A little over a year ago, Edina Magazine featured the artwork of local Instagram photographer Jill Emmer of Shine On Photos. But we weren’t the only folks to take notice of Emmer’s whimsical photography and social media know-how. Twin Cities news outlets, retailers and fellow artists sought out Emmer’s burgeoning expertise in the realm of iPhone photography and pop art. Now Emmer has teamed up with Tradition Cos. in Edina to help showcase other local artists through a series of rotating exhibitions around town. They’re calling these temporary galleries Art of Edina.
The idea was hatched from a brainstorming session Emmer had with Brad Johnson of Tradition Wealth Management after Emmer gave a presentation at a breakfast club where Johnson is a regular member. “I showed three slides titled Past, Present and Future,” Emmer says of her breakfast club presentation. She is a humble, self-proclaimed minivan mom with an iPhone, who credits her interest in creating beautiful digital images for launching her to prominence on the local art scene.
Johnson was intrigued. “I wanted to pick [Emmer’s] brain about social media and marketing,” he says. He also wondered how Tradition might collaborate with someone like Emmer to provide a service to the community where he grew up and has dedicated his entire working career. “I want to give back. I want to do cool things,” Johnson says. Emmer’s eye for art and her social media savvy are the epitome of cool.
Emmer has curated hip art exhibitions for the Mall of America, Holidazzle and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. Johnson wondered if she could curate similar art exhibitions around Edina. “It was just one of several ideas we discussed,” Emmer says. And within a few months, the idea took off. Johnson enlisted the support of Tradition’s other business affiliates, all located on France Ave. at Centennial Lakes, to offer financial support to artists, with work curated by Emmer to display in public spaces around Edina.
The first installment was artwork created by grade-schoolers at Concord Elementary School. Thirty-three pieces were selected by Concord Elementary School art teacher Elise Schmidt and were hung near the center court at Southdale Center in February. A launch party was held to celebrate the young artists, all of whom received a custom tote bag, cookies and juice.
A second and third Art of Edina exhibition were then planned for Braemar Arena and the Galleria. Emmer leveraged her artist and online connections to procure artwork for these installments. Eligible artwork for the Braemar Arena display was chosen from artists who were encouraged to send in their work featuring any Edina park or park-like activities. Photographers could submit their photos online by using the hashtag #artofedina or by emailing samples to firstname.lastname@example.org. Selected works are on display in the Braemar Arena lobby through June.
The Art of Edina Galleria exhibition features collaborative work from Emmer and other well-known local artists including Erin Sayer, Chank Diesel, Brandon Werth and more. The Galleria agreed to display selected artwork through July outside of the forthcoming Free People store.
When asked what Tradition Cos. is hoping to accomplish by sponsoring these temporary art installations, Johnson says he has no specific goal beyond helping rising and established Edina artists have a public space to display their art. Art of Edina is part of Tradition Cos.’ “pass it on” project developed to use resources accrued through years of hard work to fund a wide variety of Edina community initiatives. Its target initiatives also include supporting youth and high school athletics, public parks, youth leadership skill-building, and more.
Emmer says Art of Edina is a win-win-win for the community, the businesses that showcase the artwork and Tradition Cos. She’s constantly on the lookout for new spaces to host a gallery and encourages more artists to check out Art of Edina and to tag their Instagram photos with #ArtofEdina for a chance to be featured in future galleries.