Past Events

K-12 Student Art Show

March 2017
The arts give students the opportunities to use critical thinking skills, problem solve, find solutions and communicate. The Student K-12 Art Exhibition emphasizes the creative learning process and visually documents the students’ growth and the curriculum. For the opening event, students will be playing music and making art. You are invited to view their work and enjoy the creative process. Come and applaud their accomplishments as they grow and mature.


Andrea Gaffke, Prints
Kim Dayton, Photography, Collage and Paintings

February 2017
“Wandering to Find,” recent work by Andrea Gaffke, was awarded an Emerging Artist Grant from Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council. Kim Dayton will be showing works from her abstract series.
Andrea is a native of Owatonna, and a graduate of OHS. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Art History and a Bachelor or of Fine Arts in printmaking and drawing and a minor in history. Andrea stated, “To me being an artist is about approaching life with inquisitiveness and processing my surroundings by finding answers to questions through creative self-exploration. I hope my work captures the narrative of never losing my childlike wonder and fascination with the world around me. If I continue wandering to find I will never be lost.”
Kim Dayton is a Minnesota-based artist specializing in photography, painting and mixed media collage. Much of her work draws from the natural landscapes of the Midwest, in particular the wide-open skies and muted colors of the Midwest plains, lakes and forests. Her artistic education includes the University of Kansas, University of Michigan, Bloomington Center for the Arts, Grand Marais Art Colony and a current mentorship with Hazel Belvo.


Ann Riggott, Paintings

January 2017. Ann Riggott’s paintings of still lifes and portraits are more than likenesses of people or objects. Ann Riggott has a very subtle way of inviting you to take a second look at her still lifes. The believable reflective surfaces have a second image, a second story to tell. The portraits show the personality of the individual. Ann, in September, shared her journey growing up as a high functioning autistic individual and how art became her voice. Come see where her journey has taken her.


Gayle Cole, Painting
Dee Teller, Asian Scroll Painting and Calligraphy

November 2016.gayle-cole-landscape-of-darkness-and-light Abstract landscape paintings by Gayle Cole will be in the gallery. Gayle has a BFA degree from the University of Southern Maine. She earned an MA, with double emphasis in painting and ceramics and a minor in drawing, from St. Cloud State University and an MFA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
The pieces reference landscapes but are not realistic depictions. Gayle is concerned with the elements and principals of design in this body of work. The variegated borders that surround each piece refer to the idea of Yin and Yang, the notion that the processes and phenomena in nature flow and change through time, moving through opposite cycles from darkness to light, cold to hot, wet to dry – turning through time and the seasons in recurring patterns and cycles – back and forth.

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The Arnesen Atrium will showcase the ancient tradition of scrolls as a way to show ink drawings and calligraphy. Many of the early scrolls were in horizontal format and could be rolled out to be viewed on a personal level like we read a book.
Dee Teller, famous for her Asian brush style, will be showing vertical scrolls on which the entire painting may be viewed at once. An artist will usually put a red seal/chop on a painting to tell us his or her name and maybe another to mention a mood or to give some further information. For instance, Dee Teller’s paintings with horses always include a seal/chop that says, “Horses Running in the Middle of Ten Thousand Miles.”
The form of scroll painting originated in the Zhejiang Province of China. Dee studied at the Zhejiang Academy of Fine Art in Hangzhou, China, in 1987. Dee is an internationally known horse painter. She studied 17 years with horse master artist Lok Tok. In 1992, she placed third at a world invitational competition sponsored by China’s Ministry of Culture in Beijing. Dee says, “My paintings are an expression of my feelings, experiences, chi-energy and some magic.”


Greg Lipelt, Painting

Greg LipeltOctober 2016: Painting from Life. Owatonna native Greg Lipelt has been involved in art ever since deciding he wanted to be an artist at age 7. He received early instruction at OHS from teachers Barney Anderson and Charles Pearson. Upon graduation in 1966 he was named co-recipient of the outstanding art student award, along with the late Larry Chesney. After a stint in the Army and a tour in Vietnam, he worked in the art department at Josten’s for a year before heading to art school in St. Paul. In the early 70’s he began a 30 year career as an art director, illustrator, and designer. Most of that time he worked as a freelancer and studied psychology at the U of M in the evenings, graduating with a B.A. in 1980. He also thought about trying painting and finally succumbed to the call. He sold his Minneapolis home to move to the Seattle area to begin learning plein air painting in 1986. He returned to Minneapolis four years later to resume his commercial career and replenish the coffers, painting whenever he could. He attained signature status in the Transparent Watercolor Society of America and has taught at numerous art centers and on his own as well as performing art demos for various art organizations. He has also been asked to judge several art exhibitions. He currently resides in south Minneapolis.


Pat Cox, Quilts

September – October 2016. Pat CoxThe new entry to the Arts Center features applique quilts by internationally known quilter Pat Cox. This series of quilts is based on Japanese crest designs using fabrics that have asymmetrical, oriental designs. For the past thirty years Pat has been teaching the art of quilting to Japanese women whose husbands are in the United States to further their education or business careers. Pat finds the fabrics beautiful to her eyes and is fascinated with the asymmetrical designs.


Holly DeGrote Thiner, Abstract Painting
Ernest Gillman, Pencil Drawing

September 2016. Holly DeGrote ThinerHolly DeGrote Thiner is an abstract painter originally from Minnesota. Using acrylic paint on paper and wood, DeGrote Thiner’s work finds its inspiration in book illustrations and diagrams. Curiosity and discovery are forefront as she creates imagery that seems at once geometric and natural, careful and loose, familiar and foreign. Holly received her Master of Fine Arts from Illinois State University in Painting and her Bachelor of Fine Arts from St. Cloud State University in Painting. Recent shows include a solo show at the Nobles County Art Center in Worthington, Minnesota, SCSU Alumni Show at the Paramount Arts Center in St. Cloud, Minnesota, Sense of Place at the Jan Brandt Gallery in Bloomington, Illinois, and Deconstructed/Reconstructed at New Bohemian Gallery in Brainerd, Minnesota. In 2012, Holly received an Individual Artist Grant from the Southwest Minnesota Arts Council. She lives in Sheldon, Iowa, where she works as a librarian.

Ernest GillmanThis series of Ernest Gillman’s pencil drawings depict the dignity of the common laborer. Gillman’s love of drawing began at a young age in northern Minnesota where he grew up on a dairy farm. His unique style of blending contemporary and traditional imagery into his still-lifes was developed during his time in the Fine Arts program at the University of Minnesota. Many of his still-lifes are representations of people past and present in his life. All objects in life have a history; much of this history is handed down from generation to generation and creates a life of its own within the object. These stories, memories, and feelings, along with harmony, balance and equality are what Gillman seeks to capture and reflect in his work. The detailed rendering of objects within the drawings serves as a means of pulling the viewer into the work. Hopefully, the viewer will find personal elements within certain individual objects. Then they slowly move through the composition and see all objects together as a finished work.
This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.


Kevin Ihrke, Paintings
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Heavy Traffic by Kevin Ihrke

August 2016. Kevin is an Owatonna native. Being the son of a house painter, he had early exposure and fascination with paint that soon led to art. His interest grew from making existing things look nice to creating exciting visual objects. He holds a BA in Studio Art and a minor in Arts Administration from Winona State University. For a year after graduation he was the gallery director at Smith Studio Gallery in Winona.
Kevin stated, “My artwork is a fusion of naturalism or realistic painting and abstract expression. I draw influence from the Surrealists a well as the Cubists, Futurists, Fauves and Abstract Expressionists. My work attempts to use realistic or recognizable depiction as a mode of abstraction. For example, I use techniques to replicate visual depth and the feeling of an environment but also use paint solely for color and form in the same work. I like to walk the line between realism and abstraction that the viewer can interpret under their own circumstances. A lot of my imagery comes from self reflection or out of my unconscious mind, so I try not to set a particular meaning behind each piece. Rather, I like to project many messages or themes, some conflicting or contradictory and some complimentary. Life, like art, is full of meaning as well as beauty. I would like my work to reflect that.”


Joyce Francis, Prints
Daily Grind
Daily Grind by Joyce Francis

July 2016. Joyce Francis, a calligrapher and paper artist who is a maniac for color, will be showing collagraph prints from her Gelli Plate series. You will want to see this exhibition and come to the reception to meet the artist and watch a demonstration of this new printing process.

As an Elementary Special Education teacher, Joyce utilized many different art techniques to keep the kids creating. Over the years her work has expanded beyond calligraphy into development of a line of cards and prints. These pieces feature her paper batik artwork of the Northfield Fairies, Art for Small Places and Zentangel inspired cards. She has created graphics for her husband’s retirement business, Brick Oven Bakery, in Northfield.

To increase the quality of the day is the highest of arts. (Henry David Thoreau)  This quotation has been Joyce’s mantra since she first started studying calligraphy. She came to realize that art is one of the most profound means to “increase the quality of the day.” She added, “I believe that everyone should own a little piece of original art that adds light to the day. A glance at the colors, shapes, textures and the many other aspects of a piece of art has the power to lift the spirit. My mission is to bring color into your daily life.”


Mary Maggio, Photos, and Mike Pliner, Wood Turnings
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Mary Maggio, Photography
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Mike Pliner, Wood Turning

June 2016. Chairs and wood turnings are the subject of our June exhibition. The artwork of Mary Maggio and Mike Pliner will be in the gallery.

Mary Maggio’s photographs were taken during her two visits to the island of Sicily, the home of her father’s ancestors.  She stated, “What do you do on a beautiful island? Walk the streets and beaches. Eat simply. Take photos. After hours and days of wandering in Palermo, I kept seeing chairs. Worn chairs. Lonely chairs. Chairs with partners. Unusable chairs. Dead chairs. Chairs in impossible places. Chairs that had escaped. Chairs that were indeed utilitarian. When I asked my Sicilian cousin why there were so many chairs in the streets and on sidewalks and in the trees and on roofs he asked, ‘What chairs?’ The display is a fraction of the Sicilian chairs I took captive with my camera. My personal belief is that the chairs escaped from the houses because, ‘Why would you be inside on a day in Paradise?'”

Mike Pliner writes of his personal artistic development. If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.  -Vincent Van Gogh
“I became interested in wood carving when my father started about twenty years ago. I started wood carving with traditional animal carvings. After a visit to the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, I decided to make three dimensional versions of them. I was surprised to find that it took much longer to paint than it did to carve. About nine years ago I purchased a wood turning lathe. I enjoy making different designs and seeing what evolves during the process.”


64th Annual Steele County Art Exhibition
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Old Town –Harvey Degen
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Caribou –Maureen Fuller

May 2016. If the president offers a state of the union address, and the governor offers a state of the state address, then the 64th Annual Steele County Art Exhibition is the state of the visual arts address for Steele County. The visual arts are healthy and alive! This is an opportunity to see the latest creations by your friends and neighbors, to see how they have grown as artists, and to be introduced to new artists as they begin their journey.


Mary McCartney, Watercolor

Screen Shot 2016-03-02 at 7.03.15 PMApril 2016.  Watercolor paintings of Mary McCartney. Of this exhibit, Mary writes, “The watercolors in this exhibit are from a series I produced entitled ‘Our Natural Treasures: Art and Nature, A Closer View.’ I photographed native and naturalized plants and interpreted the images in watercolor. My vision is to enhance the artistic and natural legacies of Minnesota through my work as a painter and naturalist. I also researched folklore and traditional uses of plants and integrated that information into the exhibit. My greatest source of artistic inspiration comes from the natural realm. In these domains, I experience awe and delight. I feel more fully alive, my senses and intellect are sharpened. I experience peace, contentment, heightened alertness and expanded spirituality. I once read that one of the measures of a civilized society is in the support, promotion and appreciation of the fine arts. I hope my own work will both further my personal development and also contribute to an overall elevation of our culture.”

This project was generously funded by SEMAC in 2015. This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council thanks to a legislative appropriation from the Art and Cultural Heritage Fund.


Student Art Exhibition-20380649355565877

March 2016.  The Owatonna Public School District is pleased to present its annual student art exhibition.  Students in grades K-12 have been working all year on their pieces which are brought together for this show. This exhibit is one you won’t want to miss. Every year it gets better and better.
As you enter the OAC, you will be greeted by a Chihuly inspired piece created by the 5th grade students of Washington School. With this project the students learned about 3-D form and color theory. Plastic water bottles were painted, then cut into spirals and fastened to a wire core. The paints, of 12 colors from the color wheel, were mixed using only the three primary colors: red, blue, and yellow.
An array of imaginative drawings, sculptures, and mixed media pieces fills the gallery. Some students added current interpretations to  classic works. Others chose a hero for their subject matter. The natural world is depicted in a near life-size tree of coiled paper. This collection contains an assortment of excellent pieces. You will want to take time to enjoy each item.


Ken Zylla, Americana Paintingsken

February 2016.  You may be familiar with Ken Zylla’s work if you have received a promotional calendar with images of the 1950’s, with classic automobiles, with people doing all those leisure activities like a stop at the Root Beer Stand.  Eighty-one year old Ken Zylla is a self taught artist who paints nearly every day.  Since 2001 he has been under contract with Brown and Bigelow for their America Remembered Calendar Series.  When talking about his work, Ken stated, “My hope is for my work to be considered a historical documentation of the way things were, focusing on life in the mid 20th century before computers and electronics.”  You are invited to meet the artist on Sunday, February 7th, 1:00-4:00 pm.


Holly Sue Foss, Silk Screen and Art Ciccotti, Glass

January 2016.  If you are in need of some color in the cold, white world of January, this gallery exhibition will fill your senses.  Glass blower Art Ciccotti has jewel colored pieces on display.  Holly Sue Foss’s silkscreens are brightly colored.  Holly Sue said, “My art is about enjoying life.  I believe that art actually helps to shape our reality.  This is why I focus on uplifting images to touch the young heart in all of us.  My work is inspired by nature, animals and places I travel to.”  When taking about his art, Art Ciccotti stated, “I blow glass because of the rush of seeing an object take shape from a white hot mass to a finished piece.  After weeks of planning, sometimes months, the design comes together in a piece within a short period of time.  It is intense.  My objective is to produce a piece of work that is not only unique but that brings a sense of visual and tactile pleasure.”


Silvana LaCreta Ravena

October 2015. Silvana LaCreta Ravena is a versatile painter who works in oils, acrylics, watercolors, and encaustic. The encaustics, meticulous in their use of color and line, seem at first glimpse to be heavily influenced by Kandinsky and abstract expressionism, especially color field painting. But further acquaintance with Silvana’s unique biography and the sources/inspirations behind her oeuvre reveal an artist who has deftly marshaled passion, intellectual rigor, and solid technique to create a genuinely original body of work.
Silvana is originally from Sao Paulo, Brazil and was educated as a psychologist. A practicing psychotherapist, her experience in the field led to the development of her signature artistic theme: memory. Further study and experimentation led Silvana to develop her own encaustic technique as a vehicle for exploring the subject. As Silvana discovered, the hot wax used in encaustic painting, with its soft, pliable consistency is an ideal material for expressing the layered nature of memory. “This whole art form is reminiscent of the process we use to store memories . . . It’s an ancient idea—Socrates considered wax a metaphor for memory,” says Silvana.


The Minnesota Muslim Experience since 1880

Screen Shot 2015-09-04 at 6.47.36 PMSeptember 2015. Tracks in the Snow offers a glimpse into the lives of one of the least known and rapidly expanding populations in America and in Minnesota—the Muslim Community. Join us to gain a deeper insight into the true lives of Minnesota Muslims as narrated by themselves. Take a walk in the footsteps figuratively referenced in the title of this show organized by the Islamic Re-source Group (IRG). The stories of the 25 individuals featured in these portraits encapsulate the variety of backgrounds and experiences that have led so many Muslims to make Minnesota their home for more than a century. Community Reception on Sunday, September 13, 1-4 pm.

Artist Ron Duffy

August 2015. Brushed Back to Life: Healing From Chronic Illness Through Intuitive Paintings and Poems

Artists Dee Teller and David Hyduke

July 2015.
Dee Teller—”SKY-HORSE-WATER-EARTH”
David Hyduke—Organic fundamentals of the natural world.

Paul Walech Roth

June 2015. Water lilies and abstract paintings.