We caught up with St. Paul Art Crawl vet Kara Hendershot, who will be showing her graceful, colorful paintings in Studio 516 at the Northern Warehouse this coming weekend. Hendershot not only humbly defines herself as an artist (with tons of talent and promise, if you ask us!), but she’s also actively involved in various Lowertown Art District happenings and at Minneapolis community-oriented gallery, Altered Esthetics as a board member and volunteer. Be sure to stop by Kara’s studio this weekend to check out her work!
How long have you been involved in the Lowertown Art District? What drew you to it initially?
Seven years. I moved to the Northern Warehouse because I was looking for a place to live as well as a work studio. Ultimately, I just really wanted to get back into my art after taking a year away from it to volunteer with AmeriCorps in schools in South Carolina. I was hoping to find a community of creative and supportive people so that my work could grow, and I found that here. It’s great because this is the kind of community where I find myself to be both inspired and encouraged, which helps me to stay productive.
What will you be showing during the crawl? Are other artists sharing your space?
I will be showing new mixed media paintings, small and large scale. I will also be showing a side project that I started working on about a year ago – a satirical social commentary illustration series about different stereotypes and clichés in society. I will have new additions to this playful series at my studio this Art Crawl.
What inspires your work? What is your process?
I am inspired by lots of things on a daily basis, both negative and positive – people around me, stories I hear on the news, conversations I overhear on my way to work. My process usually begins in my sketchbook or on loose pieces of paper, whatever I can find when I need to record a new idea for a piece. Once I have that idea, I start painting and drawing very loose and abstract and more ideas come to me as I’m creating a new piece. I have learned to not focus on the finished product so that I can be more open to the process itself, because the creative process is so strange and sporadic that it’s something you can’t ever place complete control over.
Aside from your studio (of course) what do you personally think will be some of the best highlights of the art crawl?
We will have some fantastic artists in the Northern Warehouse (at 4th and Broadway), so I recommend stopping by to check us out! We also have AZ Gallery and Black Dog Cafe on the main level, which will have art and live music on Friday evening. I also recommend the JAX Building and Lowertown Lofts Artists Cooperative, Zeitgeist performances in Studio Z of the Northwestern Building, and ACVR Warehouse across the river near Harriet Island will be a great, unique stop as well. Also check out the Altered Esthetics Art Vending Machine which will be vending original artwork in the lobby of the Tilsner Building. I have my own collection of original art that I have purchased from that machine – be careful, it’s addicting to collect these awesome little pieces!
How has the lightrail construction changed things in Lowertown? Do you think in the long run the light rail will make things more lively in the district?
The construction has had a big effect on local businesses in Lowertown, including artist studios. As soon as people hear that something is “under construction” they immediately avoid the area, and that has hurt business and attendance of some of our arts events. Fortunately, many neighboring residents have increased their support by attending our events and buying local art, because they are aware of the impact on small businesses and art studios and they want to still show their support, which is great. In the long run, I think the lightrail will make it easier for people to visit here. But I think it could also bring a rush in urban overdevelopment. City planners are already trying to cram everything they can into this one tiny part of St. Paul. So the lightrail and subsequent developments might liven the streets up a bit, but it will also accelerate the gentrification process which could force artists to leave Lowertown. The thing about Lowertown is that it’s not just an arts district as a destination place, it is also a place where hundreds of artists live and work; people want to spend time here and absorb, not just have a party and leave a mess. It is a community and the connections between people here is unique. If we don’t have that anymore in Lowertown once the costs soar as the area booms and corporate venues move in and artists move out, then it won’t be the same arts community that everyone knows and loves today. It will just be another typical downtown neighborhood.
The St. Paul Art Crawl runs Friday, April 29th-May1st. For more information visit www.stpaulartcrawl.com
For more info on Kara Hendershot visit www.karahendershot.com