Young artists wrap a quilt of colors over the walls of Red Mug Coffeehouse next week. Superior High School students, alumni and local artists have been tapped to create one-of-a-kind pieces for the six-week art show.
“It’s going to be interesting to walk in here,” said Suzanne Johnson of Red Mug. “Usually it’s one person’s art, all a similar style. This time it will be full of different styles.”
The show kicks off with a reception from 4-6:30 p.m. Wednesday at 916 Hammond Ave. and runs through the end of August. Artwork is already piling up - a three-dimensional checkerboard pops with hot melt glue and game pieces; another painting features a splash of yellow and a whimsical daisy. There’s an airbrush painting of LeBron James as well as art depicting a curly-haired mermaid, a running gnome and autumnal leaves. In all, organizer Addy Johnson hopes to display 100 original pieces of art created by dozens of artists.
All of them are the same size - 8 inches square - but that’s where the similarity ends. Artists were given free rein.
“You can do whatever you want with that board, have fun and express yourself and it’s just fun,” said Addy Johnson, 17, who created two paintings for the show.
Visitors can even walk away with a piece of their own. The framed works can be purchased for $20 each, with the proceeds earmarked for Superior High School art department field trips. The kicker is, the buyer won’t know what painting they got until it arrives at their door. They must blind-pick a number without knowing which piece of art it matches.
“I’m going to bring 20 bucks; I want to be a part of it,” said Superior High School art teacher Denise Carlson, who also contributed a painting to the show. “It’s thrilling to think about.”
Many people can’t afford an original piece of artwork, said Suzanne Johnson. They can at this show.
“And for $20, I think that’s a great deal,” Addy Johnson said. “We have some extremely talented artists.” Contributors include professionals like Erik Pearson and Sterling Rathsack, art teachers and students stretching their artistic wings.
“These kids are actually quite talented,” Addy Johnson said. “They make some pretty incredible things.”
The art show is the teen’s senior project. Every Superior High School senior must complete a senior project to graduate.
“I wanted to do something art related because I want to go on to an art school or something art-related later on in life,” Addy Johnson said.
Carlson brought the idea up, patterning it in part on last summer’s successful student art show. Only this time, the work will be for sale.
“Suzanne really wanted it to benefit the SHS field trip fund because currently we have to scrape together money for field trips,” Carlson said. Using grants and gifts, they bus about 75 students to Minneapolis and Duluth sites on alternating years. In addition to experiencing real-life art, guides taught them about the background of the artists themselves.
“This year I went to Minneapolis,” Addy Johnson said. “We went to the art institute and the museum and it was wonderful.”
The approximately $2,000 raised from the art show would cover field trip expenses for a year.
The call for young artists went out in April. Alumni were recruited online. The squares of Masonite were salvaged from high school projects and cut into standard size by industrial technology students before the school year ended. Duluth Timber Company donated wood for the frames, which were made by Carlson and her father, Phillip.
Addy Johnson said it’s been more fun than work to put the show together. She encouraged everyone to stop by Red Mug to see the work and take a gamble by purchasing a piece.
“If you enjoy art, you will enjoy this,” she said.
Artwork can be purchased during Red Mug’s normal business hours as long as there are slots available.
“I suspect they’ll be gone soon,” Suzanne Johnson said.