As Edina’s beloved Fall into the Arts Festival gets set to celebrate its 18th year in Centennial Lakes Park on September 10 and 11, we thought we’d introduce five of the many artists that’ll be sharing their very best work all weekend. It’s more like four artists and an entire collective of art-related entrepreneurs, including a jewelry designer who’s barely out of kindergarten. (And you thought you were productive during the pandemic.)
For more information about 2022’s official artists and exhibitors, check back here in the weeks leading up to this year’s event, which benefits the Edina Crime Prevention Fund.
Senegal native Adama Sow was on his way to becoming a pro soccer player when he broke his finger and decided to embrace another path entirely in the late ‘80s: pottery. The idea had been in the back of his mind for a while actually — spurred on, in part, by the success of his older brother Alpha in ceramics and higher education.
Since moving to Minnesota 20 years ago, Sow has exhibited throughout the Midwest and taught classes at the Edina Art Center, White Bear Center for the Arts, and his own studio CeramicSow. His pottery is rooted in West African techniques and broadened in style and scope by decades of living in such far-flung locales as the remote French island Réunion and Germany’s epicenter of ceramics (Höhr-Grenzhausen, a.k.a. “Jug Baking Town”).
Sow plans on selling everything from elaborate platters to five-piece tea sets at Fall into the Arts this season. Maybe even an egg cooker or two if we’re lucky. (One of his most popular ceramic pieces, it’s used to microwave perfectly set hard-and-soft-boiled eggs within minutes.)
BUY BLACK EXPO
Having recently graduated from Babson College with a master’s degree in entrepreneurial leadership, Jayda Pounds is looking to build upon the breakout success of her Buy Black Expo with another “Youth Edition” like the weekly pop-up she hosted in Minneapolis last January.
Hammering its tagline (“Our children are the future — love them, nurture them, invest in them”) home with six different young entrepreneurs, it’s set to feature a wide range of handmade items including natural home and self-care products (The Bros. Code), casual hand-pressed clothing and loungewear (DoubleMD), poetry and purses (Black Poetic Justice), motivational T-shirts (JustPray), a lip and skincare line (Countess Creations), and jewelry sets by a Shark Tank-bound 6 year old (Kai’s Creations).
It’s just the beginning of Pounds’ local plans now that she’s done with her master’s program in Massachusetts and moving back to Minneapolis, too. Aside from hosting more pop-ups and youth-oriented events, she’d like to be an everyday resource for entrepreneurs of color looking to land a proper storefront or other forms of exposure.
“My end goal is to create a community of entrepreneurs,” explains Pounds, “and be able to help them with any business aspect they need assistance with.” For more information about upcoming Buy Black Expo events, follow Jayda Pounds here.
Jewelry is more than just an outfit-enhancing accessory in the eyes of designer Camille Knutson. It’s a surefire way of forming a meaningful connection between the present and the past — “adornment as identification,” something Knutson first noticed when her grandmother shared Baltic amber beauties she had brought from Latvia during World War II.
“While I had no clue what they were at the time,” says Knutson, “these still pieces connect me to my heritage and family members who are no longer with me.”
Knutson’s labor-intensive rings, earrings and necklaces lean into this idea, leaving her clients with truly one-of-a-kind pieces that “speak to them personally” and “feel authentic and special.” Especially her hand-fabricated flower blossoms, which often take a week-and-a-half to complete “piece by piece, petal by petal, solder join by solder join,” and look like they were freshly picked from a garden out back.
“When you look at my cases at a show,” says Knutson, “you don’t think about all the work that went into it, but it’s there. Every piece is a labor of loving what I do.”
Lifelong creator Holly Keller had all but given up on pursuing fiber art full-time before her son Julian was born and she suddenly found herself wanting to make “beautiful and unique toys” for him.
“When he was a baby, I would take him to the thrift store and start seeing the clothes differently,” explains Keller. “The racks of brightly striped tees became a rainbow of fat little bunnies; the yellow wool sweater was a chicken plushie. That’s how all this began — I’ve been reducing, re-using, and amusing through my toy designs for over 10 years now. And every time I walk into an art fair to set up, I look around me at the other artists and think, ‘These are my people.’”
A few of her recurring Fall into the Arts favorites are painter Greta Sandquist (“she creates the most beautiful paintings of women that incorporate foils and patterns and animal spirits”), and the rather “mesmerizing” abstract painter Sue Mooney.
As for Keller’s own whimsical plushie work, she’s eager to share her new Andy Cat series, a Warhol-inspired “simple cat plushie design made from secondhand cashmere sweaters in a rainbow of colors, with brightly colored contrasting eyes.” Another new addition to her growing cast of colorful animal characters is a Mangy Pup design made from secondhand sweaters that “looks like he is waiting for you to rub his belly” when you flip him over.
“I want kiddos to experience the magic of rainbows, make-believe and sweet dreams,” says Keller. “And I want big people to know that childhood doesn’t have to end just because they’ve grown up…. Come play.”
Ryan Pedersen’s father James learned how to weld while he was working for an electric company, but it didn’t take long for him to realize he’d be much happier applying those skills to art — metal sculptures, mostly. When Ryan and his brother were younger, they were often “hired” to help buff and grind various pieces, or simply hold them in place so they could be welded together properly.
Over time, Ryan became an integral part of his father’s technical and creative process and followed in his footsteps as a fully accredited art instructor. As Pedersen Metal, the duo brings decades of experience together along with an innate ability to approach ideas from new angles, literally and figuratively.
“We usually make suggestions while listening to one another on the phone,” explains Ryan, “jotting down notes, and making some preliminary sketches. We then will develop these designs, share them, chat, and modify aspects of each other’s design until it blends into a final creation to pursue, and we create a model to see the sculpture in the round.”
Most of Pedersen Metal’s inspiration comes from the natural world — various landscapes and layouts, dialed into the most minute details — but their style has become more streamlined, elegant, and modern over time. This evolution will be on full display at Fall into the Arts. Ryan says their booth will feature a “variety of sizes, layouts, materials, and techniques of our visions. We also try to have a wide range in our prices to make our work approachable to anyone it connects with.”
Not bad considering one of their recent works (Spirit of Community) is sitting pretty as a permanent installation in Delano’s Art Walk right now.