by Liberty Finch
Artists love the Twin Cities for their generous patrons. Residents love the cities for their multitude of artists. It’s a splendid relationship that affords us a bevy of creative types—from visual artists to dance companies, filmmakers to playwrights. And, of course, scads of musicians.
There are literally hundreds of art galleries in Minneapolis and St. Paul proper, and more and more are popping up in the ‘burbs. Although I only recently discovered Robbin Gallery in Robbinsdale, the volunteer-run cooperative has operated as a gallery for more than 25 years. Housed in an historic library that was built in the 1920s, Robbin Gallery is an inviting space that lends itself beautifully to exhibits.
The gallery, which shares building space with the Robbinsdale Historical Society
and a teen clinic, also offers occasional classes and provides traveling exhibits
to the Robbinsdale Community Center, Robbinsdale City Hall and four area libraries.
Ron Merchant, Robbin Gallery’s director, said more than 60 members voluntarily
share the duties of operating the gallery. The space is attractive to up-and-coming
artists, he said, because the gallery only takes a 10 percent commission (20
percent for non-members) and offers 24-hour access to exhibitors. Exhibits at
Robbin Gallery are booked 18 months in advance.
Boulka and Kathleen Parker are members whose work is currently on exhibit. The
Midas Touch … A Touch of Gold, A Touch of Class showcases a variety
of complementary work, including watercolors, mixed media collages, masks and
Renaissance woman Barbara Boulka is an artist, poet and teacher who has worked
with Shaman in Japan, Peru, Paraguay and the United States. She does “soul
retrieval” work, which she says definitely influences artistic endeavors.
“Soul retrieval work allows the imagination to thrive. It calls forth
creativity,” she explained. “My intuitive work is free flowing.
I get into a quiet place—through meditation or Tai Chi, for example—and
paint what’s inside.”
Several of Boulka’s pieces in the Touch of Gold show are intuitive-based.
With no preconceived agenda, the watercolors she paints are loose, free-flowing
renderings that explore color and design. Distinct images often emerge randomly,
even though Boulka is not cognizant of painting them. She said that the face
of Einstein clearly appeared in a four-panel piece she did a few years ago,
prompting her to name the work “The Theory of Relativity.” Some
of her pieces are framed as dipdychs—matted into two distinct parts—while
others stand alone.
Like artist Kathleen Parker, Boulka has a number of different styles in this
show. Some pieces, such as “Cranes” and “Bamboo,” are
clearly influenced by Japanese origami. Others, like her mask work, are detailed
collages of paint and found objects.
Kathleen Parker is an artist, instructor and the founder/president of LeGarage
art guild. The variety of work she displays in this exhibit highlights her versatility
as a watercolorist, designer and ceramicist. “I like to experiment and
work on multiple pieces at once,” she said. “Sometimes when you
pull yourself back from a piece, you get more directed. Working on more than
one thing at once allows me to move from a larger, loose piece to something
smaller and more detailed.”
Using hand-decorated papers and paints, Parker’s abstract textural pieces
examine color and form. Other works, like “Love Birds” and “Angelic
Madonna,” are delicate, thematic pieces she builds from hand-decorated
torn paper and paint. These latter, ethereal images are some of the strongest
in the show. A sprinkling of Parker’s iridescent Raku pottery, hung amidst
the paintings and collages, offers additional shimmer to an already golden show.
The Midas Touch ... A Touch of Gold ... A Touch of Class is on display
through Oct. 29 at Robbin Gallery, 4915 42nd Ave. N., Robbinsdale. Hours are
Tue.–Thu. 5:30–8 p.m.; Fri.–Sat. noon–4 p.m.