Since the second grade, when I had a book under my arm every day for the five-trains-and-a-bus ride home, books have been my ever-ready companion.
I was born and raised in Japan where, while stretched in other ways, our family of seven never lacked for stories. We had stateside relatives who kept our bookshelves stocked, and my mom made up fantastic tales for often long commutes from the rural village where we lived.
So perhaps it’s not surprising that my early years as a writer were promising. In the third grade I wrote my first three-act play, Beretta and the Diamond Thieves, one act per sheet of mimeograph paper. I went on that year to write my class-wide, blue-ribbon story—William the Wise Weasel—an honor that came with placing my hand-crafted book in the elementary library.
I grew to be a fan of all things publishable, writing for an underground high school newspaper and editing the yearbook. My teachers, however, didn’t see a particular talent and one went so far as to say I wrote poorly. So even while I loved words and spent a lot of time with them, I placed my energies elsewhere; by the end of high school, I planned on majoring in physics or math. The muses, however, had other things in mind. During the first year at St. Olaf College, a professor of a required writing class rewired my passions. I’ve been writing ever since. And while he’s very humble about it, he’s the lead writer and chief advisor for the #MnArtTruck.
Matt’s artistic style wasn’t developed in a traditional manner. He let his wide-ranging interests and keen observation lead him where it may—he has been drawn to study drafting, architecture, stained glass, photography, graphic design, drawing, and sculpture, but earned no formal degrees. Matt’s love of re-envisioning and connecting seemingly unconnected ideas led him to reimagine cast-off junk, American collectibles and oddities into robot forms that spark thought and smiles. He credits much of this unique vision to his StrengthsFinder talents of Strategic, Learner, Deliberative, and Individualization, as well as his father, an eternal saver of stuff and eclectic artist in his own right.
In addition to his sculpture art, Matt also does digital illustration, photography, and screw-art.
Matt’s sculptures are currently featured in homes in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Colorado, Texas, Wisconsin, California, Finland, and Switzerland. He has commissioned works on exhibit at the Atlanta and Raleigh International Airports (in the International Delta Sky Clubs). Matt’s (and the Minnesota Art Truck) work has also been featured in articles in the Sun Sailor and Northfield Newspapers, as well as Lake Minnetonka Magazine.
Matt lives in Minneapolis, where he was born and raised. However, he has also called Wisconsin and Colorado home at different points in his life. When Matt’s not dreaming of new junk assembly ideas, he loves to read, as well as run and bike. Matt has been married for 23 years and is the proud father of two young daughters.
ANNIE PRYOR — SOUL PAINTER
Anne (Annie) Pryor is the creator of Lovitude® and a Soul Painting Artist. Lovitude means Love and Gratitude, the highest energy in the Universe. Annie was inspired to create this trademarked symbol in 2005 while getting her Master’s Degree in Human Development and Holistic Health and Wellness.
Her Lovitude Soul Paintings have been called ‘visual blessings’, her unusual technique is created with magic ink, her breath (no paint brushes), and essential oils including frankincense, myrrh, and other oils that bless each painting. Each painting is infused with gold metallic ink and painted on clear plastic and other mediums. She was inspired to paint in 2017 after receiving messages from a former colleague, Irene Rossman, who died within three weeks, after being diagnosed with cancer. She continues to receive “After Death Messages” and inspiration.
These images have been said to elucidate, awaken, and activate souls. Her images have been featured at the IANS (International Association of Near Death Society), at the Memorial Service of Justine Ruszczyk Damond, the Minneapolis woman killed by a Minneapolis police officer, in the collection of a Pulitzer Prize Winning Author, and enjoyed by people globally.
TRISH GARDINER — GLASS ART
Trish Gardiner has been a business leadership coach and consultant for over 25 years. Many of Trish’s business clients have joined her in the studio as a way to connect with their creativity, to reduce stress, and problem solve. Trish has been a glass artist for almost ten years. Trish has studied with world-renowned master glass teachers from Ireland and Czech Republic as well as teachers from New York and Oregon. She is a member and regular contributor to international fused glass forums. Her glass art can be found at Ridgedale Mall, Minnetonka Center for the Arts, the Lake Minnetonka Studio Tour, and in the homes of clients throughout the world. Her work has been featured on WCCO and in Lake Minnetonka Magazine. Trish resides in Minnetonka where she teaches kiln formed glass classes and enjoys mountain biking, hiking, and is a regular volunteer at the Minneapolis Crisis Nursery.
Westy has been creating art now for over thirty years, developing a personal style that is colorful, whimsical, and quirky. Her artwork will make you smile!
Westy received a BA in art at Middlebury College, and a MFA in printmaking at RIT. However, life has been the biggest teacher of all, having brought along children and gardens, adventures and travel, struggles and ensuing wisdom.
Painting is a daily, passionate, activity in Westy’s sunny Minneapolis studio, where the music is playing, the cat lolls about, and the paint is thrown everywhere. Life without art is unimaginable!
Her artwork is full of layers: metaphorical layers as well as actual, physical layers. Paint, printing, collage, stamping, and more are often worked on top of old paintings and etchings.
Lee studied ceramics at the University of Wisconsion-Oshkosh in the 1960’s from the late Dr. Paul Donhauser, a world renowned ceramics artist. His minor was in art and after spending time and working with Paul, he was convinced that ceramics was the medium he was meant to explore. After graduating in 1967, Lee joined and spent 34 years in the family business. During that time he raised three daughters with his wife Melodee. During that 34 year period, Lee continued making pottery when time permitted, but it was intermittent at best. As his retirement approached, he built a studio in his home, and began to rekindle his love for pottery.
Since retiring in 2002 Lee has put more and more effort into his pottery and has enjoyed producing functional ceramic art work. His ceramic pieces are fired to over 2000 degrees fahrenheit and are microwave and oven safe. His glaze materials are from glaze formulas that were developed by his mentor Dr. Paul Donhauser. Each glaze is lead free and food safe. The clay Lee uses is stoneware clay.
Functional art that can be used on a daily basis is Lee’s goal. His goal has been achieved when each person that uses his pottery enjoys the look and feel of it.
Lula Designs was started in 2005 by Tracie Gross in Denver, Colorado. The handcrafted jewelry combines modern and classic femininity that incorporates the beauty of semi-precious and precious stones. Lula Designs creates unique pieces that are constantly evolving. Tracie prides herself on selecting beautiful stones and meticulously creating each piece.
Rich has been illustrating and designing professionally since 1988. These days it all emanates from his global headquarters in Deephaven, Minnesota, where he lives with his wife, sons, as well as friendly dog. Rich has a bachelor’s degree in humanities, drives a minivan, and claims he drinks too much coffee.
DAVE SANKO — 3D METAL ARTS
Dave is a mature, multi-talented artist/craftsman. He is without doubt an expert in tools and equipment. As long time professional mechanic and builder he is a natural born craftsman.
He stumbled into silverware sculpture as an accident. He purchased a set of old silverware to make his wife a bracelet and ring. From the first touch he knew there was a lot to explore creatively. He has been making metal formed jewelry, animal sculptures and garden art for several years. He is very good at it. Most of the finished pieces have been silver soldered together with a jewelers touch.
The important aspect of his work is that it is not “primitive silverware art”. He has advanced far beyond that very old technique of bending handles into rings. Dave takes the metal apart and uses many of the elements to re/create new images. He does take the viewer by surprise. It takes a few minutes to recognize the origin of the metal.
SUE PERSE — PHOTOGRAPHER
As a child, my very first camera was a Brownie, and thus began my love of photography. I remember waiting with expectation for the film to be developed into prints and later on, slides. I have now moved on to digitally-based photography. I lose all track of time and find myself immersed in whatever subject I have chosen. My choice of subject comes from my interest in the concept of beauty and the emotional connections that can then be made. I have two goals actually. One is to capture my subjects when the light is beautiful and perfect, an elusive but rewarding aspiration. The other is to evoke an emotional response in the viewer. My intention is to foster a desire to care for and preserve the beauty in our world, whether it be an old doorway in Italy or an icy river in the Kettle Moraine. We are the caretakers, and it falls on us all to succeed in this task.
Although my photography can be eclectic, it centers mostly on landscape photography, both rural and urban, and macro photography, which allows the intricacies in nature to reveal themselves. My process is the use of a digital camera, often with tripod. I do minimal editing, intending for the viewer to see what I saw at that moment. I do my own printing, matting, and framing.
Marcia’s interest in pottery comes from many directions and inspirations earlier in her life. She grew up interested in art and architecture — In painting, color, composition; in geometric relationships and construction. Marcia also found creative satisfaction in fabric arts — In designing and constructing clothing.
Now, later in life, Marcia finds her earlier interests continually resurfacing in her passion to create pottery. Clay has become the perfect medium for expressing her interest in form and construction, in color and abstract geometric designs, in creating functional objects with artistic presence.
Marcia strives to create work that reflects the raw, organic nature of clay, but reveals the process of making, shaping, and often includes obvious constructional statements. She applies surface treatments that are both earthy but boldly geometric. She utilizes three different firing methods — High-fire reduction, soda fire and wood fire — To create three varied but compatible bodies of work, each touched by a different type of flame and atmosphere.
Marcia’s focus as a potter is to create quality work — Useful, artistic, appealing — That expresses and reflects each of her interests and inspirations.
Grechen is a Colorado Institute of Art graduate with a degree in visual communications who grew up in Minnetonka, MN and still calls the area home with her two kids Zach, Ellie and husband Bret.
Never one to miss spreading her passion for art, social media, or a good cause, Grechen created a painting called “Hope” where she turned to social media to get subject matter ideas that were incorporated into the piece, and later put it up for auction at the annual Save.org (suicide awareness voices of education) event in Excelsior, MN.
Her most recent work includes pieces heavily influenced by her love for music, and her mission to help spread the word about addiction and mental illness.
The first piece she created called “Peace of My Heart” was immortalized on the Prince Memorial Wall by the local news and now resides in the Paisley Park Museum archives.
The second, entitled “Eye Of The Storm”, was made from used guitar and bass strings and includes signatures from legendary Minneapolis bands G.B. Leighton and The Gear Daddys, with plans to auction it with proceeds benefitting the Road Recovery charity.
Valerie Grahn is a new author. Little Mouse Lost is her debut book. She currently resides in Excelsior MN. Her husband, Johan and their three children, Lukas, Maeven, and Dennen, encouraged her to self-publish this story.
She was inspired to write Little Mouse Lost after launching many late-night search parties for Maeven’s stuffed ‘Little Mouse’. She has always wondered why Little Mouse goes missing around bedtime.
In addition to writing children’s books, Valerie has a successful career in the medical device industry and helps to commercialize products that improve the quality of peoples’ lives.
She is a new member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, enjoys gardening, travel, going on her own family adventures, and of course, reading.
Valerie hopes you enjoy reading this book as much as she enjoyed writing it!
Painted Circus are textile wearable, art creations by Pamela Ziegenhagen-Shefland. Her upcycled clothing has been re-imagined through dying and embellishments. Pamela also makes jewelry from repurposed, found objects, as well as felted scarves and clothing. When she’s not traveling for extended periods editing major motion pictures (like Despicable Me One and Two), she calls Minnetonka, Minnesota home.
I was raised in the wonderful suburb of Bloomington, Minnesota. Always an avid reader, I began writing my own stories while still in elementary school and pictured myself as a professional writer from a very young age. After college I attended several screenwriting workshops and began writing screenplays in earnest.
Several years and seven screenplays later, I put that ambition on the back burner to pursue other interests. When the urge to write hit again, I found that my passion had changed to children’s literature, and the “Dirkle Smat Adventure Books” were born.
My other interests include family (a husband and two grown sons), law enforcement (I recently retired as a police reserve officer in Bloomington) and gardening. I volunteer in the public schools, at church, and dabble in local politics.
I enjoy being the visiting author at elementary schools and structure my presentation to match the age group of the audience. The best part of author visits is the question and answer session. Kids ask the BEST questions!
ALAN SHEFLAND — ABSTRACT PHOTOGRAPHY
Moving from film editing to photography gave Alan his chance to be “independent” and freed him to explore his visions and related thoughts. The “out of time” imagery that started during the MTV age made a connection with Alan that has brought most of his works today to what is now his happy place, Abstract Photography.
His techniques may include movement, slow shutter, overexposing, off focus, finding hidden meaning in objects, and using various post production applications.
His influences are from Aaron Siskind, Tony Sweet, Elliott Erwitt, Freeman Patterson, and Carl Beihl
Alan’s work has been in several gallery shows. He teaches photography at the Minnetoka Center for the Arts in Orno and lives happily in Minnetonka.
Kate Brennan Hall is a graduate of the Minneapolis College of Art + Design where she was an Honors Interdisciplinary Major focusing on Illustration + Printmaking. She has been an illustrator + print-maker for over thirty-five years and has had the opportunity to work with such clients as Target, Mastercard, Blue Cross Blue Shield, American Airlines, and Doubleday and she has exhibited her work in Switzerland, France and the Upper Midwest. Since 2012, Kate has been creating screen-printed home goods that she sells via Etsy, handmade fairs and shops across the United States. Kate also serves as a vice-president on a local art & culture board and several other non-profit boards dedicated to helping folks in her community.
BUD BULLIVANT — SCULPTURE, PAINTING & FINE ART
Bud has been an avid outdoorsman and a storyteller, as an artist these two aspects of his character join together. He loves to create art that shares his observations on the simple beauty of nature and the stories that come from time spent in the outdoors. All of Bud’s art is inspired by nature and reflects his great love for the world around him.
MELINDA WOLFF — JEWELRY, STAINED GLASS & WATERCOLOR
Melinda is a St. Paul artist experienced in many fields of art and has become fascinated and inspired by working extensively in jewelry, stained glass, and watercolor paintings. She has a bachelor’s degree in Studio Art from the College of St. Benedict and just recently embarked on a new life adventure by becoming a full time artist. Keep an eye out for her creations at local art and craft shows throughout the year and make sure to follow her journey on her website and facebook. She is also a lover of camping trips, nature hikes, craft beers, and spending time with her wonderful husband, Brian, owner of Wolff Woodworks.
Melinda Wolff’s upcycled jewelry is created with reclaimed wood scraps from her husband’s wood shop. The jewelry is brought to life with resin coating that magnifies and accentuates a spectrum of colors, which can range from deep blacks and browns, to warm reds and purples, to rich whites and yellows. Melinda Wolff jewelry also includes necklaces, rings, and keychains made from found butterfly and moth wings and hand picked real 4-leaf clovers. Distinctive and rare, each piece makes a statement that emphasizes nature’s beauty.
Melinda’s watercolor paintings capture her perception of nature by focusing on color, lines, texture, whimsical elements, and symbols associated from her dreams. Each painting is finished with black ink to add vivacity and expression that enhances the images within each painting.
BRIAN WOLFF — WOODWORKS
Wolff Woodworks uses colorful domestic and exotic woods to create one of a kind cutting boards, cribbage boards, and candleholders. Each piece is intentionally designed to highlight the unique grains and textures. Jewelry by Melinda Wolff is handcrafted using the reclaimed and recycled woods from Wolff Woodworks.The jewelry is brought to life with a lacquer or resin coating that magnifies and accentuates a natural spectrum of colors, which can range from deep blacks and browns, to warm reds and purples, to rich whites and yellows. Distinctive and rare, each piece by Wolff Woodworks and Melinda Wolff makes a statement that emphasizes nature’s beauty.
Matt Thompson opened Skyline Neon in 1993 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Matt’s beginning in neon started at a neon school in Minneapolis. After working in an apprenticeship for a few years in Hawaii, he relocated to Amsterdam in the Netherlands. He worked in the commercial sign industry of Europe, showing American neon techniques, work, and glassblowing demonstrations, which involved traveling and work to Italy, Germany, Belgium, and Holland. Every country has unique production techniques and materials for making neon. Part of Matt’s work included teaching American style neon glassblowing to help speed up production times in the European market. After several years working overseas, he returned to Minnesota to open Skyline Neon.
Kevin is a self taught landscape painter and muralist living in Minnetrista, MN. His work is inspired by historic Tonalism and Regionalism. He paints the Midwest world around him, capturing light and shadow. Kevin has been featured on Minnesota Public Radio’s “State of the Arts” program.
CURRENT GUEST CREW MEMBERS:
Steve Nugent / Yard Art Sculptor
Ken Keiran / Hand-Carved Ornaments
Emma Klingbeil / Painter
Art In Hand Decks / Artful Playing Cards
Shannon Broder / Textiles
Jaroslav and Natalka Pavlysh / Computer Chip Jewelry