An Afternoon at the “Foot in the Door” Exhibit

March 23, 2010

I go to the “Foot in the Door Exhibit.”
Left: the tree and cityscape I wanted to draw when I came out of the MIA after viewing the “Foot in the Door” show—but my eyes were exhausted!

It’s rare that I give myself a pass on sketching something once that something has caught my eye. The other day, however, after visiting the “Foot in the Door” show with my friend Tom and looking at almost 5,000 pieces of art in about 3 hours, I just couldn’t bring myself to get my journal out of my pack and sketch this lovely tree. It didn’t matter that it was a gorgeous, too (too) early spring day: sunny and 60 degrees Fahrenheit. It didn’t matter that I could stand in shade or sun with the same view. It didn't matter that in a couple weeks the view of the tree and the city would be obscured with leaves! The fact that I’ve been trying to draw more buildings didn’t sway me. My eyes just couldn’t focus on one more thing.

But it was a great afternoon and I urge you all to get over to the show and see the artwork. Some of the work was sublime, like Jonathan Allen’s portrait of a man drawn with BALL POINT PEN. (206-7; row followed by number in row counting from the top.) Measuring in at about 4 x 6 inches it was the most stunning thing I saw all day. It looked like an etching. Of course I also liked the Pewter (grey metal) Teddy Bear (on the first sculpture table, I never did work out the number system for the sculptures).  Erik Forseth had a small, two-color woodcut print of a rooster (132-11) that I also think is worth seeking out. (I can’t even begin to list all the works by friends, which were wonderful, because I’m sure to leave someone out.)

Other works were silly (to my mind). Some works engendered fierce, volatile emotions from the other visitors. Tom and I stood near a man who started denouncing a piece loudly as “cheating.” It was a carved piece he claimed was done with a laser. He kept insisting that was cheating and dragged us into the next room to see what work done with a scroll saw looked like. He wasn’t the only one quibbling about “cheating.” It seems that art brings up a lot of emotions in people, and standing there in the open exhibit, people were venting some of those emotions: I overhead discussions about art vs. craft; fine craft vs. crafty—you get the idea.

I'll rarely engage in those debates and certainly not in this public exhibition, open to all. That's not the point. I am just enjoying the fun of having a piece in the MIA and seeing what everyone else thought represented his or her creative efforts. What I will comment on is a thought expressed to me several weeks earlier by a woman I met at another gallery. After telling me she wasn’t “an artsy-fartsy type person,” she said, “I find the whole “Foot in the Door” thing so depressing! It’s just depressing. All that art that people make and no one ever gets to see it. Depressing.”

I have the exact opposite opinion. When I look at the art in the “Foot in the Door” exhibit I see examples of people so full of creative drive that they have to make art (however they define it) whether anyone ever sees it or not.

I find that a glorious statement on the creative impulse.

And to see all the work, stretching 12 or more feet up the wall, rows and rows of it, well it all made me very happy indeed. Don’t grumble, don’t be a grinch—enjoy the diversity of tastes. And ten years from now when they do it again, if you’re a Minnesota artist (however you define that) participate.

Photos and a history of the “Foot In the Door” exhibit.

Search the archives and view the artworks. (Look your friends up online before you go so you’ll be armed with a list when you arrive and won’t miss anyone.)

View the video works at "Foot in the Door" (accepted for the first time this year). 

Read my post about dropping off artworks at "Foot in the Door" and see my painting.

Behind the scenes images.

Note: Be sure to walk out of the exhibit into the new-wing hallway because there are several more (15 or so) rows of artwork out there that are easy to miss.

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