I AM NO FASHIONISTA or anything closely resembling a woman who knows, or really cares, about fashion.
So when I stopped at the Mantorville Art Guild last week while visiting this historic southeastern Minnesota river town, I had no idea I had just stepped into the world of fashion.
But I should have figured it out given the fashionably-dressed women consulting with artist Max Lohrbach. They weren’t, like me, dressed in plain denim shorts, a scoop-necked cotton shirt and $3 flip flops from Walmart. Rather, one wore an ankle-length shoulderless dress with a swatch of fabric crossing her back and a band tied at her neck. A big bag was fashionably slung over her shoulder. I can’t recall the other woman’s attire, but neither toted a bulky brown camera bag like me.
I felt a bit under-dressed for the occasion. How was I to know, though, that one of Minnesota’s premier fashion designers would be there? That would be Lohrbach. Not until I returned home did I realize his importance.
My blissful ignorance allowed me to enjoy Lohrbach’s “Souvenir Portrait” without star-struck pretenses. I was simply viewing an artistic piece that, to me, seems a perfect fit for the artist’s hometown of Mantorville, a community with a 12-block downtown on the National Historic Registry.
Lohrbach’s 2-3 dimensional “installed illustration” showcases his original garments influenced by, and depicting, the 1876 era, the time of our nation’s Centennial.
If his exhibit had been a photograph, I would have been looking at a family portrait. Promotional information for Lohrbach’s show says, “The somewhat dark scene may serve not only as a fashion installation, but also as a common ancestral portrait.”
“Souvenir Portrait” calls for a closer look at the details this Minnesota designer has incorporated into his scene—the red, white and blue in the clothing; the alphabet sash upon the child’s skirt; the pig drawing on the father’s shirt; the crossed arms; the hand angled in the pocket; the mother turned protectively toward her child; the rustic eagle fashioned from weathered wood…
Lohrbach has created a piece worthy of study as much for the personal sense of history he conveys as for the detailed vintage-style garments he’s designed.
“SOUVENIR PORTRAIT” will be on display at the Mantorville Art Guild, 508 Clay Street, until September 19. Gallery hours are from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. Friday and Saturday and from noon until 4 p.m. on Sunday. Arrangements can be made for special tours. Fashionable attire is optional.
© Copyright 2010 Audrey Kletscher Helbling