RED WING, Minn. -- One of Red Wing’s newest artists will be among seven individuals whose work is spotlighted in “Portray,” an exhibition of contemporary portraits that can be seen Jan. 25-March 21 at the Anderson Center.

“Vessels,” a separate exhibition featuring a wide range of vessels created by Minnesota artists, also opens Jan. 25 and runs through March 21.The exhibitions are free and open to everyone Monday through Saturday.

A public reception for both shows will be 6-8 p.m. Jan. 24 at Tower View. Many of the artists will be in attendance.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the reception date. It is Friday, Jan. 24.

The exhibit of human likenesses features works by Lindsey Cherek, who moved to Red Wing in August, along with local artists Art Kenyon and B-J Norman plus Leslie Barlow, Mike Hoyt, Chris Rackley and Russ White.

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Stephanie Rogers, Anderson Center director, curated “Portray,” which she said includes both two-dimensional and three-dimensional works in a wide range of styles and approaches to the theme.

“Vessels” consists of original, hand-made works by members of the Minnesota Women Ceramic Artists group, including Anderson Center studio artist Julie DeVetter. The show includes cups, mugs, bowls, vases and more in a wide range of colors and styles.

“This group exhibition … celebrates the MNWCA’s vital community by displaying work by 32 artists from across the state,” Rogers said.

Each artist brings a distinctive point of view. Cherek’s contributions are acrylic paintings that reflect her feminist-based approach to portraiture. She paints to create a dialog around the human experience of marginalized individuals.

Describing herself in her artist statement as “a queer woman and a feminist … (who) wants to bring light to the honest of our bodies, and the ways they are represented and visible in society.”

Cherek said she began to find language for her work while studying painting at the University of Wisconsin-Stout in Menomonie.

“Everything I paint is personal,” she realized – her work helps her understand herself “as a woman, a queer person, a young person.”

Her portrait work typically focused on others who are queer, Cherek said. Her intent was – and is – “to try to find a way to empower the people I am working with.” Typically, she explained, they are people who do not feel empowered in life.

As she studied art history, Cherek said, she observed the way people have been depicted in art – usually as subjects painted by heterosexual white males who viewed them through a single lens.

"My perspective, my lens … speaks differently,” she said. One of her paintings of a nude woman is unlike many historical works because she strives to give her subject power.

“A lot of marginalization occurs within the representation and visibility,” Cherek added. That is, the people she is painting are less likely to even appear in artworks.

“A lot of my work is about social construction of gender and sexuality,” she said. For her, depicting marginalized people in her art “creates more awareness about their experience” and promotes dialogue.

The Anderson Center is proving to be an ideal place for her to explore.

A native of Iola, Wis., she grew up creating art. “I’ve been drawing since I could hold a pencil,” Cherek said.

When she graduated from college “I didn’t want to do anything else but paint.” She took a part-time job with a print shop in Eau Claire – a job she continues to do part-time on a remote basis – but “I’m full-time committing to painting.”

Her boyfriend, Brax Waller, formerly of Red Wing, brought her here to visit. “I’ve always thought Red Wing is charming, a unique, creating community,” she said. After a walk though the Anderson Center’s sculpture garden, “I was excited about what the Midwest arts community can offer.”

She wanted a change, “a place where I can focus on my work” without distractions, so she sought out Rogers and applied for studio space at Tower View. Cherek could not be more pleased with the open space and big windows, plus “the historic aesthetic feels good,” she said.

“I am very much enjoying the solitude,” and the opportunity to try new things. She’ll be painting from life models, and is exploring the use of different materials on which to paint. “Construction materials are super fun to work with,” she said, including construction foam board and plywood.

“I feel more productive than I ever have before,” Cherek said. “I have the space. Now is the time.”

If you go …

Who: 39 artists

What: Exhibits “Portray” and “Vessels”

When: Opening 6 p.m.-8 p.m. Jan. 25

Where: Anderson Center

How much: Free

More info: www.andersoncenter.org or 651-388-2009