St. Paul artist credited with expanding, diversifying Art Crawl dies

The fall St. Paul Art Crawl this weekend will showcase more artists than ever, growth that many in the artist community attribute to Brenda Brousseau, director of the past six crawls. Brousseau died Oct. 2 of complications related to a cancer diagnosis. St. Paul beadwork artist Brenda Brousseau died Oct. 2, 2019. She was instrumental […]
On October 8, 2019
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The fall St. Paul Art Crawl this weekend will showcase more artists than ever, growth that many in the artist community attribute to Brenda Brousseau, director of the past six crawls. Brousseau died Oct. 2 of complications related to a cancer diagnosis.

St. Paul beadwork artist Brenda Brousseau died Oct. 2, 2019. She was instrumental in the growth of the St. Paul Art Crawl and was director of the last six crawls. (Photo courtesy St. Paul Art Collective)

St. Paul beadwork artist Brenda Brousseau died Oct. 2, 2019. She was instrumental in the growth of the St. Paul Art Crawl and was director of the last six crawls. (Photo courtesy St. Paul Art Collective)

Brousseau’s influence was more than just expanding the numbers and the territory of the twice-yearly event beyond its Lowertown origins, said Linda Snouffer, acting director of the St. Paul Art Crawl. “Brenda was especially instrumental in expanding the diversity of the artists who were showing and the area in which they were showing.”

A tribute to Brousseau from the St. Paul Artist Collective said she championed special exhibitions like the fall 2018 “Check Other,” highlighting Latino artists, and “We are Still Here,” telling the stories of regional Indigenous artists, which is on display in the Schmidt Artist Lofts’ Landmark Gallery.

“We just want St. Paul to be this mecca of art,” Brousseau said in an interview before the April crawl. “We want to bring back the magic.

Brousseau’s influence was more than just expanding the numbers and the territory of the twice-yearly event beyond its Lowertown origins, said Linda Snouffer, acting director of the St. Paul Art Crawl. “Brenda was especially instrumental in expanding the diversity of the artists who were showing and the area in which they were showing.”

A mandala by St. Paul beadwork artist Brenda Brousseau, who died Oct. 2, 2019, is a tribute to her dog Shambala. Brousseau was instrumental in the growth of the St. Paul Art Crawl and was director of the last six crawls. (Photo courtesy Saint Paul Art Collective)

Brousseau, a beadwork artist who worked out of her home in the West Seventh neighborhood, created complex beaded mandalas, headdresses, sculptures, and wall art.  Her awards in exhibitions across the country include the Juror’s Choice Award at the 35th Annual Contemporary Crafts Exhibit in Mesa, Ariz. She received multiple Minnesota State Arts Board grants and a Jerome Grant through the MN Textile Center.

St. Paul stained-glass artist J.A. Geiger met Brousseau at a not particularly fruitful art show about a decade ago. “We bonded over how terrible the show was,” Geiger says. “Neither one of us sold anything.” But they said afterward they owed their friendship to that bad experience.

Geiger says there was a lot of depth in Brousseau’s art. “So much work went into every piece.”

When it came to the Art Crawl, Geiger echoed Snouffer. It wasn’t just about expanding locations. “It was about trying to reach a more diverse audience and a more diverse group of artists.”

Brousseau worked at Tim Harwig’s Frame Ups picture frame shops 25 years ago, Harwig says. She left for a bit, then returned about five years ago to help Harwig shut down the business.

“We became extremely close friends,” Harwig said. “Brenda was a dedicated and loving person. Her art was very serious to her and her friendships were very serious to her.”

“My art is a reflection of my life,” Brousseau said on her Luna C Bede website. “I have found that even though my art is very personal, once the viewer knows the story behind the art they find their own truth within it. Conversations start at that moment.”

Brousseau’s family declined to comment. There is no information about services. The St. Paul Art Collective hopes to honor her with an exhibit in the future. People who want to send a message to her family can send an email to info@saintpaulartcollective, Snouffer said.

Your comments to honor Brenda in this post are also welcomed.

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Virtual Saint Paul Art Crawl (click for more info)

The St Paul Art Collective has made the decision to move the Saint Paul Art Crawl scheduled for April 24-25-26, 2020 to a VIRTUAL platform. The safety and well-being of the artists and our community is our utmost concern.

More information will be on our website soon, but you can still support the artists and our community members in these very difficult times by finding them online, following and sharing their social media, and most importantly reach out and ask to buy their artwork.

VISIT THE VIRTUAL ART CRAWL

Please take care and follow the guidelines for health and safety as suggested by the CDC and MN Department of Health.

We hope to have your understanding and support as we work together during these unprecedented times.
St Paul Art Collective Board and Planning Committee