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Weisman art exhibit “Letters to the Future” evokes eye-catching imagery

Paintings throughout the 40 year career by artist Doug Argue are on display at Weisman Art Museum.
Image by Photo by Max Mueller
The Weisman exhibit will run through Sept. 10.

The art exhibition “Letters to the Future” by painter Doug Argue is currently on display at Weisman Art Museum at the University of Minnesota. It engages viewers with a journey through past works of Argue, featuring vivid hues, delicate brushstrokes and many chickens. 

The exhibit includes an enthralling selection of Argue’s work from the past 40 years. The exhibit opened on June 17 and will run until Sept. 10, allowing students and art lovers to have all summer to take in the visionary works of the artist.

Argue, born and raised in St. Paul, is inspired by art of all kinds, not just painting. 

“It brings me pleasure to create, experience and think about art no matter how tragic the theme,” he said, citing Hamlet as an example of a piece of art that inspires him. 

Argue’s varied collection of work takes viewers on a visual and mental voyage throughout the exhibit. Each piece of art, whether it is a vast canvas or smaller work, is visually striking. Argue uses abstract imagery and unique textures striking the eye in a mesmerizing way.

“I would like people to see each individual work for what it is but also to see the mental leaps and jumps between works, between ideas,” Argue said. “A testament to being alive.”

Weisman Art Museum director, Alejandra Peña Gutiérrez, was an executive director at the Museo de Arte de Ponce in Puerto Rico for eight years prior to joining the Weisman in 2021. She studied architecture and art history at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México.

“At the Weisman, we often include exhibitions of work by artists with local ties. I’m pleased that WAM can give our visitors a look over an artist’s career, as with this show,” Gutiérrez said. “The so-called chicken painting has been a visitor favorite for years. Now you can see that beloved work in context of the artist’s body of work.”

The “chicken painting” refers to a work Argue did in the mid 1990s of a seemingly endless corridor with full walls of caged chickens on each side. The painting is currently on permanent loan to the Weisman.

“The paintings are very surreal and have a great use of color,” museum visitor, Sariaya Ingalls, said. “They seem to be depicting a world other than our own, like another realm.”

Argue is currently working on a new series of paintings he has made from screenshots of various websites and apps. 

“I’m not sure if they’re going to work out,” Argue said. “I only started on it a few weeks ago, though I’ve been thinking about it for years. It’s a bit of a cliché, but I think it’s true, that if you’re afraid of doing something then it’s probably worth doing because it will lead to something new and different, and that’s what I’m hoping for in my work, to keep exploring.”

For art enthusiasts of all ages, Doug Argue’s “Letters to the Future” promises to be an engrossing and entertaining exhibit. Argue invites us to consider the possibilities laying through his skillful brushstroke and philosophical insights. 

Until Sept. 10, make sure to stop by the Weisman Art Museum on the University campus to experience this artistic journey and learn more about Doug Argue’s body of work.

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