Virtual & In-person Exhibit

Everyday Icons

A Sideshow of Artworks by Mary Catherine Solberg

Virtual Exhibit available starting November 19, 2021
In-person in the James W Hansen Gallery November 19, 2021 - January 9, 2022

Galleries are free and open to the public 2 hours before ticketed events in our theatres and close 1 hour after the show begins. Visit our calendar for exact showtimes. All visitors must adhere to our Patron Safety Protocols and those not attending a ticketed event must sign in at entry.

ARTISTS Reception & Art Talk | January 8 from 5-8 p.m.

The Art Talk and Reception for Mary Catherine Solberg and Patti See that was cancelled on Dec. 10 has been rescheduled for Jan. 8, 5-8 p.m. Grab a drink at our lobby bar and join us for an evening of artfull conversations. This event is free, however you must reserve a ticket to attend.

Artist Reception


Statements and biographies written below are by the individual artists and are published with their permission. The views expressed are their own. Thank you.

About the Exhibit - Message from Curator Rose Dolan-Neill

Everyday Icons explores the lives of the ordinary made extraordinary by the heightened art of iconographic portraiture. By giving focus in vibrant colors, textures and gold leaf, Mary Catherine Solberg uses her extreme talents in painting and social observation to highlight some overlooked or underprivileged subjects. Also featured in this exhibit are beautiful tributes to some of our more famous fallen heroines.

Author, Patti See’s words accompany this exhibit by offering a glimpse of a woman’s journey in a midwestern hometown. Ms. See’s expressions are both recognizable and heightened at times with relatable storytelling. At times laugh-out-loud funny, one finds themselves teary eyed in the next paragraph. Patti See gives loving focus to everyday life.

Beautiful humans, in all their glory, on display for you.

Mary Catherine Solberg
Mary Catherine Solberg

Solberg incorporates aspects of religious iconography, classical realism and her own unique style to create large scale mixed media paintings she refers to as “Everyday Icons.” These Icon portraits focus on a single character to capture fleeting moments of triumph, transition, struggle and enlightenment. Dogs leap for balls, squirrels clutch their prize candy corn, swimmers dive into a new reality, and children grapple with the consequences of authoritarian decisions.  Traditional portraiture takes on an ethereal interpretation with the incorporation of assorted media including plaster, collage, oil, acrylics, beeswax, metal leaf, tar, and glitter. Her innovative technique produces a highly textured masterful portrait with surprising depth and luminescence

Mary Catherine Solberg is a mixed media figurative painter who lives and works in Minneapolis, MN, but orginally is from La Crosse, WI; a mid-sized town centered in a much larger geological region known as the “Driftless Zone.” It is geologically and biologically unique in the world for having escaped the flattening effects of the glaciers during the last ice age. The result is a rich biology of deeply carved river valleys, bluffs, springs, and deep caves with underground waterfalls and craggy formations. The “Driftless Zone” is an awesome name for this remarkable land and the memories of her childhood spent there. The Driftless Zone literally and figuratively provides the background for her large-scale iconic portraits of women, girls and animals.

In the early 90s, Solberg took a leap of faith and went back to college for a degree in art. At that time, she was managing her Land Surveying Company as well as running an Art Gallery out of the historic 20,000 square foot, three story building she purchased and restored. She sold the survey business in 1998 and co-founded a company based on technology developed and patented by Mary and her brother Steve which converted paper based mathematical data into digital vectors. Graduating Suma Cum Laude with a focus on Art History and the Renaissance she began pursuing her desire to translate this knowledge onto a contemporary sensibility. In addition to her education, her Catholic upbringing also informs her current work. Sorting out the disturbing history and hypocrisy while honoring the positive, she was drawn to the art and the paradox. Her Artist Statement lists her influences as “the Masters, Religious Iconography, and Circus Sideshow Banners.” The “sideshow” part denotes a certain irreverence, as the huge banners heralded wonders within seldom realized behind the dark curtains.

The work consists of broad categories she continually cultivates combining classical methods with mixed-media techniques she developed through trial and error. In general, each piece is more a portrait of an emotion or mood than it is about portraying a specific figure. The Animal Portraits are based on the extensive photography left by her late brother, James Solberg, a naturalist, writer and patient photographer who captured the essence of small critters and insects by immersing himself in their world. The Swim Girls use the metaphor of water to explore transformation and change, the Icons celebrate and elevate everyday people and animals who she believes are worthy of veneration and Ephemera is a catch all group for whatever grabs her interest.

Solberg has participated in numerous Juried Art Shows receiving many honors and has done over a dozen solo exhibitions; most notably at the MN Marine Art Museum in Winona, MN, The Center for Visual Arts in Wausau, WI, and The Gallery at Le Meridien in downtown Minneapolis, MN. She has also been commissioned for a huge Public Art project to be unveiled in the Spring of 2020. She is a member of NEMAA (Northeast Minnesota Arts Association) and has a Studio in the Casket Arts Building in the NE Arts District of Minneapolis, MN. 

To Learn More:  
Instagram: Driftlessicons

Patti See
Patti See

Patti See’s articles, fiction and poetry have appeared in Brevity, Salon Magazine, The Wisconsin Academy Review, The Southwest Review, HipMama, Inside HigherEd and many other magazines, journals and anthologies. She is the co-editor (with Bruce Taylor) of Higher Learning: Reading and Writing About College and a poetry collection, Love’s Bluff.  Her award-winning blog “Our Long Goodbye: One Family’s Experiences with Alzheimer’s Disease” has been read in over 100 countries. 

She was also a frequent contributor to Wisconsin Life on Wisconsin Public Radio, and she currently writes a monthly column, “Sawdust Stories,” for the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram.

Her essay collection, “Here on Lake Hallie: In Praise of Barflies, Fix-It Guys, and Other Folks from Our Hometown,” is forthcoming from the Wisconsin Historical Society Press in 2022. 

Patti’s new collection of brief essays, “Here on Lake Hallie: In Praise of Barflies, Fix-It Guys, and Other Folks From Our Hometown,” is slated to be published in Spring 2022 by the Wisconsin Historical Society Press.   Patti lives on Lake Hallie, just outside Chippewa Falls. Her book’s chapters, many of which were originally published in the Sawdust Stories column of the Leader-Telegram, celebrate small-town life in the Chippewa Valley. From her childhood memories of supper clubs, thrift sales, and cribbage games, to the midlife concerns that accompany having a son in the military, a parent with Alzheimer’s, and a private onsite septic system, these are humorous and heartfelt essays about See’s love for her hometown and its people. 

Patti's Articles

Interested in Purchasing a work of art?
Interested in a work of art exhibited in one of our virtual galleries or exhibits? It may be available for purchase. To purchase a work of art, contact Rose, our Visual and Literary Arts Manager.

All artwork pricing is set by the artist and is non-negotiable and non-refundable. All artwork sales are by commission with Pablo Center at the Confluence. Your purchase supports our endeavors to present quality visual arts programming that is free and open to the public.

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