I did not make this art although I wish I did! It’s the work of one of my talented classmates.
Every Tuesday, I attend the Open Art Studio class at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chanhassen. When I signed up, I assumed that “art” included writers (hey, I’m an artist too, right?), and when I showed up the first day and opened up my laptop, I realized that everyone else was setting up easels and tubes of paint and going to the nearby kitchen to fetch water for their brushes. Whatever initial awkwardness there was, was quickly dismissed by Wendy DePaolis, the Arboretum’s Curator of Art and Sculpture and Fine Arts Education Programmer. She popped into the class that first day and told me, “I thought it was fun that a writer would join the group!” I’ve since become the group’s token writer. My fellow artists at work on watercolors or oil painting never fail to inquire about my latest projects. They get a kick out of my love of all things Prince. (And yes, I once played Prince’s song “Arboretum” for them. Fortunately, it’s an instrumental so lyrical content was not an issue. Ha!).
Prince loved the Arboretum, which is just down the highway from Paisley Park. Knowing that Prince loved this place is part of the reason I signed up for class. When I first moved to Minnesota, I’d go anywhere Prince used to go, figuring if it was good enough for him, it was certainly good enough for me. So I went to hear music at Dakota Jazz Club, where he had a table, and had brunch at People’s Organic, where the owners were Prince’s personal chefs. Prince has never steered me wrong, even when I inadvertently wound up in art class.
There is a whole series of photographs of Prince taken at the Arboretum by his former art director Steve Parke. The colors here are spectacular year-round and I am greatly inspired by watching paintings take shape. In the midst of a very long winter, seeing painters at work with brushes and palettes of paint in every hue of the rainbow lifts my spirits. And even though I’m here tapping away at the keys on a laptop rather than brush on canvas, it’s remarkable what a room full of artists can accomplish together! There is a colorful energy to creating — whatever the medium.