Selective Focus: Adam Swanson


This week we hear from one of the area’s most prolific and recognizable painters, Adam Swanson. Adam has an opening reception tonight (Friday, Aug. 5) at the Tettegouche State Park Visitor Center.

A.S.: I work primarily with acrylic paints on tempered hardboard panels. In my youth and studies I experimented with a wide variety of media and techniques. Though I’ve always rallied against specialization, I accidentally grew to love acrylic painting.

"Building Blocks", acrylic on panel, 48" x 32"

“Building Blocks,” acrylic on panel, 48″ x 32″

My artwork offers short anachronistic parables intended to compel the viewer to consider an unfamiliar place. My current interest in painting gained fresh energy when I was in Antarctica working for the National Science Foundation. I traveled to Antarctica on numerous occasions to experience a rarely seen, powerful place. Living for years in such an extreme environment changed the way I viewed the world and humanity. An environment revered by both scientist and artist, the singular landscape of Antarctica asked me to see a possibility in which art, science and humanity could be combined to extract realness out of complex theories and feelings. In 2009 I returned to Minnesota to work more seriously on developing my voice as an artist.

"To The Wind", acrylic on panel, 32" x 24"

“To The Wind,” acrylic on panel, 32″ x 24″

I have a strong interest in photography and film. I paint largely from photographs and videos I have taken. In my work I address the future, the fragility of the human presence, the perseverance of nature and underlying threads of danger woven through societies. There is a deep relationship between art and science. The more we learn about our surroundings, where we came from and who we are, the more likely we will thrive in a universe of endless possibilities.

"Space to Survive," acrylic on panel, 32" x 32"

“Space To Survive”, acrylic on panel, 32″ x 32″

Adam_Pose_cropI have been working full time with acrylic paints for 7 years. Making artwork has always been a rewarding, thrilling process for me. Depending on art to pay bills has often been a tumultuous and anxious experience. Some of the challenges with doing what I do involve the periphery of activities one wouldn’t necessarily associate with making art. Managing my website and social media, grant applications, taxes, constructing panels/canvas and answering emails take an enormous amount of time. The rewards of doing what I do are infinite. The main benefit is that I love my work. Every day I am grateful to step into my studio, explore captivating ideas and paint.

People can see my work on, on Facebook and Instagram.

"Long Live The Pioneers", acrylic on panel, 32" x 48"

“Long Live The Pioneers”, acrylic on panel, 32″ x 48″

I show work permanently at the following places:
Lizzard’s, Siiviis and Lakeside Galleries in Duluth, MN
Sivertson Gallery in Grand Marais, MN
Art Resources Gallery in Minneapolis and Edina, MN
Kelley Gallery in Woodbury, MN and Hudson, WI

I currently have a show of 11 paintings hanging at Cafe Latte in St. Paul, MN (June-September, 2016).

"Gather Me Up", acrylic on panel, 32" x 32"

“Gather Me Up”, acrylic on panel, 32″ x 32″

I am always working on a wide variety of projects. Currently I am creating an exhibition of 18 paintings for the Tettegouche State Park Visitor Center, with a reception and presentation at 7-8:30pm on August 5th (free and open to the public, please join me!). I have a number of commissioned pieces in the works and continue to chisel out time to experiment with more demanding, dynamic imagery.

1 Comment


about 8 years ago

Hi Adam! I took a painting class with you over a year ago, and I have been painting more. Not enough ... yet ... but more. You are inspiring!! -- Mary Ann Starus

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