Outdoor painters capture Roseville parks – see it at City Hall

courtesy of Minnesota Outdoor Painters • From left, Doug Malin, Tom McGregor and Greg Lecker with their winning works.

courtesy of Minnesota Outdoor Painters • “Roseville Parks Plein Air,” an exhibition by Minnesota Outdoor Painters, hangs at Roseville City Hall through the end of February. “November’s Last Day,” by organization president and Roseville resident Allison Eklund, received honorable mention in the exhibition and is on display on the first floor near the city council chambers.

courtesy of Minnesota Outdoor Painters • Greg Lecker’s “Light It Up.”

courtesy of Minnesota Outdoor Painters • Tom McGregor’s “Morning Mist.”

Mike Munzenrider • The majority of Roseville Parks Plein Air can be seen on City Hall’s lower level.

Stay warm while catching a glimpse of Roseville’s parks inside Roseville City Hall.

“Roseville Parks Plein Air,” an exhibition put on by Outdoor Painters of Minnesota, is hanging at City Hall through the end of February. It features paintings of outdoor scenes from the city’s parks system, painted on the spot — en plein air.

Jill Anfang, assistant director of Roseville Parks and Recreation and a well-informed observer of the city’s green spaces, said the paintings are “amazing.”

“What I like about [the exhibition] is that I know where those locations are — they’ve done such a good job of capturing the locations,” she said. “It could be an obscure path between the ponds — and I know where that is.”

The 50 paintings made by nearly as many artists show Roseville’s parks in late fall and early winter — autumn colors in one picture pop alongside snowy vistas in another. 

While they highlight the city’s natural beauty, the paintings also evince the fact that Roseville’s a first-ring suburb — power lines hang out in the corner of one work; transmission cables are the subject of another.

Allison Eklund, a Roseville resident and president of Outdoor Painters of Minnesota, said the nonprofit group schedules various paint outs — outdoor painting sessions at various locations — throughout the year.

“We believe in the inherent value of painting from nature,” she said, pointing out the differences between painting out and doing so in a studio.

“You’re putting yourself at the mercy of nature,” Eklund said — nature being mosquitoes, wind, rain, sleet and snow. Outdoor painting is a special intellectual and creative experience, she added, which is full of quiet, focused joy.


Paint out in Roseville

Eklund, a practicing attorney who double majored in art and art history at St. Olaf College, said a year or two back she’d tried to nail down a grant from the Roseville Area Community Foundation to support a paint out in Roseville, but it didn’t pan out.

More recently, she said she got a call from foundation board member Julie Wearn — also CEO of the Roseville Visitors Association — reviving the idea.

“She said, you know, we should have you come up here and paint the parks,” Eklund said, remembering the call. Eklund said the foundation gave the outdoor painters a $1,000 grant to cover materials and prize money for a juried exhibition of the Roseville paintings. 

Wearn came up with an additional idea: The painters could also compete with paintings of this November’s OVALumination, the annual and impressive lighting of trees at the Roseville OVAL. 

The visitors association, which was in its last year of supporting OVALumination, put up an additional $500 in prize money for the most luminous painting of the event.

The winning OVALumination painting was by Greg Lecker, called “Light It Up.” 

Wearn said it was tough to only choose Lecker’s work. “They all had amazing, amazing pictures,” she said, noting “Light It Up” will likely be commemorated on postcards or prints.


Pictures to quilts

Officially becoming a nonprofit in 2012, Eklund said prior to that Outdoor Painters of Minnesota was just a group of artists who liked to paint together.

Eklund joined in 2014 and took the helm a year later. The group has some 200 members and its next event, a painting retreat, is planned for the end of this month at Camp Menogyn on the edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area.

As for Roseville Parks Plein Air, there was an opening reception at City Hall Dec. 20. Artist Doug Malin took first place with his “November Grey;” Tom McGregor won second place with “Morning Mist;” and Lecker won again, with “Around the Bend.”

Eklund received honorable mention for her painting “November’s Last Light” — in show notes she said the painting was twice blown off her easel as she painted in 10-degree weather at the edge of Reservoir Woods.

The winning paintings are featured in a glass case on the first floor of City Hall outside the city council chambers, while the rest of the exhibition lines the main hallway downstairs.

“We have open wall space and it’s always fun to bring color and warmth to City Hall, especially during winter,” Anfang said.

Roseville Parks Plein Air will be up through Feb. 28, Anfang said, before it comes down for another Roseville City Hall tradition, the annual winter quilts display from the Minnesota Contemporary Quilters Guild, which features many members from the Roseville area.


For more information about Outdoor Painters of Minnesota go to www.outdoorpaintersofminnesota.org. Roseville City Hall is located at 2660 Civic Center Drive and is open 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.


Mike Munzenrider can be reached at mmunzenrider@lillienews.com or 651-748-7813. 

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