Portraits are focus of latest PKN exhibit

Artists reception 5-7 p.m. Friday, April 8


April 8, 2022

Cynthia Johnson

With Ann Carlander's help and Annie Dugan's encouragement, Knot Gallery curator Ann Markusen put out a call for portrait art for the April/May exhibit, and a variety of area artists responded.

One, Ivy Vainio, uses photography as her art form, as Markusen reviews below. While this is the first time Vainio's photographs will grace the 100-year-old brick wall that is the Knot Gallery at the Pine Knot News office, the four other artists are returning exhibitors, and show a different side of their talents in the portrait show.

Ken Hanson

Ken Hanson, the first artist to be featured at the Pine Knot gallery who now acts as a spirited art consultant, exhibits his drawings, graphite, based on old family photos.

"My parents were avid picture takers," he explained. "They chose to photograph primarily me and my siblings. I recently discovered an album of small black and white photos they produced with their Brownie camera when I was small. I find it interesting that the facial expressions which my young self exhibits in these photos is almost never a conventional smile. Rather, it's a sober countenance that might be interpreted as innate skepticism, a characteristic I find in myself these days." Hanson's drawings playfully elaborate this idea by combining the images from the photos with art history references. Hanson shares that these images elaborate on a theme in his 2010 book, "Baby Deidei's pilgrimage: seeking the nature of God," in which he uses toys to illustrate a sort of "spiritual quest."

Sue Brown Chapin

"Portrait painting is the one genre I do for the pure enjoyment of it," Sue Brown Chapin told Pine Knot curator Ann Markusen. "I only do portraits from photos and only ones that catch my fancy." Portraits comprise only about 2 percent of her artwork. "When I do a portrait for someone, I give them the portrait," Brown Chapin said. She likes to use a lot of color, working with watercolors and with Yupo, a synthetic paper favored by watercolorists. Her portraits in our exhibit include her granddaughter Liara, grandson Miles, and Dawn, one of her students. The challenges? "Getting the expression on the face is the most difficult."

Kris B. Nelson

Kris B. Nelson, "the chair lady," exhibits three of her art chairs in our show. One, "Lake Reflections," depicts Chief Nahgahnub, and was a gift to the Pine Knot Gallery. Nahgahnub led his people for more than 50 years and was instrumental in establishing peaceful relations with many settlers who lived on the shores of Big Lake. Nelson's paintings use vintage wooden chairs as a unique "canvas." She is well-known for her prolific output and wide range of subjects, from electric chairs to yoga chairs.

Cynthia Johnson

Cynthia Johnson shared a wide range of painted portrait images created over the years. "The painting of the man golfing is my father by Rob Ewald," she said.

The rest of the paintings are hers.

Ken Hanson

"The redhead is my mother, the boy in the straw hat is my nephew, and the little girl and baby are my neighbor's grandchildren. The old lady is a copy I did of a Thomas Eakins portrait, and the mother and child is a copy of a Mary Cassatt as I was learning to paint people."


You're invited

Come to the Knot Gallery between 5 and 7 p.m. Friday, April 8 for a free artists reception and portrait show opening (and a book signing) at the Pine Knot Gallery, inside the Pine Knot News office at 122 Ave. C, Cloquet. Enjoy refreshments, good company and wonderful local art and artists.


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