In May 2020, the M rolled out its first virtual fundraiser, Momentum. Building on the exciting growth of the M in the last few years, Momentum was a celebration of art and artists, a way to honor both the legacy and the future of the M’s collection. 

Momentum featured 12 artists, and each artwork told a story about the artist, the M, and the various inspirations, conversations, and stories that make up this collection. Momentum even showcased five living artists, and some contributors had the opportunity to travel virtually around Minnesota on behind-the-scenes studio visits.

Pivoting due to the pandemic became a chance to ground down into resilience and rise up in excitement about what the M has to offer. In challenging times, the role of art becomes more central, whether we realize it or not. Momentum invited YOU to engage through the M’s collection.

Artists featured: Amalia Amaki, Leslie Barlow, Hazel Belvo, Sonya Clark, Jim Denomie, Maren Kloppman, Paul Manship, Joan Mitchell, George Morrison, Cara Romero, Alec Soth, and Aaron Spangler. Below are five of those 12 Momentum artists and artworks.

Leslie Barlow

The M snagged this painting by Leslie Barlow at the 2018 Minnesota State Fair, where it was decorated with honors, including the White Bear Center for the Arts Award and Metropolitan Regional Arts Council Award. (Fun fact: The M is the only museum that purchases an artwork each year from the Minnesota State Fair for our permanent collection.)

It’s no wonder Stephen, Jeffery, and Twins received such recognition. It’s a tender portrait Leslie painted on top of a patchwork of fabrics, suggesting that a family is like a beautiful quilt.

Leslie herself is quite decorated. City Pages named her “Artist of the Year” in 2016. She’s received major commissions and does great work to support other artists of color through projects such as Studio 400. She’s been a teaching artist at the M, too!

Hazel Belvo


Hazel Belvo is best known for her ability to capture the dynamic and elusive energy of an ancient, knotted cedar tree sacred to the Ojibwe people of Grand Portage. Manido-Gree-Shi-Gance, or Little Cedar Spirit Tree, has stood watchfully perched on a rocky overhang above Lake Superior for more than 300 years. Since 1961, Hazel has returned year after year to this tree on the Grand Portage Indian Reservation, where her former husband, artist George Morrison, was born and spent his later years. Hazel’s use of tobacco to make this drawing is significant, as it is customary to sprinkle tobacco at its base as an offering for safe passage across the big, sometimes treacherous lake.

We are excited to explore the full range of Hazel’s artistic achievements in an exhibition that will open at the M in 2021. Her exquisite drawings and paintings have important stories to tell—about feminism, resilience, dedication, and the pleasures of artistic work.

Jim Denomie

“We’re not in Kansas anymore!” This fantastical landscape doesn’t quite look like The Wizard of Oz (the 1939 film that served as its inspiration). This is a world of Jim Denomie’s making, where transformed versions of Dorothy and her pals must navigate a symbolic minefield.

Jim was honored in 2019 with the state’s most prestigious artistic honor, the McKnight Distinguished Artist Award. This spectacular painting showcases his signature double punch of wit and satire to take aim at the ills of contemporary society.

A member of the Lac Courtes Oreilles band of Ojibwe, Jim often uses satire to confront stereotypes of Native Americans. The M is proud to call him a Trustee of the museum’s Board of Trustees, and a member of the Collections Committee.

Maren Kloppmann

Maren Kloppmann is a magician with clay. Her porcelain ceramics—with their elegant shapes and serene palettes—create a sense of quietude and balance. She got her start making functional vessels—beautiful cups, plates, and bowls to be admired and used. When her practice shifted toward idea-driven installations, her interests in transforming clay into form and drawing inspiration from the natural world remained.

Born in Germany in 1962, Maren came to Minnesota to continue her studies in ceramics with Mark Pharis at the University of Minnesota. Although the beloved ceramist Warren MacKenzie had retired by that time, she has fond memories of exchanging stories with him and using one of his kilns.

Alec Soth

20150701Soth_Brian_Williston_NorthDakotaIn this portrait of Brian Coffey, an employee of Raven Drilling, Alec Soth shows us the hard work, determination, and isolation of laboring on a drilling rig. The subject of a major solo exhibition at the Walker Art Center in 2010, Alec is one of the country’s leading photographers, and he hails from Minneapolis.

In 2013, The New York Times magazine did a cover story on the oil boom in North Dakota and asked Alec to spend a week photographing the locals and learning about their lives. The article, “The Luckiest Place on Earth,” explored some of the issues facing the region following the widespread use of fracking, a controversial technology used for extracting oil and natural gas.