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Grounded in the traditional

October 29, 2011
By Cindy Votruba ( , Marshall Independent

MARSHALL - After spending several years in Italy studying art, Little Falls artist Charles Kapsner's work is like those done by Renaissance masters.

And he does it all in his studio in Minnesota.

Kapsner's art, which includes oils, drawings and sketches, will be on display through Dec. 2 at the Marshall Area Fine Arts Center. An artist reception will be from noon-2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 30, at the arts center.

When he went to college in the early 1970s, Kapsner said he wasn't satisfied with the art program at universities. He learned about a fellow artist who had studied art abroad and decided to find a school in Italy.

"I wrote the Italian Government Information Center in New York City requesting different addresses for art schools in Italy," Kapsner said.

He got several responses, mostly in Italian. But one school sent a brochure, Universita Internazionale dell'Arte in Florence, Italy, in English, French and Italian, so he selected it.

He studied at the 19th-century studio of Signorina Nerina Simi, an influential drawing instructor. He learned precise drawing, observation and accurate rendering of forms in space, traditional realism, patterned in the style of the Renaissance masters.

"I was fortunate enough to hook up with a painter who was working on fresco," he said. For five years, he apprenticed with Benjamin Long, studying how to do fresco paintings. That led to a 30-year career with frescoes, he said. Kapsner has completed eight frescoes, which includes one in Italy and two in Little Falls.

"It's really labor-intensive," Kapsner said about working on frescoes. An artist needs a team of people to help. The first one Kapsner did in Little Falls in 1994 was dedicated to Charles Lindbergh and took a year to finish. The second was done over a four-year period.

"We did it in sections," Kapsner said. The first section was done in 1998, the second in 1999 and the third one in 2001.

One of Kapsner's current projects is for the Minnesota State Veterans Cemetery Memorial Association. He was commissioned to design and paint five 8-by-10 foot canvases on the history of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard. Kapsner said he received the job as a result of an art show he did three years ago. He was asked by former Rep. Gordon Gerling to do the project.

"Lo and behold, it was a major endeavor," he said. He said he's finishing up the first work, Army, set to be done by mid-November. Overall, he added, it will take about six years to finish the entire project.

Kapsner said sketches of the five armed services artworks are part of the MAFAC exhibit.

Kapsner and his work has been featured in the Minnesota Monthly magazine, American Art Collector and KSTP's "On the Road With Jason Davis."

He's collaborated with local and national dance companies, such as the North Carolina Dance Theatre and the St. Paul City Ballet, on different projects.

"It's something that's my interest, figure portraits and movement of the human body," Kapsner said. "Figurative work is an important part of what my genre is all about."

Cooking is something Kapsner loves as well.

"It became an obsession," he said.

Several years ago, he created his own sauce mixture of artichoke, mango and olives. He worked with AURI to develop the product and was recommended to also work with Steve Klein of Marshall to get it bottled and marketed. Kapsner said he went to a one-day seminar Klein had conducted.

"He doesn't leave a stone unturned," Kapsner said of Klein.

It was through that versatile sauce that Kapsner got to know Klein's family. One of Klein's daughters, Stephanie, is featured in one of the works on display at the arts center.

Other works that are part of the exhibit include Kapsner's still lifes, landscapes and florals.



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