July 3, 2012 Fargo Forum, Fargo, North Dakota
This weekends opening of Jeff Weispfenning's show, Dark Lives, Sad Loves, Restless Dreams, is a homecoming in many ways for the Minneapolis artist. In the early 1990's, while he studied at Minnesota State University, Moorhead, the Moorhead native worked at the Rourke Art Gallery, 523 4th St. So. Moorhead. Now, two decades later, he returns as an accomplished artist for his first solo show with the organization. The painter talks about his colorful expressionistic paintings at a 2 p.m. gallery talk during the public opening from 1 to 4 on Sunday. The event is free and open to the public. (218) 236-8861.
By Bill Stieger – Highland Villager, St. Paul, MN, Summer 2010
Photo by Brad Stauffer.
Artists in Minneapolis’ Longfellow neighborhood will roll out the welcome mat on August 28-29 as part of the League of Longfellow Artists’ art crawl. The second annual event is twice as big as last year’s, with 84 artists at 46 venues bounded by 28th Street, 54th Street, 34th Avenue and the Mississippi River.
One of the artists who are new to the crawl this year is Jeff Weispfenning, a painter who works out of a studio in the basement of a home he shares with his wife Sarah. He calls his studio the “Art Cave”. Though it lacks the natural light of many painters’ studios, “it’s the only place where I can do my art,” Weispfenning said. “I use both fluorescent and incandescent light, and I do the best I can.”
Weispfenning paints portraits, self-portraits and images from dreams, some finely rendered, others almost cartoonish. There is a surrealist’s eye at work in his paintings. Occasionally, he will resort to political commentary or cliché’, but most of his paintings draw on symbols, archetypes or images with ominous portents: a Civil War drummer boy, for example, offset by the image of a one-armed drummer girl.
"I like to use iconic images," Weispfenning said, “I’m also interested in history and culture and their impact on people. I like to take images from fables and legends and give them my own interpretation.
Weispfenning, 43, grew up in Moorhead, MN and graduated from Moorhead State University with a bachelor’s degree in fine art. He moved to Minneapolis a decade ago and supports himself by working as a designer at SignArt in Mendota Heights.
“I never really thought I could be a fulltime creative artist,” he said. “I didn’t think of doing art as a real job, so I concentrated on its commercial aspects. I was being a realist. But I grew disillusioned with reality and couldn’t ignore my impulse to paint creatively.”
“I’ve know Jeff since he was an undergraduate,” said Jim O’Rourke, director of the Rourke Art Museum in Moorhead. “Jeff is very creative. He paints from his imagination. I’m glad to know he’s hard at work, and getting ready to exhibit.”
Weispfenning doesn’t work from preconceived ideas. However, once he has a subject, he follows it obsessively. “In college, I painted a lot of portraits of nuns and priests.” He said, “I was fascinated by these people who seemed so mysterious to me, certainly different from my Lutheran upbringing. I wanted to find out if I could see something in them, a divinity perhaps.”
Gretchen Kottke of the GK Gallery in Cooperstown, North Dakota, was drawn to Weispfenning’s work during a group show at the Rourke Art Museum. “I was looking for artists for a gallery I was opening,” she recalled. “There were close to 100 artists being shown, and I kept coming back to Jeff’s work. I just love his subject matter and his symbolism. It’s work that really speaks to people. Jeff has had three solo exhibitions at our gallery, and at one he painted a piece – during the opening. People just love his paintings. He shows a lot of soul in his work.”
Some of Weispfenning’s recent paintings seem to ponder the meaning of death. One of them, titled “The Artist”, could be a self-portrait but the subject is a corpse. When asked about it, he said, “I had a life-changing moment after my mother died of a stroke a few years ago. When I read her obituary in the newspaper and I saw there were other people who had died who were my age, the realization came to me that life is short. But it’s important to me that viewers of my work bring their own interpretation to it.”
The second annual League of Longfellow Artists’ Art Crawl will run from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday. Paintings, sculpture, glasswork, jewelry, photography, pottery and other art will be featured for show and sale. Though the event isn’t juried, the quality of the work is excellent, according to Bob Schmitt, a calligrapher and painter, owner of Laughing Waters Studio at 3718 E. Minnehaha Pkwy. and one of the founders of the league. “I’m just so surprised by the number of talented artists in this neighborhood,” he said.
For more information on the art crawl, visit: http://lolaartcrawl.com or call Schmitt at 612-333-1881.
By Shelby Meyers, Dec. 15 2010
Uptown-based restaurant Moto-i works hard to uphold the honor of being the first sake brewery outside of Japan. True to form, there are oodles of brews to choose from on the menu, along with Japanese pub style food.
Also on tap at the Lyndale spot are monthly art exhibits showcasing the works of staff members, as well as local, emerging artists, from printmakers to jewelers to designers. This month's exhibit will be their first solo show, featuring paintings on display by Jeff Weispfenning.
The opening reception for Weispfennig's monthlong solo show run from 7:30 until 11:30 p.m. tonight. The second floor lounge, also known as the Moto-i Geisha Gallery, will host the art installation, something the restaurant began doing in August.
By coordinating monthly art shows, Moto-i is not only joining in the effort to get local artists noticed, but also hopes to demonstrate that they have more to offer than a glass of freshly brewed sake (although, that is quite the feat itself).
Weispfennig's large-scale and vibrant paintings, straight from his self-proclaimed art cave, will be on display through January 11, 2011 in the second floor lounge space/gallery. Tonight's opening reception is free and open to the public, and will include sake drink specials, along with live music.