Featured artists of the canceled SAP Arts Festival

Although this month’s St. Anthony Park Arts Festival has been canceled due the coronavirus pandemic, the Bugle is giving a shout out to the three people who were slated to be this year’s featured artists. The following are brief sketches on Emily Donovan, Jaana Mattson and David Menk.

Emily Donovan

Emily Donovan may be marching to a drummer that many of us can’t hear, but she has managed to find a redeeming aspect to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Donovan, who is known for creating dyes for her paintings from natural plant sources, says, “Our environment is recovering (during the shelter-in-place orders.) We can slow down and look around us at what we need.”

What Donovan, who was to have been a featured artist at the now-canceled St. Anthony Park Arts Festival this month, has always needed has been an abundance of plant materials. Over her career she has foraged for everything, from weeds to garden clippings, to create subtle natural shades for use in her delicately nuanced works. After years of experimentation, Emily says she has “refined the list” of her needs.

“Wild ginger,” says Donovan, a Minneapolis-based painter, “I can’t get enough of it.” She’d also be glad to hear from anyone with a surplus of, among others, amaranth, bee balm and coneflowers.

But she doesn’t stop there, recently expanding her range beyond Minnesota plants to bolder hues found in sources like cochineal and indigo. A recent painting, “Chasing Loons,” is one that she had originally planned to showcase at the SAP Arts Festival. It reflects her fascination with movement and an evolving interest in deep, saturated color.

“(It was) created with indigo, myrobalan, pomegranate, black walnut, cochineal dyes and iron,” she explains, and the painting was inspired by “loons diving deep into our Minnesota lakes.”

During these anxious times, Donovan relies on the wisdom of the environment. While the world halts for the coronavirus, she says, “The birds are singing, things are blooming. The earth is happy.”

You can see more of Donovan’s work (and get in touch with her if you have some plant material to share) at www.emaluna.com.

Judy Woodward is a frequent contributor to the Bugle.

Jaana Mattson

When the St. Anthony Park Arts Festival got canceled, that news was an all too familiar refrain for Jaana Mattson, who was slated to be one of its three featured artists.

“Since the Covid pandemic has closed all shows and workshops for my foreseeable future, I am currently working on translating my classes to online tutorials and selling the materials through my website to complement the projects,” Mattson, of Minneapolis, told the Bugle.

Jaana is also in the process of moving to the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina. “With all of my shows and workshops canceled indefinitely it’s been a major shift in my career path, but somehow a good time to pack up my studio and relocate.”

Mattson has been a full-time artist since 2003 after graduating with master’s degree in fine arts in 1999 from the Fiber Department of the University of Washington in Seattle. Initially, she made art jewelry and sold her work at local art fairs and through national wholesale markets.

“At some point I burned out as a production jewelry artist and took some time to explore new techniques and ideas,” Mattson said. “I have developed my approach to needle felted landscapes over the last six years or so.”

She describes her artwork as “using delicate layers of dyed roving (a soft strand of fibers), my needle felted wool textiles are built and anchored one wisp at a time with a notched needle until the image becomes fabric.

“With these materials one can manipulate light and color in much the same way as an impressionist painter, with the resulting layers of fiber blended by the viewer’s eye. The organic textures of wool and wood energize each other as the textile is recessed into locally milled or reclaimed timber. Through the placement and finishing of the woodwork around each textile, the resulting mixed-­media sculpture takes on a resonance greater than the sum of its parts.”

Mattson said she enjoys art festivals, “Art fairs are an amazing way to get feedback from the public about my work.”

Moving forward, Mattson said she has a book coming out in January 2021 through Schiffer Publications that will showcase her completed works as well as lessons and projects for those interested in trying needle felted landscapes.

For more information about Mattson, check out her website at www.JaanaMattson.com

—Scott Carlson

David Menk

For most of his life, David Menk has dabbled in artistic ventures.

Menk’s palate, as an adult, has included digital and film photography and painting with oils, acrylics and watercolors.

However, in the past 10 years, Menk has gravitated toward pottery. “In 2010 I took my first pottery class at Northern Clay Center in Minneapolis. I was hooked,” said Menk who is an architect at a Minneapolis architecture and interior design firm, “I took more classes until four years later when I decided to venture out and rent a studio space.“

These days, Menk has a pottery studio at Northern Clay Center, where he dedicates at least some time weekly.

“I like the connection of my hands to the medium of clay which is very tactile and can be manipulated in infinite ways,” Menk said. “For me, working with clay has been a welcome escape from the busy-ness of the world and my career. I am inspired by the minimalism of traditional Asian pottery and am searching for a similar quiet aesthetic in my own work.”

2019 was Menk’s first year on the art fair scene. He participated in two single-day fairs, the St. Anthony Park Arts Festival and Art at St. Kate’s. Prior to that, he participated in seasonal shows at his studio at Northern Clay Center.

For further information on Menk, visit his website at https://davidmenk.com/.

—Scott Carlson

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