Teacher turned artist: Edenstrom shares work at local art center
WORTHINGTON -- An English teacher by vocation, Judith Edenstrom spent almost 40 years in the classroom, her days focused on literature, grammar, punctuation and writing.
But in her off hours, Edenstrom always explored another interest -- art.
"When I was working, my mother had an art studio, so I was a once-a-month Saturday artist," Edenstrom recalled. "My mom would call and say, 'Why don't you come and bring your paints and we'll paint this weekend?"
Edenstrom's mother is now deceased, but she's found another painting partner in daughter Kristin Peterson, who lives in Luverne and works at the hospital there.
"It's really been fun getting together to paint, first with my mom, and now with Kristin," said Edenstrom. "When my mother was alive, we had three generations going."
Originally from Watertown, S.D., Edenstrom earned her teaching degree at Northern State University in Aberdeen, S.D. After teaching one year in a Minnesota school, she was right back in Aberdeen, teaching English at Aberdeen Central High School for 38 years. Once in a while, she had the opportunity to share her art interest with her students.
"Occasionally, our art department would invite me in to show my paintings to the art students," she recalled. "It was good for the students to know that art is something that can be a lifelong hobby, a lifelong skill that you can do under a lot of circumstances."
When she retired four years ago, Edenstrom's circumstances changed so she could devote much more time to her artistic endeavors. She moved to Sioux Falls, S.D., where she has maintained a separate studio space at Eighth and Railroad for the last couple years.
"It's nice to have a place to work and have all your supplies in one place, have them all out and available," she said.
Edenstrom also enjoys being part of the artistic community that has developed in her studio venue.
"We have five artist studios in one pod. I think it's a real advantage to have other people to talk to about ideas and methods and techniques," she said. "I think I was the second one in the group to move in, and I didn't know any of them when I picked the studio space. I try to go and paint several days a week, and one of the other artists usually opens up her studio sometime during the weekend and we have portrait sessions there. One of her children or one of us will pose, usually in some kind of strange hat or costume. It's a lot of fun, and a good way to sharpen some drawing skills."
Paint --usually acrylic or watercolor --is Edenstrom's favored medium, although she also dabbles in collage.
"I tend to be impressionistic, not photo realistic," she described. "I do like abstracts, and occasionally I'll do something realistic, but I think I like things that are more semi-realistic better."
Color and texture are the main catalysts in her paintings.
"I like doing layers of paint, so maybe I'll start out with a painting that I don't like, and I'll paint over it," she said. "I really like things with texture, and as I say, I like layering, so you get a lot of texture. I really like to just experiment and see what happens if you layer this color over this color or what happens if you put some texture underneath and then you paint over the top of it. I guess I like the experimental side of creative art, where maybe you try different things, and maybe some of them don't work, and sometimes they do work and you say, 'Ooh, that's cool!'"
Although she's never formally studied art, Edenstrom has taken a number of workshops with regional artists and looks at each day in the studio as a learning experience.
"I'm always amazed at the number of ways there are to get color, whether it's paint or ink on some sort of surface," Edenstrom said. "Just the fact there is kind of a never-ending possibility. There's always something new to learn and try, and that's part of what intrigues me about art."
On Sunday, Edenstrom will open an exhibit of her work at the Nobles County Art Center in Worthington. It's her first one-woman show, although she's exhibited in conjunction with her mother and daughter for previous shows. Her work is available at Piper's Gallery and Framing in Sioux Falls and the HGS Gallery in Luverne.
Edenstrom and her daughter have also participated in the Nobles County Art Center's Area Art Show for the last couple of years, and this year Edenstrom took home the 2012 Gene Schar Award for a piece titled "The Dancer."
"That was a nice surprise," she said. "The show is just a really good opportunity to bring some work to show."
For her solo exhibit, Edenstrom has singled out about 20 pieces.
"I am going to bring some landscapes, some abstracts and some pieces with music incorporated into them -- collage pieces," she detailed. "It's all just recent work."
Edenstrom is grateful for the opportunity to explore her artistic side more fully in retirement, and also for the opportunity to share her work at the Worthington gallery.
"I really enjoyed teaching English, enjoyed the kids, enjoyed what I did," she said, "... but it's nice to have this time now when I can play."
The opening reception for the exhibit of Judith Edenstrom's work will be from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday at the Nobles County Art Center, located in the lower level of the War Memorial Building (Nobles County Library), 407 12th St., Worthington. The exhibit will continue through October. Hours are 2 to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. For more information, phone 372-8245.