Opening: Saturday, July 31, 8 p.m. - Midnight
Closes: September 25, 2004
Notes on the exhibit by Howard M. Christopherson
My dad, Howard Sr., was a WWII Purple Heart Veteran and a skilled
welder by trade. His love, however, was woodworking, hunting and
fishing. It was his framed drawing of two horses running at night
in a thunderstorm that was my first personal inspiration to make
art. My mother Lorina came from a big Catholic family and worked
hard at a country club, a laundry, and Honeywell where she assembled
torpedoes. Neither of my parents ventured on to receive high school
educations before they began to work. Of the four kids that they
had, I am the youngest.
In 11th grade I spent half of the school day at the new Eden Prairie
Vocational - Technical School studying graphic arts, photography,
film and video production. I made several 8mm films, using animation
or featuring my own friends as the actors. This exposure to myriad
forms of expression opened my eyes to b/w darkroom printing for
the first time. The work program and my employment in the audiovisual
department for Edina Public Schools in 12th grade gave me additional
opportunities; to make vacuum form maps, to copy slides and to clean,
splice and library the 16mm films shown in the classrooms. Additionally,
I was enrolled in my high schools studio arts program; it
was an independent study program allowing me to make my art at home,
at night, and away from the classroom.
My earliest drawings and photographic images included in this exhibit
are from 1973 when I was in 12th grade. Transcending out of high
school, I was filled with imagination and an intense interest in
art, photography, film, travel and nature. My ambitions included
teaching myself how to draw my free flowing thoughts, making sculptures,
creating short films and making photographs of what I saw.
When I drew, sometimes I would simply lie out a piece of paper
and begin. Other times I would stare into the white opening of a
blank sheet until I could visualize the drawing, and then I went
about tracing the vision I was projecting from my mind. The drawings
would form from my thoughts at that moment. I would intentionally
discipline myself from drawing the same image twice. I thought that
it would be a waste of time when I could draw something new. My
friends would stop by to visit me and I would put on a record and
carry on a conversation, all the while drawing. If I did not make
art for more than a few days, I would create twice as much the next
week. I felt that I needed to make art and improve my skills. I
would and still do become incredibly uncomfortable if I suppressed
the need I feel to make art. Usually my drawings would take anywhere
from days to several months to complete. Sometimes I would draw
continuously for more than 20 hours at once. A wide variety of subjects
showed up in my drawings; outer space, war, love, religion, and
politics mixed like a maelstrom of free flowing thoughts and emotions.
In the beginning my pen and ink drawings were made with the (recently
invented) felt tip pen. However, later I used the more technically
precise and extra fine mechanical pen, which soon became my primary
drawing tool. I soon added color pencil and ink wash to the mix.
Exploration continued with many forms of art supplies and found
Music was like life-blood to my friends and to me. I played the
drums in garage bands growing up and my friends had powerful stereo
component systems. We liked our music loud. A new album of rock
and roll under your arm then is what bringing home a bottle of scotch
is to me today: A real treat! We filled the late 60s and 70s
with rock concerts, often standing at the front of the line for
tickets and sitting in the front row for the show.
Lots of teenagers growing up in the 60s and 70s felt
twisted by internal forces: the war in Vietnam, the fear of being
drafted, the civil rights movement. At the same time we were twisting
our thoughts further with chemicals. I craved adventure, but I lived
in the suburbs, so I had to make my own adventures. It was a time
when many young people read Carlos Castaneda and the Lord of the
Rings and dabbled in Eastern thinking. The Watergate scandal was
on TV every day, which eventually led to Richard Nixons resignation.
This was the time when I decided to cash out my 1967 El Camino automobile,
buy a new 35mm camera and lots of Kodachrome film, and stick out
my thumb in order to hitch hike in search of America and myself.
I loved my new Canon Ftb camera and the quality 35mm images that
it produced. I took photographs of landscapes, flowers, animals,
people and nature. When I first bought the camera, I spent some
time indoors assembling found objects into still life creations
that I would photograph using Kodachrome slide film. These photographic
images often took on a mysterious and surrealistic appearance apparent
in my drawings from this time. Some photographs even include drawings
because I constructed the still life on my drawing table.
In 1975 I hitch hiked around several Southwest and Western states
with a friend. I saw and photographed mountains, the desert, Mexico
and the Pacific Ocean for the first time.
poster by Walter Albertson
It seemed like everyone smoked pot back then. All kinds of drugstore
and mind-blowing pills (little uniquely fashioned gelatin hits,
such as green pyramid and microdot, made by the people who made
the acid pills), blotter paper, coke and hashish floated around.
I am lucky; I survived this period. However, before it was over
I lost two friends: Bob fell asleep in his car after doing several
strong barbiturates on a very cold winter night and never woke up;
another long time friend named Scott fought undiagnosed depression
until one day he hung himself from a tree down by the Walker Art
After graduating from high school, I considered both enlisting
in the Navy and enrolling in the Minneapolis College of Art &
Design in the fall of 1975. Instead I choose to get married and
move to Monterey, California. I told myself that I would learn art
through personal experience, and to follow through, I gave myself
assignments such as life drawing, story board making, creating
8mm films, exploring abstraction, dabbling in photojournalism and
drawing surrealistic images. I collected art books and took horticulture
and art history classes while I practiced my drawing and photography.
I had my first gallery showing of drawings in Monterey. I lived
in California from 1976 to 1979 and was very inspired by the sea
and landscape of the area.
I moved back to Minneapolis in January 1979, broken hearted and
soon-to-be divorced. I relied on my art and my desire to travel
for strength and purpose while I recovered. I continued to travel.
I toured England, Scotland, and Paris and made several trips to
Mexicos Yucatan Peninsula. In 1983 I traveled alone to the
Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia. In1984 I visited New
York City for the first time and learned about its art scene. My
camera became a constant companion throughout my adult life.
In 1988 I began my gallery and framing business I call Icebox.
As the business grew and we expanded, we moved to this location
in the Northrup King Building. During the move of Icebox in June
of 2003, I discovered several portfolios of drawing and slides that
I had not seen in years. From this unearthing I assembled this show,
exhibiting the work for the first time. I view this show not as
a retrospective look into a different period of my life, but instead
as a sampling of art that I made over an important and explorative
time that I want to display and share. This show was possible because
of my recently acquired digital scanner and archival inkjet printer.
This technology enabled me to print the color images myself from
my original slides. The photographic images included have only been
35 mm Kodachrome slides until now.
In 1985, after nearly three years, I completed my most ambitious
independent film titled "Night Dance". This project is
made of animated hand colored still photographs. Each of the 940
images that make up the 29-minute film were hand colored using ink
dyes and other methods of manipulation. The finished work is a video
that was created using six slide projectors and two dissolve units
to sequence all 940 35mm slides. "Night Dance" has an
original soundtrack composed by William Hohn. The video could be
described as a romantic tragedy and features four main characters
that dance through indoor and outdoor scenes. Photographed in Minneapolis
and the surrounding suburbs, the images are brightly colored and
melt into each other, creating a dreamlike affect. It is rare to
see my drawings and photographs combined into one work of art. "Night
Dance" will be shown twice on Thursday, September 2nd. Admission
Over the years my drawing, film and sculpture interests have slowly
tapered off, and in their place my passionate interest in photography
has really kicked in.
Who knows what will be next?
Opening: Saturday, July 31, 8 p.m. - Midnight
Closes: September 25, 2004