Kristin Van Loon, left, and Ryan Fontaine, owners and operators of Hair + Nails Contemporary Art Gallery, pose for a portrait in front of the gallery in Minneapolis on Monday, July 20. The gallery, located on East 35th St., has a new exhibit about queer love opening on Saturday, July 25.
After weeks of staying home, yearning for those Sunday afternoons spent at art exhibits, a safe and inspirational space for art viewing is necessary – and Hair + Nails, the South Minneapolis art gallery, plans to deliver just that with its new exhibits.
Premiering July 25, Hair + Nails opens two new indoor exhibits, “Scenes” by Joe Sinness and “Results” by Daniel Luedtke, in conjunction with their pre-existing outdoor exhibit of “Holding Space—an installation of light, camera and sound curated by Cameron Downey.” The exhibits touch on themes of queer desire, health and wellness industry messaging and social change.
Daniel Luedtke, an Assistant Professor of Art at Florida State University, whose art is featured in the upcoming gallery opening, perceives art as a necessary complicator of issues.
“Activism is about solving problems — naming problems and calling for an action to be changed. Our work serves a different purpose: It actually creates problems by complicating issues and combining unlikely things. Art reformats how people look at pre-existing things in the world,” said Luedtke.
Luedtke’s “Results” is a large floor installation that incorporates drawing, print and sculpture, centering around the cause and effect relationships between health messages and our perceptions of ourselves and interactions with the world.
Through his work, Joe Sinness, a current 2019 McKnight Fellow, aims to “destigmatize sex and sexuality.” With surrounding themes of desire and transformation of shame into pride, Sinness’ “Scenes” exhibit features provocative portraiture.
“In the new work, the characters that I’ve developed aren’t as constrained to a single environment and can interact with each other from drawing to drawing. There is more humor in this work than previous drawings, depicted through photorealistic surrealism,” he said.
Ryan Fontaine, co-owner of Hair + Nails, describes Sinness’ work as “remarkably and technically amazing” and “visually overwhelming in intensity.”
To ensure a safe and sanitized environment, masks will be required in the Hair + Nails exhibits and indoor capacity will be reduced to 10 people at a time within the space.
If attendees don’t feel comfortable with indoor exhibit spaces, “Holding Space—an installation of light, camera and sound” curated by Cameron Patricia Downey, will be screened in the backyard sculpture garden where attendees and passersby can intentionally — or unintentionally — enjoy the work.
Downey, bolstering the importance of public art like that of their outdoor exhibit, loved the idea of art being accessible to everyone, even if passersby didn’t intend to view it. “Holding Space,” a video installation featuring work from black queer artists, was inspired by the killing of George Floyd and focuses on the moments after a traumatic event occurs. On July 25, Hair + Nails intends to screen a version of Downey’s work in tandem with the indoor exhibit openings.
Downey, a Minneapolis native and incoming fourth-year student at Columbia University in New York City who is studying environmental science and visual art, is a self-described anti-disciplinary artist.
“The idea behind it [the exhibit],” they explained, “is to recognize how important it was — and still is — while we’re all mourning and figuring out what to do next — to dream, because that’s the only way we can reach the future that we want.”
Fontaine looks forward to the gallery’s upcoming exhibits and said that much of the work is “a pleasure to look at.” The gallery itself aims to spotlight a wide array of narratives and artists with diverse world views and backgrounds.
“We are open to a diverse program of work,” said Fontaine. “It’s important to us to show queer and transgender artists, but the common denominator is the best artists.”