Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Inside the Paradise galleries, an array of art March 22, 2023

A side view of Amanda Webster’s “Just The Three of Us, A Triptych of Three” acrylic on canvas. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo March 2023)

FROM WILD ANIMALS to wildly vivid abstracts, the art of creatives fills four first floor galleries at the Paradise Center for the Arts in historic downtown Faribault. What an array of artwork to infuse color, joy and more into these lingering, colorless days of winter in the season of spring here in southern Minnesota.

“Lion King” and “Zebra” by long-time wildlife and nature photographer Dave Angell of Faribault. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo March 2020)

The incredible talent showcased in these galleries impresses me. Whether created with a camera, a brush, or with a pencil in a sketchbook, this art shows a passion for the craft.

The relatively new digital marquee at the Paradise Center for the Arts in Faribault flashes gallery hours. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted file photo March 2023)

Only a few days remain to view the current exhibits, which close on Saturday, March 25.

Some of Amanda Webster’s bold abstract acrylic on canvas art showcased at the Paradise Center for the Arts. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo March 2023)

When I stepped inside the main gallery at the Paradise to view the bold acrylic paintings of Twin Cities artist Amanda Webster, I simply stopped. Wow! Her large-scale colorful abstracts jolted me into a happy place.

Amanda Webster’s artist statement reveals the story behind her abstract art. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo March 2023)

That I saw Webster’s nature-inspired work on a cold January-like afternoon with a strong, biting wind likely enhanced my reaction. I wanted to walk right into those magical settings and leave this Minnesota winter behind. For an artist’s work to inspire that type of immersive response says something.

The winding white path leads the eye right into Amanda Webster’s vivid acrylic on canvas abstract, “Keep Going Forward.” (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo March 2023)

I envisioned Webster’s work in a corporate space, filling a business with energy. I envisioned her art in a medical setting, creating a positive, healing energy. I envisioned her art in my home, if only I had higher ceilings and a more modern, than traditional, house.

This shows a section of Bill Nagel’s “Walk Around,” an oil on canvas. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo March 2023)

Just off the Paradise’s lobby, abstract art also fills a small boardroom gallery. This space features the art of multi-talented, award-winning Minnesota artist Bill Nagel. He paints abstract art and also creates modern still-life and illustrations.

Bill Nagel’s oil on canvas, from left to right: “Work Around,” “Sombrillas Rojas” and “Sea Glass.” (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo March 2023)

His abstracts are decidedly different than Webster’s. While still colorful, they are more subdued, more geometric, more defined. At least to my eyes. Everyone views art differently. Nagel’s “Sea Glass” oil painting, especially, felt calming to me. Perhaps it was the mostly blue and green hues. Or maybe the very thought of being seaside was enough to carry me into a tranquil setting of warmth and water lapping against shoreline.

Barb Pendergast created this watercolor of a rooster. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo March 2023)
“Jes,” an oil portrait by Ivan Whillock. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo March 2023)
“Haley,” an acrylic portrait by Cheryl Morris. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo March 2023)

Across the lobby in another smallish gallery, I perused the images of photographer Stephen Hadeen and of Paradise Center for the Arts members. I always enjoy seeing what locals create. From a nature and wildlife photographer of 40 years, to an internationally-acclaimed woodcarver (who also paints) to a watercolor artist, these creatives embrace a variety of ways to make art. It’s simply fun to take it all in, whether photos of zebras or a watercolor of a rooster or a portrait of a canine with soulful eyes.

Student artist Syra Romero’s untitled art from a sketch book scan. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo March 2023)

It is the eyes which pulled me in close to view a mini gallery exhibit of art by students in the Paradise’s After School Art Club. The club meets a total of six hours in six sessions with local teaching artists. And what they create impresses. I know I never could have made art like this at their age. Not that I ever had the opportunity to learn. I didn’t.

“Wednesday,” a sketch book scan by student artist Aviella Young. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo March 2023)

But these students, oh, how fortunate they are to pursue their creativity alongside professionals. To learn technique, to be encouraged, to create art is such a gift.

Another gift awaits visitors to the Paradise Center for the Arts in the annual second floor All Area Student Art Show, which runs until April 8. That is one of my favorite exhibits because I love seeing what our young people are creating. Their work is remarkable. They inspire me. That show deserves a solo focus, which will be forthcoming.

“Keep Going Forward,” Amanda Webster’s acrylic, right, leads to more of her abstract paintings. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo March 2023)

For now, head to the Paradise by Saturday, March 25, to take in the current art in the first floor galleries. The Paradise, 321 Central Avenue North, is open from noon to 5 pm Wednesday – Friday and from 10 am – 2 pm Saturday.

NOTE: All art was photographed with permission from the Paradise Center for the Arts. This post includes only a sampling of the art featured in the gallery exhibits.

© Copyright 2023 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


8 Responses to “Inside the Paradise galleries, an array of art”

  1. beth Says:

    what a wonderful place to take in all of this beautiful art. I really love the triptych, as it’s such a fascinating way of putting art together, but am most taken by the seaglass painting, as I’ve always been drawn to seaglass for it’s color and smooth lines.

    • I love the Paradise Center for the Arts. As someone who grew up with minimal exposure to the arts, I am grateful to have this in my community. That you appreciate sea glass, both real and interpreted, because of its color and lines reveals your artistic eye.

  2. Beautiful and the jolts of color are needed in the dreary winter. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Art just speaks to my whole being. Love the vibrancy of the art in the pics above – WOW! – love to have one or two. I love wandering through galleries and got to do a bit of that on my visit to Scottsdale recently. I like when art makes you stop, ponder, think too. Thanks so much for sharing the art. Happy Day – Enjoy 🙂

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