Resonance and Quietude: Form + Content’s ‘Open Loop 2024: Lay of the Land’ takes the temperature of Minnesota’s emerging artistry

Resonance and Quietude: Form + Content’s ‘Open Loop 2024: Lay of the Land’ takes the temperature of Minnesota’s emerging artistry

Published March 25th, 2024 by Cory Eull

The group show includes work by 43 artists across 4 North Loop locations, on view through April 6


Amid the stir of the North Loop, Form + Content Gallery recently threw wide its doors for an inaugural open call exhibition. The opening reception provided cause for celebration as friends and families of exhibiting artists filled the gallery, lingering with the artwork, and devouring the snack table. The show’s guest juror, Alexandra Beaumont, is a local dancer and textile artist exploring the relationship between cloth and body through large-scale textile work. As noted in her curatorial statement, she noticed a certain thoughtfulness and study of place in the works selected. 

“An open call of Minnesota artists affords us an insight into what’s going on in this place, now, that begs response, digestion, interpretation, parsing. In the many beautiful submissions made for this inaugural Open Loop, a landscape emerged. It is taut with longing — grief for what has gone or is fading, a pre-nostalgia for what could be.”

Milling about the gallery for a second time, this time alone in the space, I understood what Beaumont saw in the work. The pieces together speak of memory, tenderness, fragmentation, and stillness. The soft yearning of La Bahia by Carmen Gutiérrez-Bolger for example, was near painful to look at, as it teems with remembrance. 


Top: Carmen Gutierrez-Bolger, La Bahia. Graphite, handmade kozo paper, color copies & envelope on panel, 12 x 12". Image courtesy of the artist's Instagram. Bottom: Jeremy Jones, A Perfect Collapse, 2022. Cone 05 ceramics, and underglaze. Photo by Cory Eull.


The body of work evolved around itself,” Beaumont says, “meaning I kept looking across and between the pieces I had already chosen to see how they were all talking to each other. There were a few pieces that grabbed me right away, and those became anchors for the show. As conceptual themes emerged — a sense of grief, our complicated relationship to nature, hope rooted in cultural history and mythology — I tried to read all of the submissions through those lenses. I made several passes through the submissions to choose the works. There were several left on the table that I loved, but just didn’t flow with the show that evolved… I don’t think there is a single piece in the show that is purely aesthetic, which I think says a lot about artists here in Minnesota — everything is very deeply considered.”

Moira Bateman, a fellow textile artist as well as member of the gallery since 2022, began envisioning “opening the loop” about a year ago, wanting to widen the gallery’s community and share in its versatile space. “Here was a real opportunity for the gallery to highlight a breadth of voices, and I so appreciated her enthusiasm for featuring more artists in the space,” Beaumont says of Bateman’s vision. In the collaborative beginning stages, Beaumont suggested spreading the artwork across a few pop-up locations in the neighborhood. As neighboring businesses Hewing Hotel, Natreum North Loop, and Player’s Cafe agreed to host some of the show’s artwork on their walls, the loop was properly busted open. 


Installation view of artwork at the Hewing Hotel. Foreground: work by Natalie McGuire. Photo courtesy of Form+Content.


Bateman, an accomplished artist herself, championed the behind-the-scenes work for this show — she communicated with submitting artists and functionally prepared the show and public events. “It felt like I was doing it for all the artists, and for Alex, and for the community, and that felt really good”, says Bateman. It was Beaumont’s first time jurying such a large open call, and they had over 150 artists submit. Each artist could submit up to 3 works for consideration, so their work was cut out for them. 

Lay of the Land was my moniker for the work, because one of the major things I saw emerging had to do with landscape and our material relationship to nature, and a lot of mournfulness around that. An open call to Minnesota artists allows you to —” at this point Beaumont licks her finger and lifts it to the air “— take the temperature or see which way the wind is going. So I guess that title has a little bit of cheekiness, but I also mean it sincerely”.

Form + Content has been a member-owned collective art gallery since 2007. Their current space is tucked into The Whitney, one of the many historic buildings in the Warehouse District boasting exposed brick and timber beams. With condominiums up above and retail spots like Jeromeo In The Loop next door, the gallery is bright yet warm, an inviting room within the dynamic trend of the area. Customarily, each of the 12 members of Form + Content have a solo show opportunity every two years, and the remaining shows are curated by members. Beaumont had worked with the gallery and made some initial connections there while doing a joint show with Public Functionary back in 2021. With the success of this show, the gallery plans to continue hosting open call exhibitions every two years.

When Beaumont was speaking about aspects influencing her own artistry, I couldn’t help but make ties to what became Lay of the Land. With an upcoming show at Public Functionary, she’s been building upon a series of works that originated in the pandemic. She said recognizing and protecting joy alongside grief feels paramount, so with her work she aims to contribute to a space that believes in, enables, and honors that. In Beaumont’s work as curator, she was attentive to “not have her perspective as the curator detract from anything the artists were trying to say in the work, to have it align and just elucidate.” It is obvious that though her presence as curator is not dominating or obscuring the show at all, it shines through in a subtle, illuminating way. A line from her curatorial essay says “These are quietly hopeful moments.” And these “quietly hopeful moments” seem to me a perceptive throughline of the show, as well as our lives. ◼︎ 

Left to right: Diaphanous by Renée Boynton, Trappings by Erika Terwilliger, and Field Day by Grace Theriot. Photo by Cory Eull.

Open Loop: Lay of the Land is on view at Form+Content Gallery through April 6, with a Juror's Walk & Talk on Saturday, April 6, 2 – 4pm. Gallery hours are Thursday – Saturday, 12 – 6pm. To see more, visit the gallery's website or follow them on Instagram @formcontentgallery.

To see more of Alexandra Beaumont's work, visit her website or follow her on Instagram @anbeaumont.

Banner image: NDN Time by Tamara Aupaumut, Lawn Study #2 by Carley Schmidt, and Mall Memory Fragment 04 by Chris Rackley. Photo by Cory Eull.

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