by Helen Gilbert, Becketwood Member
On Friday, January 12, three new art works were unveiled in honor of Jerry Nordstrom.
Jerry was the chair of the Art Committee, a former art teacher and theater director. Tributes in the program from his memorial celebration in May describe him as warm, generous, wise, imaginative, and skeptical of received “truth,” and include many wonderful and funny anecdotes. He was loved, by friends, family and Becketwood Members.
With a curator’s eye Jerry hung donated art in the Becketwood hallways, and he started and organized the monthly exhibits in the dining rooms. For his 100th exhibit, which came to be his last before he died in March 2017, he asked Members to contribute their own favorite work of art. At the opening celebration, he emphasized Members’ love for art, rather than the huge impact he has had in expanding our knowledge and enjoyment of art as a part of life.
The Art Committee wanted to do something concrete to honor Jerry’s legacy. The idea of adding to the permanent collection some works that we could enjoy for a long time emerged as the most fitting tribute. When Members were asked to contribute to a memorial fund, they were able to express some of their feelings about Jerry in this way, and the response was very generous, about $7,000.
The Art Committee went individually and in small groups to art galleries and studios and brought back photos of works to consider. We learned in a new way, there is a lot of art out there! Looking at paintings when we actually would be able to purchase some fine pieces was a delightful treat. Deciding which ones to select was much harder. Photographing, assembling, and projecting our collection for the committee to view challenged our technical skills, and our process skills were challenged, too, in working out how to settle on just a few. We always kept in mind what we understood of Jerry’s preferences and what would bring pleasure. We wanted fairly large original pieces, and we hoped to have a variety of styles and subjects.
We eventually cut down a field of more than forty images to just five, which we decided to show to the Members to elicit comments. We hung them in the sixth floor hallway for a few weeks, with a book nearby asking Members to make comments on their reactions and preferences. The comments were interesting and varied, and they reflected both the Members’ diversity and their commonality of interest in art. The committee read aloud and considered all comments, and used them in the discussion of how to proceed.
In the end, a consensus developed strongly around the three works that were purchased. We decided where we wanted to hang them and planned a Friday reception for the unveiling. David Liddle, Art Committee secretary, introduced the purchases and described the Committee’s process. Terry Richardson, Art Committee co-chair, presented each work along with some information about the artist. Julie Nordstrom spoke about Jerry’s legacy and her joy that it is being continued. (Although two of the works had to be moved temporarily because of some concerns about fireplace heat in the super cold weather, the plan was to re-hang them as soon as possible in their chosen locations.)
“My Minneapolis” is a large work done by Miriam Rudolph in intaglio, a printing technique, and stencil for the colored parts. The artist was born in Paraguay and lived in Canada before moving recently to Minneapolis. The work, done in flat, line drawing style, depicts the artist’s personal reaction to her adopted home of Minneapolis. It includes many landmarks, such as “Spoonbridge and Cherry” and characteristic scenes, such as farmers’ markets, connected by roads, trails, and bridges. The Chihuly chandelier at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts glows in bright yellow, and the Vikings Stadium makes it up-to-date. A blissful couple floating in the center seems to indicate the positive feelings the artist has about her new city. We felt that this makes a good face for Becketwood hanging in the foyer, representing our home city, Minneapolis, as a joyous, lively, and diverse place.
“Spring Blossoms,” by South Minneapolis artist Scott Lloyd Anderson, is an original oil painting done outdoors in Nokomis Park when the cherry trees were blooming. A lot of Members commented that it felt like home, like it almost could be a picture of our Becketwood surroundings in spring. Some said they would like to walk across the grass and sit on the small bench Scott painted under the billowing pink and white flowers of the cherry trees. Hung in the Solarium, it brings a bright spot of color and a promise of spring.
“Midnight Owl” comes from another country and, it could almost be said, another world, although we occasionally do see snowy owls here, if we’re lucky. The artist is Ningeokuluk Teevee, an Inuit woman who works in the renowned art collective in Cape Dorset, Nunavut Territory, Canada. To make her image of the flying snowy owl, she transferred an original drawing to a soapstone plate, where it was hand carved, inked, and hand printed, with stencils used for additional colors. The Inuit artists’ group often portray the world of shamanism and the power that can be felt in animals. The work came from Grand Marais, where other Inuit art can often be seen. The Midnight Owl will take flight on the large wall above the fireplace in the Wellington Dining Room.
The Art Committee appreciates the extraordinary support from many Members that made it possible to purchase these works for Becketwood. We hope that these and other purchases in the future will enhance Becketwood’s environment in a way that honors and continues Jerry Nordstrom’s legacy.