St. Anthony Park Arts Festival is June 7

The 45th Annual St. Anthony Park Arts Festival will be held Saturday, June 7, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The festival, a fundraiser for programs at the St. Anthony Park Library, will stretch from the library lawn at Carter and Como avenues to Luther Seminary lawn at Como Avenue and Seminary Place.

The arts festival will feature more than 70 artists and a full day of music at a stage on the library lawn. The music schedule includes:

9:30 a.m.: Center for Irish Music Advanced Youth Ensemble

10:30 a.m.: Ladyslipper Baroque Ensemble

11:30 a.m.: Richard Griffith and Phillip Rukavina 12:30 p.m.: Minnesota Mandolin Orchestra 1:15 p.m.: Stage break 2:00 p.m.: Miss Becky Kapell 3:00 p.m.: Chuck Solberg 4:00 p.m.: Sherry Minnick

Some of the attractions this year include a Kids Zone with art activities for children, a Kids Art Gallery that will feature work from St. Anthony Park Elementary School’s spring residency with In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre, and the local Boy Scout troop’s rope bridge on Luther Seminary Lawn. A number of community groups will have booths set up near Park Service Station and on the south side of the library.

The festivals featured artists this year include bookmaker Regula Russelle, jewelers Leo and Dina Lisovskis, and sculptors, clay artists and printmakers Dan and Lee Ross. Writer Kyle Mianulli talked with the artists about their work:

Regula Russelle

A major theme running through Regula Russelle’s more recent works of original letterpress prints, handmade books and paper sculptures is a celebration of place—“making good things happen right where you are,” she says.

In many ways, Russelle’s career and creative development is a perfect manifestation of that notion. A longtime resident of St. Anthony Park, her success began and continues close to home. Her first printing press was passed on from a colleague with whom she worked on a book for Hamline University. One of her first mentors who taught her how to use a block press is another St. Anthony Park neighbor, Tim Wulling.

Perhaps the most celebratory coincidence of place for Russelle is her proximity to the Minnesota Center for Book Arts in Minneapolis—the largest organization of its kind in the United States. She became one of the first members of the artist community there in the early 1990s and remains intimately involved as a board member, teacher, and regular user of the center’s space and equipment.

“I would not be doing what I’m doing without the Center for Book Arts,” Russelle says. “I feel like I am in the exact right place where I can learn and now teach others.”

Regula Russelle (Park Bugle photo by Lori Hamilton)

Whether she is working out of the center or from her small home studio in St. Anthony Park, Russelle says she strives to ask questions with her work that inspire conversations around important issues.

Through collaborations with area poets, and more recently her own poetry, Russelle’s work explores questions such as the nature of beauty that spans cultural and geographic divides. In one piece she explores the dialectic between action and repose. A collaboration with poet Naomi Shihab explores the theme of “otherness.” Environmental issues are also a recent topic of interest addressed in her work.

Whatever the theme being explored in a particular project, Russelle is passionate about the process her art demands. Letterpress printing is a tactile endeavor, often requiring patience and focus.

“I love making things carefully by hand,” she says. “We live in a very fast paced world and this is a very slow paced thing to do.”

Art fair goers will get a chance to experience this world of letterpress printmaking first hand. Russelle is bringing along a miniature letterpress with a preset design of her own making for attendees to print their own bookmarks to carry home. You will find her next to the library at the Como Avenue side of the building.

Nearly all of Russelle’s work is part of a permanent collection at the Minnesota Historical Society. It is also often on display at the MCBA and will also be shown at the St. Anthony Park Library leading up to the Arts Festival.—Kyle Mianulli

Leo and Dina Lisovskis

Leo and Dina Lisovskis’ handmade gold and silver jewelry reflects the environment in which it is crafted. Every unique piece draws inspiration from the natural beauty they encounter every day around their self-restored 1850s log cabin near Osceola, Wis.

“Northwoods nouveaux” is how Leo Lisovskis describes the couple’s style. A wildflower drooping over the banks of a gentle creek might become an intricate gold-and-silver pendant; leaves rustling in the breeze on a tree outside their window might inspire a pair of gold bells with etched silver leaves soldered on the outside surrounding a small precious stone.

Nestled on a remote 20-acre lot, inspiration abounds. When they’re not working, Leo and Dina spend time tending their plush organic gardens and watching the vast array of birds that frequent their feeders. But there is an ever-present call to create.

“I have to keep creating, I guess, whether it’s making jewelry, drawing, taking photographs or doing some watercolor. The creative process is just always there and you have to keep feeding it,” Leo says.

Leo and Dina Lisovskis

Leo and Dina first met as art students at the University of Minnesota. Creative collaboration has always been a part of their relationship, Leo says. They both design the one-of-a-kind pieces. While Leo now does most of the metal work, Dina also takes her turn at the bench when she’s not running the business end of things.

Their shared Latvian heritage also shows itself in their work. A subtle flare of eastern European folk art contributes to some of their jewelry’s distinctive character. The pieces can range from simple and elegant to elaborate wilderness scenes that meld gold, silver and a variety of precious and semi-precious stones. Some can consist of four or five individually cut and etched layers with as many as 50 soldered joints, Leo says.

“There’s a lot of hand engraving and carving of the metal itself,” he says. “It’s a type of work you really don’t see many other people doing. It’s relatively labor intensive and unique.”—Kyle Mianulli

Dan and Lee Ross

Combining ancient materials with modern design, Dan and Lee Ross achieve a unique aesthetic that ties the old world to the new in their stone sculptures, clay work and mono prints.

Since moving to their home in Hovland, Minn., on the North Shore of Lake Superior, their work has evolved dramatically, according to Lee Ross. The color palette in much of their work is derived from the rust reds of the iron-rich rocks that line the shores near their house or the dappled gray pebbles they pick up on the beach. Swooping curves accentuated by crisp edges in their stone and clay sculptures reflect the wave-worn boulders that pass beneath their canoe when out for a paddle.

Animal forms are a common theme for the couple, as can be seen outside Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis, where five of the Rosses’ large granite animal sculptures now sit. Even in their abstract work, Lee Ross says people find animal shapes the same way one might see puffs of form in a lingering cloud.

Lee’s more recent work, “Footprints,” were inspired by following Dan on the quarter-mile trail that leads through the woods to their studio. The patterns his shoes press into the mud or snow soon became a new medium in their work.

“I don’t know who is designing the bottoms of shoes, but it’s very interesting,” Lee says.

Dan and Lee Ross

The couple met while attending the University of Wisconsin-River Falls in 1972 when Dan offered to help Lee carry a large woodcut self-portrait she made for a class. Creative collaboration has been central to their work and relationship ever since.

“From the beginning to the end, we’re collaborating,” Lee says of their work. “We’ll sit down and sketch on the same piece of paper and push it back and forth . . . then sit down and physically work on the same piece—it will go back and forth between our hands maybe 15 to 20 times.”

Returning to the St. Anthony Park Arts Festival is a homecoming of sorts for Lee. She grew up and got her start with art in the neighborhood. She did her first show here when she was 5, taking after her mother, Martha Cutkomp, a well-known area potter.

Lee says she is happy to be returning for an event that benefits the St. Anthony Park Library, a place that holds many fond childhood memories.

Lee Cutkomp (now Ross) prepares for her first craft fair at the St. Anthony Park Library 54 years ago with her sisters, Kay (left) and Terry (right).

“I grew up hanging out at the library, studying inside, playing on the lawn and meeting up with friends there,” she says.—Kyle Mianulli

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