A Tour Through Windom with Aaron Horkey

by Ken HarmanPosted on

A childhood swimming hole. Carved into the rocks underneath our feet were the names of residents dating as far back as 1918.

Nestled away in the tiny town of Windom, MN (about four hours south of Minneapolis as the hooded crow flies) is, oddly enough, one of the great art shows of the year. For it’s opening, fans and collectors from around the country, and even as far away as Japan, descended upon this sleepy town (much to the resident’s confusion I’m sure) to take in Aaron Horkey’s Midwestern Heart retrospective show. Though Horkey has shown in settings alongside contemporaries such as James Jean and David Choe, and though his work is in such high demand that a retrospective of this size and scope would have been a blessing to any gallery in New York, Los Angeles or San Francisco, Midwestern Heart remains in Windom, in the town of Aaron Horkey’s childhood, accessible to his friends, family and the local community.

Hi-Fructose took a trip out to Minnesota to view the show in person and after a rather long drive, and a couple of detours, we found ourselves in Windom at the whim our of our most gracious host and personal tour guide, Aaron Horkey. While it was the show itself that brought us there, Aaron’s hospitality, tour of the surrounding countryside, welcoming family, and look into the artist’s home studio and process was what made us stay and what truly helped us understand the meaning of what it means to have a Midwestern Heart.

Ancient petroglyphs

As the show itself has been covered in great length these last few months by virtually every art blog and magazine (including this one here), we’re going to give you, rather, a look into the rural environment of Horkey’s youth (a place that has provided much inspiration for the artist), a glimpse into Horkey’s past as a talented graffiti writer, show you his incredibly time consuming process and finally, an intimate look into his small home studio. Enjoy!

Upon leaving the gallery, we stumbled across this derelict barn. Aaron immediately pulled over to take some pictures for reference materials. Not quite sure, but it does remind us a bit of the recent Jay Ryan collaboration…..

It took a bit of searching, but underneath a nearby bridge we eventually found an old graff mural that Horkey had done in his youth…

The date on it? See below…

Thirteen years old and still looking good!

Aaron’s father runs a successful truck bed customization business (think really nice wood paneling for antique trucks and lowriders). In the back of his childhood home, we found another mural Aaron did from the same year-

Bulletin board from inside the wood shop.

Local newspaper cutout for Midwestern Heart, proudly taped up at the Horkey residence.

Following a delicious snack at the Horkey homestead, we packed up and headed over to Aaron’s home to hang out with the family and check out his home studio.

Reference for the Letterpress Suite Volume One’s “Rook” print

Original pen and ink for the recent Deadwood release

Original painting for the Dead Man print.

After a bit of pestering, Aaron was generous enough to open up his flat files for us to take a peek at what lay within…

As if the artist’s work isn’t intricate enough, Aaron actually hand draws each separation for his prints, meaning no computers used to separate the colors an amazing task considering the small scale, multiple colors and perfect registration…

To top the night off, Aaron showed us another blast from the past, dozens upon dozens of completed murals from when Aaron was a full-time writer.

With midnight long past, and a couple hour drive back to Minneapolis ahead of us, we sadly had to depart. However, we highly recommend that anyone who might have a day to spend traveling visit the town of Windom, MN. Upon first glance (and smell) you might only see acres upon acres of corn, however, with the right tour guide you might just find a fascinating, magical, and ultimately inspiring place.

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