The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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October 24, 2013

RACA showcases cutting edge rural art

Exhibit opens Friday in St. Peter

ST. PETER — Curating the second annual art exhibit for his increasingly synthesized Rural America Contemporary Art movement meant one thing for Brian Frink:

Driving across the rural Midwest to procure art for the show, which opens Friday at the Arts Center of St. Peter.

"I hooked up a trailer to my truck," said the newly appointed chair of Minnesota State University's art department, "and spent the weekend picking up art."

RACA is an idea that Frink formulated several years ago in response to his observation that rural artists are often excluded from conversations about contemporary art in America. With the advent of social media and instantaneous access to art from all sects of society, Frink said the distinctions between artists and regions are eroding.

To illustrate that philosophy, Frink curated his first RACA show last year with mostly regional artists. This year, Frink expanded to artists mostly outside the region, with works coming from outstate Minnesota, Michigan, Illinois and the Dakotas.

"With RACA, it's important to note the word 'contemporary' is in there," Frink said. "It's about challenging stereotypes about rural art — and one of those stereotypes is that we are not progressive. ... There are tons of artists in rural places doing cutting-edge work."

Among works included in the exhibit are paintings by Gina Hunt, a master's student at Illinois State who previously attended MSU. Hunt recently received a grant to explore acrylic airbrush painting and the result is series of works that explore negative light and the passage of time through gradients of color.

"I was trying to use color to create an experience that was actually shifting and changing while you looked at the painting," Hunt said in an interview with an ISU arts newsletter. "With these, I was able to make the viewing experience more an active part of thinking about that idea of time passage, and things fading, disappearing, or emerging."

A reception for the exhibit will be held 2-4 p.m. on Saturday at the arts center, 315 S. Minnesota Ave., St. Peter.

For a complete listing of exhibits at area art galleries, please see page XX.

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