Maple Grove Arts Center embraces a broad palette of talent.
Maple Grove is a center of a lot of great things—natural spaces, retail venues, community events and more. We’d certainly be remiss if we didn’t include the art scene in the lineup. Its anchor is the Maple Grove Arts Center. Lise Spence-Parsons, president and treasurer of the center, owns Lottie’s Trinkets, has published two books featuring her short stories, is working on a third collection and a full-length novel, and enjoys watercolor painting. She shares her conversation with some local artists, including Val Coopet, Marj Helmer, Jeff Lundeen and Sybil Swanson. —Renée Stewart-Hester
“I have loved drawing and painting for as long as I can remember,” Coopet says. “During my career as an elementary teacher, I took classes and painted whenever I could. During this time, I fell in love with spontaneity of watercolor over other mediums.” She enjoys working with other artists during open studio time. “I love the feedback, creativity and conversations that grow as we work together,” she says.
“My involvement in art has been a long journey of discovery, full of ups and downs, successes and failures and great learning experiences, and it has been a great ride,” Coopet says. “Joining the Maple Grove Arts Center has been a turning point.”
“Artists … share our unique viewpoints, make observers think and spread joy through our work … Everyone paints for different reasons, but I paint for the joy I experience when I paint and hopefully for the joy my audience feels,” Coopet says.
Helmer started Maple Grove’s Writers’ Studio, which has published two anthologies, and members are working on memoirs, nonfiction fantasy, mystery and thriller titles and children’s picture books. Her recent endeavors include her book, Mrs. A’s Tea Party.
“The art of writing or any art expresses our humanity and encourages creativity and creative thinking and doing,” she says. “Art brings us together to learn and generates community.”
Retired teacher Lundeen is an impressionistic landscape painter. “I am committed to individuality rather than mass production. With that, I am also committed to getting original oils into the greater public.” In addition to the arts center, he’s shown at several Maple Grove businesses and the Maple Grove Government Center.
Creativity is a process, and Lundeen acknowledges that his artistic outcomes have experienced development. “My art today has matured, and the future allows for unlimited growth,” he says.
Swanson says, “I didn’t start painting until I was 77 years old, proving that it isn’t age that can stop us, but attitude and [lack of] passion [can]. Painting is my passion. Through my art, I hope to convey to people that what seem to be obstacles, they can be overcome.”
“I have evolved from being a fluid art painter to an acrylic landscape painter to oil seascapes and landscapes artist,” Swanson says. “To evolve from brushless paintings to oil paintings, using multiple brushes, has been a significant leap for me. I’m not seeking fame nor fortune but rather to continue the joy of painting [and] to continue to rejoice in all the beauty surrounding us, painting what I see as an artist and putting my view on canvas for others to enjoy.”
Maple Grove Arts Center,
11666 Fountains Drive; 763.370.3003;