The Southeast Minnesota Visual Artist Galleryis looking to make connections at its new member art receptions this summer.

Joel DesLauriers, a local wood turner, already has a personal connection to one of his fellow artists who will be featured June 14.

DesLauriers, whose woodworking results in a pile of castoffs, lives in the same neighborhood as Beth Sievers, who comes over and sorts through the piles of chips to find canvases for her beeswax paintings.

So when Sievers was asked to present her work at SEMVA’s first member reception this summer, she asked DesLauriers to join her. Judy Saye-Willis, a local textile artist who uses other nature-based materials, rounds out the trio of artists.

"It seemed like a natural fit, to put those three together" said Patricia Dunn-Walker of the SEMVA Gallery.

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But finding people whose work aligns wasn’t their only goal. "We want the artists to get to know each other in small groups," Dunn-Walker said. The receptions are a way for artists in a fairly large community to hang out off-duty.  

Having joined SEMVA about a year ago, DesLauriers is still running across members of the gallery he doesn’t know during his monthly four hours of required work at the co-op.  

"I’ve been turning wood since the early ‘90s, and I joined SEMVA … just last fall," DesLauriers said. "Getting to know people is the best part of it."

The receptions will hopefully introduce the general public to some of the pieces and artists downtown, Dunn-Walker said, as the gallery is still looking for more foot traffic (and trying to capitalize on the beginning of Thursdays on First & 3rd).

"Having moved, we’re still downtown, but people don’t know exactly where we are," Dunn-Walker said.

At the gallery, you could find a painting you love for thousands of dollars or pick up a handmade card for pocket change, she said. And just spending some time in the gallery to view the art? Well, that’s free.

"It sure makes everybody’s life more interesting just to see what’s out there," Dunn-Walker said. "And you won’t find more variety than what’s in here."

Delauriers, a wood-turner, makes bowls, vases, ornaments, and toys from natural materials. He’s worked with wood since the ‘90s, and has recently begun carving and adding metallic elements to his work.

Sievers, an encaustic artist, uses beeswax to paint on salvaged wood. She began working in stained glass, but transitioned to encaustics in 2009. Sievers is a member of SEMVA and Gallery 24.

Saye-Willis, a fiber artist, uses natural dyes in her scarves and other textiles. Her work in textiles, jewelry, and book art can be found at SEMVA.

What:SEMVA Artist Showcase

When:5 p.m. Thursday, June 14

Where:SEMVA, 320 S Broadway, Rochester

Cost:Free and open to the public.