Local Artist Interviews: Scott Stulen


Tell me about your work? What are you currently working on? How is this different from past projects?
I am working on several new projects related to how mythologies are constructed and disseminated and the manufactured memory. This has taken the form of a new series of monochrome paintings, both abstract and figurative based on found snapshots, death metal, 80’s baseball cards and houseplants. I am moving into more nuanced approaches to painting than some of my more graphic and cartoon-ish past work. My newer work is less “bright” in palette and tone than my past work. Less Arturo Herrera and more Luc Tuymans.

I have also been very interested in the connections between “art work” (the labor and need to make a living) and “artwork” (the objects created and exhibited). The current upcoming exhibition (Hot 3-way Action) speaks to this in a way by exposing the artists studio as both a place of production and business office.

“What is Art?” is certainly too big of a question to ask here, but what do you hope your audience takes away from your art? What statement do you hope to make?
Art is anything that makes life more interesting. I hope my work can inspire, challenge, entertain, soothe and irritate viewers on a regular basis. If my work no longer elicits any reaction, it might be time to move on to other things.



Venetian, acrylic on canvas, 2010


What was the best advice given to you as an artist?
Do good work and put it where people can see it. It’s as simple as that.

Tell me about your work space and your creative process.
I work out of my home in SW Minneapolis. I have a digital studio and drawing space upstairs and my painting and sculpture studio in the basement. I like being able to walk into my studio anytime I like. Its nice to poke in an look at a couple of paintings while doing the laundry or other household chores too. It has its limitations, but with a young child this makes the most sense right now.

My process consists of about 80-90% planning and 10-20% production. I am always thinking of ideas for work throughout the day and logging them in my notes from work meetings, on my computer etc. Once I am focused on a concept or theme for a body of work I start collecting images that correspond to the content. Sometimes I know exactly what I am looking for and sometimes I search more randomly for inspiration. I pull most of my imagery from my own photos and Internet searches.

Once I have the references images I start laying out the foundation for the paintings in the studio or start looking for materials for the sculptures. I work on multiple pieces at once, and allow the work to inform each other. Some pieces develop quickly, while other may lie around my studio for years before finding a resolution. Most pieces I get to a point where it need that move that will either make the piece great or ruin it completely…then you just have to make the move.




Seeded Out, Acrylic on Canvas, 2007

Who are some of the Minnesota artists you enjoy?
A short, and by no means comprehensive list of local artists I respect and draw inspiration from include:

Ruben Nusz http://www.rubennusz.com/Art/rubennusz.html 
John Fleischer http://www.johnjfleischer.com/ 
Chris Larson http://mnartists.org/event.do?rid=206441 
Andy Ducett http://www.andyducett.com/ 
Jennifer Danos http://jenniferdanos.com/ 
Andy Messerschmitt http://www.andymesserschmidt.com/andymesserschmidt.com/Home.html 
Jehra Patrick http://mnartists.org/artistHome.do?rid=118023 
Carolyn Swiszcz http://www.carolynswiszcz.com/ 

and of course my to co-conspirators in the Hot 3-Way action exhibition 

Bruce Tapola http://mnartists.org/article.do?rid=256345 
Erik Ullanderson http://www.mnartists.org/work.do?rid=227420 

If I were to follow you around to see art in Minnesota, which places would we go? What would we see?
Through both my job and my art interests I visit a lot of different places…but some of my favorites stops include…

The Walker Art Center http://www.walkerart.org/ 
The Rochester Art Center http://www.rochesterartcenter.org/ 
Midway Contemporary http://www.midwayart.org/ 
Soo Vac http://www.soovac.org/ 
The Soap Factory http://thesoapfactory.org 
ARThouse http://www.arthousenewlondon.com/ 
Walker Open Field http://calendar.walkerart.org/canopy.wac?id=5665 
Franklin Art Works http://www.franklinartworks.org/ 
MAEP Galleries at the MIA http://www2.artsmia.org/wiki/index.php/Main_Page 


Still Life, acrylic on canvas, 2010


Where do you go online for good art resources, whether to find a new artist, or to see what is going on in the art world locally and otherwise?
Shameless self promotion…but I do visit 
mnartists.org for a lot of my local information. I also am really well networked on social media, including facebook and twitter and that has become a great informational resource.Springboard for the Arts is another wonderful local resource. I also use aggregators like fffound, cool hunting and not cot.

Do you have any exhibits to promote in the near future?

Hot 3-Way Action: Stulen, Tapola and Ullanderson
September 10 – October 23 
Soo Visual Arts 

Opening Reception: 
Saturday, September 10 – 6pm-9pm 
Closing Reception & Location Produced Catalog Release: Saturday October 22nd 6-9pm 

Hot 3-Way Action features artwork by Scott Stulen, Bruce Tapola and Erik Ullanderson, whose work explores how meaning is created and deconstructed through images. Their work seeks to create unexpected, humorous and sometimes jarring juxtapositions through a variety of mediums and processes.

With a shared admiration and respect of each other’s art, they approach Hot 3-Way Action as not merely a group exhibition, but as an opportunity to work collaboratively. Instead of presenting a static exhibition Stulen, Tapola and Ullanderson will treat the space as a working studio, revealing their process and practice, as well as success and failure through the duration of the exhibition.

By allowing their work to intersect and transform through the collaborative process an evolving dialogue is created, where the artists and the audience can see an ever-changing perspective. 

I also have an upcoming solo exhibition at Mankato State University in January 2012.


Scott Stulen is the Project Director of mnartists.org at the Walker Art Center, Director of the McKnight Artist Fellowship for Photographers, former Associate Curator at the Rochester Art Center (MN), an exhibiting visual artist, independent curator, writer and DJ. He received his BFA in Sculpture from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in 1998 and his MFA in Painting and Drawing with a minor in Art History from the University of Minnesota in 2004. Through his work at mnaritsts.org he has developed innovative on and off-line programming including the Community Supported Ar t (CSA) project in partnership with Springboard for the Arts, mnartists.org Field Day, the weekly Drawing Club and is a co-curator of the Walker Art Center’s ongoing Open Field program.


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