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Plains Art Museum Presents Art of the Guitar Exhibition
Charles Fox, Ergo Blanc Grand Concert-12, 2005, Alpine Spruce, Sapele , Gabon Ebony, Honduran, Snakewood Maple.

FARGO, ND.- Art of the Guitar: A Luthier’s Renaissance opens on February 26 in Plains Art Museum’s Jane L. Stern gallery and runs through June 7. The exhibition opens with a Celebration of Acoustic Music and Art from 6:30 to 8 p.m. on Saturday, February 28 with a concert and discussion experience featuring Fargo native Dakota Dave Hull and Charlie Hoffman. Hull is a composer and original interpreter of older tunes—he calls what he does “classic American guitar.” The work of expert Minnesota guitar maker Hoffman is in the exhibition. The celebration also includes a cash bar and an assortment of gourmet cheeses available for purchase. The event is free for Museum members and $5 for nonmembers.

Art of the Guitar is organized by Plains Art Museum. Guest curators are Steve Beckermann and Michael J. Olsen, both of Fargo. Beckermann has a long history with art, music and education, including service as an outreach educator and operations manager for the Museum, during which time he curated several exhibitions. Currently employed with NDSU, Beckermann is a musician and maker of musical instruments.

Olsen is also a musician and avid guitar aficionado with a long history in corporate communications, public affairs, media relations and corporate events. He currently owns Michael J. Olsen Communications. Olsen is also a collector who has followed the evolution in modern luthiery in great detail over the past several decades.

Art of the Guitar presents and explores handmade guitars by the finest builders of today along with instruments of historic significance. Rusty Freeman, director of exhibitions and chief curator at Plains Art Museum noted the significance of the exhibition, “The guitar has become a cultural icon the world over. It can be found in every country and has expressed everything from Southern blues, flamenco, Brazilian and Celtic to Hawaiian music. This exhibition concept began a few years ago to explore the regional connections to the international trend of guitar collecting and guitar making. Minneapolis luthier James Olson, for example, has made guitars for folk and rock legend James Taylor. The magazine critical to guitar collecting, Vintage Guitar, is published in Bismarck, N.D. The upper Midwest is intimately connected to this revival around the world.”

“This exhibition breaks new ground for the Museum as we explore untraditional artistic expressions not often seen in an art museum. It has been one of the most exciting exhibitions that I have worked on at Plains Art Museum. Not only have we borrowed works from some of the most important regional guitar makers, such as Charlie Hoffman and Lloyd LaPlant, we are borrowing historical works from the National Music Museum in Vermilion, South Dakota, one of which is a very early C. F. Martin Parlor Guitar from 1850. Whether you play guitars or simply enjoy guitar music, this is a show not to be missed,” said Freeman.

Among those credited as forerunners of the revival are Hoffman and James Olson of Minnesota and Charles Fox of Oregon. A number of world class luthiers who work in the upper Midwest are also represented in the exhibition.

In conjunction with the exhibition, on March 4, Beckermann and Olsen will kick off a special weekly Rush Hour Music Series called a Celebration of Acoustic Music from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Wednesdays in March and April. At 7 p.m., following the music, Beckermann and Olsen will present a tour talk of the exhibition.

Additional Wednesday Rush Hour performers are:
• March 11 – Lucille Black
• March 18 – Fancy That
• March 25 – Tucker’d Out
• April 1 – Nick Kor
• April 8 – Ben Suchy
• April 15 – Carmen the Cactus
• April 22 – Tom Carvell and Friends.

The Museum’s 13th Annual Spring Gala: Art of the Guitar is also themed on the exhibition. The Gala is scheduled from 7 p.m. to midnight, Saturday, May 2. It includes a celebration of acoustic music with Brenda Weiler, Tom Carvell and Tim Sparks; dancing to Post-Traumatic Funk Syndrome; the area’s largest wine tasting by Happy Harry’s Bottle Shops; a silent auction of art; gourmet food by Green Market Catering and the exhibition.

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