Elof Wedin: A Minnesota Modern

Opening November 8 and running through November 29, 25 paintings by Elof Wedin will be on view in the galleries. There is an opening reception planned for Sunday, November 9 from 2 to 5 pm. The Banfill-Locke exhibition, which is presented in partnership with the Cambridge Center for the Arts, will showcase paintings spanning his career from the 1920s to the 1960s.

Elof Wedin (1901 – 1983) was born in East Central Sweden, immigrated to America in 1919, and settled in Minneapolis.  His talent and compassion for art lead him to study at the Minneapolis Institute of Art and the Art Institute of Chicago in the 1920s.  Returning to Minneapolis and supporting his family as an industrial boilermaker while painting on nights and weekends, he began a long successful career as an artist from the 1920s into the 1970s.

With a talent for portraiture he did many of his own family members, becoming more modernist and abstract as he developed his personal style.  In the 1930s he became a Works Progress Administration artist under a program designed to help struggling artists during the depression era.  Focusing on regionalism, he painted street scenes, small towns, and the North Shore.  But unlike other regionalists in the program, he developed his own abstract geometric style, flattening space with no perspective and introducing an arbitrary paint palette.

In the 1950s and 60s his work became increasingly cubist in style.  During this very active period he participated extensively in exhibitions and competitions, receiving numerous awards.  In addition to the Minneapolis Institute of Art, Walker Art Center, and the Minnesota State Fair other venues included the Art Institute of Chicago and galleries, museums and art contacts in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Colorado, and Florida.  Today his work is housed in many private collections and a large number of art organizations throughout the country.

Wedin’s painting will also be part of the Minnesota History Center exhibition Minnesota Modern: Four Artists of the Twentieth Century which will be on view in the galleries at the James J. Hill mansion on Summit Ave in Saint Paul from November 22, 2014 to March 22, 2015.

Elof Wedin had close ties with Cambridge community members, the collection was stored in this area, and in December 2012 Cambridge Center for the Arts received a wonderful gift of almost 300 artworks from the family.  Since that time, CCFA has grown significantly, in large part because of the Wedin collection, with numerous art exhibitions, concerts, plays and classes/workshops for people in the Cambridge area.  We are grateful for this significant gift, allowing us to continue to grow.

Bethany Whitehead, BLCA Executive Director, says: “It is a great honor to be exhibiting the work of this seminal Minnesotan artist.  Wedin’s work will be beautiful in our historic location and the community will enjoy a chance to see this span of his painting career featured in the intimate space.”

Free tours of the exhibition are available when arrangements are made at least a week in advance.