Art-A-Whirl 2014

Presented by the Northeast Minneapolis Arts Association (NEMAA), Art-A-Whirl is the largest open studio tour in the country. It’s a great opportunity to tour private artist studios and galleries, connect with the artists, and purchase original artwork. ~ NEMAA on Art-A-Whirl


My partner Reynaldo Diaz has some amazing new works on exhibit for Art-A-Whirl 2014. You can check out his pieces in the California Building’s Studio 211. (The California Building is located at 2205 California Street, Minneapolis, MN 55418.)

I helped Reynaldo create an artist statement for his work:

My art is inspired by music, by emotions, by history and by my ancestral roots of Central America. In recent years I’ve explored geometric forms, color and spiritual connections inspired by Mayan, Aztec, African and Spanish influences. My ethnic background is a melting pot of all these, and my art reflects this inspiration.

While I am self-taught, I have studied the work of many masters, particularly Kandinsky. My art has a strong connection to my love for music and nature.

I’ve never been one to just “paint a pretty picture.” My work comes with many layers, which reveal themselves to the viewer, especially those who take time to absorb these intricacies.

It’s hard for me to put words to what I actually create. In a sense, my paintings are my language. You will find hints of faces, eyes, movement, nature and other forms coming through my newest works.

As I move forward in my creative life, I want to find ways to more effectively meld my visual creations with music. I believe paintings include rhythm, timbre and tones.

The artists on the second floor of the California Building have also come together to create a new exhibition space on our floor thanks to generous support from California Building owners John Kremer and Jennifer Young called the on2gallery.

2014 Dates and Hours:
Friday, May 16 –  5 to 10 p.m.
Saturday,  May 17 –  12 Noon to 8 p.m.
Sunday, May 18 –   12 Noon to 5 p.m.

We hope to see you at Art-A-Whirl 2014. There is so much to see … and you will find that the California Building has a friendly and diverse community of artists!


The world’s greatest Mom

14.MothersDay.72On this Mother’s Day … I count my blessings. I have “the world’s greatest Mom” who raised five kids (all born in the span of one decade) with lots of love, fun and laughs on a dairy farm in Northern Minnesota.

62.Mom.graduation.blogI look back fondly at all the amazing experiences I have shared with my Mom, including the two times we encountered black bears. Or all the time we spent gardening together. We taught a Sunday School class at Good Shepard Lutheran Church in Clearbrook two years in a row when I was in high school. The list goes on and on.

Among the most vivid memories of my childhood, I remember sitting in the school lunchroom with my third-grade class when my Mom stopped by deliver the lunch bag I forgot at home. After she departed, my classmates couldn’t stop talking about how “young and beautiful” my Mother was. Yes … she was young and beautiful, I beamed, and added that she makes great cookies and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, too!

I have always adored my Mom’s wit and sense of humor. I’ve always wished that I had her gift for the perfect comeback to almost any comment. When I was in fifth grade, I was tormented at school for my lack of athletic skills … especially related to my inability to throw a softball. I remember coming home after a particularly grueling day of taunting, and my Mom advised:

“The next time they call you a sissy, just hit them with your purse!”

She reminded me that even though I couldn’t get the hang of throwing a softball correctly, I was among the toughest boys she knew. She was also willing to bet that the boys in my class would have a different view if they only knew how I took on rigorous farm chores day in and day out.

My Mom is an inspiration to me, particularly for her resilience in facing challenges that life throws her way. When she was diagnosed with colon cancer more than three years ago, she faced major surgery and a half year’s worth of chemotherapy with a brave and positive attitude that proved to be so healing. Today she is in good health, and I am blessed to have my courageous Mom as my very best friend.

I love you, Mom!

Teaching artists inspire our youth to shine


14.010.Tempest.EnsembleWhen professional artists give their time and talent to teach and mentor our youth, our collective future becomes so much brighter. During last night’s performance of The Tempest by our Capri After School Theater (CAST) students, I was in awe of how these students have grown in confidence and theatrical ability during the course of this school year.

We owe this success to our dedicated teaching artists – amazing professionals in our vibrant theater community – for believing in the potential of our youth, and helping them shine on our Capri stage.

This spring teaching artists Kevin D. West and Greta Oglesby have worked tirelessly to motivate our CAST students to step outside their comfort zones and to bring their characters to life on stage. The camaraderie they foster among our students, Capri/PCYC team and collaborators is what creates a strong foundation for this success.

Kevin and Greta often talk about their experiences as teens, recalling the mentors who cultivated their talents and who motivated them to launch the distinguished careers they enjoy today. For many artists, teaching is a calling. We are blessed to so many gifted professional artists committed to serving our youth through our Capri programs.

“This year the theme of nature and how we exist within it kept recurring,” Kevin says. “As I thought about plays that deal with nature, Shakespeare’s The Tempest came to mind. I considered doing the original, but then I came across a scholastic version that was well suited for our company of actors.”

Kevin adds this about his co-director for The Tempest: “I want to thank my sister, friend and colleague Greta for bringing her insight, expertise and passion to this project. This production would not be as clear without her nurturing, artistic touch.”

We are also grateful to our colleagues at Children’s Theatre Company (CTC), for their support of CAST. CTC has been an important collaborator for CAST these past few years. CAST is made possible thanks to support from the Carlson Family Foundation, as well as support this past year from the Minnesota State Arts Board.

Tonight our CAST students present Craig Mason’s modern English version of William Shakespeare’s The Tempest at 7 p.m. on last time. The show is free and open to the public.

I’ve included a few photos by Greg Helgeson from last night’s performance. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, and these photos speak volumes about how Kevin and Greta have inspired our young artists to become rising stars!

(I also posted this on our Capri Theater blog.)











Dad & Rowdy circa 1986



Just as it is hard to imagine life without internet and cell phones … I’ve been recalling the emotional highs and lows I experienced taking photos before the era of digital cameras. I had my trusty 35 mm Pentax K1ooo — one of the most durable single-lens reflex cameras a young photographer could own. I trusted the camera, but I couldn’t trust myself. Did I roll the film correctly? Did I use the right settings?

In 1986 I was taking a basic black-and-white photography class at Bemidji State University, and during spring break I shot this photo to be part of my final project … capturing life on the farm. I new I had framed a wonderful photo … but there was no way of knowing if it turned out until I went into the dark room to develop the film and then print a contact sheet. I had to wait a week until I had access to a dark room.

The process was always fraught with risk. What if I exposed the film to light? What if I processed the film incorrectly? All that anxiety before you even knew there would be a photo worth printing. What an exciting adventure it was.  My final project turned out well. I documented the birth of a calf, took a few portraits of pigs and explored the detail on old farm implements. This photo of Dad and Rowdy was my favorite — and it certainly earned me the “A” for Photo 101!


Dec. 16, 2013 … a momentous day


Minneapolis City Hall – Dec. 16, 2013: Reynaldo and I posed for a photo with Mayor-Elect Betsy Hodges, our witnesses Barbara Brin and John Beal, Mayor R.T. Rybak and our best men Edgar Nieto and Eli James.

What a difference a year makes! As I write this I am in Frisco, Texas, visiting my new “in-laws,” and am amazed that during 2013 Reynaldo and I were granted the right to marry in the State of Minnesota and that the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act.

13.12.16.Rey.Karl.72When Reynaldo and I exchanged vows at Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak’s office on Monday, Dec. 16, I found myself overwhelmed with joy and gratitude … especially when the Mayor said: “And now, by the power – finally – vested in me by the laws of the people of Minnesota, I declare you to be legally married.”

The Mayor later wrote in response to my Facebook post announcing my marriage to Reynaldo: “In all those tough battles so many of us were fighting for equal rights Karl, you and Rey were exactly who I felt everyone was working for: Great people, doing great things for each other and the community, just wanting the basic rights my wife and I and so many others-take for granted. It meant so much to be there for two people Megan and I think the world of. Very, very best to both of you.”

A year ago I would have never guessed that Reynaldo and I would be legally married by the end of the year. I would have never guessed that we would be granted full equality under Minnesota and Federal law. The outpouring of love and support we have received from so many folks – family, friends and acquaintances – has been heartwarming. 2013 was a very good year.

With the start of this New Year, I look ahead to 2014 with great anticipation – especially as we begin work on a festive celebration to bring our families and our friends together to celebrate with us.