The Free Press, Mankato, MN

January 17, 2013

Artist's eye: Melisse Treptow exhibit showcases everyday objects with diverse art

By Tanner Kent
The Free Press

MANKATO — The purple spiderwort was always there. It just took an artist to see it.

Melisse Treptow’s mother must’ve passed that vibrant, purple flower often, maybe even glanced upon it a time or two as she weeded the garden or trimmed the flowers at her rural Wells farm. Yet, she never noticed the brilliant hue that spills from its delicate folds, the simple geometry of its petals and leaves. Even though the flower stood in plain view, its natural beauty evaded her sight, or at least her memory.

But what the observer misses — the artist captures.

“My mom didn’t even know that flower was in her garden,” said Treptow, who moved to Mankato after her recent graduation from St. Mary’s University. “The whole idea behind my show is to portray things from everyday life that we may not notice for how beautiful they are.”

Though she has a degree in graphic design and works as a graphic designer at B. Stark, Treptow has wide range of artistic talents. Those talents will be displayed in an exhibit titled “Live. Create.” at the Twin Rivers Center for the Arts gallery located in the Emy Frentz Arts Guild through Feb. 20. Her reception will be held 5-7 p.m. today.

On one wall of the gallery, visitors will find a series of Treptow’s photographs displayed in crisp, stark detail. On the opposite wall, visitors will see Treptow’s abstract explorations of color and emotion. In between are photographic collages, impressionistic landscapes and mixed media compositions.

Though her pieces vary in technique, media and ambition — all resonate with a certain appreciation for otherwise unremarkable objects.

Roosters, for instance, figure prominently in a few of Treptow’s works. In a  close-up of her family’s decidedly A-personality rooster, Treptow captures the bird’s brash color as well as bravado. In another work, she portrays the rooster in loud, neon tones, emphasizing its often overlooked aesthetic qualities.

“I wanted to bring out the beauty,” Treptow, “so I really exaggerated the colors.”

In “Chic,” Treptow captured a series of five images portraying a female figure in feathers and makeup to resemble a chicken. While whimsical on their surface, the images capture a sense of irony, leaving viewers to ponder the meaning of natural beauty.

Elsewhere, however, Treptow abandons figurative work altogether.

In her “Young Love” series, Treptow delves into the emotional consequences of color choice. In her landscape painting, Treptow opts for an impressionistic feel, setting her horizon on fire with swatches of bold color.

“I’ve tried to develop a broad range of skills,” said Treptow, who has also designed T-shirts, business cards and websites.