AZ Gallery hopes for no snow at their third reception attempt

On Friday, January 7 the AZ Gallery will be presenting "Every Picture Tells a Story," a reception in conjunction with St. Paul's Lowertown First Fridays open studio night. The event will feature a performance by the Storm Fools, a storytelling group who will spin tales inspired by the art on display at the gallery.  

The Storm Fools is comprised of Britt Aamodt, Nan Montgomery, Dorothy Cleveland, Sara Trautner, and Alison Bergblom Johnson. The women of the group have performed at such venues as the 7th Street Entry, the Walker Art Center, and the Fringe Festival.  

Todd Peterson, a member of the AZ Gallery, says that art has been carried over from last month's show "Two Guys and their Art" since the last two receptions they recently hosted were in the midst of snow storms. Their opening took place the night there was eight inches of wet snow during rush hour. Only 20 people showed up, though the band did make it and "they were great," Peterson says. Next, they rescheduled the party for 2010's most colossal blizzard. Since they had already bought beer, the artists from AZ invited some folks from the neighborhood over and they had a "no more snow" party.

Still, they wanted one more chance for a reception that a large number of people could attend. Hence the show this Friday, which will exhibit the work of all 10 members of AZ, with a special focus on Peterson and Brendan Rohde.   

Peterson says the work he is presenting includes about 31 pieces, 23 of which he did specifically for this show. He uses a combination of water-soluble crayon and acrylic, as well as recycled surfaces such as old warehouse shelving and sample cabinet doors to create his art.  

While the AZ cooperative has been around for 13 years, Peterson says the longest serving current member has only been around for 4. "It's impressive that they've been around for this long without having a central figure; that the cooperative has been able to survive the changeovers." 

The artists make decisions by sitting down and "hashing it out," according to Peterson. "Usually we come to a consensus." There's a basic set of rules, and the group aims to change out the art every month.  

Peterson joined last April, after he entered a piece in the Winter Carnival show that AZ curated, presented at Black Dog Café. He's took up making art again in 2006 after a long absence when his granddaughter found some old work of his and convinced him to start up again. It had been 25 years since he had made any art.  

To see Peterson's work and the work of the other AZ artists, you can stop by the gallery, located at 308 Prince Street in St. Paul, on Fridays from 5 to 9 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. "Two Guys and Their Art" runs through January 6. The "Every Picture Tells a Story" event takes place during Lowertown First Fridays from 6 to 9 p.m. on January 7.  

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