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Commute becomes a thing of beauty

In “I’m Home!” Becky Jokela of Cannon Falls conveys the essence of remnants of late afternoon light that signal the relaxation and repose of the coming evening. Her works are part of an exhibit July 31-Sept. 1, 2017, at Zumbrota's Crossing at Carnegie.

ZUMBROTA — Opening July 31 at Crossings at Carnegie, an exhibit will show that works Becky Jokela of Cannon Falls and Julia Crozier of Winona. Both artists have a deep affinity with nature and the countryside.

Jokela, who for 30 years was a much-loved art teacher in Zumbrota-Mazeppa Public Schools, said that this new collection of pastel paintings came out of the commute she did to work.

During these daily drives on well-known country roads she was struck by how the scene was ever-changingly new and beautiful — the effects of weather, the varieties of light, the seasonal changes, the annual progression of the farm fields from fallow to plowed to early shoots to harvest. She said as she drove she itched to capture the unique shifts in this familiar terrain.

Finally, after her retirement last spring, Jokela set about capturing the beauty of her drive. In this collection she shows us morning light slanting through trees, the fire of the autumn foliage and the tranquil beauty of the Zumbro River.

For example, Ishe captures sun dogs' glowing beauty in the early morning sky of an unusually cold day in her painting "Morning Drive."

Like Jokela, Crozier draws her inspiration from the natural world. For as long as she can remember, two of the most important things in her life have been nature and art. She said she developed these interests growing up in "a family of artists and outdoor enthusiasts."

Her father is a professional artist and she decided early on to follow in his footsteps. She studied at the St. Paul School of Associated Arts, then in the 1990s she opened a professional art studio and gallery in Bellevue, Ioq. She moved back to Minnesota and in 2007 she opened the Blue Heron Studio and Gallery in Winona, which she operated until the building was sold in 2012.

Crozier notes that throughout her career she has enjoyed experimenting with different media and formats. In addition to paintings and prints, she has created murals and other public art projects and illustrated books. She started out working primarily in watercolor and pen and ink, and then got heavily into printmaking. Today oil painting is her primary focus.

Crozier's landscapes featured in the exhibit tend to be sweeping views of hillsides, from the Isle of Skye to the western United States and the rural Midwest. Several are done in a stylized or abstracted style, such "Rock Layers" which turns the side of a bluff into a colorful crazyquilt of shapes.

Her series of five linocuts depicting birds have a nostalgic character, evoking the illustrations from early books on natural history.

Finally, rounding out her part of the exhibit, are botanical works that focus on a portion of a plant, simplifying and flattening it, so that it takes on a kind of mysterious quality for quiet contemplation.

The exhibit will be on display until Sept. 9. An artist's reception will be 6:30-7:45 p.m. Friday, Sept. 1.

For more information, visit, call 507-732- 7616 or stop at Crossings, 320 East Ave., Zumbrota.