Press Release: Remembering Gus Gustafson

From Minnesota Artists Exhibition Program

For Immediate Release: November 30, 2005



A new exhibition at The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Remembering Gus Gustafson: Artist, Collector, Friend, pays tribute to Minnesota artist and art collector Gus Gustafson. Selected pieces from Gustafson's vast collection of works by contemporary Minnesota artists in addition to his own photographic works are featured in the exhibition. Organized by a team of artists and curators with intimate knowledge of his collection and life (Thom Barry, Julie Hartley, Larry Marcus, Tom Adair, and Glen Hanson), Remembering Gus will be on view until March 19, 2006 as part of the Institute's Minnesota Artists Exhibition Program.

After earning a degree in fine art in the early 1970s, Gustafson dabbled in several mediums before surfacing as a photographer with great sensitivity and mechanical command. His talents led him to a busy career as a commercial photographer in the advertising world. He also became the choice for dozens of local artists to take pictures of their art needed for grants and promotion. Because he was open to the barter system, word spread quickly among local artists. Trading his quality photographs of their art for their artwork allowed Gustafson to amass what arguably may be the largest and most comprehensive private collection of contemporary Minnesota art. Allison Stout, Steven Spangler, Bruce Anderson, Scott Seekins, Stuart Mead, Christie Hawkins, and Steven Sorman are a few of the Minnesota artists in his collection who are featured in this exhibition.

Many of these relationships developed during the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s, an exciting time for the Twin Cities arts community. The period saw the Warehouse District of downtown Minneapolis transform from a sleepy drive-through section of downtown to a lively hub for artists' studios, galleries, and bohemian hangouts. Gustafson's workplace, Studio 356, was located there as was the New French Bar, a notorious watering hole for creative types. It was there that he would go after a long day of commercial shoots to share stories, share a drink, and give feedback and encouragement to other artists. He loved art, the people who made it, and did everything he could to support them. The same held true in Saint Paul, where Gustafson lived and was a charter member of the Saint Paul Art Collective.

The exhibition pays tribute to a man whose contribution and spirit made a significant difference to the historic accomplishments of the Twin Cities art community from 1975 through 2003. A video documentary about Gustafson accompanies the exhibition. It features many artists from the community and is a living testimony for his love of art, artists and life itself. All artwork in the exhibition will be for sale. Part of the proceeds will go towards establishing a fine arts photography scholarship in Gustafson's name at the University of Minnesota. Related Events Opening reception, Thursday, December 8, 7-9 P.M.

The Art Scene During the Gus Era, panel discussion moderated by Mason Riddle, Thursday, December 15, at 7 P.M., in Pillsbury Auditorium. A panel of local artists remember Gustafson, discuss the time in which he lived, and examine how that period in the Twin Cities arts culture is reflected on the current state of the arts.

Gallery tours of the exhibition, January 12, February 9, and March 9, 7 P.M.

All events are free and open to the public.

The Minnesota Artist Exhibition Program is an artist-run curatorial department of The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, which is made possible by generous support from the Jerome Foundation, in celebration of the Jerome Hill Centennial and in recognition of the valuable cultural contributions of artists to society.