Four artists typify Minneapolis’ Red Hot scene

Art festival calls attention to the work of local, independent voices

Erin Adler

Tucked away in downtown Minneapolis, the fourth annual Red Hot Art Festival took place last weekend in Stevens Square Park – the same weekend as the upscale suburban Edina Art Fair.

And although they both showcase and sell art, the two couldn’t be more different.

The Edina Art Fair again featured hundreds of white tents lining the intersection of West 50th Street and France Avenue. The grassroots Red Hot Art Festival, a benefit for the Stevens Square Center for the Arts, also had artists assembled in tents – the kind you camp in.

However, its smaller scope is not a weakness. For many artists showing work at the festival, both new and returning, its urban locale and unorthodox nature was a definite draw.

Minnesota artist Carl Anderson, who also had a booth at the event last year, said he loved the festival’s area.

“I like (the festival) because it is a chance to work with and meet artists who aren’t as exposed,” said Terrance Davis, another participating artist.

Indeed, few Red Hot artists said they participate in other art fairs in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. Others were just beginning to travel with their work in an effort to establish themselves, and several spoke of developing a Web site to show their work.

Among dozens of artists at the event, here are four that caught our attention:

Terrance Davis

Terrance Davis takes photographs, both locally and nationally, that distort the ordinary. Though it’s hard to tell, some of his most intriguing pieces are taken very locally – in his own apartment.

Davis also has an eye for capturing well-known landmarks in unique ways.

In a photograph entitled “Reflection of a Tower,” the rounded mirrors of a Minneapolis high-rise office building reflect and warp the elegance of the Foshay Tower.

Davis said he did not have any particular reflection in mind when he stepped on the observation deck of the building.

“This piece was really a timing thing – I was in and out of the doors to the observation deck for an hour,” he said.

He works at the Minneapolis Children’s Hospital and participates in its annual art show.

Carl Anderson

Carl Anderson wanted to fully use every minute of his time at the festival. On Sunday, for instance, he finished a piece entitled “First Encounter” while sitting in his booth.

“Last year, I didn’t bring anything to work on and I regretted it,” he said. “There are a lot of little times when you want something to do, and people seem to like watching me work.”

Anderson’s work employs painting and collage. He describes most works as “social commentary,” though people often find their own meaning in his pieces.

The translucent quality of Anderson’s painting style subtly reveals the images beneath. Anderson said this effect can be achieved with any type of paint.

He chooses the images carefully, using his own photos as well as those from magazines and the Internet. He then works with the images in Photoshop.

He lives in Cambridge, Minn., and often travels to art shows.

Adrian Cruz

Adrian Cruz describes painting as a hobby, though it seems much more meaningful to him than the word suggests.

“Some people go to bars (in their free time) and some go biking. Painting is my sport. It’s something I have to do,” he said.

In Cruz’s piece “The End Beginning,” ghoulish faces representing the aftermath of an atomic bomb explosion are masked with the graphic black outline of two wheels.

Many pieces feature a strong graphic element. Cruz often uses repetition, from hundreds of blue spheres in one piece to a dozen vertical bars in another.

Color is also important to his work. He compares the oranges, reds and blues in his paintings to colors in his native Honduras.

“In my country, people paint their houses bright colors. My mother painted her house a light green,” he said.

“When I walk into my tent, it’s a little like going back to my country.”

KC Skinner

KC Skinner was one of the Red Hot artists who wanted to avoid the cost of renting a booth.

So he brought a purple tent from home and hung his work on the “walls” inside.

“The tent was also nice because yesterday, when it rained, I stayed dry,” he said.

His work includes a variety of printmaking, from screen prints and intaglio to lithography. Though his work is initially drawn by hand, Skinner increasingly uses multimedia software to enhance and alter images.

Skinner chose his print “Beached on the Shores of Virginia” as a standout piece. In it, five architectural columns gradually melt into fish.

“I really like the colors I used in this piece,” he said, pointing to pastel blues, greens and violets.

Skinner is currently working on his own Web site.