Plymouth artists unveil inspiration for upcoming Primavera

Celebration of the Arts set for Friday-Sunday, April 21-23 at Plymouth Creek Center


By Kristen Miller
Sun sailor Newspapers

Ken Herren of Plymouth is pictured with his Primavera entry “Threadbare.”Herren uses acrylic paint and pumice to create abstract artwork. (Sun Sailor staff photo by Kristen Miller)
Ken Herren of Plymouth is pictured with his Primavera entry “Threadbare.”Herren uses acrylic paint and pumice to create abstract artwork. (Sun Sailor staff photo by Kristen Miller)

More than 70 artists will showcase their work during the 21st annual Primavera Springtime Celebration of the Arts, a juried show open to the public Friday-Sunday, April 21-23 at the Plymouth Creek Center, 14800 34th Ave.

Among those are professional artists Ken Herren and Skip Sturtz of Plymouth.

This will be Herren’s fifth year at Primavera as a pumice and acrylic abstract painter. In his second year, Herren won the show’s Award of Excellence for a piece of work titled “Sandpiper.”
“The key to becoming a successful artist, I think is, you have to find your style,” Herren said.

Having dabbled in “every kind of art,” Herren didn’t find his niche as a painter until six years ago.
“In 2010, I really started hammering out what I wanted to do as a visual artist,” he said.

Herren and his wife Melissa, own Your Arts Desire Gallery of Art and Framing in Minnetonka, where he is also a resident artist. Herren also gets a lot of inspiration from the work that comes through the gallery.

“Being around visual art all day long … you get a lot of inspiration, but then you have to put some exercise behind what you want to do as an artist,” he said.

He started dabbling with pumice and acrylic paint and came up with this form of contemporary abstract painting. He likes to call it “event-based emotional abstraction.”
“As an abstract artist, you really try to create a feeling, an emotional reaction to the work you produce. And that was my main goal.”

The inspiration for his body of work stems from a event from his childhood in a small town in California.

At 6 years old, Herren witnessed a paint truck spilling its load on the road near his house. In an effort to clean up the spill, city workers dumped sand on it, spreading the paint around.

Similarly, Herren paints a canvas like that spill, stylizing the sand poured on the street using pumice.
He tries to keep his paintings very naive and child-like, and not so “process-oriented,” he said.
Using the pumice and acrylic paint on top allows him to refine what the underneath painting looks like.
Color is also a large aspect.

“I don’t like colors directly out of the tube,” Herren said. Rather, he likes to mix and create a “push-pull” effect by combining different shapes and colors to create a depth of field.
“There’s a little bit of playfulness in the beginning stages of the painting,” he said. After creating that “child-like abstraction,” Herren will decide what the final colors will be.
“I think anytime you look at a painting … any kind of art … it should evoke a certain response, whether it’s positive or negative,” Herren said.

In his work, Herren tries to evoke a positive response based upon how he responded to the paint spilling on the street and seeing the sand mixed in.
“I was in awe with what little control people had over the situation,” said Herren of the spill.

He wants his paintings to always reckon back to the innocence and wonder of childhood.
“What I hope is that when someone looks at my work, they can relate to the same feelings that I had when I was a kid,” Herren said.

For Herren, painting brings about a sense of calming – a Zen-like state.
“There are two useless days in a year – yesterday and tomorrow,” Herren said, referring to a quote by the Dalai Lama. “You have to really live in the now, and painting helps me be there.”

This year, Herren will enter one piece to be judged and displayed at Primavera, which he titled “Threadbare.”
Herren described the under painting as being “chaotic” with a lot of activity, and the top painting of turquoise pumice calming it down. The name comes from the thread-like lines that show throughout the piece.

Pen and ink artist Skip Sturtz of Plymouth is pictured with “Manhattanhenge,” one of three entries for this year’s Primavera juried art show. (Sun Sailor photo by Kristen Miller)
Pen and ink artist Skip Sturtz of Plymouth is pictured with “Manhattanhenge,” one of three entries for this year’s Primavera juried art show. (Sun Sailor photo by Kristen Miller)

On the contrary, artist Skip Sturtz found his passion in detailed pen and ink drawings, and specializes in buildings, houses, and landscapes.

While an artist at heart, Sturtz chose to major in business and spent 31 years working for a food corporation.

After being laid off of work, Sturtz decided it was time to revisit his passion in art and started his own business, Inc2Ink.

Sturtz calls it a lost art, since he uses technical pens once used in the drafting field before the advancement of technology. With the smallest of pens at 0.13 millimeters, Sturtz is able to draw very precise and detailed work.

Currently, he is working with a builder of luxury homes drawing client gifts, which are presented at the time of completion.

As a commissioned artist, Sturtz will also work with homeowners who want a keepsake of their home or cabin.
Depending on the size and scale, one drawing can take 25 to 100 hours to complete.
“I just get absorbed in it. I could do it all day,” Sturtz said, noting it doesn’t seem like work to him because “I love what I do.”

After first participating in Primavera in 2015, Sturtz won the shows Award of Excellence last year for “Peace on Earth,” his only example of colored artwork to date.
In addition to working from a detailed photo, Sturtz will ask questions about a particular subject to personalize the drawing.

For example, he drew Old Main for his daughter who attends Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter. The time on the clock reads 3:09, the time she first met her roommate. This is also one of three pieces Sturtz entered into this year’s Primavera.

Sturtz has also entered his drawing of University of Wisconsin-Madison’s “Bascom Hall” and “Manhattanhenge,” an event during which the setting sun is aligned with the east–west streets of the main street grid in New York City. He also used the “artist’s license” by switching out the Chrysler Building with the new Freedom Tower.

The most exciting thing for him is realizing he has a finished product.
“It’s almost like a light switch. I know when it’s done,” he said.

He also enjoys presenting it, which often can provoke “quite a bit of emotion” in the form of sentimental tears from the receiver.
“That just doesn’t happen in the corporate world,” Sturtz said.

Primavera schedule of events

The 21st annual Primavera Springtime Celebration of the Arts will be Friday, Saturday and Sunday, April 21-23 at the Plymouth Creek Center, 14800 34th Ave.

This free art exhibition provides an opportunity for the public to view and celebrate a mixture of fine art and entertainment. Live entertainment and children’s activities, including a scavenger hunt, will take place at various times throughout the event.

The event features original artwork by local and regional adult and high school artists using an array of mediums, including acrylic and water color paintings, graphite drawings, metal sculptures, photography, pottery and mixed media.

• Friday, April 21 – Opening reception and exhibit hours are 5-8:30 p.m. The evening will include a performance by Wayzata High School Jazz Ensemble 5:30-7 p.m., as well as an awards ceremony at 7:30 p.m.
• Saturday, April 22 – Exhibit hours are 11 a.m.-7 p.m. New this year, is an artist “pop-up shop,” in which a variety of local artwork will be for sale throughout the day. A children’s scavenger hunt is also planned and Plymouth Concert Band Ensembles will perform 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Photographer Peter Wong will give a presentation at 3 p.m.
• Sunday, April 23 – Exhibit hours are 11 a.m.-7 p.m. A children’s scavenger hunt will be available throughout the day. Plymouth READS will host author Allen Eskens for Literary Night at 6:30 p.m., featuring his book “The Life We Bury.”

The event is sponsored by the City of Plymouth and Plymouth Arts Council.

‘Friends of the Arts’ preview April 20
The night before the opening reception, Friends of the Arts will host a premier preview of the exhibit 7:30-9 p.m. Thursday, April 20, featuring a performance by harpist Laura Vosika. Guests can enjoy an early look at the exhibits, as well as light refreshments. The event is free for Friends of the Arts members and costs $10 for non-members.
For reservations, call 763-509-5225.

Contact Kristen Miller at [email protected]