Resident artists thrive at Tower View
Ardee Rosasco used to think of Tower View Estate and its iconic water tower as a mysterious place.
Driving out of Red Wing on Highway 61, she wondered what it was -- other than the home place of puffed wheat and puffed rice cereals.
Now she knows, "It's a little paradise, a place that has so much value in it."
Over the past 15 years, the estate has evolved as the Anderson Center, an artist community that draws people from all over the world.
Julie DeVetter discovered a form of pottery that inspired her while visiting an Anderson Center artist during a Studio Tour. Now she's not only creating her own pottery there, but also branching out as a teacher.
Rosasco discovered art when she was just in grade school. Her fifth-grade project, a map of Minnesota, won a blue ribbon at the county fair.
Today she is a respected oil and watercolor artist who paints in the classical tradition, including the Impressionist style.
Her work, which often is described as "painterly," includes still life, landscape, portraits and floral images, many of them inspired by her surroundings.
Rosasco's style has evolved as she learned more about art. In high school she worked summers as a sign painter's apprentice. In college during the early 1950s, abstract art was most popular.
She married Jim Rosasco and they moved from Sioux Falls, S.D., to Kenyon in 1954. Five years later, they came to Red Wing, where he taught.
"The first thing I did when we came to Red Wing was call Marge Vogel," Rosasco said. She joined the Red Wing Arts Association and began taking classes and exploring many forms of art, from sculpture to pottery.
At the same time, she teamed with Barbara Delahunty to establish the Cloak Room, a clothing resale store. Thirteen years later she got a Realtor's license and for 25 years she sold real estate.
Abstract vs. realism
"I was always doing something with art," however. A class at the Richard Lack Atelier in the early 1990s helped set her new course.
"I learned to appreciate the classics and realism," she said. "I realized how much I learned to see. When I really learned to see, that just kept growing."
She still appreciates abstract work as well, Rosasco said. "I think you can combine abstract and realism, to a degree."
Rosasco got a studio at Minnesota River School of Fine Arts in Burnsville, and traveled there for classes and to paint for about 12 years.
Anderson Center Director Robert Hedin had a better idea.
He asked her, "Wouldn't you like to be closer to Red Wing?" and told her of plans to build artist studios at Tower View.
It made sense, Rosasco eventually decided, and Hedin promised her, "You can do anything you want to -- just don't burn it down." She created the space "exactly as I wanted it to be" in 2004. "Now it couldn't be more comfortable."
The added attraction is the presence of people from all over the world -- painters, sculptors, photographers plus musicians and writers -- who come for residencies at the artist community. "I've met people" from many different countries, Rosasco said. "They love it here."
She does rosemaling -- a Scandinavian folk painting art -- at home, but comes to the studio three or four times a week to work.
"This is an amazing place. It seems to grow all the time," Rosasco said. "It's good for Red Wing. It reaches so many different aspects of life."
DeVetter, who grew up near Whitewater State Park, came to the Anderson Center about four years ago, and works in the lower level of the main residence.
She started making pottery in the mid-1980s at Rochester Community College, and also works in fabric -- creating "shibori" pieces of hand-dyed fabric, including quilts and framed pieces.
"I discovered Angela Foley's pots on a Studio Ramble brochure. I was immediately attracted to the work," she said. Foley is a longtime resident artist whose work includes raku pieces, both decorative and functional.
"Angela and I hit it off," DeVetter said. "She invited me to share some space" in the pottery studio. "It was a dream to find someplace to work."
DeVetter also makes both functional and decorative pieces. Among her favorite pieces are non-functional teapots which can be seen at the upcoming 15th anniversary show. "My teapots are about time, not tea," she said, recalling her growing up years when she would share "tea time" with her grandmother. It was story time, and quality time.
With all the Anderson Center's public events, she has become more comfortable interacting with people and discovered she really likes teaching.
"My work has continued to grow and develop," DeVetter said. The Anderson Center "is an excellent opportunity you wouldn't find anyplace else," and a wonderful working environment for artists. "It's fun to get to know the other visual artists."