Friday, October 18, 2013

She's Back! AJ Atwater Shows Her Stuff... Again

AJA w/ Sailboats on the Hudson, Battery Park
When I discovered AJ Atwater's work at the Washington Galleries earlier this spring I knew too well that I was late to the party. That is, others were well aware of the power of her work for quite some time. As I wrote in my review, "her abstract paintings energized the room." The show was called Urban Landscapes, a series that emerged from one of her two annual "painting retreats" to New York City each spring and fall. 

At summer's end, after giving the Duluth community Project 30/30, which was both performance and exhibition, she returned to the Big Apple for autumn inspiration and continuation of her studies/explorations there. Now, she's back and preparing to show featuring new paintings of Manhattan's Central Park and Duluth's Stoney Point at the Minnesota Win Exchange.

A Balcony, Amsterdam Avenue
If you follow the local art scene and you've not been to the MN Wine Exchange you are missing out on a very cool space. It is just off the corner of Duluth's busiest section, next to the Double Dutch on Superior Street. What a great hive of art activity this corner has become, with Jitters anchoring the other end of the block, Lizzard's in the middle and the PROVE up around the corner. Pizza Luce is always showcasing local art as well with Artist Kamikaze V currently on display there. But the MWE is our newest slot with walls downstairs and a fabulous gallery space up.

The opening for Atwater's show will be November 2, with music by Matt Mobley. I caught up with the artist as soon as I heard about this event.

EN: What was the biggest thing that got you jazzed during your most recent trip to the Big Apple?

From Lake & Boathouse Central Park Series
AJ: The Upper West Side. The neighborhood blossomed before my eyes the minute I stepped outside my apartment on West 71st and Broadway. I could see the subway station and feel the energy of the people at the mad-house intersection of Broadway, 71st and Amsterdam. Book vendors line parts of Amsterdam. I would stop by, pick up a book, chat, all the while listening to saxophone music drifting down the avenue. The deli on the corner. Trader Joe's across the street where it takes 13 minutes to get to the checkout on a busy day, people shopping as they move down the checkout line, grabbing bunches of fresh spinach, avocados, bags of onions. I call it shopping in line. Then, I'd grab the 1 train and in a flash be at Columbus Circle/Central Park. Two blocks away was my home away from home, the Art Students League on West 57th where I painted. What got me jazzed was the city itself. It's incredible good energy. The arts are present at every turn: Plays are preformed near the fountain in Columbus Circle, found sculptures appear out of nowhere, the Village does amazing food tours, hip-hoppers take over crowded subways. This results in a richly detailed, powerful life force.

Piece from the Stoney Point Series
EN: What new direction did your art take and why? What was the primary impetus for the work you produced this fall?

AJ: I'm working now more with edges...doubling up on edges, squiggling them, pushing them and defining them with thin black lines, giving them new dimensions. Also continuing to work with the idea of flat space, much like Japanese artists do. With planes. Learning how to see it all in space, yet on a 2D surface. The city itself, again, is responsible for what I produced, like my Central Park Series. As I painted Manhattan's most famous park, the horizon line so prevalent in Duluth was also present and transplanted into a small series of abstract landscapes titled Stoney Point. Both locations I live in influence my artwork through their sheer and really exciting differences.

Minnesota Wine Exchange is locally owned and dedicated to serving wine produced by Minnesota wineries buys local produce and uses sustainable products. Located in the heart of downtown Duluth, Minnesota Wine Exchange offers a simple, elegant menu served in the midst of work by artists. For more information visit

Atwater paints at the Art Students League in Manhattan and operates a studio/gallery in Duluth’s Lakeside neighborhood. For more information visit

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