WINDOM — Longtime artist David Strom is pouring more than five decades of experience and inspiration into his latest art series, thanks to support from an Individual Artist Established Career Grant from the Southwest Minnesota Arts Council (SMAC).
The $7,000 grant will allow Strom to complete a series of 12 40-inch by 60-inch ink drawings and 12 3-feet by 5-feet acrylic paintings inspired by the local landscape.
Strom, a Windom native, has always drawn inspiration from his surroundings. Growing up just blocks from the location of his current studio, he lived in the shadow of grain bins and silos his whole life.
He has been interested in art since fourth grade. After high school, he studied painting at the Minneapolis School of Art (which became the Minneapolis College of Art and Design while he was there).
Returning to Windom after art school, Strom painted portraits at a roadside stand for a while, but was more interested in landscape. His early landscape work focused on jungle themes, but he now depicts farm implements and small town fixtures. As farms have changed, so has his work. For example, Strom's later work includes wind turbines, now a common sight throughout southwest Minnesota.
Strom also finds inspiration in other art forms. His studio includes a substantial library of literature, poetry and theater, and multiple reading chairs throughout the space — each with a book on its arm, left from the last time he read. He almost always has music playing, usually a jazz record.
"T.S. Eliot measured his life in coffee spoons," Strom said. "I measure my life in vinyl."
His extensive album collection stimulates Strom's creative spirit — an essential element as he completes his grant project.
The 24 drawings and paintings he's working on are intended to be displayed in pairs, Strom said. He will be able to show them interchangeably and mix up the pairings.
"I'm really, really appreciative of the SMAC people for giving me the opportunity to do it," he said.
He praised the organization for supporting artists outside the Metro area.
"SMAC has done a lot for the region," he said.
In addition to financial support from SMAC, Strom credited several individuals with helping him grow as an artist.
Windom's Bob Remick was a personal mentor to Strom. As a young teenager, Strom would mow Remick's law, and when he was done, Remick would then invite him inside to talk about art.
In the 1970s, Strom developed a relationship with Martin and Jean Bunge of Worthington. He describes them as "absolute gems" who encouraged him and other new artists.
Now, Strom is passing on the support he received when he was starting out.
Nicole DeBoer, SMAC's executive director, explained that Strom inspires others to pursue their artistic aspirations.
"David is so supportive of other artists," she said. "He has been known to encourage others to apply for grants. He really wants to help other artists achieve their artistic vision.
"We are just honored that he is doing a new series," DeBoer added.
The grant parameters include that Strom must complete his project within one year, but he expects to be finished sooner.