Last week when I officially became one of the golden oldies, I decided a break from the office was in order, even if it was a work day. It was my birthday. I had the right. Right? So camera in hand, I set off to enjoy the blue-sky day, in 70-75 degree temps, and with no signs of allergy-triggered sneezing to stop me.
My first stop was at the Red Wing Arts Association Depot Gallery to capture the view beyond the railroad tracks that run behind the building. If you’ve never visited the RWAA Depot Gallery, understand that the building is exactly that – a neoclassical depot style that once served Chicago, Milwaukee and Saint Paul and Pacific Railroad, where folks passed through the front door to buy tickets and then out the back door to board the train. Built in 1905 it was restored in 1990 and the building is now listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. It continues to be an Amtrak stop and houses the Red Wing Visitors and Convention Bureau, as well as the office for the Red Wing Art Association.
I could have walked around the building for a pic, but walked inside with another agenda, hoping an art exhibit I’d heard about that had started on May 5th was still there. A sign greeted me just inside the door, “Visions and Viewpoints – Artwork of the Dakota and Ojibwe People.” It described the free exhibition as a collection of works created by a dozen talented Native American artists. I had missed the events of the opening day that the director described as “awesome”, but although there were no story tellers and dancers on this quiet weekday (as great as that would have been to see) I wasn’t disappointed. I came for the artwork that sang its own songs and danced its own stories.
There’s just something that tugs at me when I see Native American art. Maybe it’s the impressive works that depict Nature or the materials used from Nature, or maybe it’s the history and inspirational stories each item tells without saying one word. Perhaps it’s the feeling of Spirit that exudes from the most beautiful, vibrant color combinations ever known to my eyes. Or it could be that it’s simply a genetic thing, passed down from my Oneida great-grandmother. But no matter what it is, it is.
I turned toward the exhibition rooms while whispering, “Happy Birthday to me!”
The dance regalia held my attention for quite some time, being that I’m drawn to anything stitched. Without a crowd to weave and peak through, I was able to linger and mosey up close to examine every detail.
“Holy stitches!” my self proclaimed.
Much of the work was not hand embroidery, nor was it embroidered on a computerized machine via a digitized file. The work was clearly free motion (or freehand) machine embroidery – a process that requires a high degree of control and patience, as well as time to achieve the intended shapes without distorting elements. (At least, that’s my opinion derived from one unforgettable experience of failed attempts.)
I bowed in deepest respect to artist Dana Goodwin’s dance shawl “Modern Woodland Floral”, a breathtaking combination of applique, embroidery and serious bling!
Other shawls of beautifully stitched stories adorned the walls, such as one by Chholing Taha, “Moose with Tree of Life” as seen at her website: Shawl Lady Dot Com.
The exhibit by a dozen Native American talented artists including paintings, sculptures and beadwork that reflects their culture, will be on exhibit in the Vogel Gallery at the RWAA Depot Gallery until June 24th.
Exhibiting artists: Nakoma Volkman, MN; Frank Big Bear, MN; Pat and Gage Kruse, WI; JoAnne Bird, SD; Laura Youngbird, MN; Chholing Taha, MN; Dyani Reynolds-White Hawk, MN; Charles Hilliard, MN-WI; Lori Ann Biggs, IN; John K. Sterner; Dana Goodwin and Dennis Williams, MN.
As for a photo of the view from behind the Depot, this is as close as I got. Lingering inside with this awe-inspiring exhibition of art and Spirit – “Views and Viewpoints” – cut my visit short. It’s okay. The outside view will always be there.
I proceeded to take an enjoyable little road trip along the Mississippi to Lake City for lunch on the shore of Lake Pepin. And that was only half of my celebration of gratitude for making it one more year, but I’ll save the rest for another time. For now, let me just say, Day One of 60 was a very fine day, indeed!
Photos – “Visions and Viewpoints” Exhibition posted with RWAA Depot Gallery permission.