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Meet the Artists of February’s Free First Saturday: Part I

By Rachel Kimpton. For our upcoming Free First Saturday in February, we have a few fantastic local artists making their way to share their styles and methods of painting. These artists will be participating in the Art Lab activity in accordance with that day’s opening of the Walker Art Center’s newest exhibition, Painter Painter. This exhibition […]

By Rachel Kimpton.

For our upcoming Free First Saturday in February, we have a few fantastic local artists making their way to share their styles and methods of painting. These artists will be participating in the Art Lab activity in accordance with that day’s opening of the Walker Art Center’s newest exhibition, Painter Painter. This exhibition focuses on the development of abstract painting and the role of both the artist and the studio space. For the activity, visitors are invited to observe and talk to the artists as they work, then use that inspiration to create their very own painting.

To get you pumped for painting, we asked each artist to share a brief bit about themselves, their work, and their space. Here are answers from the first three artists of the day: Betsy Byers, Kate Fartstad, and Eric Syvertson. Check out part II to hear from Tara Costello, Joonja Lee Mornes, and Jehra Patrick.

Betsy Byers

Betsy Byers paints to discover and imagine relationships that embody our intimate experience with the environment in an abstract form. Her work often births from singular, elemental experiences of the body within space: feet touching water, the curve of the back nestle into rocks. In her paintings, Byers interweaves the psychological space and materiality of paint, as she searches for reciprocity between the self and the surrounding environment.

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1. What’s your favorite part of your studio?

My favorite part of being in the studio is the act of preparing my materials to work. It always surprises me to open my studio door and get a new perspective on a painting, even if it is has only been 10 hours since I last looked at it. I enjoy mixing paint, staring at my work and playing out new possibilities of compositions in my head before my brush even touches the surface of paper or canvas.

2. What non-traditional tools do you use to paint with?

I use paint rollers, squeegees, rags, and spatulas in addition to a variety of brushes and palette knives. My favorite brush is a #4 flat.

3. When did you know you wanted to be an artist?

I didnʼt paint with oil until I was 20 years old. When I was growing up I did a lot of observing, drawing and writing, but I never imagined that I would become an artist. I decided to major in art during college because art classes challenged me more than any other department. I chose to become an artist due to the questions that art raises. I am constantly engaged by my work in the studio and by my attempts to translate and develop a visual experience for others.

"Coalesce." Betsy Byers.

“Coalesce.” Betsy Byers.

Kate Farstad

Kate Fartstad is a recent graduate of the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. She currently has a solo exhibition, MOUTHBREATHER, up at Midway Contemporary Art (MN), and has shown in the past at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (MN), Zach Feuer Gallery (NY), Art of This (MN), The Soap Factory (MN), Fox Tax Gallery (MN), Synchronicity Space (LA), and has an upcoming exhibition at Julius Caesar (Chicago) in April of 2013. She makes paintings and sculptures using disparate objects and images, and would like to think that she has an excellent color sense. Farstad is also an active musician in the Twin Cities, playing drums in two bands, ‘Tips for Twat’ and ‘Larry Wish and His Guys’.

Farstad

1. What’s your favorite part of your studio?

I do enjoy that I can get paint all over the floor and won’t get in trouble. I enjoy being able to be alone when making things. But my favorite part is that I just have a studio to work in that’s not too claustrophobic.

2. What non-traditional tools do you use to paint with?

I like to use anything and everything, but tend to favor perhaps the shoes you’re currently wearing, or any material that is impersonating another material; as well as hair, matchsticks, shells, dog treats, or wreaths.

3. When did you know you wanted to be an artist?

I think in first grade (about 6 years old or so) I was forced to answer the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” And I knew then my anxiety towards science and mathematics would continue, and that those things would not be a part of my trajectory. I have always loved making art. My grandmother was a painter, my father is a photographer, my mother and three brothers are all musicians… so I have been blessed to have a family that supported that sort of thing, i.e., “weird” stuff.

"Double Swaddle".

“Double Swaddle.” Kate Farstad.

Eric Syvertson

Eric Syvertson is an artist, educator, and arts advocate currently living in Minneapolis, Minnesota. A recent transplant from North Dakota, Syvertson has served two terms as the President of the Fargo-Moorhead Visual Arts (FMVA), the largest visual arts organization in the state. Syvertson graduated from Minnesota State University Moorhead in 2008 with a bachelor’s degree in art education, and for the past four years has been teaching art at West Fargo High School. Currently, Syvertson is working on his master’s degree in fine arts at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design as he exhibits work throughout the region.

Syvertson

1. What’s your favorite part of your studio?

Its ability to be a hiding place for all of my failed attempts at art making.  Walking into the studio, I feel very lucky to enter a space where failures are more than just allowed, but they are actually very necessary in learning how to make my work. The studio becomes an experimentation lab where both good and bad results of effort always seem to be time well spent.  It is very empowering to enter a space where you feel as though you can do no wrong.  Come to think of it, we should all reserve space or a little corner of a room for that sort of thing!

2. What non-traditional tools do you use to paint with?

I love to experiment with all sorts of materials in my paintings.  In the past I’ve used birch wood, spray paint, textile paint, ink, burnt paper, or anything else to make a surface more interesting.  These days, my approach to painting is more traditional but I still have fun trying out different tools or methods.  Often when I start a big painting I like to use a reductive method of using rags to wipe away layers of wet paint to reveal the surface below.

3. When did you know you wanted to be an artist?

I can’t say that I remember when I decided that I wanted to be an artist.  Instead, I think that drawing and painting was something I enjoyed as a kid and just kept doing into adulthood.  Rather than deciding that I wanted to be an artist, it was more of a realization that I had always been an artist.  That realization didn’t come to me until I was about twenty years old and it took another five years or so to begin to understand how my passion for art had potential to be fulfilling for a lifetime.

Syvertson face transplant

“Simultaneous Portrait: Richard’s Face Transplant.” Eric Syvertson.

You can join these three artists on February 2 in the Art Lab. Betsy and Kate will begin painting at 9:30am and go until 12:30pm, and Eric will be working all day. Come enjoy real artists create new pieces before your very eyes!