Many factors are producing excellent artists in Minnesota. Stellar art education such as the Minneapolis College of Art and Design and the University of Minnesota, powerhouse galleries such as The Walker and Minneapolis Institute of Arts, fantastic foundations such as The McKnight Foundation, plus robust patrons are the primordial soup from which of these four best up-and-coming visual artists are emerging in Minnesota.

Chad Rutter

Chad Rutter’s artistic impact is spreading like ripples created by a skipping stone. Bestowed a University of Minnesota Master of Fine Arts only four years ago, our local artist is already doing a one-person show at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts following two self-published books in 2011, now in distribution by New York-based Printed Matter, Inc. The exhibit, “Floodplain,” shows April 18 through June 29, 2014 at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (MIA). Travel with Rutter, a collector of artifacts, skilled in sculpture, and drawing and photo-based books interpreting American values of individualism, car culture and exploration. The book, “Scanned Land,” is page after page of juxtaposed photos of rich soil textures and interesting botanical patterns. “Scenes From the Great American Non-Site” also contrasts Earth masses with close-ups of rocks collected along Interstate 80 construction sites between New York and San Francisco. Rutter has also published a similarly insightful book of pictures in collaboration with two other students during his senior year at Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD) in 2006. Rutter and his colleagues used collage art to dramatically depict similarity of human design with patterns of nature.

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Amy Toscani

Toscani “draws equally from thrift store treasures, her wry sense of humor and found sculptures that can also be described as ‘suburban sublime,’” says MIA of Toscani’s new sculptures showing April 18 through June 29, 2014. A show earlier this year at MCAD was “enlivened by antic humor and daffy social commentary in Toscani’s sculpture,” said Star Tribune’s Mary Abbe. The McKnight Foundation’s Visual Artist Fellowship show at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design was marked by “robust talent and high skill,” observed Abbe. For example, one of Toscani’s beautiful new porcelain-white sculptures is Cuccu, a big-eared and sad-eyed dog figurine, whose neck transitions into a massively out-of-proportion body. The observer is seized by the simple beauty of the piece yet saddened by the pathetic irony of proportion. The University of Minnesota, MCAD and Lowertown, St. Paul now display the artist’s commissioned works. Through the years, this artist has exhibited her work widely throughout the Midwest. The artist’s undergraduate and graduate studio art degrees come from attending Ohio University and she has inspired art students in Minnesota colleges as a professor over the last 14 years.

Jaron Childs

“Do Something Pretty While You Can,” was the name of earlier Childs’ shows. Jaron Childs’ trademark painting style is more than pretty. He will photograph a single subject, extract its soul and place it on a canvas with intense surrealism. These unique paintings render light in a magical, gauzy and translucent manner—a method that Jaron Childs has developed over the decade and presented in one-person shows throughout Minnesota, plus being invited to produce shows in the United Kingdom. With his work gaining currency, Childs had a show at MIA earlier this year with Jonathan Bruce Williams.

Jonathan Bruce Williams

Williams’ artistic forte is the science and technology of vision. Stereoscopic illusions, linear perspectives and persistence of vision are elements that lend themselves to dramatic art installations. Williams expands the outer bounds of perception, experimenting with everyday projectors, cameras, lenses and light to create digital and analog images. One example, “Light and Color,” a Williams’ installation at student-run gallery 1419, was a room-filled aura of shimmering light mesmerizing anyone who entered. MIA invited Williams only five years after graduation to do a show earlier this year that demonstrates how we see different colors of light. Gallery-goers entered a dark room to peer through different camera lenses around a sculptural installation. Williams’ unusually manipulated lighting created dramatically different results.

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Robin Johnson was born in Annandale, Minn. and graduated from Richfield High School and then the University of Minnesota where he studied Political Science, Business and Industrial Relations. A writer for, he also consults with a variety of organizations and individuals helping them develop and grow. His work can be found at