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"MINNescapes" is an artsy staycation

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Most Minnesotans are in need of an escape by mid-January. Some find it in travel, others with Netflix. Longtime curator Ron Ridgeway considers art the ultimate getaway, and he has invited four local women to share their perspectives in "MINNEscapes," opening Thursday at Gallery One OST.

“'MINNEscapes is kind of an open concept, the idea being that I wanted Minnesota artists, all painters in their respective mediums,” Rideway explains. The upcoming show features contemporary landscapes by Raelee Edgar, Krista Lee Johnson, JuliAnne Jonker, and Patricia Gilmer Reinert.

“It’s very interesting that these women that are middle-aged and have had professional careers and raised families and didn’t get recognition in their painting,” Ridgeway says of the four artists he invited to contribute new work, as well as pieces from their respective archives, to the show.

The landscapes on display will be primarily rural and suburban. Wayzata-based Johnson is known for her realistic oil portraits (often of children) and rarely has the opportunity to show her nature-themed work, which includes Solitude, an oil-on-canvas depiction of a deer in a majestic, woodsy setting. Jonker, a professional portrait photographer in Apple Valley, explores cold wax and mixed media in four smaller works. Reinert, from Waverly, specializes in atmospheric, encaustic, and oil paintings. Medina-based Edgar focuses her eye on classic car iconography, paintings which Ridgeway describes as “a reflection on nature through the man-made object of the automobile.”

"MINNEscapes" is part of the Art Leadership program, a collaborative effort between artists and corporate leaders that brings art to unexpected spaces. Ridgeway founded the program, and has launched over 50 exhibitions since 2010. The artists highlighted in those shows have been a mix of emerging and established creatives that all share a common trait: They are talented, yet haven’t received the recognition Ridgeway feels they deserve.

Through the program, Ridgeway, whose background is in brand design, finds corporate clients to provide the venues and the gala receptions for the artists. It was three years ago that client OST (Open Systems Technologies, which develops emerging software for financial and medical clientele) expressed interested in showcasing emerging artists on its wall space in the TractorWorks building, which also houses Ridgeway’s studio.

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For all his hyper-local work, it’s a wonder Ridgeway isn’t a native Minnesotan. He grew up on the East Coast, graduated with a BFA from Cooper Union, and lived in New York for 25 years. “I’d been there, done that, in terms of New York,” Ridgeway says. He moved to Minneapolis in 2005, and appreciates the smaller, more manageable feel of Minneapolis, with its proximity to natural resources and its ease of parking. “Everything is so nice,” he says. “I’m very interested in the Minnesota artists and how they live in a utopian world.”

IF YOU GO:

"MINNEscapes" 

Through January 31

Gallery One OST

There will be an opening reception this Thursday, January 14, from 4 to 7 p.m.