Arts & Culture

Exhibit review: Art at Augsburg showcases faculty art

Ashley Kronebusch, Staff Writer

At first glance, the pieces of art in the gallery spaces for this semester might seem unconnected. These pieces bridge a variety of mediums, from painting to sculpture to a lightbox display, span roughly 100 years and have very little thematically in common. These pieces, however, tell a story: Augsburg’s story. “Art at Augsburg: Works by Faculty, Past and Present” explores the history of Augsburg’s art department through the works of its professors.

“Art at Augsburg” is open in two gallery spaces in the Christensen Center and Oren Gateway Center. Housing over forty works of art, this exhibit has enough range and variety to entertain or provoke thought from anyway. The oldest piece, a political cartoon by Instructor of Art and Mathematics Ivan Doseff, dates to 1916. The newest piece, by Associate Professor of Graphic Design Chris Houltberg, is from just last year. Along with numerous other past faculty, the exhibit also features the work of current Art department instructors Robert Tom, Dan Ibarra and Lyz Wendland.

“Art at Augsburg” is almost like a crash course of recent art history. Some pieces take more “traditional” form, such as a bust titled “Berta” by Mikelis Geistauts and the etching “Angels of the Apocalypse” by August Molder from 1950 and 1966. Two standout works are large oil paintings on wood panels by Hans Berg that illustrate a 19th century poem about battles in Norway. With simple but beautiful curving forms and evocative colors, these paintings create an almost romantic nostalgia for Augsburg’s Norwegian past. From there, paintings progress in style from more realistic works into impressionism, post impressionism and cubism culminating in Wendland’s abstract expressionist piece “Is Not Gold, Part 2.” 

 “It’s amazing to see all of this artwork from past and present faculty at Augsburg,” said Wendland, who is an Assistant Professor of Art and Design. “There’s a variety of mark, medium and subject matter demonstrating the strength of diversity of work coming from people who have taught in this department. As the newest member of the faculty in the department, I’m honored to be exhibiting among these amazing artists and educators who helped pave the way of the fantastic department that I get to be a part of every day.”

This exhibition is intensely connected to Augsburg, and will have more meaning for those in its community. In addition to having art by professors many students will have taken classes from, sometimes the subjects of the pieces will be familiar as well. A portrait of Gerda Mortensen, a former Dean of Women at Augsburg and namesake of Mortensen Hall, sits near a bust of Congressman Martin Sabo, an Augsburg graduate and inspiration for the Sabo Center for Democracy and Citizenship. 

“Art at Augsburg” is a special exhibit for our community. Not only is it informative on Augsburg’s artistic heritage, it contains many impactful and interesting works to enjoy. The reception will be held on February 13 from 6-8 P.M. in the Gage Gallery in the Oren Gateway Center, with a welcome held at 6:30 by Norman Holen and Kristin Anderson.