by Kate Iverson
It’s St. Paul’s Fall Art Crawl season yet again, and we are digging up as much deets as we can on the impending festivities, which happen October 12th, 13th, and 14th. We’ve got plenty of time yet to plan our itinerary, but we know for certain that one of our first stops will be air sweet air GALLERY in the 262 Studios building. The space, run by artist/filmmaker/gal-about-town, Cheryl Wilgren Clyne, is a thoughtfully curated, tastefully hip gallery in the heart of the Lowertown art district. We chatted with Clyne, whose photograph “You Know Who You Are” was selected as the official promotional art work for this season’s art crawl.
the651: You won the fall art crawl poster competition! I know, because I was one of the judges. I thought your piece stood out because it wasn’t simply a piece of art, it showed studio space and art on the wall, while at the same time being art itself. Why did you decide to submit this specific piece?
Cheryl Wilgren Clyne: Thank you again for choosing my piece, I feel honored to have my art selected. I submitted three pieces for the competition. I was elated that “you know who you are” won because this is a photograph that has a great deal of personal meaning to me. It is a candid shot taken during the fall art crawl 2011, one week after I moved into the air sweet air GALLERY space at 262 Studios. Hundreds of bear masks were given out that weekend (around 4,000 have been handed out since 2008). I took many photos of people wearing the mask at the gallery, this image stood out. The child, Lilja Boelke (age three in this photo) is someone that I work with frequently. She and her sister Ella are naturals in front of the camera. They have also been in several of my movies. Somehow, Lilja managed to wear exactly the right colors that day (she picks out all of her own clothing). I could tell you conceptually what I think this image means, but I am honestly much more interested in hearing what other people see. “you know who you are” marks a defining moment in my personal and professional life.
the651: What do you have planned for the fall crawl? What’s the happs at Air Sweet Air?
Cheryl Wilgren Clyne: air sweet air GALLERY will have the diorama show “just like honey” up for the art crawl. Friday, October 12 from 6-9 we are going to have a big celebration of the work on that night, and the new artists works that are joining the show. There will be LOTS of surprises for that event, including a famous local in attendance. We are launching a new art group on Saturday and we are hosting a few experiments with other artists. I am also opening an annex gallery space just outside of air sweet air that weekend. a fantôme galerie will open on that same night a show of work by myself and Alex Kuno titled “slant of certain lightness: quelque part / n’importe ou’.”
the651: How would you describe your artistic style?
Cheryl Wilgren Clyne: That is a difficult question because I have several separate and different styles of work. As a photographer I have this giant chronicle of work surrounding children, nature and cultural anthropology, as a video artist with around 160 experimental art films to my credit, and the mixed media drawings and collage is separate from those . I just began a series that could be considered photo realistic drawing but with a twist. When I am taking pictures I think of it as evidence of my existence more than anything else, but not documentation. I have tried to fit my work into categories but that always feels pretentious for me. I am actually doing more writing about my work lately and trying to figure out what exactly it is and what labels I should be using. I struggle with labels. Can I get back to you?
the651: You seem to have an obsession with bears. What’s up with that?
Cheryl Wilgren Clyne: I love words that have multiple meanings, bear / bare. Bears are naive and feral, playful and fierce, humorous and frightening, and sacred to many. For me they are the perfect subject. When I was a child most of my days were spent running wild in the forest where there were black bears. I saw them everywhere and was up close many times. I drew them frequently and fantasized about being one. When I would encounter uncomfortable situations as a child, I would pretend to slip into my bear self, and mentally act out how incredible it would be once the adults around me realized that I had just turned into a bear. In 2007 I came across some of those childhood drawings and recalled my strong connection to the bear. I immediately began drawing them again. The drawings helped me to see how important nature is. I also started to think about the awkward situations I had to encounter as a kid. Initially this series was a way for me to present the idea of children living in an adult world. I thought about how similar bear and child subjects are. Through the drawings the realization came that most of us endure situations that are uncomfortable and that child in an adult world feeling happens to us again. Hundreds of drawings and mixed media collages later, there are five different series of works where the bear appears, as a way to reveal my ideas, research and consideration of / about culture, nature and being human. Two of the series are brand new and have not been seen by anyone.
the651: Though you’ll probably sequestered in your gallery during the crawl, what other stops would you recommend our readers make?
Cheryl Wilgren Clyne: That is the really hard part about being “in” the art crawl. If all goes well there will be guest sitters at air sweet air GALLERY so I can stop in and see some of my friends. I would suggest Rhea Pappas at Northern Warehouse, Alex Kuno at 262 Studios, Minnesota Museum of American Art, Kathryn Smith at Carleton Place Lofts, at 262 Studios we have a record number of artists participating this crawl which is the way I see the entire weekend of events, there is a new energy that is contagious. There is so much out there, it is difficult to list them all! A really great part of the 20th Anniversary Saint Paul Art Crawl is that there are many NEW artists to discover! At air sweet air GALLERY we are going to be doing a lot of experimenting and I think there are many other artists in this crawl that are going to be trying new things!
air sweet air GALLERY will be open during the St. Paul Art Crawl during regular hours October 12th-14th, with a special party happening on Friday night (Oct 12th). For more information on the St. Paul Art Crawl click HERE. For more info on air sweet air GALLERY click HERE.