|Empire Arts Center showcases two local artists|
The latest show in the Empire Arts Center gallery showcases two local artists with very different art forms. Dave Britton has a small sample of his grain elevator photography work on display and John Widdel is showing sculpture work that also has a practical use. The displays will be in the Empire gallery through March 25.
Britton grew up around old grain elevators owned and operated by his father, Clarence Britton. They were in Keith, Kempton, Merrifield, and Northwest Mills Elevator in Grand Forks.
According to Britton, “The elevators are a dying symbol of our prairie heritage. They were an integral part of the economy, an informal social gathering place for farmers, and reference points on our flat prairie landscape. The old wooden, cribbed-construction elevators became inefficient and are being destroyed rapidly.”
Britton has photographed over 1,200 elevator locations on the plains, some of which no longer exist. This may well prove to be one of the significant systematic records of an important architectural archetype of early 20th-century America.
Widdel, a Grand Forks native, hand crafts canoe paddles, sculpture to be used. Widdel designs and builds each paddle. In order to achieve the greatest contrast, he personally selects the reddest mahogany, the darkest walnut, the blondest aspen and the wildest cherry. The blades are as different as fingerprints but still retain the unmistakable style of the hands that made them. The blade tips are made of fiberglass resin, mechanically bonded to the blade. The handles are constructed from laminated, straight-grained wood, giving them needed strength while allowing them to flex.
Widdel attended the University of North Dakota for two years before becoming sidetracked by his own small construction company. All he wants to do is build things: to have a grand shop exhibiting every metal tool and every wood tool that exists.
The Empire gallery is open during events at the theater and by appointment. The schedule of events can be found at www.empireartscenter.com or at www.culturepulse.org. Call 746-5500 to make an appointment for viewing.