Jeff Troldahl is a man of many talents. An illustrator, painter, graphic designer and builder, he spends the better part of his waking hours on a variety of artistic projects. No two of Troldahl’s work days look the same. Perhaps the title “artist” best encompasses his wide-ranging skillset. Though it’s not necessarily easy, Troldahl says the life of a professional artist suits him well, and he has a hard time imagining a more fulfilling career.
“The medical model defines people with disabilities by what they can’t do,” says Jeanne Calvit, founder and artistic director of Interact Center for the Visual and Performing Arts. “Here,” she says, “they’re defined by what they create.”
Interact Center, founded in 1996, is for people ages 24 to 70 with disabilities ranging from Down syndrome to clinical depression to blindness. It’s a place where they can put on original shows and experiment with visual arts.
With rising racial tension in the news, artist Ken Gonzales-Day helps put recent events, including the shooting of Philando Castile, in context with his photography at the Minnesota Museum of American Art. The exhibit, called Shadowlands, looks at racially motivated violence in the United States and features work from his Run Up series that connects Saint Paul to Ferguson to Los Angeles to Charles Valento’s lynching in 1920, restaged and photographed by Gonzales-Day.
Minnesota native Chip Addington set out on a mission two years ago to combine his experiences—working in the outdoors as a camp guide and director, along with his art major—to create the perfect backpack for the urban traveler. His handmade backpack line combines aesthetically pleasing design with durability. The water-resistant bags come with pockets for a laptop, phone, notebook and pens, and take Addington around 12 hours to make on his circa 1892 industrial sewing machine.
A lot has happened in the career of 34-year-old artist Drew Beson since Edina Magazine last wrote about him in October 2008. For one, he is no longer active in the FRESH Marketing Group he founded to help promote his work. “My art has been successful enough that I can now do it full time,” he says. It’s a relief and a pleasure for him, of course, but also for collectors who have bought his paintings. “The more I sell at higher price points,” he explains, “the more the work is valued.”
One of the students recognized this year was Jessica Person, who won a Silver Key at the event. “My favorite class is art,” she says, “and I feel great when other people see and compliment my work.”