‘Bitter Fruits’ and ‘Anxiety Dreams’ in northeast Minneapolis


The Q’arma Building in northeast Minneapolis overflowed with art enthusiasts on Friday night for the opening reception of two exhibits—Bitter Fruits and Anxiety Dreams—at the Altered Esthetics Gallery. Visitors were positively overwhelmed by the diversity and high quality of the shows. “They were pleasantly surprised by the subject matter and the amount of material,” said Jamie Schumacher, executive director of Altered Esthetics.

Bitter Fruits and Anxiety Dreams exhibits run through February 28 at Altered Esthetics, 1224 Quincy Street NE, Minneapolis. For more information, see alteredesthetics.org or call (612) 378-8888.

The objective of Bitter Fruits, “a study of woman’s role as object in art” according to the brochure, is to feature art addressing the roles women have historically played in art and society—and also about how women are viewed today. Bitter Fruits features sculpture, painting, photography, and performance art from over 80 artists.

Sarah Osborn, lifelong artist and first-time exhibitor, hopes her pen drawings on paper will touch somebody, but, she shrugs, “who knows?” The exhibit features three pieces that tell her personal story, each piece representing a woman’s self image in different stages of a relationship.

Pauline Mitchell, on the other hand, knows just how her works touch people. She is exhibiting twelve small to mid-size sculptures of women’s torsos with breasts altered from radical mastectomies—a procedure she herself has undergone. Her work is part of her healing process, and based on the responses to her work, she says, it appears to be healing others as well. She has seen tears; she has seen discomfort and horror in some people as they quickly walk by her work; she has heard many personal stories (some sad, some not so sad); and she has been thanked.

Mitchell’s female torsos are headless to emphasize her point that breast cancer can happen to any woman. “This is a part of life. It’s real,” she says. “We are not all beautiful and sexy – here we are.”

Suzanna Schlesinger reflects, “There is more to people than what is shown on the outside.” Her experience as a rape counselor led her to design small-scale ceramic pieces as a representation of self. Her goal is to encourage people to break beyond their borders.

“Woman is the pinnacle of beauty. Woman represents creation and all things that are beautiful,” explains Kevin Showell. His pieces “Earthly Vessels”—carved from discarded black locusts—are beautiful as well as functional, he says. The bowls are smooth, with delicate curves.

In Anxiety Dreams, nine artists contributed work that illuminates commonplace experiences. In a performance piece, artist Ellen Mueller humorously recreates her anxiety dreams resulting from a stressful relationship with her customers and her boss while working at a ticket booth. Lindsay Noble’s human-size 3-D cutouts, installed near the entrance, show her love of shopping and her attraction to figures in store catalogs.

Altered Esthetics is a community gallery run by artists, for artists. Founded in 2004 and incorporated as a nonprofit two years later, Altered Esthetics holds group shows to provide multiple artists of all backgrounds with an opportunity to share their perspectives and to sustain the historical role of artists as a true voice of society through exhibits, events, services, workshops and programs. Throughout the Q’arma Building works by other artists are also on display.

Jennifer Holder (jyholder@msn.com) contributes regularly to the TC Daily Planet and the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.