversary of the Wild & Scenic Rivers Act affording protection to the Lower St. Croix River (from Taylor’s Falls to Prescott). ArtReach St. Croix serves the same lower St. Croix River communities that have enjoyed protection for 50 years.
“We’re eager to continue sharing this exhibition with as many communities as possible before wrapping up the Mobile Art Gallery season,” says Rutledge.
Participating What We Need Is Here artists are Gloria Adrian, Barb Bend, Stephen J. Gates, Deanna Grigus, Theresa Harsma, Patty Kuebker Johnson, Cheryl Maplethorpe, Lynn Pagliarini, Bonnie Ploger, Teri Power, Sue Rowe, Judy Smith, Krista Spieler, Laura Tiede, Jill Waterhouse, and Linda Webster.
Developed in 2016, the Mobile Art Gallery exhibitions change from year to year, but its purpose remains the same: to engage people with an unexpected arts experience in an unexpected place and to expand people’s curiosity about artistic resources and opportunities in the region.
Find the Mobile Art Gallery and Awakening at:
- Afton State Park, August 12-14 (Friday, 6-8pm; Saturday and Sunday, 9am-4pm)
- Afton State Park, August 13. Join What We Need Is Here artists Gloria Adrian and Jan Hayman a for drop-in Found Object Creation workshop from 9am to 12pm
- Walker Art Center, August 20-21 (Saturday and Sunday)
- Willow River State Park, September 2-4 (Friday, 6-8pm; Saturday and Sunday, 9am-4pm)
- Art at the Acreage, Osceola, September 17 (Saturday, 12-5pm)
- Art at Rustic Road 13, Hudson, September 18 (Sunday, 10am-5pm)
Visit artreachstcroix.org to learn more about this exhibition and the Mobile Art Gallery, and to see specific times and information about artist-led programs at the various park locations.
Awakening and the 2022 season of the Mobile Art Gallery is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, Xcel Energy Foundation, St. Croix Valley Foundation and RBC Wealth Management Foundation.