Midgarden and Gingerich hang a piece of art

Mailloux Gallery Features Artwork Of FPS Teacher Of The Year

Please join Fargo Public Schools Teacher of the Year, North High Language Arts instructor, and artist David Midgarden for an artist’s reception and the official gallery show opening of his artwork on Tuesday, November 19 from 4:00 to 5:00 p.m. in the Mailloux Gallery, located in the north lobby of North High School, 801 North 17th Avenue.

Drawing of 4 roses in 4 vases
One of David Midgarden’s featured sharp focus graphite still life drawings.

Midgarden is a self-taught artist. He began creating art in middle school using an artist’s kit he received from a relative while in 8th grade. He started by reproducing the art of Norman Rockwell, who was then producing magazine cover illustrations. Midgarden kept at it, mostly due to encouragement he received from his teachers.Media in the show includes oil paintings and silver gelatin prints (black-and-white photography), but mostly Midgarden’s original sharp focus graphite (pencil) still lifes. The artwork spans from 1976 to Sunday evening, November 3, 2013. “This is the first time I’ve seen them all at once,” said Midgarden.

Midgarden and Lisa Gingerich standing in front of oil painitngs on wall.
Midgarden and North High art instructor and gallery curator Lisa Gingerich confer about the upcoming show.

The large oil paintings featured in this show were done by Midgarden in the mid-70’s and are copies of famous masterpieces by Van Gogh, Manet, and impressionist Frieseke. “Copying is easy. All the decisions have been made for you. With your own art, you have to make all the decisions—color, line weight, composition. That’s infinitely more difficult to get ‘right,’” commented Midgarden.From painting Midgarden moved to drawing, and eventually settled into creating sharp focus graphite drawings. These drawings are created with various pencil lead grades, ranging from 10B (very soft) to 10H (very hard). A standard writing pencil is graded HB, the very middle of the spectrum. The finished sharp focus drawings can take up to hundreds of hours to complete and are so detailed they are often mistaken for photographs.

From there, Midgarden tackles the second hardest part of the drawing. When asked why not the hardest part first, Midgarden responded, “If I can make it through the second hardest part, then I’m committed. I am willing to finish the drawing, including the hardest part, because I already have so many hours invested.”There is much behind-the-scenes preparation for one of Midgarden’s drawings. After finding his subject inspiration, Midgarden will create the minimalist setting for each drawing. He then photographs it in black-and-white. (He still shoots film, by the way, on his 1970’s Nikon camera.) Using the selected photograph, he then creates a “cartoon” of the composition, which is an outline drawing of the subject object.

drawings lined up, waiting to be hung on gallery wall.
“Illusion” and other still life drawings await hanging in the Mailloux Gallery.

One of Midgarden’s more recognizable drawings is “Illusion,” a single rose resting in a Ball jar that belonged to his maternal grandmother, created in 1987 over the summer months. He identified the second hardest part of this particular drawing as the jar of water. Visit the show, and determine for yourself the hardest part—it’s not the rose blossom!Midgarden’s attention to detail extends beyond the drawings to encompass the details of when, and where, and why he created the piece of artwork. His stories are as finely crafted as his art.

Midgarden points to a drawing
Midgarden explains the inspiration and science behind floating the hibiscus blossom used in this still life.

David Midgarden’s retrospective art show will run at the Mailloux Gallery through January 17, and is open school days from 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.