ARTS Painting at the Glensheen Mansion (Julia Jaakola).JPG

Julia Jaakola works on a painting at the Glensheen Mansion in Duluth. Jaakola specializes in outdoor painting, and her works will be on display at the Rumriver Art Center in Anoka starting June 6 for three weeks. (Photo courtesy of Julia Jaakola)

She has had works displayed and receive awards across the state and has the lone watercolor painting by the Outdoors Painters of Minnesota featured at the Minnesota State Capitol.

But it will be the first-ever solo show for Julia Jaakola starting June 6, as she has a virtual gallery that will span the duration of the month at the Rumriver Art Center in Anoka.

“It has been a dream of mine to be invited to have a solo show,” Jaakola said. “I have worked very hard to have 20 plein air works to show all at once, before they sell. I am very excited to hear the viewers’ questions and comments.

“Being able to share my work with people is the most honored event that can happen for an artist. Visual art is a language that can only be expressed if the works are viewed. I am grateful and excited to be invited to have this three-week show in such an exciting, historic location!”

The show, Julia Jaakola Watercolors en Plein Air, features the style of plein air, which is French for open air. For someone passionate about the outdoors and painting, combining the two loves was a perfect fit.

“I have always loved nature, hiking, camping and road trips to see the beauty of our national parks and state parks,” Jaakola said. “I also have been drawing since I was in elementary school. It was a totally natural progression to find plein air painting and bridge my two favorite things.

“I especially love to do a group quick paint. This is where all the artists meet at an outdoor location to have their paper or canvass stamped and find a perspective of the area to paint. Next, a loud horn blows and everyone paints at once for 90 minutes. Finally, the horn blows again and everyone must put their brushes down and step away from the painting! We crowd together, line up our works to critique. I feel the rush of excitement to see what was created.”

Sometimes the best pieces of art have been unintended, or have unique meaning.

“I painted in back of the Banfill-Locke Center for the Arts in Fridley,” Jaakola said. “This painting ended up with a haunting presence shown as an orb with a shadow that I was completely unaware of until three days after I painted it. The feeling I had during creation was relaxed at first, as the tree tops looked like lace, but ended in frustration 75 minutes later because I was unable to force my hand to lay in the fields of color I wanted. I went back to the house and faced the painting toward the wall for three days. When I turned it around and began to fill in the negative shapes in the ivy with a black pen, I was shocked to see ‘The Orb.’ I stopped working and had it framed.

“Another incredible phenomena happened when I painted the Indian burial mound in Hudson, Wisconsin. I love our nation’s Native American people, cultures and traditions. Before painting, I offered tobacco and prayer to show respect and ask for permission to paint. The art work reveals his spirit, through the earth mound, and also his face in the foreground. These are sensitive topics. When viewing and reflecting upon my paintings, I need to step out of the way, not judge, and just allow it to be. Just as it is good to do with our children and ourselves.”

Jaakola currently is staying at a cabin studio just outside of Duluth, with the local scenery a favorite backdrop for her work, as well as several places throughout the Midwest.

“My favorite subjects to paint are the waves of Lake Superior at sunset and a foggy distant wooded landscape. The freedom, sound and energy of the waves help me to feel refreshed, energized and clear. The foggy morning seems that time stands still and waits for me. I am grateful to God for the blessing of life, and the blessings in life, such as the ability to share what these places have to tell.

“I am compelled by the industrial buildings and their lonely look against the natural landscapes and offer a few works in this category from the Red Wing Grain, Bally Blacksmith Shop in Grand Marais and Duluth Storage. All works are identified by their locations ranging from Grand Marais and Lutsen to the Gooseberry River. And from the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum to Fridley. Also Port Wing and Hudson, Wisconsin. There are also many natural water landscapes, florals and various architectural offerings and a couple spirited pieces.”

Jaakola had work displayed at Rum River Art Center for the annual North Artists’ Studio Crawl in 2019. Among her several past awards were a Best in Show “Winter in Minnesota” in 2013 by the Blaine Arts Council.

People interested in purchasing originals or prints are encouraged to contact Rumriver Art Center. The virtual gallery show opening is June 6 at 2 p.m. and can be accessed by clicking the link at at that time. To view a video of the complete body of works and artist statement video, follow the links posted on the Rum River Art Center website.

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