Minnesota State Fair Poster Art, detail of art by painter Leo Stans, St. Paul, Minnesota, June 2009, all photos © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.
The century-old Grandstand stood quietly in the distance when I rounded the corner by the historic J. V. Bailey House. I was driving to St. Paul for an ice cream social at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds. The occasion was the June 11th unveiling of the 2009 State Fair commemorative painting by Belle Plaine artist Leo Stans.
Summer cottonwood flew through the air when I lined up for my root beer float. A few minutes later, I walked into the historic Bailey house and literally bumped into my friend Teri who works at the Fair. She introduced me to her coworkers, we talked a little Minnesota State Fair history, then she led me over to meet the artist.
Like poet Ted Kooser, Minnesota artist Leo Stans started out as an insurance salesman, dabbled in art, and began painting full-time in 1980. He painted wildlife, golf courses (he’s an avid golfer), and eventually transitioned into historical street scenes. In a newspaper quote, he said: “My thinking was that if you wanted to buy something nostalgic or historical, the only thing being offered was small towns and barns. I thought I would create a niche.”
According to an article by John Brewer in the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Stans said he had been trying for the last 5 years to get a booth at the Grandstand to sell his work during the Fair. Ironically, that led to his applications making their way to the Fair staff and to his being awarded the 6th commission in the commemorative series last November.
Artist Leo Stans & Minnesota State Fair 2009 Commemorative Oil Painting, Minnesota State Fair Commemorative Oil Painting (Detail), St. Paul, Minnesota, June 2009, all photos © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.
I shook Leo’s hand and immediately began asking him about the 28″ x 42″ oil painting. He said he did the research for summer’s “Great Minnesota Get-Together” in the dead cold of a Midwest winter. It took him 3 weeks to sketch it out, another 3 weeks to put paint to canvas.
He explained to me that the painting moves back in time as you walk from the Grandstand to the Ferris wheel, blending clothing styles of the past with those of the present. And like Hitchcock who appears in many of his films, Stans paints himself into all of his paintings. (If you stare long enough at the top photograph, you can spot him walking down the Midway.)
For many, the Minnesota State Fair is about making memories, a family tradition going back for generations. By choosing the 100th birthday of the Grandstand as the central theme for 2009, and including other historic icons like the carousel and mascot Fairchild, Stans captures and brings those memories to life through paint.
I’m a history buff and drawn to his dreamlike Twin Cities street scenes. The 2009 Fair painting has much the same feel and has been reproduced on postcards, posters, and buttons with proceeds benefiting the Minnesota State Fair Foundation. (The State Fair has a long history of being independently funded and has not received government appropriations since 1949.)
Minnesota State Fair Postcard, Minnesota State Fair Poster Art (II), St. Paul, Minnesota, June 2009, all photos © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.
The Minnesota State Fair 2009 begins August 27th and ends September 7th. And if you become one of the Friends of The Minnesota State Fair you will receive exclusive benefits including gate tickets, pre-sale access to Grandstand shows, bricks, benches, and more. Purchasing a $50 Yellow Ribbon package by August 1st, 2009 grants you the following:
- Friends of the Fair card
- FunFair news
- Invitation to annual pre-fair event
- Hospitality invitation to J.V. Bailey House during the State Fair
- 2 State Fair and/or parking admission tickets
- 1 State Fair annual pin
- 1 Blue Ribbon Bargain Book with 100 great State Fair deals
There are also Green, Red, Blue, Purple, and Silver packages to choose from. Liz and I are looking forward to this year. Happy Fair going!
Thanks to Leo Stans for permission to photograph him and his work, to Teri for reminding me about the art event, and to John for providing me with the newspaper clipping from the June 12th St. Paul Pioneer Press article by John Brewer – Painting Celebrates Fond Fair Memories.
Below are links to past red Ravine posts and photographs about the history, foods on-a-stick, and fun available to all at the Minnesota State Fair. And if you check the comments on several of the posts, they are dripping with little-known Fair facts, trivia, and nostalgia from a mutual friend of ybonesy’s and mine, Teri Blair. For more of the Fair experience, you can also view my Minnesota State Fair Series on Flickr.
- MN State Fair On-A-Stick
- MN State Fair On-A-Stick II – Video & Stats
- Nightshot – Carousel
- MN State Fair On-A-Stick (Happy B’Day MN!)
- On-The-Go List Of Must-Haves (MN State Fair)
- Mary In Minnesota (haiku for yb)
- food on-a-stick haiku
-posted on red Ravine, Wednesday, July 8th, 2009