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Fresh Art Tour kicks off Oct. 7

Little Plum Pottery

WESTERN WISCONSIN -- An art colony is something that forms spontaneously. It may begin with someone looking for a simpler life and another artist comes along to help with the move and finds the area attractive and affordable. Back in the 1970s, artists and friends from the Twin Cities discovered the nearly abandoned village of Stockholm. Big brick homes and old wooden farmhouses offered affordable housing, land was cheap and the young artists were thrilled to find such a beautiful place to make their own. Over the course of a few years one followed another, building a creative community of painters, potters, sculptors, photographers and more.  

Fast forward 40 years and enough creative people have been drawn to the area to constitute an actual artists’ colony. The Fresh Art Tour, now in its 18th year, is one way that these artists reach out to the greater community and share their talents. The area also hosts the annual Stockholm Art Fair and an abundance of art galleries and other creative venues. The Fresh Art Tour is from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Oct. 7-9.

Back in the 1970s, the area around Stockholm in Pepin County attracted many young people wanting to get “back to the land,” to live off the grid, and as Barbara Andersen said, “to leave the tension of the times and lead a simpler life.”

Barbara, her husband, Art Gannett, as well as Sören Svedvik are all current artists of the Fresh Art Tour and were some of the early settlers of what is now this vibrant art colony in and around Pepin County. They will be exhibiting their work in their homes or studios.

Barbara and Art met after they had moved to the area. Barbara was a recent graduate of the Minneapolis Art College (now the Minneapolis College of Art & Design). She had helped other art student friends move to Stockholm and was enchanted with the thought of moving to the area.  Art had been living in the Twin Cities, had begun working as a potter and moved to rural Porcupine, Wis., where he built a home and a pottery studio. Art and Barbara met, married and had two children while continuing as potters. Art did most of the wheel throwing while Barbara did much of the glazing. For years they participated in the Renaissance Festival in Shakopee where they sold charming terracotta carved pumpkins. Art also worked at Red Wing Pottery, where he continues to throw pots on a part-time basis.

In 1998, Art went back to school to become a teacher of German. He and Barbara did a semester abroad in Germany where they met the potter Wendelin Stahl. Art said, “He really changed my thought about making a living as a potter. Whereas I had always tried to see how many pots I could make inexpensively, he made one-of-a-kind works that were fine collectibles. At one time, he was considered the highest priced potter in Germany.” It wasn’t only the business model that influenced Art and Barbara, but his technique and glazing recipes. Barbara says, “We continue to work in his manner...I just love the spontaneous flow of the glazes, the controlled chaos of the medium. You just never know exactly what you’ll get when you open the kiln, but it’s exciting.” On a subsequent trip to Europe to visit friends, they had only arrived to get a phone call saying that their home had exploded due to a gas leak resulting from a construction project. They quickly returned home. With the help of friends and family, they rebuilt a new home and studio in their beloved Little Plum Valley outside Pepin, Wis. (the name of their pottery is Little Plum Pottery).  Barbara also enjoys expanding her creativity through work with a slab roller making tile mosaic pieces, and Art, who enjoys the art of teaching, intends to expand this side of the pottery business.  

Bruce Dunlap was also a graduate of the Minneapolis Art College. Bruce moved to Holland soon after graduation where he lived for over 25 years. Through mutual friends, Bruce met Linda Day, a potter, now living in the home that Art Gannett had built in the 70s on Pottery Lane.  Bruce returned to the United States to marry Linda in 1998. Their joint studio is site number two on the Fresh Art Tour. Bruce will be exhibiting the acrylic paintings he has done over the last decade or two. His style is influenced by the industrial drawings of the 20th century, incorporating engines, trains, bicycles, cars and such into his often whimsical subjects.  

Sören Svedvik, another Minneapolis transplant in the 1970s, is also part of the Fresh Art Tour. He will be exhibiting his photography at his newly built home above Stockholm, Wis. Sören, who was born in Sweden, moved to Pepin County, to an old farmhouse on Bogus Creek Road. He was one of the founders of the Stockholm Art Fair (as were Art and Barbara). Sören was informally apprenticed as a graphic designer by his father and grandfather. This led to a job as a technical silkscreener. But artist friends and influences such as Ansel Adams and MC Escher inspired Sören to branch out into art-based silkscreen prints. For many years he sold hand finished Redwood Burl tables at art fairs as well as silkscreen prints. Two of the Stockholm Art Fair posters — collector favorites, were his original silkscreen designs. He now shares the art tour site with his brother Lars and son-in-law Michael Peters.

Tour Headquarters: Accola Gallery, 502 2nd Ave. E, Durand, WI 54736

Tour maps can be found at many sites around western Wisconsin and eastern Minnesota as well as a downloadable map at www.freshart.org.

Artists included in the tour are Jean Accola, Linda Day, Bruce Dunlap, Richard Lee, Kathy Broadbent, Elaine Seifert, Art Gannett, Barbara Andersen, John Meyer, Casey Maude, Leah Werner, Darrel Bowman, Tom Latané, Catherine Latané, Cultural Cloth, David Meixner, Andrea Myklebust, Stanton Sears, Gail Pommerening, Peter Deneen, Peder Hegland, Bill & Linda Sumner, Mary Deneen & Martha Winter, Paul & Denise Morris, Kaye Luetke, Sue Filbin, Carol Pruchnofski, Mark Lusardi, Lars Stromayer, Matt Anderson, Cindy King, Kay Geraghty, Richard Spiller, Sōren Svedvik, Michael Peters and Lars Svedvik.

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