Minnesota love in art

Artists represent their idea of love through art at St. Paul based shop, Artist Mercantile.


Elena Deeter

Artist Mercantile shop entrance from the street.

Elena Deeter, Senior Reporter

What happens when a St. Paul based art shop asks a bunch of Minnesotan artists to submit pieces of work based on the theme of love? I expected to see the same image of cold lovers sitting by a fireplace hugging a moose and eating hot dish. But I am not from Minnesota. Instead, beautiful, diverse pieces of art with many varying mediums and meanings were produced and on display.

Artist Mercantile, a local art store in downtown St. Paul, recently opened their Art of Romance show with 11 local artists’ works based on the theme of love. Jennifer Bisch, the proprietor, was worried that the same mediums would appear with each of the pieces. In actuality, paintings of varying types of paints, mixed media, photographs, chalk and other methods of art were displayed.

When Bisch first put out the call for love themed art, she was a little nervous.

“I was like ‘I hope it’s not all sappy stuff’ but it’s nice to have that variety,” Bisch said, pointing to the gallery.

Diverse themes of love were strongly present throughout the exhibit. The pieces weren’t just symbolizing romantic partner-to-partner romance. Some artists, like Pauline Marie Buller, represented the love for places in their pieces. Others expressed love for family or nature. One artist, Cindy Lindgren, wanted to show the love between a lumberjack and his bull, because Minnesota, that’s why.

It was a small but powerful collection. Looking at all of the pieces as a whole, I got a sense of love coming through all sorts of channels, but each of the artist’s work had its own charm.

Michael DeMeglio contributed to the show with an oil painting called “Couple in the Rain.” Although that may sound perfectly normal, DeMeglio has hearing problems and creates his art to reflect his daily experiences and emotions based on the “exposures between the Deaf and Hearing world,” as he states in his bio. The color harmonies heavily express the themes and feelings in his work. For example, it is known that when one of the five senses starts failing, others tend to heighten. Knowing of DeMeglio’s hearing problem, the painting seems to have a stronger and more dramatic color scheme than would be expected. This creates a more emotional feeling to the composition, which really works for the theme of love.

Buller’s photograph was selected as the composition to represent the show. The piece is titled “Looking for Love” and it is a stunning black and white shot of a telescope taken high up in the Eiffel Tower. Bisch said that she hadn’t known at the time but the artist had taken the photo only two weeks before the November 2015 Paris attacks.

"Looking for Love," a photograph of a telescope taken in the Eiffel Tower.
Elena Deeter
“Looking for Love,” a photograph of a telescope taken in the Eiffel Tower.

The show goes through Mar. 18, but if you miss it, the store is worth visiting regardless. Artist Mercantile is an art shop which celebrates Minnesota artists.

“I have 50 to 60 artists that have work here on a regular basis. We have a core group and the rest rotate,” Bisch said. The prices are varied. Some of it is very affordable for us art-loving college students, and other pieces are more for the Minnesotan connoisseurs.

You can find and buy anything from homemade jewelry and candles to paintings and pottery, or you can just stop by to enjoy the local art.