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The Rourke interprets ‘Omnipotence of Dream’

Arts | May 16th, 2024

By Sabrina Hornung

sabrina@hpr1.com

The Rourke Art Gallery + Museum was established June 18, 1960. This year, June 18 marks the 65th annual Midwestern Art Invitational at the Rourke in Moorhead — and consequently renders the exhibition one of the longest consecutively running invitationals in the country. Since its inception, The Rourke has been a jewel in the crown of Fargo-Moorhead culture.

We had the opportunity to chat with Jonathan Rutter, Director and Curator at The Rourke Art Gallery + Museum. We chatted about the exhibition, what’s cooking at the Rourke, and the state of art in Moorhead.

HPR: So what do we have cooking for the great Midwestern?

Jonathan Rutter: The 65th Midwestern theme is “The Omnipotence of Dream: a Century of Surrealism.” And this is a slightly early celebration — the 100th anniversary of the competing surrealist manifestos being published [...] was in October 1920,.

HPR: Who is the juror this year?

JR: We're keeping it similar to last year, where we created a few new mechanisms for the awards. We will have the Gretchen Kottke Memorial: Gallerists Choice Award, where we're inviting the owner and operator of the St. Paul Gallery to select one lucky artist who gets invited to have an exhibit down in that space.

We've got the James VerDoorn Memorial: Staff’s Choice Award, so everybody but me on the staff here will be selecting that award. We've got the Milton Yergens Memorial: Wit and Whimsy in Art Award. Like the name suggests, that awards those whose efforts are geared towards being playful and humorous with their work.

Then lastly, we've got the Joel Hegerle Memorial: People's Choice Award. Voting starts with a Midwestern peer review. It's on the 18th of June. We will be introducing a new award as a stand-in for Best in Show. It's going to be the Best Theme Award, since we do a different theme every year. There are a lot of folks who put in a great deal of effort to compound their work to whatever the theme is each and every year and we just want to recognize that.

HPR: It's so wild hearing these names attached to a memorial. I feel like I just talked to them at the last Midwestern. What a touching tribute.

JR: Yeah, well, you know what the Midwestern is like: it's kind of like an artists’ family reunion. Introducing some of these awards named in memory of those who passed helps to make us feel like they're still with us.

HPR: Will there be any performances or entertainment during the Midwestern Preview?

JR: We've got a jazz duo that'll be performing during the Midwestern Preview. We're going to be doing the anniversary dinner, after the Preview as always, and we will be doing a luncheon the following day. It's gonna be a fun one this year. We're actually going to be serving Catalan cuisine, the region of Spain Salvador Dali came from. So this is our little “Luncheon with Dali.”

HPR: What else is cooking at the Rourke?

JR: Oh, gosh, yeah, we almost have too much for a staff of just five, but that keeps us out of trouble, I guess! We're working with the city of Moorhead on publicly introducing the Moorhead Sculpture Walk. We already have a bunch of public sculptures in the core of Moorhead and we just want more people to take note of it. So this is a way to do it and connect the different sculpture sides.

I suppose I can hint at this, though we’re not quite press ready, but we're working to introduce a children's gallery to the permanent collections display. We're going to give over one of those three north galleries to be dedicated to that purpose. We're still going to show permanent collection work and we're going to accompany those materials with more didactic and interactive stuff that's suited for kids and other things for them.

HPR: So this Sculpture Walk, is there going to be an app or like a map connecting the sculptures?

JR: It has a map that's ready to print. We've got a website that just needs a couple of tweaks and it has a digital map on it where everything's applicable. We actually have the basic signs deployed already. They're numbered, but we want to introduce them this summer to our informational signs that also include a QR code, so that when the website is finalized, you scan the QR code and it will take you right to the page about the specific work you're looking at.

HPR: Is it fair to ask what some of some of your favorite sculptures are in Moorhead?

JR: I'm a little biased of course, because six of them are right here outside of The Rourke. We've got the “Gogh Bison Go” by Geri Weiner on our front steps, but gosh, further afield, just across Main Avenue, you have the “SticksGarden” that Mara Morken got started. There’s easily. 10 pieces over there. There's Catie Miller and Emily Williams Wheelers’ piece which is up in Davy Park, “Breaking the Surface”, those blue beavers. There's the Plains Heritage Garden Amphitheater, which has been seeing good use in recent years. It's just connecting the dots. We're hoping to get the sculptures that are on campus at Concordia and MSUM integrated in there as well.

For more information on tickets for the Midwestern Preview on June 18 and reservations for the luncheon or anniversary dinner check out https://www.therourke.org/ for updates.

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