'A Taste of Art'

The Owatonna Arts Center will provide “A Taste of Art” May 11, with several artists on hand to discuss their work.

Mike Sweere utilizes multiple media, but his focus for this event will be mosaics, which he finds “really satisfying,” he said. Mosaics can be incorporated into architecture, which has “opened up new doors for me,” as significant swaths of people can see his work at eminently-public locations like the Mayo Clinic and U.S. Bank Stadium.

Sweere’s pieces can often be found in hospitals, and “it’s a good feeling to know people appreciate it,” he said. His art, with plenty of “peaceful landscape settings, lends itself to a healing environment.”

And the Mayo Clinic, with its plethora of phenomenal artwork, is “almost like a museum itself,” he said. “It’s very cool to be part of that.”

He has two pieces in the home of the Minnesota Vikings, both made from recycled tin, he said. The first depicts Minnehaha Falls, while the second features a boathouse on Lake Minnetonka.

Sweere is currently hard at work on a “really big installation” that is slated to go up in Brooklyn next spring, he said. The wall mosaic mural is 22-feet-by-12-feet.

Another of Saturday’s artists, Steve DeLaitsch, was attracted to “A Taste of Art” for several reasons.

“The community has been good to me, and you need to give back,” he said. In addition, “the arts center is an institution” in Owatonna.

Furthermore, “I always enjoy getting together with” Sweere, he said. “This is an opportunity to reconnect.”

DeLaitsch will concentrate on watercolor painting Saturday, and he’s been painting in watercolor for 45 years, he said. “Watercolor is extremely spontaneous,” and “things just kind of happen on their own with it,” especially with his “wet-wet” technique.

The “wet-on-wet” style of watercolor painting is “more unpredictable,” he said. “It forces you to make adjustments.”

“If there is an opportunity to promote printmaking and bring awareness to art access, I am happy to volunteer,” said Andi Gaffke, who will showcase the art of printmaking Saturday. “My college degrees were in printmaking, drawing and art history, so it’s a good excuse to share what I’ve learned over the years with my hometown community.”

On Saturday, she’ll demonstrate use of an etching press, monotypes, block printing, and transfer techniques, she said. “I am always eager to answer questions and talk art with anyone.”

Sue Peoples, glass lampworking, and Brian Kuehn, ceramics, will also be featured Saturday, in addition to Sweere, Gaffke, and DeLaitsch. The event, from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., is free and open to the public, with light treats and beverages provided.

“Art intimidates people, or they lack confidence in their own artistic abilities, (but) I want people to fall in love with the process of creating and not get hung up on what’s ‘good art’ versus ‘bad art,’” Gaffke said. “I hope people feel at ease with the process.”

Like DeLaitsch, Sweere grew up in Owatonna, but he then spent two decades in the world of ad agencies and design studios, where he “learned a lot,” before launching his own fine arts career in 2005, he said. By bringing pieces and tools to the OAC next weekend, Sweere hopes the audience can understand “the process, how it comes together.”

He also wants them to “get inspired to do creative things themselves,” he said. “I use recycled materials, and there are all sorts of things around the house people could be creative with in their everyday lives.”

Reach Reporter Ryan Anderson at 507-444-2376 or follow him on Twitter @randerson_ryan