Who would have thought that July would become a hot soft pastel month? Out at BTAC (Bloomington Theater and Art Center) our friends with the Lake Country Pastel Society have presented a wonderful member show called “Make Your Mark.” Over 40 artists represent an amazing breadth of imagery and technique using soft pastels. There are landscapes that are distinctly Minnesotan, as well as several that remind me of a recent road trip to the Pacific Northwest. There are portraits, one of which incorporates new media by starting with a digital photo. There is an abstract image that pushes the boundaries of both the stick and the surface: pastel – a media with little adhesive property- adhered to the slick surface of Yupo with water. There is subject matter for any taste. And it is amazing to see one medium that can create such different results from the density of oil to the airiness of watercolor. It was a real treat to be at the opening reception with so many of the exhibiting artists in attendance. They were truly thrilled with the exhibit as well as being down right verbose about their artistic pursuits, their influences and their techniques. The show is up through August 23. A presentation of awards by the juror, Albert Handell, will take place Tuesday, August 6th, at 6:30 p.m. If you haven’t seen the great gallery space at BTAC, this is a perfect opportunity to remedy that situation.
Also in pastel, but in a vastly different format, Shawn McCann takes the centuries old Trompe l’oeil technique and his box of soft pastels to the street. Shawn will be at Wet Paint this Saturday, July 27th, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. creating an illusory image on our sidewalk with Jack Richeson’s new big, fat soft pastels called Street Stix. I have to admit that soft pastels haven’t been considered the cutting edge medium in recent years. But 3D street painting brings pastel paintings out of the flat files and museums and into the contemporary art gallery space shared with aerosol painting and stenciling. Just as the Lake Country Pastel Society has a pastel painting to appeal to any esthetic, McCann’s street art will appeal to everyone’s in its populist presentation.