Curing the corona blues with Redlin art
As I’m sure many of you are figuring out, it’s tough to find anything to do this summer in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. If you have a love for art and specifically Terry Redlin, I have the perfect respite for you to enjoy.
Take a short road trip over to Watertown, S.D. to visit the Redlin Art Center, which is a special tribute to the late Terry Redlin. Today, 150 originals representing the legendary wildlife artist are on permanent display at the center. Admission is free.
Redlin was an American artist popular for painting outdoor themes and wildlife, often pictured in twilight. During the 1990s, he was frequently named “America’s most popular artist” in annual gallery surveys conducted by U.S. Art magazine.
He considered himself to be an average person who just painted what he loved—rural America. “America’s rural past, in my eyes, was a wonderful place full of both beauty and opportunity. How fortunate I’ve been to spend my life creating memories of those distant times for others to enjoy,” Redlin once said. He died in his hometown of Watertown in 2016.
After years of watching his father paint and sell every oil painting, Terry’s son wanted him to stop. Charles Redlin wanted to preserve his father’s original oil paintings, but not for his own sake. He wanted everyone to be able to experience his father’s works in their original form. So Charles developed a plan to collect and display them in a public space.
Initially, the Redlin family purchased land in Minnesota along Interstate 494 as a potential site for the center. However, Charles was concerned about the urban sprawls in Minneapolis. He didn’t want the city to swallow the intrinsic beauty of the Center.
The family formed another idea. Since South Dakota sent Terry through art school on a scholarship for disabled students (Terry lost one of his legs), they decided to build it in Watertown as a gift to the state and the community.
Charles envisioned the massive 52,000-square-foot brick building that is the Center. He wanted the grandeur of the structure to envelope visitors as they entered the building. For the exterior, he drew inspiration from the Egyptian Revival period, incorporating towering 38-foot Rockville White granite columns into the outside entrance. He also wanted the interior to mirror the elegance of the exterior.
The Center opened its doors in June 1997—10 years before Redlin retired.
What intrigues me most about the center is the stories told through Redlin’s paintings. Redlin drew from his own experiences to bring us back to the special moments in our own lives. As I went through every painting, my mind was quickly drawn back to my childhood of growing up in rural Minnesota. I found myself being taken back to a simpler time in life.
It’s obvious that Redlin had a passion for family, the land and this country. They were all witnessed through every masterpiece’s theme.
The hardest part came when I had to choose which painting to bring home. Well, okay, I didn’t have to buy a painting, but who could resist. I ended up settling on his 1996 painting, “Sunset Harvest.” It reminds me of helping my parents with the fall harvest, which was always one of my most favorite times of the year on the farm. I found a perfect spot for it above my fireplace.
COVID-19 has altered our lives significantly this year, but a road trip to the Redlin Art Center is something you may want to consider going in hot pursuit of curing the corona blues.