EITHER SIDE OF THE DIVIDE
New Paintings by Christopher W. Benson and Sue McNally
June 2 – August 20, 2022
Opening Reception is Thursday, June 2, from 5 – 7 pm.
Christopher and Sue will be speaking.
Drinks and hors d’oeuvres served.
Christopher Benson and Sue McNally both hail originally from Rhode Island but have also spent long periods living, traveling and working in the American West. McNally, who is now completing a twelve-year cycle of paintings from all fifty states, owns property in Utah — a locale she has been visiting annually for the past thirty years. Beginning in the early 1980s, Benson spent a summer in Montana, then lived for over a decade in New Mexico and the San Francisco Bay Area. Since 2006, he has since lived with his wife and family in Santa Fe.
Each of these painters works reflect both the traditional sensibilities and contemporary awareness that such long exposure to broad swaths of the American Scene are bound to elicit. Both also share a more formally modern approach to their picture-making. In his catalogue essay for this exhibition, the West Coast arts writer John Seed says of the two:
” McNally and Benson have been friends for twenty-six years and they and their paintings are engaged in a long and wide-ranging conversation. . . Bound by a commitment to authenticity, [they] admire and support each other in both their words and practices. Both artists make works that emanate from the subject of landscape but then move towards something more abstract and purely about the possibilities of paint itself. To put it another way, both value their artistic freedom and are uncomfortable with the traditional perimeters of style.”
This exhibition at the North Dakota Museum of Art feels like a fitting meeting place for a pair of American artists whose visions have ranged over much of the surrounding country. Their work descends from a common Western and European cultural background while also challenging some of the established aesthetic mythos of that heritage. In a strongly tactile approach to the surfaces of their paintings, both reflect a genuine curiosity about, and love for the physical reality of this ancient, natural place we have so long inhabited, and yet can never rightfully claim to own.
Sue McNally, Woods, 2022. Acrylic on canvas, 104 by 96 inches.
$500 and above
Christopher Benson, Knuckle Sandwich, 2021. Oil on linen, 48 by 36 inches.
Museum Directors make lifelong friends. Museum Director Laurel Reuter has made many close friends in her 50-year career. One friend, who wishes to remain anonymous, has taken a particular interest in the Permanent Collection, believing rich collections of art deeply enrich communities.
The late Ed Kienholz and his deceased wife Nancy Reddin Kienholz, the Factor’s one-time neighbors, are celebrated for their installations and sculptural assemblages that are controversial, graphic, and deeply critical of the politics of mid-twentieth century life in Europe and the United States.
I have made photographs in all 50 states; scoping out the lay of the land and the hand of man — and whatall may have been wrought in places where each overlay: the fruit of enterprise, and, the sullied tumult. Evidence of the land we’re on and the world we find ourselves in; where we’re at and who we are; what we’ve done; and, where we can go.
Todd Hebert received his BFA from the University of North Dakota and his MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design. He has been a fellow at the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center, Provincetown, MA; and the Core Residency Program at the Glassell School of Art, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX.
The landscape of South Dakota, remote, yet beautiful, has left its mark on Carol Hepper, a native of the state. It has elicited from her an extraordinarily poetic response in the form of a body of work that unites respect for the past and with a new means of expression.
The North Dakota Museum of Art will open Conservation Through Clay by Fargo-based artist Brad Bachmeier on Sunday, March 21. There will be no opening reception, but the artist will record a talk which the Museum will upload to YouTube and post on social media. The Museum will open weekdays 9 – 5 pm, and Sundays 12 – 5 pm, starting March 15, 2021.
We asked that you submit images of what you are doing to be creative in this time of social distancing, and you answered our call. We are honored to receive an outpouring of images coming from around the world.
All the matriarchs in Lynne Allen’s family were members of the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in South Dakota. All were sent away to government boarding schools, to realign their cultural heritage.
This Week Only is the Museum’s most popular exhibition in our own region. Imagine a panoply of art from the Red River Valley and surrounding plains and woodlands; walls covered with works springing from our own place to brighten our lives in the dead of winter.