Rochester Art Center Executive Director Pamela Caserta Hugdahl is the curator of a great many things, professionally and personally.
“I am delighted to be in this dynamic city, to support and uplift our youth and local artists, and to bring attention to the benefits of the arts on well-being, quality of life, and the local economy,” she said.
Hugdahl arrived in Rochester via the Twin Cities and Wisconsin after growing up in Duluth. She initially studied at Minneapolis Community and Technical College, and worked at Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, before earning a Master of Arts in art history from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
“I came to town in June 2020 with my family to pursue the goal of bringing new energy and stability to the Rochester Art Center," she said. "We love the small-town vibe mixed with big-city amenities, especially the People’s Food Co-op and the Asian groceries!”
Sabina Londer, who works with Hugdahl at the Art Center, described Hugdahl's style as "classic, influenced by modern androgyny.”
Are there any legacy components to your style?
My grandmother and mother are my strongest fashion influencers. I love wearing my grandmother’s threads and accessories that date all the way back to the 1920s. My mother always told me to think like a man in a woman’s body when she wore dress shirts and loafers. I wasn’t keen on those items when I was younger, but I’ve grown to appreciate them.
How has your style changed with your life?
Comfort has always been a strong consideration, but I prefer dressing a bit counter to the mainstream. It’s unlikely that I will be spotted in athleisure. As a teen in the '90s, I loved grunge and was proud to wear the baggiest pants. In my 20s, I swung toward vintage, and enjoy thrifting with this focus. Now, I tend to lean more professional in my attire, but I always keep my mom and grandmother in mind.
What do you wear when at work and then for RAC events?
Color! I love color. Occasionally, I wear the ubiquitous black, but if I can add a splash of color, even if it’s just a cool pair of shoes, I will.
And outside of work?
A cut-up T-shirt and old jeans.
Does your style reflect your personal taste in art?
I suppose. I love Alice Neel’s paintings — the colors, the stories, and how, later in life, she just decided a painting was done when she was done working on it, even if it looked unfinished to the observer.
Favorite colors to wear? And not-so?
Green and auburn really call to me. I tend to wear red with caution.
Do you have shoes in a palette of colors?
I do — auburn, green, blue, aqua, brown and black, of course. I sometimes regret having gotten rid of a pair of red heels, but they were hard on my knees, so I had to pass them along as a way to support my future self.
Your most essential wardrobe components?
What should every well-dressed woman have in her wardrobe?
Pockets! My hardest days are the days I don’t have pockets for my keys and phone.
Do you have a priceless sentimental piece?
A black rayon dress, circa 1940, with parasols printed on it that was my grandmother’s.
And favorite jewelry?
A short string of raw pearls that my husband gave me on my 30th birthday. They are classy without being too fussy.
Are you a purse or a tote person?
I love a good over-the-shoulder sling bag. Purses are a bit cumbersome for me.
Anything in your wardrobe people would find surprising?
$300 boots made in Spain. I’m far too thrifty for such extravagance, but shoes really fulfill the old adage, “You get what you pay for.”
Do you have a favorite local shopping place?
I look forward to checking out Brooke Burch's new shop!
Preferred style season?
Is there something about your style that speaks to Minnesota?
It is practical and bright to overcome the longest days of winter.
Just have to ask … does your style reflect your taste in home decor?
Probably. I love a mix of old and new, rustic and modern, and of course, lots of color.
Wear what makes you smile.
Anne Murphy is a Rochester freelance writer who has been a professional journalist for more than 30 years. Do you know somebody who’s got special style? Send nominations to firstname.lastname@example.org with "Your Style" in the subject.