Tom Ardnt photo exhibit captures local communities

maria cass

A glimpse into Minnesota’s past is available for viewers of “Tom Ardnt’s Minnesota,” a free, current photography display at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. The earliest photographs in the exhibit date back to the 1970s––the time period from which most of his pictures are dated––and from there each consecutive decade is represented in various photographs until the viewer reaches contemporary photographs from 2008.

Tom Ardnt’s pictures capture the normal, everyday life of Minnesotans, in both metropolitan and rural communities. Festivals such as county fairs or the “Great Minnesota Get Together” are captured with such humor and humility that the viewers of Tom Ardnt’s photographs can’t help but smile at the subject and feel as though they too were just outside the camera’s range.

“Tom Ardnt’s Minnesota” is entertaining for a broad demographic; children will enjoy the simplicity of the photos and the entertaining facial expressions of the subjects. Others will appreciate the artistry with which Ardnt captures the expressions and feelings of his subjects in just one black and white photograph.

Among the many entertaining aspects of this exhibit is the real-life glimpse into the past that these pictures provide. Ardnt’s photograph. titled “Fourth of July, Mpls, 1976” shows groups of people sitting on a hillside in anticipation for the fireworks, several pairs of go-go boots are visible, and ultra tight pants seemed to be the norm for men of all ages.

Likewise, a picture simply titled, “Cab Driver, 1974” captures a cabby, his car, and, in the background, the Renaissance hotel in all of its 1970’s splendor.

The more contemporary photos, for example, “Young People on their Front Porch, North Mpls, 2008,” captures urban life as it happens, there is no posing and the viewer honestly feels as though the people photographed are the same people who frequent the neighborhood grocery store.

Seldom do art exhibits really connect with their audience, and, if this were a show in Europe, this show’s significance might be minimal, but for a exhibition right here in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, “Tom Ardnt’s Minnesota” is truly an entertaining exhibition.