Featured artists headline St. Anthony Park Arts Festival

The 50th Annual St. Anthony Park Arts Festival will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, June 1.

The festival features more than 70 artists, as well as a community area, plant and book sales, art activities, food and music. Proceeds benefit the historic St. Anthony Park Branch of the St. Paul Public Libraries. A brief of synopsis of the Festival’s four featured artists follows:

Kat Corrigan
For working artist and longtime art teacher Kat Corrigan, a career in the visual arts was a natural choice. Her mother is a retired art teacher, so Corrigan grew up around an abundance of art supplies, and always felt comfortable experimenting with them.

But even as Corrigan became a habitue of museums and frequently dabbled in drawing as a child, she cites her discovery of the Daily Painting network in 2009—an online movement based on the idea of painting small each day—as the genesis of her current practice. For 10 years now, Corrigan has been uploading paintings, including many canine and feline muses, to her blog.

“Painting every day keeps my eye connected to my hand, and it feels like I am painting one continuous painting,” she says. “In the past, I claimed to be an artist, but I wasn’t painting every day. I feel so much more confident about my work and my skill level now.”

In addition, Corrigan says that being an art teacher has helped develop her artistry. Having taught visual arts for nearly 30 years, Corrigan believes her time spent developing new lessons, as well as revising older ones, shapes and sharpens her painting and vice versa.

“I love paintings that look effortless but that I know took years to accomplish—not that the painting itself took that long—more that the artist worked and worked at the skill to paint something quickly, confidently and freshly,” she asserts.

With Vincent Van Gogh, Alice Neel and John Singer Sargent amongst her artistic influences, the Minneapolis artist displays in her work similarly bold, gestural brushwork, coupled with a well-honed keenness to light. Her oeuvre is replete with luminous renderings of animals against black gessoed surfaces; energetic, soulful portraits that tug at the heartstrings.

“Animals appeal to me because there is no judgment there,” Corrigan says. “In my personal experience, I’ve had an easier time getting along with the critters I meet than the people. I was a kid who was bullied, and I preferred the company of animals to people. And in loving them so long, and drawing them, I have gotten to really understand the anatomy. I love painting black dogs. And black bears. Pulling the light out is a joy.”

Meanwhile, Corrigan’s pursuit of zoological subjects continues. “I am currently obsessed with deer, so I’m painting a lot of them right now,” she says. At the moment, Corrigan is also working on crafting puppet shows with her family (her husband is a puppeteer) and hopes to have an online class up and running soon.

—Aarohi Narain

Gruchalla and Rosetti
At an age when most people have retired, Richard Gruchalla spends weeks on the road in pursuit of work that he loves.
“I’ve been a potter for 50 years,” Gruchalla says. “The creative process was instilled in me” as a child growing up in Moorhead, Minn.
The Duluth resident and his wife, Carrin Rosetti (who Gruchalla says is “a little younger”), work as team. He does the “throwing and carving” and she is responsible for the glazing and the colors. Together, the couple is among the featured artists at this year’s 50th anniversary St. Anthony Park Arts Festival on June 1.
The couple’s style, which is characterized by brilliant colors and the crackle pattern characteristic of the Raku firing technique that they use, owes something to Asian influences and Old English work. More recently, though, the pair has been concentrating on a “redo or homage to the Arts and Crafts style” of early 20th century America. Their signature pottery style is landscapes accented by a touch of copper wire.
It’s a look that rivets the attention of the viewer, and their pieces are designed to be the focal point of a decoration scheme, not the workhorses of daily cooking and dining.
“The low temperature firing process we use…allows us to use bright colors, but our pieces are not intended for cooking or serving food,” Gruchalla explains.
At 71, Gruchalla is comfortable in his mastery of his craft. “Time and experience will teach you a lot.” It’s “pretty easy” to talk about the technique, but “the transfer of imagination to your fingertips is what’s hard to explain.”
Gruchalla estimates the couple does about 10 shows a year now, ranging as far away as Texas. That’s down from a few years ago when they were averaging twice that number, even making a loop to Florida art fairs during the winter months. He says, “We’re contented to be on the road. It’s fun travelling together, and it makes for less than half the work [of going alone.]”
Their artistic partnership is of long duration, but Gruchalla remembers the years when he was a solo artist. More than twenty-five years ago, both he and Rosetti were going through divorce when they coincidentally rented separate studios in the same building in downtown Duluth. “She had the studio down the hall, and it took us six to eight years to meet. But it’s been bliss ever since.”
When they met, Rosetti was a weaver with her own flock of sheep, whose wool she sheared, combed, carded, dyed, spun and wove. Not perhaps the most convenient lifestyle for someone who was planning to spend substantial time on the road.
Over the next few years, Rosetti combined her skill at dyes and color with Gruchalla’s mastery of form.
“It was initially difficult to blend our work together,” Gruchalla says. But those days are long behind them.
Do they ever have artistic differences? Gruchalla is philosophic. “If it doesn’t come back [from Rosetti] the way I envision it, I’ll just make another piece.”
—Judy Woodward

Sue Hammes-Knopf
Although she has always been creatively inclined, it wasn’t until she was 40 that Sue Hammes-Knopf decided to build a career in the arts. After several years in the nonprofit world, she started her handmade jewelry business, Full Bloom Beadwork.
As a student at Mankato State University, Hammes-Knopf pursued a degree in art—with a concentration in Fiber Art—and focused on weaving fibers using large floor looms. With Full Bloom Beadwork, she translates her deep weaving experiences into the distinct language of jewelry, fashioning whimsical, mixed media regalia using colorful, bold beads and complex weaving techniques.
It’s been more than 25 years of Full Bloom Beadwork, and Hammes-Knopf has no intention of stopping.
“I enjoy creating wearable art,” she says. “I like selling art jewelry directly to my customers and through them, I’m fortunate to witness lots of joy and happiness—and that is what sustains me: creating joy and happiness through wonderful pieces of art jewelry. My curious nature also sustains me, there are so many possibilities. One idea leads to the next.”
Many of Hammes-Knopf’s pieces feature Peyote weave and seed beads. These beads frequently appear as focal elements of her jewelry, complemented by mixed media elements including fused glass, enamels, and lamp work glass beads.
“Often, when I begin making a piece of jewelry, I first consider the ending of the piece, I ask myself, ‘How will it all come together? And how will the piece function as a wearable?’
“In this process, I choose the materials or the materials inform me to best perform a needed function. For example, I may use knotted silk cord as a functional element to secure a clasp, or I might weave a bit of chain into a bead-woven element for a functional solution. I look for aesthetically pleasing outcomes with good design.”
With her art jewelry, Hammes-Knopf seeks a balance between form and function—her works are rooted in the magic that happens when utility meets aesthetic appeal. While she has dabbled in various different artistic techniques, Hammes-Knopf does not always craft every component of her pieces. Instead, she lets a sense of eclecticism shine through in her work and draws inspiration from multiple sources.
“I’m inspired by the materials,” she says. “I’m inspired by the next idea and the next color combination. I’m inspired by the problems to solve inherent in making wearables.”
Hammes-Knopf’s eccentric creations have consistently earned her a spot at some of the greatest outdoor festivals in the United States. With no dearth of ideas, she continues to churn out one quirky design after another and has a loyal base of customers among art enthusiasts and more.
“Except for when I’m traveling, I have a daily practice of going to my downtown Northfield studio and making some art,” Hammes-Knopf says. “I also take time to hang out with my 2-year-old grandson, walk in nature, cook delicious meals and practice yoga. Everyday life inspires me.”
—Aarohi Narain

Leave a Reply