A West End Arts Scene Is Born

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You may have heard the buzz about it at coffee shops and eateries in Saint Paul’s West End, or seen “Call for Entries” flyers posted along West 7th Street. Now the West End Arts “Scene-and-be-Scene” visual arts showcase is rapidly approaching. At the opening night festivities on Saturday, July 12, you’ll have a chance to view a rich variety of art produced by people across the street and around the block from the gallery space. You’ll be able to mingle with painters, photographers, sculptors, digital media designers, and all-around creative movers-and-shakers in the West End community.

West End Arts “Scene-and-be-Scene” Show
Opening reception: Saturday, July 12, 2008, 6-10pm
Open to the public: Thursdays through Sundays, 1-5pm
Sunday, July 13-Saturday, August 2, 2008
Pilney Building, 1032 West 7th Street (at Randolph)

West End Arts, a committee of the Fort Road Federation, has been organizing this kick-off event for the past several months, and since posting the call for entries, has heard from enthusiastic and grateful artists who have been hankering for an opportunity to show their work locally and network with each other.
Marty Hicks, a West End resident and business owner, will be showing a beautifully crafted modular table/sculpture, inspired by the confluence of the Minnesota and the Mississippi rivers. “Since falling into sculpture’s grip,” he explains, “I’ve ranged from fabricating large outdoor steel sculpture to building custom furniture to casting bronze and iron. My passion for making things is driven by my love for materials, tools, technique, and watching things evolve.”
Contrast the organic, natural forms that characterize Marty’s work with the interactive media piece submitted by brother-and-sister team Phil and Sarah Prentice. “Our idea is to encourage community involvement in arts and technology,” Phil explains. To that end, they’re constructing a digital whiteboard on which gallery visitors will be able to create their own art. They’re using a computer and video projector, and taking advantage of an open-source software application designed for interactive media displays. To enjoy the piece, though, you don’t need to understand anything about the hardware or software involved. You’ll be able to work with these tools the same way a painter would work on a canvas. “We’re focusing on making a display that is very accessible to an audience that does not define themselves as digital artists,” Sarah says. “It’s kind of like digital finger-painting,” Phil adds.
The show will take place in a temporary gallery on the ground floor of the Pilney building at the corner of West 7th and Randolph. The space, large and open, with high ceilings and a street view, has been generously donated by Chris and Michele Boone, owners of deZinnia, Inc., a creative resource firm housed on the upper floor.
Dave Thune, artist, gallery owner, and the city council member who represents the West End and other Ward 2 neighborhoods in Saint Paul, looks forward to the “Scene-and-be-Seen” event as a milestone for the community. “It’s terribly exciting to find out how many artists are here, to see the variety of work that they produce, and to see how good they are. It’s great to have a chance to showcase that.” Dave Thune will be contributing a piece to the show, as will his daughter Kle, his son Dusty, and his mom Fran.
The West End Arts group welcomes area neighbors and friends to the show, and invites more West End artists and friends of the arts to get in touch and help plan future events. To find out more, visit http://westendartsscene.blogspot.com/ or call the Fort Road Federation office at 651-298-5599.