Carved eggshells and metal sculptures will be two of the many types of art on display in the new Southeastern Minnesota Visual Artists (SEMVA) gallery at 320 South Broadway, Rochester. The contrast between fragile eggshells and durable metal may be the perfect symbol of the SEMVA collective’s nearly two-year migration to this new location.  

More than 60 local artists, including everything from painters to wood turners, will be displaying their works in a gallery just blocks away from SEMVA’s former Peace Plaza location. To celebrate their new digs, SEMVA is holding a grand re-opening on Friday, Oct. 6 from 7 to 10 p.m.

Bobbie Gallas, gallery director, says SEMVA’s board worked hard during the displacement to keep its members and the community informed. "Finding a location to fit the needs of so many artists and still be accessible to the community was key," says Gallas, who looked at the situation as an opportunity.  

Besides being the gallery director, Gallas, a 10-year SEMVA member, is a jewelry artist who makes "funky bracelets" that include vintage and natural stone beads. The SEMVA gallery is entierly operated by its member artists, so when patrons stop in, they’ll be able to chat with the creators. "SEMVA is a place to meet artists, talk about the art they create, and to get to know the community the artists live in," says Gallas.  

Larry Ricker, a nature photographer and the SEMVA President, says that when SEMVA had to leave its previous location, it lost both members and revenue, and that it struggled to find a new downtown space with affordable rent. Now, things are looking up for SEMVA. "I’m happy to say we’ve successfully overcome all the struggles," says Ricker.  

Newsletter signup for email alerts

About half of the artists displaying in the new gallery joined after the Peace Plaza closure, and Ricker’s excited about how much of an improvement the new space will be. "The interior couldn’t be more suited for us. The new gallery will be much more sophisticated and welcoming than the old."

Artist: Pat Dunn-Walker

Pat Dunn-Walker creates vibrant acrylic paintings that foray into both the abstract and representational realms. Her colorful works often integrate found paper, fabric, or plant materials, and frequently incorporate type and transfers. "Some of the places I get the found objects from would be surprising, such as the wall of a train station and various trash receptacles," says Dunn-Walker.  

One of her works on display at the SEMVA gallery includes a bold red text transfer reading "red hot buys" on a green horizon which melds into a cloud-studded sky beyond a row of parked automobiles. Another of her works, "The Road Around and Through," is a visual representation of music. She created it when she participated in a 2014 collaboration that paired visual artists with the Rochester Symphony.  

"Every piece I make is somewhat of a surprise," says Dunn-Walker as she explains how intuitive she finds the painting process, something she likens to a "black box."  

A sense of community is what attracted Dunn-Walker to SEMVA. "I often work alone, and connecting with artists is very important. You can support each other and learn from each other’s working methods," she says.  

Artist: Joel DesLauriers

Joel DesLauriers uses a wood lathe to create forms that feel and look beautiful and, in some instances, serve a functional purpose. His finished pieces, including everything from bowls to wine stoppers, frequently contrast the gleam of perfectly polished wood grain with the rough edges of bark and the holes left behind by carpenter ants or worms.  

"I do not look at a crack or a void or a back inclusion in a piece of wood as a blemish. To me it is a point of interest, and often I will try to highlight that area to show it off," says DesLauriers.  

Besides wood, DesLauriers, sometimes works with materials like pipestone, brass, bronze, copper, or turquoise to fill voids in the pieces he creates or to add interest while strengthening them. For DesLauriers, turning wood is a way to connect with the things that are important in his life. He looks at his shop as his Zen place and finds his art has a calming effect.