Ever since Lars Mason, director of academic affairs at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD), introduced me to the work of artist Samantha French, I’ve been enthralled by her bright, intensely evocative paintings of sunshine, water, and shadows. French, who graduated from MCAD in 2005, now lives in Brooklyn, where she paints full-time.
Last autumn, French came home for MCAD’s 125th anniversary gala. She donated one of her paintings to the live auction. After several minutes of fast and fierce bidding, “Sink in; float, 36x36,” sold for about $10,000, twice the typical price for one of French’s pieces. “It happened so fast—I was a little overwhelmed, but completely thrilled,” she says. “MCAD is an amazing school and I love that my piece could raise so much money for the scholarship fund. Seeing so many people come together to support the arts in Minneapolis makes me extremely proud.”
Two weeks ago, French came back to Minneapolis for a reception at Soo Visual Arts Center, where her “Sea Change” collection of paintings is on display through July 7. After the party, French drove up north to Nisswa, where she grew up. French visited her parents’ Stonehouse Coffee & Roastery, which doubles as a gallery for her paintings, sat on the pontoon, luxuriated in the perfect summer weather, and went swimming with her dogs in the lake.
Currently, French has no plans to paint her dogs swimming in the water, as she’s busy with commissions, several new collections, and an upcoming show in Provincetown, Massachusetts. Last week, French was delighted to see that fashion designer Tory Burch pinned one of her paintings on Pinterest. “I’m still stunned every time I see my work popping up online,” she says.
For fans of French, the message is clear. Run, swim, but don’t walk, to the Soo Visual Arts Center or Stonehouse Coffee and Roastery for a painting by one of Minnesota’s most exciting young artists. Soo Visual Arts Center, 2638 Lyndale Ave. S., Minneapolis, 612-871-2263, soovac.org; Stonehouse Coffee and Roastery, 25346 Smiley Rd., Nisswa, 218-961-2326, stonehousecoffee.com