Winona hosts first ever Down Town Art Party


Several galleries in downtown Winona opened their doors to the public for the Down Town Art Party last Tuesday. ANDREA BAUTCH
Several galleries in downtown Winona opened their doors to the public for the Down Town Art Party last Tuesday.

Molly O’Connor/Winonan

Last Tuesday night, various local hotspots hosted the first ever Down Town Art Party, an event that allowed local artists to show off and sell their works of art to the residents of Winona, drawing more crowds as the evening continued.

The recent fluctuation between hot days and even hotter nights couldn’t keep the artists of Winona down, and spectators refused to idly stand by and let the heat prevent them from observing new and unique forms of art.

Kevin Ihrke, a curator at Smith Studio and Gallery, co-founded the idea of having an art party alongside Midwest Music Fest founder Sam Brown.

“The idea was to promote visual artists, to show and sell their works,” Ihrke said, standing amongst the displays of Rick Alfaro’s photography exhibit in Smith Studio.

“It was a chance to work together rather than compete for visitors’ attention for the artists.”

Venues of the art party included Third Eye Tatu, Burke’s Furniture, Prismatic Shadow Studio, Some Sum Studio, Smith Studio and Gallery, and many more.

The displays ranged from classic oil paintings to nontraditional mosaic works of art.

Mosaic artist Monta Gael May, with her art hanging all around Prismatic Shadow Studio on Third Street, leaned casually over an interesting slab of stone with tiny fragments of glass and rocks jutting out into swirling shapes.

A pile of cards sat nearby, depicting another one of her mosaic pieces fashioned into a glass portrait.

“This is a portrait of my daughter,” May said, tapping the top card in the pile.

“The actual work is made from Mexican smalti glass, and this one contains smalti as well.” She pointed to the slab of stone containing a swirl of pure white glass at its center.

May has worked in mosaics since 2007, but has been an artist for about 20 years, starting in fiber art.

May described how she comes to find the perfect stones and the perfect places to put them.

“A lot of the stone I use in my mosaics is gathered locally, but some are from Colorado, Montana and Indiana.”

May’s work was just one of many different types of art that were on display with the artist on hand to explain their techniques and inspirations.

Julie Johnston sat outside of Jade’s Community Acupuncture, her sketchbook in hand.

Her work on display included oil and watercolor paintings of landscapes and figures, which she said are two of her biggest inspirations for her art.

Johnston’s art career started after receiving a grant in 2012, allowing her to study dance at Valencia in Winona.

“I sat in on rehearsals for dance shows. There were times I would take pictures, and other times I would just draw and observe silently,” Johnston said.

No matter the style, colors or medium an artist selects to inspire their work, one thing can be determined by looking at the art and talking to the artists: art is a form of deep and personal expression.

The general consensus among the artists was that they looked for a way to express themselves freely.

For some, the expression comes from a simpler place than others.

“We all have a hobby,” artist Noah Short said, standing in the middle of Some Sum Studio. “I do it for the release.”


Contact Molly at [email protected]