Peace Plaza and historic theater inspire painter

Rochester / SEMVA Art Gallery open house

By Christina Killion Valdez

As downtown visitors get a look at the newly renovated Peace Plaza, they can also see it through the eye of painter Ron Hunt, who will create some of the first images of the new plaza during a SEMVA Art Gallery open house Thursday.

Hunt, a Lake City-based artist and member of Southeastern Minnesota Visual Artist’ co-op, which runs the gallery on the Peace Plaza, has been painting plein aire, or outdoors, for about 50 years in 41 countries and 49 states. This time, his inspiration will include both the modernistic plaza and historic Chateau Theatre, both of which play key roles in the success of the gallery, which is celebrating its 16th year downtown.


In the fall of 1989, SEMVA was born out of a group created to save the Chateau Theatre. A few years later, the cooperative of visual artists from throughout the region opened a permanent gallery across the plaza from the Chateau.

"From that time it has really grown by leaps and bounds with incredible growth in membership and quality," Hunt said.

The co-op now includes 75 exhibiting artists, is involved in the monthly Art Walks, and was represented by seven artists who traveled to Siheung City, South Korea, Rochester’s sister city, this spring as part of a reciprocal exhibit that featured 33 pieces of fine art by SEMVA members.

It’s all a part of supporting the visual arts from this region.

For more information, go to

If you go

What: SEMVA Art Gallery open house

When: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday


Where: SEMVA Art Gallery, on the Peace Plaza, 16 First Street S.W. in Rochester

Highlights: Original art sidewalk sale, art demonstrations by painter Ron Hunt and Ken Magnuson, of Zumbrota, who will demonstrate rosemauling, a type of Norwegian folk painting, refreshments and a ribbon cutting at 4 p.m.

Admission: Free



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