8/1/2014 11:35:00 AM Arts community looks to create home in former Wyoming church
“...as imagination bodies forth the forms of things unknown, the poet’s pen turns them to shapes and gives to airy nothing, a local habitation and a name.” from Shakespeare A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Habitation and a name are exactly what the alliance of artists who have come together as the Wyoming Area Creative Arts Community (WACAC) have set as their goal. The group of about 25 active painters, musicians, songwriters, graphic arts designers and photographers, is gaining a name working within the area. If things go as planned, there will be a place for this group to inhabit in the form of a public arts center in Wyoming. The WACAC last week lifted the curtain on that possibility, with members singer/songwriter Andrew Spreck and painter Todd Clercx featured in an evening event at Spirit & Praise Church, on East Viking Boulevard. If you missed out, there’s another WACAC open arts event at the church, Thursday, August 21 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. The arts displayed then will be by Mary Freerks and David Haugen is performing.
The church congregation is relocating to the former Sears building, on Hwy 8 at Greenway Avenue and the WACAC wants the church. The transitional process is underway with services still being held, even as the arts group chips away at re-configuring and acquiring the space. WACAC co-founder Eric Peterson said the church is on the market for $175,000. The arts organization just received IRS non-profit designation, and Peterson hopes this will aid in generating donations and grants to achieve this dream. Peterson said the congregation and church leadership have been very supportive and already allows WACAC to use the church building quite a lot. He envisions arts classes taking place in the lower level, with a regular schedule of open stage nights, exhibitions on the street level, even standup comedy and guest speakers being made possible. The arts council is grateful to Congressman Rick Nolan helping to “expedite” the 501C-3 application, which was filed in January, and finally got approved last week, Peterson adds. To showcase the possibilities for the building as an arts center, WACAC hosted a display of works by painter Todd Clercx and musical sets on the church “stage” with guitarist Andrew Spreck and drummer, who gave his name only as “Bob.” Refreshments (cake, pies, cookies, drinks) were provided through generous local business donations and enjoyed in the church lower level.
Spreck and Clercx can’t say enough about the up-side of belonging to this rapidly-congealing arts group. Members are supportive and enthusiastic and have no problem being teachers and students interchangeably. Spreck said that what he learns from members of the arts council can be inspiring at times and at its most basic level gives him a sense of belonging. He commented that he’s lived in the Wyoming area for 18 years and until this organized arts opportunity came along, never really felt connected to where he lives. A regular commute to a “day job” supplanted with prolific songwriting and performing was his orbit. “It’s been very positive to spend time with others who have common themes to my artistic experiences, happening in their lives too.” Spreck continued, “And, this is really cool,” he said of the chance to promote the council at the arts event. Spreck will also be playing at tomorrow’s (August 1) Chisago City Farmers’ Friday Market. You can catch him on stage at the Lift Bridge Taproom in Stillwater, until about 9:30 p.m. Friday, August 15.
As for painter Todd Clercx, he could only be described as wildly outgoing, although it’s a good wild. He can talk about every location of his paintings, many of which will be locally familar because he paints around here, outdoors, a lot. He has a house on acreage near where Lent Township, Wyoming and Chisago City converge. Somebody somewhere must already be credited with saying a great painting must beckon, because Clercx’s stuff is great and does exactly that. His exterior of the Cornerstone Pub in Wyoming makes you want to see what’s inside and you’ve been there. Clercx positions things in their most keen frozen-in-time-moment; turning a corner onto a mundane stretch of urban alley becomes special somehow. In his other paintings; the feeling of cold winter daylight disappearing comes to you or the caress of a pasture breeze is felt. Clercx can tell you exactly why he chose each subject or image. He also listens intently when a non-artist describes one of his paintings. A Clercx canvas can range in size from eight feet tall to something suited for a corner nook. He skillfully paints a range of styles, from a frenetic abstract or an image reminiscent of the old masters. As a Roseville high school art instructor, Clercx lives for that split second when any of his kids “gets it.” He extends this to his painting and is truly pleased when his work allows you to “get it.”
Stagecoach Days event Peterson invites everybody to learn more about the organization at the next show August 21 at the church, or bring the kids to the arts booth, on the street at Wyoming Stagecoach Days, in early September. Last year, WACAC’s first time being in Stagecoach Days, the council easily went through about 100 canvases providing youngsters their own plein air artwork experience.