Posts Categorized: Artist Features

Fall Art Trips: Driftless Art Festival!

Fall is the loveliest season around here (we think). So we put together a little list of events to add to your calendar! Go ahead and hit the road this fall for some fun art trips in the Driftless Region! First up: Driftless Area Art Festival!

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Driftless Area Art Festival
Beauford T. Anderson Park, Soldiers Grove, Wisconsin
September 17-18, 2016
www.driftlessareaartfestival.com

While  art tours are often the big thing in our area – we drive around to artists’ studios to see their art and get fun tours of their spaces – every year there’s a time where artists gather in one place for us: the Driftless Area Art Festival. Don’t worry, though: you still get a gorgeous setting at the foot of the bluffs in Soldiers Grove, Wisconsin, and you still get tons of great art exposure.

Get to the festival early and grab a Kickapoo Coffee and a crepe from one of the festival food vendors and meander through the tents and booths that host nearly 100 visual artists, not to mention the hundreds – yes, hundreds – of young artists featured in the KidsArt Tent and the Teen Art Gallery.

Now in its twelfth year, this event features artists of all varieties – from painters and potters to musicians and brewmasters. Throughout the festival, there will also be live music and performance art too – watch for Decorah-based Maritza Sunday afternoon! So grab another tasty something to eat – cheese curds, catfish, street tacos, or, mmm, pie – and stick around.

Check out more Fall Art Trips here!

(Pssst: there’s a great road trip packing list too!)

Q&A with Artist Lauren Bonney

DoctorWho-Companion
marinade grillingIntroduction by Aryn Henning Nichols
Interview by Inspire(d) Intern Martha Hall
All art by Lauren Bonney

As we’re heading out of summer and into fall (we just sent the Fall Inspire(d) Magazine to the printers today!), we want to thank the amazing illustrator and artist, Lauren Bonney, who contributed so hugely to the summer Inspire(d). Her beautiful food illustrations (see right) on the cover and throughout the Roots of Food section made the whole layout shine – we just loved it!

Lauren-profilepicLauren is well-known in Decorah for her cool designs for Nordic Fest – she’s designed the logo and buttons the past several years – but her speciality is what she calls her “geek” art. She’s likely to reference science fiction or Norse mythology in some clever way in her art or in conversation. Her work lately has been a softer, though, as she and her husband, rural Decorah farmer John Kraus, prep for the arrival of their first child. (Yay!)

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Lauren also designs logos, of course, and custom invitations for weddings, parties, and more. Check out her illustrations, block prints, experiments in fabric, and more at her website www.laurenbonney.com or Etsy shop, Odd Egg Out.

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Summer Inspire(d) intern Martha Hall caught up with Lauren to ask her a few questions about fall and art and inspiration and more – it was fun to get a glimpse into our friend’s fun mind. Read on to do the same!

1. What is inspiring you right now?

Hmmm… the answer to that definitely changes depending on the projects I’m approaching for the day. I’ve recently discovered the work of the artists at Bumpkin Tattoo in Slovakia and I’m loving the use of color and line that they work with, like a “next generation” Story People. I’ve also reaffirmed my deep and abiding love of the animation of Tomm Moore and the animators at Cartoon Saloon after watching their segment in Khalil Gibran’s “The Prophet.” I’ve been listening to Anais Mitchell and Jefferson Hamer’s album “Child Ballads” and singing the songs to myself as I work. The songs on the album have been around for about 300 years, which makes me feel very connected to the past. It’s nice when you end up spending hours in front of a computer to feel a sense of history.

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2. What are some of your favorite things to do in the Driftless Region in the fall?

Every year my family gathers apples and presses cider and it has been really great to join in that tradition. I’m definitely not a hot weather person so I spend a lot more time outside in the fall and I like organizing picnics and bonfires once the weather cools down. My husband and I had our first date at the Driftless Area Art Festival, so that holds a special place in my heart, as well.

3. What’s the last thing that made you laugh?

Probably my husband, John. Possibly a segment from “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.”

4. If you could choose anyone, who would you pick as your mentor?

Someone patient, funny, driven, and an excellent leader. It would have to be someone I could talk to regularly without going crazy and someone who challenged me to take more risks. I know a lot of people who could fit that description, but as far as someone famous goes, I’d opt for my favorite power couple – Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer. Fictional mentor? Rupert Giles.

GnomeNisseCulture5. What was the last book you enjoyed reading?

Non-fiction:Grand Forks” by Marilyn Hagerty. This simple collection of decades of restaurant reviews left me feeling happy and wanting to chat with my grandma over a cup of coffee.
Fiction: The audio book of “Ready Player One” by Ernst Cline and read by Wil Wheaton. I like to listen to audiobooks while I cook and do chores around the house. I’m very over franchises and series of books and I appreciated the stand-alone nature of the story.
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Don’t forget to click over to Lauren’s website and Etsy shop to see more!

Q&A with Mason Jennings

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Introduction and interview by Benji Nichols
Originally published in the Summer 2016 Inspire(d)

We’re proud to say we’ve been big fans of Seed Savers Exchange and Heritage Farm for a long time. And for many a moon, Iowa troubadour Greg Brown (of whom we are also big fans) has graced a beautiful summer evening to help raise funds for the ever-growing cause of saving and sharing heritage seeds and plants.

When Brown announced that 2015 would be his final year for the Seed Savers benefit concert, there was, happily, another extremely talented artist waiting, literally, in the wings.

Well-known Midwest musician Mason Jennings was at the benefit last year, and the magic of that moon-lit evening in rural Decorah swept him away. With just a little peer pressure from Greg Brown and friends, Jennings counted himself “in” to perform the 2016 benefit show – when that show was cancelled due to wide spread flooding in 2016, a re-do was penciled in the books for July 2017!

Jennings – a singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist – is a Hawaii native who now calls Minneapolis home. He has sold hundreds of thousands of records to much acclaim – the album “Blood Of Man,” which Jennings recorded on garage band (playing all the instruments himself), received a 4-star review in Rolling Stone. His thirteenth album “Wild Dark Metal” was released just this past spring – of the album, Jennings has said, “It deals with loss, love, suffering, longing, and mystery. I hope it finds the listener who is looking for it. I hope it brings deep medicine. I hope you play it loud.”

For close to 20 years, Jennings has toured the world, bringing audience members his unique style of musical medicine. This summer, joined by friends and fellow Iowa-rooted musicians The Pines, and combined with the incredible setting of Seed Savers, folks are in for some real magic.

Inspire(d) was lucky enough to have a few moments to collect some fun thoughts from Mason Jennings as he anticipates the upcoming benefit concert.

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I: You’ve been anchored out of Minneapolis going on two decades now, with real roots in the 400 Bar (RIP) and the entire Minneapolis scene. What first got you to Minneapolis and has kept you coming back to the Midwest?

MJ: My dad lived there for a few years and I visited and felt at home. I love the size of the Cities. The way the community supports artists and the close proximity of nature. The seasons work for me creatively too. Equidistant to both coasts for touring… great place to raise a family… the list goes on. I love Minnesota. I love Iowa too.

I: From our understanding you attended the Greg Brown benefit show last year at Seed Savers and were inspired. Can you tell us about your experience?

MJ: I love Greg’s music and the concert setting was amazing. Seed Savers seems like an amazing place and it was inspiring to see folks coming together to support it. Both Greg and Iris Dement took me aside that night and told me they thought I should play it next year. And I listened and agreed.

I: The Pines will be opening the Seed Saver’s Benefit show in August, and Benson Ramsey (of The Pines, and Iowa music legend Bo Ramsey’s son) also contributed photos to your new album “Wild Dark Metal” – when did you all connect?

MJ: I met Benson about six years ago at a friend’s wedding. We immediately hit it off and have been hanging out ever since. I think he is an amazing person and his songwriting is very moving to me. The Pines are easily one of my favorite bands. They’ll be joining me onstage at Seed Savers too, which will be fun.

I: Do you keep a garden at home at all?

MJ: I don’t keep a garden yet but I love gardens. I’m hoping that being (at Seed Savers) will inspire me to someday start one.

I: Ok. Rapid fire! First thing that comes to mind:

Midwest: Prince
Summer food: Corn
Family: Forever
Currently listening to: 89.3 The Current
Seed Savers Exchange: Hope

Don’t miss this evening of incredible music in an even more incredible setting! Here are the details:

Who: Mason Jennings and The Pines, with Pieta Brown
Where: Seed Savers Heritage Farm
When: Saturday, July 8, 2017. Doors 5 pm. Concert 7 pm.
How: Buy tickets online at www.seedsavers.org/benefit-concert