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‘Minnesota Images’ on display at Memorial Auditorium

Artist Nan Karr Kaufenberg (center) is joined by Memorial Auditorium Performing Arts Cennter Tammy Makram (left) and Nobles County Arts Center Director Tricia Mikle in front of a Memorial Auditorium print created by Kaufenberg. (Ryan McGaughey / The Globe)

WORTHINGTON — More than just recent Memorial Auditorium Performing Arts Center renovations will be shown off during an open house Sunday afternoon.

“Minnesota Images,” a collection of 20 art works by Nan Karr Kaufenberg, will be on display inside the auditorium lobby. Kaufenberg will offer a gallery talk at 3 p.m., and live music and food are also planned.

Kaufenberg’s work is being displayed in the auditorium thanks to an ongoing collaboration with the Nobles County Art Center. This is the fourth such art show in the last two years being housed in the facility.

Sunday’s art opening and subsequent exhibit has been in the works for a long time, Kaufenberg said.

“I was in here several years ago and visited with Tammy (Makram, Memorial Auditorium’s managing director),” Kaufenberg recalled. “A friend of mine and I came over here for lunch, Tammy gave us a tour of this place and she said she’d like to work out a deal with the art center to have my art in here.”

Roughly three years went by, and Makram then reached out to Kaufenberg about creating a commissioned work representative of the auditorium.

“Tammy contacted me last January and I think she said, ‘how long does it usually take for you to do a commissioned piece?” Kaufenberg said. “I said for something that complicated, about a year, and she asked if I could do it any quicker. I said maybe, and I pushed and got it done.”

The auditorium piece is in the same medium Kaufenberg has been working in for decades. She began learning linoleum block printing as a fourth-grader, she explained, and “thought it was pretty neat that I could carve pictures and print them.” She uses linoleum that’s mounted on burlap to create her images.

“With block printing, everything comes out in reverse — the image is backward in the print and the black and white are not always where you thought they would be,” Kaufenberg writes in her artist’s statement.

“Fifty-plus years later, I’m still trying to distill my subjects into a simplified design and to get the black and white in the right places and to plan for the reverse print. … About 25 years ago, I tried painting my dried block prints. I liked the effect, so I continue to hand paint each print.”

Kaufenberg explained that Makram — who expressed delight in viewing the image for the first time Thursday afternoon — had sent old photos of the auditorium to her, and that she was struck by numerous architectural elements incorporated in the building. The finished product features the building’s main entranced as it once looked, framed by a sampling of those aforementioned elements.

“They left it to me,” Kaufenberg said of the freedom she was given to create the work. “It made me nervous; I’m always nervous when I do a commission. The last time I did one was probably six or seven years ago of somebody's cabin. This was a challenge, and I’m glad it turned out.”

Among the other work Kaufenberg will be displaying in her “Minnesota Images” show will be three different renderings representative of the Luverne area, including a pear cactus from Blue Mounds State Park, a chicken and a farm scene. Her work will remain in the auditorium for six months.

Kaufenberg’s art could be perceived as familiar to some. She is a past entrant in the Nobles County Art Center’s Area Art Show, and contributes prints and greeting card each year to be sold at the art center during the holidays. She formerly resided in Luverne for more than 20 years, where she got to know Makram through Rock County Fine Arts at a time at which Makram was executive director for the Council for Arts and Humanities.

All of Kaufenberg’s art being shown at the auditorium will be for sale, and prints of her Memorial Auditorium work will be for sale as a means of raising funds for the Friends of the Auditorium organization.

Sunday’s open house will also include live music from Davis Moore, Jane Moore, Kurt Haag, Cindy Anderson and Kris Stewart. The box office will also be open, allowing people to purchase tickets for upcoming 2018-2019 performances.

Ryan McGaughey

I first joined the Daily Globe in April 2001 as sports editor. I later became the news editor in November 2002, and the managing editor in August 2006. I'm originally from New York State, and am married with two children.

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