Gallery 96 going strong 20 years on

Gretchen and George Robinson in their Shoreview home with George’s self portrait, “Second Anniversary.” Both are charter members of the north suburban art group Gallery 96, which meets monthly at the Shoreview Community Center. photo Solomon Gustavo

Visitors during a Gallery 96 exhibition. submitted photo

In a room on the second floor of the Shoreview Community Center above the bustle of the pool and concessions area below, members of the art collective Gallery 96 gathered Sept. 11 to hold a meeting.

The meet up, a discussion about art, is one aspect of the many artist resources Gallery 96 offers — it also puts on art technique seminars and exhibitions to which artists can submit their work for display. 

Since 1997, Gallery 96 has provided an outlet for all kinds of artists living in the suburbs along Highway 96, Shoreview, Arden HIlls and beyond. The group currently has more than 50 members. 

At the monthly meetings, Gallery 96 and community members are invited to present incomplete or finished works of art, talk about them, and open the floor for comments and questions. 

The showing for September was a bit light, prompting those in attendance to grab a few chairs from the many spread over four large tables to form a more intimate circle. 

One woman didn’t have any art but showed pictures on her tablet from a trip to the museum. The woman next to her, when it was her turn, took two small frames from a bag, showing alcohol ink paintings. 

She’d taken an alcohol ink course and watched videos on YouTube. In front of the group, she was able to share not only her creations, but her journey from signing up for the class, to struggling with technique, to finished pictures. One was a bouquet of dark blue flowers in a vase baroque against the blank backdrop of white canvas, the other an especially animated desert landscape.  

Those around the circle murmured with delight at each description of technique or small detail about her painting, some asking for more information on alcohol painting equipment and the course. 

When it was member George Robinson’s turn, he stood up to hold a large work, part painting, part collage. He’d made it long before, shortly after the  9/11 terrorist attacks, and brought it back to display before the members for discussion on the anniversary of the terrible day. It showed a tree, its healthy branches and green leaves stretching toward a pristine blue sky, superimposed over the rubble of the Twin Towers.

George, 82, moved to Shoreview 49 years ago with his wife and fellow artist Gretchen, who’s 79. Both are charter members of Gallery 96. 

George shared another painting with the art discussion group, another that’s part-collage, this time of a pile of mossy rocks. Then it’s Gretchen’s turn. 

“I limited myself to a pallet of four colors,” said Gretchen describing the two paintings she brought. 

George and Gretchen moved to Shoreview from Connecticut with their two children after George started working as an art professor at Bethel University. They met as high-schoolers in Connecticut before getting together in college. 

Of the two, Gretchen started making art earlier in life, creating prints and sculptures and paintings. She was even accepted into the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design. 

Gretchen opted to follow George to the more affordable Hartford University, where she and George received art degrees. 

At the September Gallery 96 art discussion, Gretchen’s two paintings, both acrylic on paper, were part of a miniseries in which she painted scenes based on photographs she took aimed through windows and doors and gates. She called them “portals,” and was able to render things like shading and light using only the four colors. 

Once the discussion made its way around the small circle, the meeting concluded. The next Gallery 96 meeting is Tuesday, Oct. 9.

There are also semi-permanent displays of Gallery 96 member art at the Shoreview Community Center and Shoreview Library. Until Nov. 9, Shoreview Library will house the Gallery 96 exhibit series “South of the Border.”

For information on Gallery 96, visit the website


– Solomon Gustavo can be reached at or 651-748-7815

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