by Liberty Finch
There’s no shortage of galleries in town, yet more and more, art is creeping into coffee shops, bars, cafés—even bike shops (see “Bikes & Comics,” Pulse 03.02.05). Whether they’re adorning interiors of swanky establishments or classing up walls of well-worn watering holes, artists are finding outlets outside traditional venues to showcase their work.
The delightful Birchwood Café doesn’t need help spiffing up anything. Its friendly and attentive staff have been serving up delicious, organic food in a clean and cheerful environment for more than 10 years in the Seward neighborhood. Owner Tracy Singleton decided from the beginning to display work by local artists. It’s an idea that fits well with the community mindedness of the café, which utilizes organic, free-trade goods from local farmers and businesses.
Jess Haas is the Birchwood’s art coordinator. Yes, they actually have
an art coordinator. Haas said she doesn’t have to look far for artwork.
“I get e-mails every day from artists,” she said. “Most of
the clientele who come here are creative people.” Haas said the Birchwood
displays artwork for six weeks, and they are currently booked months ahead.
Artists are responsible for the installation and tear down, as well as all sales
transactions. Most of the shows at the Birchwood feature two-dimensional visual
arts, such as painting or photography, but occasionally the café will
exhibit other mediums, like sculpture or textiles.
photography of Chris
Bohnhoff is currently on display. This Present Stillness is a series
of outdoor landscapes that capture the beauty of winter as we love to remember
it: pure, pristine, still.
Bohnhoff grew up in Brooklyn Park during the late 1970s, when the northeastern
suburb was still largely unspoiled by the ubër-sprawl that now extends
miles beyond its city limits. “Winter gave me many of my most vivid memories—hiding
behind snowdrifts taller than my head … skiing smoothly and silently up
and down hills through the woods,” he recalled. “Flash forward 30
years. Can you remember the last time you saw 5-foot-high snowdrifts in the
Not really. Look around. Where strip malls and condo developments haven't ravaged
of the landscape, global warming has. Take a walk or a drive anywhere in the
metro and all you see is dirty, brown, dead earth strewn amongst pavement and
concrete. Think about it: When was the last time a thick powdery drift beckoned
you to make a snow angel?
In This Present Stillness Bohnhoff captures sentimental images from winters
of yore, and at the same time creates modern, organic abstracts through light
and composition. Twigs become complex geometric shapes; shadows of tree branches
create fluid lines and patterns—all against the stark white background
of undisturbed snow.
“To me, snow is a magical, transforming presence,” said Bohnhoff.
“It sparkles in the sun … it quiets cities; it makes everything
it touches look different, cleansed, worthy of a second look. It’s one
of the things that defines our state, and it’s receding, slowly but perceptibly,
from Minnesota’s climate.”
When he’s not shooting fine art photography, Bohnhoff works commercially,
specializing in location portraiture and architecture. He also teaches an introductory
photography class at the University of Minnesota. His work from a series called
Sun City, Arizona, is also on display in the member spotlight area of the Minnesota
Center for Photography. ||
This Present Stillness is on display through Mar. 26. The
Birchwood Cafe is located at 3311 E. 25th St., Mpls., 612-722-4474. The
cafe is open M–F 7 a.m.– 9 p.m.; Sat. 8 a.m.–9 p.m. &
Sun. 9 a.m.–2 p.m.