by Cori Hilsgen
If you are seeking some unique pieces of art for yourself or possibly to give as gifts, then the Minnesota Street Market would be an excellent place for you to stop, browse and find some pieces of art.
An artist reception of several local artists was held May 10 at the Minnesota Street Market. The public was invited to meet and greet the artists and view their new pieces.
Featured local artists included Mark and Kathryn Bjorke, glass artists; Justin Anderson, printmaker; Samuel Johnson and Anne Meyer, potters; and Patrick Trenam, painter.
The Bjorkes, husband and wife, work in the medium of glass as a team. Mark has worked with stained-glass art for more than 20 years, and Kathryn has worked in the field of art and graphic design for more than 25 years. Kathryn started working with the glass when she married Mark five years ago.
Mark said one of his biggest challenges is not cutting fingers when working with the glass because it can be very sharp. He finds the creative process very rewarding.
“Like any craft, you have something that is physical and you can see and handle it when it is done,” Mark said.
“I have fun seeing the finished pieces,” Kathryn said. “You have all these millions of little pieces and all of a sudden it is together and looks very cool.”
The Bjorkes said it varies in the time it takes to create the glass works. Simple picture frames can take a couple of hours, and a detailed panel can take as long as 30 hours to complete. Various pieces created include picture frames, lamps, panels, clocks, garden stones, windows, doors and other decorative items.
Mark previously sold his glass work at craft shows, but he has not shown anything lately until now. In the past, Kathryn and Mark have created their art on their dining-room table, but they recently built a new house in St. Joseph and now have a studio in which to work. The studio allows more room and space to create their work. Mark said it’s easier to keep going when they don’t have to pick up in the middle of their work.
To contact the Bjorkes (MK Glass Art), call 320-557-0096.
Anne Meyer and Sam Johnson are potters.
Meyer graduated with an art degree from the University of Minnesota, Morris, 12 years ago. She studied studio art with a ceramics emphasis and first started working with pottery when she was at the university. She then apprenticed under master potter Richard Bresnahan at St. John’s Pottery.
Meyer said it has been a challenge learning to work with the clay.
“Years ago it was a many, many-year process of learning to control the clay rather than the clay controlling me,” Meyer said. “Now it is more about the effort of working with local materials.”
Some of the clay Meyer works with is dug at the Meyer farm on Stearns CR 121 in St. Joseph. She is in the process of renovating the farm into art space to offer community-ed level programming to youth and adults. Several annual bouja-dinner fundraisers where clay bowls are sold have been held. This year’s annual fundraiser will be held Oct. 26, 27 and 28 and also Nov. 2 and 3 at the American Legion in St. Joseph.
“There is a fair amount of challenge learning about the materials in our backyard that you can actually make pottery from, what heat level they want to be fired at,” Meyer said. “They each have their own temperament and characteristics, so it is more about learning how to work with them.”
Meyer has found working with the materials and the physical effects of her effort very rewarding. She said she gets to see the effort she puts into her work.
Meyer said she would like to encourage people to support the co-op because St. Joseph is fortunate to have one.
To contact Meyer, visit her website at www.farmproject.com.
Samuel Johnson has been creating pottery since 1995. He moved to the St. Joseph area in 2005.
Johnson is an associate professor of art at St. John’s University and the College of St. Benedict. He teaches all levels of ceramics and has also taught other art classes.
Johnson earned his bachelor’s degree in studio art from the University of Minnesota-Morris, and his master’s degrees from the University of Iowa.
He apprenticed under Richard Bresnahan at SJU in the 1990s. Johnson also lived and worked in Europe as a guest of the Design School in Copenhagen, Denmark; worked at the international ceramic center in Skealskor; and in two porcelain studios in Copenhagen. He was also a studio guest in Japan and worked as an assistant to a wood fire potter in New York.
Johnson finds it exciting to work within the functional ceramic tradition.
“There is sort of this notion that freedom comes from being limitless, but I don’t find that to be true,” Johnson said. “I find that working within the structured form allows for interesting new discoveries and creativity.”
Johnson said he really enjoys working creatively and also physically.
“I feel like I can apply all aspects of myself, the physical, intellectual and creative and I admire that in other people when they are working,” Johnson said.
To contact Johnson, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Patrick Trenam is an acrylic painter. He has been drawing his entire life but began painting about eight years ago. He began painting when he moved here from Arizona.
Trenam’s paintings are abstract.
He said the most challenging part about his work is deciding when it is done.
“It always feels like you can add more or modify it in some way or another,” Trenam said.
He said he finds it rewarding to see the expressions on people’s faces.
“Seeing people’s faces and hearing the feedback is rewarding,” Trenam said. “Little kids’ eyes light up when they view the paintings.”
Trenam lives in St. Joseph and can be reached at 320-310-8657.
Justin Anderson is a printmaker. He has been involved with art for many years but has not had access to a print shop until he began attending the University of Minnesota-Duluth.
Anderson currently attends the university and has been taking print classes. He’s also been spending many hours in the print studio on extra-curricular print work.
Anderson said the technical parts of printing can be challenging.
“There are so many variables when working with any type of print medium,” Anderson said. “There are many things that can go wrong, and it takes a lot of time, patience and mindfulness to solve and prevent problems from occurring. Ink is very permanent and mistakes can be costly.”
Even though the medium can be challenging, Anderson said he also finds his craft rewarding.
“While I really enjoy (the) creative process and find the physical labor and repetitive activity very wholesome and healthy, I’d say the most rewarding part of printing is being able to make multiples of a piece of art for low cost,” Anderson said.
He said he’s able to give away identical pieces he’s created to many people and can sell them at very affordable prices.
To contact Anderson, email him at email@example.com.
Hilsgen is a contributing reporter for the Newsleaders. The central Minnesota native is a wife, mother and grandmother. She has a Bachelor's degree in Organizational Management and Communication from Concordia University – St. Paul, MN and enjoys learning about and sharing other people's stories through the pages of the Newsleaders.