Thursday, December 8, 2011

Minnesota Mary Day 8

A Virgin a Day
December 8, 2011

Today is December 8th. The Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe is December 12th. From the first to the twelfth we are posting in a series entitled A Virgin a Day. Visit the link to Rebecca’s recuerda mi corazon blog to see more submissions. This exercise is not especially religious, but it is certainly very fascinating with the wide variety of thoughts, ideas and creations that have been shown so far.

It wasn’t that long ago it was Summer, and as I sit here listening to the furnace do its work and cycle through its paces on a cold December morning, I’m recalling an escapade through the Mississippi River valley as it winds through the bluffs that separate Wisconsin from Minnesota.
From the Northern reaches, where the mighty river flows out of Wisconsin at the foot of Lake St. Croix and becomes the border of states from there to the Gulf of Mexico, a paradise begins. A paradise for sightseers, hikers, bikers and tourists. Art galleries, quaint diners, coffee shops, the rocky and forested bluffs and the River, complete with Lake Pepin, a large expanse of water teeming with waterfowl and barges carrying commerce North to South.
It was through this part of the world a motorcycle ride with friends ensued that rendezvoused at Viroqua, WI. Just South of LaCrosse, not too awfully far from the Our Lady of Guadalupe Shrine. In Viroqua, the predetermined place to meet was an eating establishment named The Driftless Cafe. The entire area is known as Driftless Wisconsin.

The name comes from the fact that the region from the Eastern Dakotas all the way to the Great Lakes and as far South as Central Illinois was covered with glaciers millions of years ago. When the glaciers receded and melted away to create the 10,000 lakes Minnesota is known for as its license plate moniker, it left rocks and debris and dotted the landscape with water. Lakes teeming with fish, streams still flowing to the Mississippi. This debris field was called glacial drift by the scientists.
The area around Viroqua was unscathed from the huge behemoth ice packs and therefore, the topography is “driftless”. Some resourceful people turned the natural event phenomena into a regional name. The Driftless Cafe is one such place.

The food is great. Organic offerings, for the vegan and the carnivore and all in between. Eclectic in its music and wine selection and striking as far as the featured artists of the area that showcase their works on the walls.
This is where I first saw and discovered the art of Mary Solberg. She is from Winona, MN, not far North on the Mississippi River. I can’t help but stare at her artwork. Many of her pieces have sort of a sacred theme, or at least seem so with the round golden aura behind their heads. Some purists may think of it as blasphemous as the idea of the Virgin Mother is holding a martini. I like to wonder if it is shaken and not stirred and find it no more or less mysterious as Our Lady surfing or depicted as a Los Dias skeleton.

This is where I found this artist and her work and I present it today as another variation of the image of Mary with the photos from her website.

This short two minute YouTube video shows her at work and gives more insight into her thoughts and ideas. The artist explains the religious nature of some of her work.

Out of the ordinary? For sure. I even wonder if this kind of treatment stands up to Folk Art Guadalupes. It can’t be as preposterous as the bathtub aura that surrounds Mary in the barn yards of the Midwest, or maybe it does. Personally, I find Mary Solberg’s art, for the sake of art, fantastic, stunning and strikingly beautiful. I enjoyed dining amidst her creations at the Driftless Cafe. So much so, that in the Fall, Mrs. Spadoman and I traveled back there to try the vittles for a second time and see her work again.


Jeannie said...

Funny, I "get" her stuff!

The first one you chose would remind me of the Whore of Babylon but I'm not sure the artist meant it that way after watching the video. I like that she wants to venerate ordinary people. That's more my thing.

Thanks for the looksee

Georgina said...

Wonderful post. Thanks for introducing Mary Solberg...great portraits and painting. I especially got a giggle of her candy corn eating squirrel paintings...very funny.

Thanks again for the description of an area I've yet to encounter...putting that on our "road trip" list.

My Vegan Life said...

Your writing takes me to the places you describe! I think I shall someday like to visit that Driftless Cage! Mary Solsberg is new to me. Thank you for sharing her wptl with us!I after with you, it OS strikingly beautiful!
Hope upu have a blessed day!

Meri said...

I love your travel-art-logue. The geological detail is fascinating and I enjoy being introduced to new artists. Plus I didn't even have to go on the motorcycle ride!

Dawn Elliott said...

Mary Solberg's work is exceptional! I can really relate to the tongue-and-cheek aspect, as I sometimes add a touch of irreverence in my pieces, as well.
Sometimes our expressions upset certain people, but my intention is to get people thinking. Thanks!

Priti Lisa said...

I am in LOVE! This is my kinda art for sure!
Thank you♥♥♥

Magical Mystical Teacher said...

That first she Mary of the Martini? Just wondering... :)

Mary My Joy

Miss Robyn said...

Mary is for everyone, I believe.. I love that. I love that you have shared this - this kind of art seems to make Mary more accessible to the 'ordinary' person..
The Driftless cafe - and a bike ride.. must remember that if we ever get over there for our much wanted Harley ride!
oh & I once saw a print of a Nun with glass of wine in her hand.. the title :Sister Mary Merlot!

Noelle Clearwater said...

Hi Joe,
I think it's a great post and I think that she is a wonderful and refreshing artist. This is what it's all about really, bringing the sacred into the everyday, not the other way around. I love the way she focuses on the eyes of her subjects, much like a photographer friend of mine. And in truth, the gospels portray Jesus as having intimate and lasting friendships with people whom others felt were not worthy of attention, not "respected or loved by God" but "god" reached down and raised up the prostitute, the beggar, the blind man and the leper. None of these images portray that kind of marginalization, but the point is that the soul is sacred, not the body and it is always seen in the eyes no matter what has befallen us. I like the video. Good post. Great stuff about Minn. Interesting.

Lenora said...

everyday icons - i like that! wonderful eyes fore sure!

Paula Scott Molokai Girl Studio said...

No, not preposterous (bathtub auras)! Just demonstrates how the theme can e interpreted and varied. Beautiful artwork! Very inspirational.

Her Speak said...

The scale of the work is stunning--thank you for sharing this with us. )

nik said...

Joe, this is amazing, I'm so in love with this idea!

Unknown said...

She is a marvelous artist. Everyone of the eyes just take my breath away. The video did help explain her style and I love it. Thanks for writing about her.

somepinkflowers said...

well worth the 2-minute video,
i would say.

that at the end of Driftless
you found something
filled with beautiful meaning
is perfect.

{{ enjoyed
watching the artist
doing encaustic painting.
i took a class
in this method myself
this summer
and now have
renewed respect
for those
who paint with hot wax }}

moXieantiques said...

what caught me was the artist's comment that one who appreciates art can probably do art! now, that is v encouraging to us who do not think we were endowed with that innate talent.. maybe it i sjust waiting to be discovered...and eyes tell so much !!! wonderful post.. enjoyed...xo... thanks!!!

Mel said...

It's the eyes that captured me--I guess I shouldn't be surprised by that. I'm an eye to eye kinda gal.

I love the stories--and this Driftless Cafe sounds like my kinda place to have a good cuppa java!

Very cool photos. If I didn't know better, I'd think you stashed those away JUST for this occasion! :-)

rebecca said...

thank you dear friend.
i am finally home and completely exhausted. i will walk quietly among each mary offering and drink in all her glory.

definitely found glory here!

Fran aka Redondowriter said...

Thank you so much for the links to this artist, whom I have never heard of before. I really like her work a LOT. I have no problems with Our Lady being depicted in the culture, this time's every day ordinary. I'd like to think she would do most everything we do, in moderation, of course, that we do. Though I no longer drink for personal reasons, I sure hoisted many a martini in my day. Thanks, Spadoman, for this lovely post and this new artist.

foxysue said...

Oh Joe, I want to go there and experience life at Driftless Cafe! This sounds so exciting to me, if ever we sell up I'm going to visit these places and will definitely be on the look our for Mary Solberg, I love her work and take on life, it resonates so powerfully!

Thank you,

Love Ms Foxy