Artist sees possibilities in scratch tickets
“I love scratch offs, I’m not a huge gambler, but I love scratch offs! There is something very exciting and freeing about playing them. Especially if you win something!” said Minneapolis artist Leslie Barlow who channeled that feeling into one of her latest pieces of art.
We partnered with City Pages to find a local artist to repurpose scratch tickets into a piece of artwork that represents their vision of true “Minnesota flavor.” The piece will be displayed at the Stone Arch Bridge Festival. Barlow was chosen to create the unique piece and was up for the challenge!
Barlow has a studio in Minneapolis and exhibits her work throughout the United States. “I got my studio right after graduate school and was awarded a Minnesota State Arts Board grant for a project of my choosing. I made a proposal to depict interracial families in the Twin Cities to commemorate Loving v. Virginia. I had a big exhibition earlier this year with that work. I’ve done a variety of other projects. I take on commission work and I also do my own body of work.” Some of her work is displayed at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Barlow gave us a sneak peak of the piece that she’s creating for the Minnesota Lottery and City Pages.
The portrait features Minnesota’s state bird, the common loon, and uses scratch tickets, oil paint and fabric to bring the loons to life. “The way that colors and wings and feathers can overlap really lend itself to collage and I’m already collaging with the scratch offs. I wanted to pay homage to that idea and not just have it be this thing in the background. I really wanted to mirror the idea of collaging by actually having what I’m painting being the collage feel.”
“I had a couple of different ideas for pieces to do for this, but obviously I could only choose one. With the time constraints it’s not like I could make an 8 foot painting—I work quite large normally—but I polled some of my friends and this was their favorite idea,” she said. “I’ve collaged in some of my paintings before but definitely not in this way.”
The project was a new and exciting endeavor for Barlow, opening up new doors for artistic exploration. Working with scratch tickets “was very interesting,” she explained. “It’s funny because some were more flexible, so easier to manipulate, which was fascinating. It was also fun if you scratched off the tickets, you get a different color so it was fun experimenting.”
Barlow explained her process of constructing the piece and where it was headed. When talking about the red paint showing through the piece she explained, “I already play with colorful underpaintings in my work and I let it peek through so people can see the process of the painting within the finished painting. Showing that layering and exposing that rawness is important to me in a lot of my painting. What I’m enjoying with this piece, is that I’m using essentially the exact same process as I would in any of my other paintings but instead of having a solid color or maybe just one textile in the background, I have all of these patterns and colors and it’s doing crazy things with my eyes!"
"It’s so colorful and once I get all of the birds in here, you’re going to be drawn towards it,” said Barlow. “It’s been really fun to play with.”
You can see Barlow's loon portrait on display at the City Pages booth at the Stone Arch Bridge Festival June 17–18. You’ll even have a chance to enter to win this one-of-a kind piece!
Don’t forget to visit the Lottery’s booth, located on Main Street near the Central Ave. Bridge, next to the City Pages booth, for some fun and games! We'll be giving away free scratch tickets and other fun prizes. Plus, enter to win $200 in scratch tickets!