Art Hounds: Otter Tail county teens document return of ‘normal life’; North Mankato painter’s landscapes honor Minnesota 

A painting of a beautiful nature landscape.
Lake Superior (Two Points Beach) oil on canvas by Andrew Judkins.
Courtesy of Andrew Judkins

Nancy XiáoRong Valentine is a visual artist in Underwood, and she was deeply moved by the exhibit, "Return to Normal? COVID Diaries from Local Youth" at the Otter Tail County Historical Society in Fergus Falls, Minn.

The exhibition by five high school students and one college student uses a range of artistic styles to tell the story of how COVID-19 affected their lives and education — and what it means to return to normal.

Valentine was struck by how thoughtful and vulnerable each of the artists were in considering the complexities of the pandemic. She says she was moved to tears by the work of Sylvia Pesch, who wrote an original piano piece that pairs with poetry and visuals.

The show runs through Sept. 30.

Retired arts educator Le Ann Gehring-Ryan of North Mankato recommends a show at the Owatonna Arts Center, the solo exhibit by landscape painter Andrew Judkins.

Judkins, also of North Mankato, is an avid hiker, and many of his landscape paintings feature water — from the waterfalls in the Mankato area to scenes on the North Shore.

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Gehring-Ryan appreciates Judkins’ eye for color and his carefully layered paint that makes images “jump right off the canvas.”

Aurora: Landscapes by Andrew Judkins runs through Sunday.

Bill Childs of St. Paul runs a weekly radio music show for kids called “Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child,” and he loves the new album, “The Greats,” by Louis and Dan and the Invisible Band. The Northfield-based group is the brainchild of Louis Epstein, who teaches musicology at St. Olaf College, and Dan Groll, who teaches philosophy at Carleton College. Childs calls the album “goofy and funny and very smart.”

“It’s kind of like a standards album, except that none of the songs are covers.” Childs added that Louis and Dan are masters at each genre they tackle.

The album includes several guest artists, including Tesfa Wondemagegnehu, Chapel Choir director at St. Olaf, who joins in on a jazzy tune about the joy of singing and a blues number about barbeque.

The band will be performing on Sept. 4 as part of the 10th annual Fest du Nord at Camp du Nord in Ely. The festival runs Sept. 2 - Sept. 4.