Grand Forks Woman’s Love of Pandemic Painting Leads to First Art Exhibition


For months she didn’t think her job was very good, but others did. And, with encouragement, especially from her husband and others, she persevered.

Last week, an exhibition of his work, “Defending the Silver Lining,” opened at the Alerus Center. The 15 works, which will be exhibited for three months, are available for sale. To view the exhibit, enter door 7.

“The exhibition has such a lovely hometown feel,” said Vickie Arndt, gallery director for the Public Arts Commission. “There is a naïve quality that makes him very sweet.”

In terms of composition – the “assembly” of elements in a work of art – “it’s natural,” Arndt said. “I see great potential in Senta. She has a lot of natural talent.

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In fact, Arndt describes Lauren’s style as’ naive art ‘, a specific approach that’ basically means’ untrained ‘but has elements of’ trained ‘. In the art world, the label categorizes artists who lack or reject conventional expertise in the representation or representation of real objects.

“He is recognized and often emulated for his childish simplicity, frankness and purpose,” said Arndt.

Lauren says her art embodies “the optimism and excitement of humanity,” which is reflected in the title of the exhibition, “Defending the Silver Lining.”

Currently, she says there is a climate of “really deep, dark (art) and activism – for which there is an important place – but with my art, for me, it’s to be able to seeing the positive, like, if you can’t recognize the things you love about the people and places around you, how do you know what you want to achieve, to achieve? So that’s kind of my thing.

Lauren is motivated “to see the beauty and the optimism of the world – be it what people create in their farmlands and these landscapes, the heart and soul that goes into buildings, the excitement of the people who live there.” a sporting event and are surrounded by something that they love and are excited about.

“I just want people to remember that this stuff exists and that is what we love, and we want to keep going.”

“Naive art”

The “naive” artistic style gained importance at the end of the 19th century. Henri Rousseau, one of the first recognized naive artists, exhibited his works alongside Seurat, Cézanne and Vincent Van Gogh in Paris, Arndt said.

As a self-taught artist, “Senta turns away from tradition and embraces instinct, unhindered raw creativity and passion,” said Arndt. His work breaks with the traditional rules of proportion and perspective; “She’s a bit ‘Van Gogh-esque.’ I can see her moving in that direction. She prefers to paint in an Impressionist style to capture the flow and energy of the subjects and often mimics Van Gogh’s sky.

Lauren started painting several years ago when her mother-in-law gave her painting supplies, she said. “I hated what I was doing so much that I hid my things for two years.”

When the pandemic hit, she took out the materials and fell in love with the paint. Her husband, Ben Grzadzielewski, kept encouraging her.

“A few times I threw things out,” she said, remembering a particular piece he took out of the trash and saying, “You don’t throw that away.” This piece now hangs in her in-laws’ home, she said.

She then produced a collection that she “was nervous to show people, but eventually I did,” she said, “and they liked it – it always surprises me.”

“It’s one of those things, when you’re younger, if people don’t say you’re good at something, you don’t necessarily know if you are. And I think that also goes into adulthood, ”Lauren said. “But that’s probably part of it, especially as a teenager, (when) nobody said I was good. So there’s no validation there to go on – which is a bit silly, but that’s just the way the mind works.

Lauren has dabbled in watercolor a bit and is interested in oils, but mostly prefers acrylics, she said. “I love how bold you can (paint) with acrylic and layering,” she said. “I got really attached to it. ”

In the subject, “I especially like the landscapes and the structure, like the old architecture, the masonry,” she said. “I love the stadiums; I did a lot of stages. I love the energy of the sport itself.

She is also drawn to old city centers and the historic buildings that populate them, she said. “If I walk around an old town and see some cool architecture, I’ll stop and take pictures, and mentally note that I maybe want to paint it later.”

Hailing from Milwaukee, she found Grand Forks, her home for about eight years, to be visually inspiring as well, she said. “My favorite parts of Grand Forks are the old downtown buildings. Even in a small town like this, there is so much history and cool architecture. It’s hard not to stop and appreciate it.

Different parts of the brain

Lauren, a US Air Force Reserve officer, discovered that the paint taps into “another part” of her brain, she said.

Painting is far from other aspects of her life, she says. What she likes most is “probably the escape and the goal.”

“I love being a mom and I love serving in the military, but painting gives me a purpose beyond that. It helps me exercise a part of my brain that I can’t exercise. It’s a totally different part of my brain that I feel like I’m using.

“It just makes me feel different and better, more complete, I guess. It’s not just about following the rules and regulations, ”she said. “I can experiment and even be a little lazy – which I think my art can come out of that way. Everything is not blank and precise. It’s a little mix of the two.

Asked about her description of her art as “naïve,” Lauren said she doesn’t claim to be an authority.

“Just kidding that I’m so naive, I had to google ‘naive art’,” she said with a laugh. “Naive isn’t my favorite word to be described as, in life in general, but once I checked it out I was like, you know, that’s exactly right.

“I don’t know the rules of the art; I’m not classically or professionally trained in the art, ”Lauren said. “I feel like I don’t have to follow the rules because I don’t know them. I can embrace this. If I need it, I can look for stuff. I do what I love and how I feel looks good, and if it fits certain rules, that’s good. If you call it “naive art” then cool.

“And if Van Gogh somehow gets thrown into that category, I’ll take him.”


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