Primavera Celebrates Diverse Artistic Talent

Alongside melting snow and budding trees, the Primavera Arts Festival is a sure sign that spring is on its way. The annual event, a collaboration between the Plymouth Arts Council and the city of Plymouth, has been held each April for over two decades—this year marks its 22nd year. Featuring a diverse exhibit of work by talented artists across the area, adding this celebration of arts and culture to your list of springtime rituals is a must.

The event also features live performances, music, dancing, kid-friendly activities and a literary night on April 22 at the Plymouth Creek Center and is free and open to the public. Attendees can expect to see a wide variety of fine art pieces, which will be juried by the Plymouth Arts Council, says Alyssa Fram, Plymouth recreation supervisor. “Everything from 2D works to sculptural pieces will be on display.”

Both well-established artists and budding young talent have the opportunity to share their work at Primavera. High school students can submit their pieces to the show, which Fram says always makes for one of her favorite parts of Primavera. “I’m amazed year after year at the work these young artists create and showcase at the event,” she says.

We talked to two artists whose work will be featured in this year’s show about where they get their inspiration and what life is like as an artist in Plymouth.

Knight majored in art at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and, after graduating, had a variety of art-related jobs, including teaching high school art classes in Sydney, Australia, where she also worked as a graphic designer. When she moved to Minnesota, she decided to find a “day job” in a different field in order to save her artistic energy for projects she was passionate about.

“I was more interested in fine art, so being a commercial artist was not going to be a good avenue for me,” she says. “I love writing and communicating, so that became my livelihood.” Knight now works as a public relations and marketing consultant, but makes time to paint whenever she can.

Watercolor is Knight’s medium of choice. Though it can be challenging, she says that’s one of the things that she likes best about it. “Watercolor as a medium can be just magical. You have to work to control it, but it’s also really fun,” she says. “My favorite watercolors are never studied or perfect. They’re more of a spiritual impression, kind of understanding the place and being really interested in the feeling of it.”

This is her third year at Primavera. “I love being in the Primavera show, because it’s just a great venue. It’s beautifully organized,” she says.

Knight has won a number of awards, including the Emrich Stordahl Founders Award from the Minnesota Watercolor Society last fall for her painting “Off Shore,” which depicts the Lake Superior shoreline.

The subjects of Knight’s work vary, but place tends to be a uniting theme. She especially loves painting up at her cabin in Wisconsin and the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. “I’m mostly inspired by somewhere I’ve been, or it could ever be the sunflowers out in the communal garden not too far from me,” she says. “It could be anything!”

From the art studio in her home, Parker works on a variety of pieces, watercolor paintings and mixed media especially.

“I do mixed media, which includes a lot of different things. I especially love to do collages and abstracts with different art medias,” she says. She sells her paintings, as well as prints on greeting cards, and submits her work to juried shows often.

Parker is also a Primavera veteran and has submitted her work to the spring show for over a decade. “I think I started out when it was still in the basement of City Hall,” she says. Though the event has changed and grown since those early days, Parker says that it has remained special to her, and she looks forward to
 it each spring.

“I think it’s a wonderful program, and it really gets the community involved,” she says. “I like the diversity—it’s very diverse as far as what you can show. We have sculpture. We have paintings. We have many different types of art, and it’s really fun to see what our community has to offer.”

When she isn’t working on her own paintings, Parker teaches classes at the Plymouth Creek Center, helping students discover the joys of watercolor painting and master the fundamentals of the form. “I call the class recreational watercolor, so it’s just for fun,” she says. “It’s for people who are looking for something new to do—maybe they’ve always wanted to try it.”

Parker says that ultimately, artistic talent is made and not born, so she encourages those with even a slight interest in making art to go for it. “If you have a desire in the art world, if you’d like to try something, then I think you should do it,” she says. “Everybody has an art potential, and to find that potential, you just have to take a risk.”  

Event Schedule

April 20, 11:00am Exhibit open, 5:00–8:30 p.m.: Opening reception and awards ceremony
April 21, 11 a.m.–7 p.m. Exhibit open
April 22, 6:30–8 p.m. Literary night