Kaddatz Galleries in downtown Fergus Falls has their final exhibits of 2020 starting this week, including work from local painters Scott Gunvaldson and Chanda Kraft, as well as Fargo glass blower Jon Offutt.
Gunvaldson and Offutt are sharing the main gallery space with their exhibits Drawings & Paintings and New Work respectively. Gunvaldson, who has lived in Fergus Falls most of his life, is a former student of Charles Beck and is known for his murals around the city, including one on the back of the Senior Citizen Center, inside the M State Fergus Falls building and inside the Fergus Falls Public Library. He’s also currently working on a mural for the new Viking Library Bookmobile.
His exhibit at the Kaddatz showcases his landscape paintings. “I’m primarily known as a landscape painter and I got that interest mainly from Charles Beck,” Gunvaldson said. “I use the area around here for inspiration. I’m probably known for having certain lighting in my pictures. I like to, when the light catches something, it kind of can turn the mundane into something superior just because of the way things are lit.”
Most of the paintings in the exhibit were made in the last two years, although there are a couple of older paintings that Gunvaldson says haven’t been shown in around a decade.
Gunvaldson is sharing the main studio space with Offutt, who is known for the landscapes he creates on his glass blown work. “I do a lot of prairie imagery on the glass and that’s all done hot, there’s no cold processes involved,” he says.
Offutt says he is North Dakota’s only active glass blower and his exhibit at the Kaddatz is a good showcase of his growth as a glass blower. Offutt received his undergraduate degree from Minnesota State University Moorhead and received an M.F.A. in glass from Southern Illinois University Carbondale. His love for glass as a medium blossomed during his undergraduate years.
“I started college for clay and was doing a lot of throwing, and they had glass as an elective within the ceramics department. Once I took that class it really broadened my horizons and I fell in love with glass because not only is it round and it’s a lot of the same processes, what I call the good parts of clay, but you also get to play with fire every day,” he says. “The feedback loops a lot faster. Clay takes a while to dry and trim and fire and glaze and fire again. Glass, you make it, and you cool it overnight, and the next day you get to see what you made.”
The work shown at the Kaddatz was primarily made in the fall and winter of 2019, with a few pieces from the beginning of 2020. Offutt’s glass blowing studio, where he makes all of his work, is his backyard in Fargo.
Kraft’s work will be in Studio K as part of her exhibit, “Lake Carlos State Park: Summer 2020.” This is her first gallery showing and, she says, “I’m excited and nervous, but I’m proud of this work that I did so I’m excited to show it.”
Kraft is originally from Iowa but now lives in Alexandria. All of the paintings in her exhibit were inspired by or directly taken from Lake Carlos State Park in Alexandria, where she spent the summer working en plein air. “Plein air is basically painting from life but outside,” she says. “I pack up my bag with everything that I need and go hike out somewhere and set up and do what I can in person. Then, what usually happens, I get to a certain point with the painting out in the field and then I bring it home and I touch it up back in the studio.”
The COVID-19 pandemic made travel difficult, so Kraft wanted to paint close to home. “There’s so much inspiration just right here, so that was my goal with that,” she says. All of the work in “Lake Carlos State Park: Summer 2020” was done this summer at the park.
Aside from a few classes in college, Kraft is mostly a self-taught artist. She’s taught children’s classes through Kaddatz Galleries, which is how she became acquainted with it. Although she’s worked other jobs in the past, she’s trying to focus on her art now.
“I’ve pursued a lot of different things and I just got to the point where, this is what I always come back to and my husband was super supportive and he said, ‘Just go for it. This is a good time for you to just give it a shot and see where it takes you,’” she said.
The exhibits “Drawings & Paintings,” “New Work” and “Lake Carlos State Park: Summer 2020” will be at Kaddatz Galleries through Dec. 31. There are online gallery tours available, too, for anyone who does not feel comfortable visiting the gallery in person.