State Fair 98th Annual Fine Arts Exhibition preview night brings in the crowds


Samantha Herrera, 19, of Robbinsdale, was beaming. Her self-portrait acrylic painting not only made it into the 98th Annual State Fair Fine Arts Exhibition, but she also won an Award of Excellence by the Robbinsdale Historical Society. “I’m thrilled. I am really excited,” she said. “I love getting all this attention for my work and being a part of the biggest art show in the state.”
Herrera’s attention began at the exhibition’s Artists Preview Night held on Tuesday, prior to the opening of the State Fair. Invited guests and artists got a chance to scrutinize art work, view admitted pieces, and find out who won awards in advance of the expected 400,000 viewers during the fair’s run.

Patti Paulson, assistant superintendent of the show, said there were a record number of artists entering this year. “We had 2,560 on-line registrations and 2,105 pieces were dropped off,” she said. “382 were accepted.” Paulson estimated close to 2,500 attended the Artist’s Preview Night.

The State Fair Fine Arts Exhibition is a juried competition with eight class categories. Eight judges pored through all submissions to select the entries to be included in the exhibition and to decide on awards.
Shelia Smith, Executive Director of Minnesota Citizens for the Arts, admired the work. “The great part of this show is that it’s so Minnesota. Every Minnesotan has a chance to put their art work out into the world. Every year, as far as I can tell, the majority of the artists in the show are not professionals, but very good artists,” she said. “Statistics show that Minnesotans participate in the arts at a higher percentage than people in other states.”
Smith chose an artist for an award she calls “The Great State of Minnesota Award.” This is for art she feels best depicts Minnesota subject matter. “It’s hard to do in this show because it’s hard sometimes to tell so we have to ask the artist,” she said. “It’s just for fun.” The winner was Maplewood resident Nicholas Riley for his white oak wood sculpture “Skinny Dippin’.”
Riley said he carved his piece of a woman diving into the water out of one log. A Ramsey County lobbyist by day and sculptor by night, Riley said “Skinny Dippin’” was modeled after his wife and daughter. “It took 200 to 300 hours of work,” he said. “This is the third time I have been accepted in the art show. It’s my hobby.”
Scott Maggart of White Bear Lake won first place in the class 2 sculpture category for “Who’s Behind the Door #4” a wood, metal, and found objects piece. “This is my first time. I’ve never entered before. It’s been in and out of my sketch book for a while,” he said. “My brother told me to enter. He entered too, but didn’t get in.” Maggart said he is inspired by history. “I like to work with found objects,” he said.
In the color photograph category, Nicole Houff’s “Dirty Laundry Barbie” was generating buzz around the show. Houff’s photo, of a Barbie doll hanging up lingerie on a clothesline, was of vintage Barbie underwear she found online.
The 2009 Jurors were Doug Beasley in Photography, Anna Carlson in Textiles and Fibers, Shelly Nordtorp-Madson in Oils, Acrylics, and Mixed Media, Marian-Ortolf Bagley in Watercolors, Philip Ogle in Sculpture, Curt Pederson in Drawings and Pastels, George Robinson in Prints, and Keith Williams in Ceramics and Glass.
In addition to the juried selections, the public will have a say on their favorite piece. In the “People’s Choice Awards,” visitors are invited to vote for their favorite artwork in the show. Pick up a ballot at the front desk for either the Adult’s Choice or the Kids’ Choice Award vote. The results will be announced on Labor Day.
The public is able to purchase many of the pieces at the exhibition. Sales were already being made at the Preview. The art show retains the sold items until the end of the Fair. Also for sale is the 2009 Commemorative Art State Fair poster, designed by local artist Leo Stans.
This year’s show focuses on original 2D and 3D textile and apparel designs from students at the University of Minnesota. On Labor Day, a new “Arts Organization Day” will feature the Robbin Gallery, Robbinsdale.
Visitors to the Fine Arts Show between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. daily can watch artists creating artwork. On Children’s Day, Monday August 31 and September 7, between 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m., the first 1,000 children will be able to create and make their own button to bring home.
To obtain entry information for the 2010 State Fair Fine Arts Juried Exhibition, contact the Competition office at 651-288-4417 or go to the Fair website and click on ”Competition” and select “Fine Arts.” On-line registration via the Internet is required and begins in April.
The 98th Annual Fine Arts Exhibit is displayed in the Fine Arts Building on the corner of Randall and Cosgrove.