Photo by John Gessner
Blind artist Annie Young’s mind’s-eye depiction of a marathon she and her husband ran in Antarctica is a centerpiece of the “Journey to Rock Bottom” exhibit showcasing Young and 10 collaborators, now on display at the Ames Center gallery in Burnsville.
Photo by John Gessner
Burnsville artists Bonnie Featherstone, left, and Annie Young stand in front of Featherstone’s painting depicting Young, who is blind, being guided by her husband in the 2018 Antarctica Ice Marathon. The event inspired the exhibit “Journey to Rock Bottom” featuring Young and 10 collaborators, now on display at the Ames Center in Burnsville.

Photo by John Gessner
Blind artist Annie Young’s mind’s-eye depiction of a marathon she and her husband ran in Antarctica is a centerpiece of the “Journey to Rock Bottom” exhibit showcasing Young and 10 collaborators, now on display at the Ames Center gallery in Burnsville.
Photo by John Gessner
Burnsville artists Bonnie Featherstone, left, and Annie Young stand in front of Featherstone’s painting depicting Young, who is blind, being guided by her husband in the 2018 Antarctica Ice Marathon. The event inspired the exhibit “Journey to Rock Bottom” featuring Young and 10 collaborators, now on display at the Ames Center in Burnsville.
Four years in the making, Burnsville artist Annie Young’s new exhibit at the Ames Center gallery in Burnsville is a dynamo of artistic diversity, international flair and a remarkable set of origin stories.
Young, 59, lost her sight in her late 30s to rod cone dystrophy, a rare eye disorder. The Air Force and Minnesota Air National Guard veteran, who worked in airport security, began painting, which has been her profession for 12 years.
Her husband, Raymundo Quintana, is a UPS driver and marathon runner endeavoring to run a marathon in every state and on every continent.
In fall 2018 the couple were anonymously gifted a trip to run that year’s Antarctic Ice Marathon, a few hundred miles from the South Pole at the foot of the Ellsworth Mountains.
Young completed 6.2 miles of the race, her husband guiding her with a strap attached between them.
But there’s more. The marathoners, who would have been in and out in a day or two, were caught in severe weather that had them hunkering down together for a week at the Union Glacier Camp, which stocks food and supplies.
“There were 54 runners, I believe,” Young said. “And we got to know each other pretty well.”
Through WhatsApp, Young got to know the international cast even better after she returned home. She asked what inspired them to take up running and travel to the end of the Earth to compete in the snow.
“And they started sharing with me their personal stories,” said Young, whose works with acrylic paint and textural mediums have been exhibited and collected in North and South America, Europe and Asia. “And I was so inspired by their personal stories, I started dreaming. The only way I can paint is I get these images. So I started getting these images about their stories and I started painting them out. I got three-quarters of the way painting out all their stories, and then I got stuck.”
That’s where her 10 collaborators and friends from the Twin Cities art community come in. The exhibit, “Journey to Rock Bottom,” includes numerous collaborations between Young and other artists as well as individual pieces, a few of which Young added Braille inscriptions to after the other artists were finished.
Young’s “White Darkness Laughs at the Parade of Marathon Fools” is clearly a centerpiece of the show. Tiny, stick-figure runners dwarfed by a vast white backdrop of snow-covered mountains and wind-blown flakes depict her mind’s-eye vision of the scene as described by fellow marathoners.
“Got to Get It Done” by Burnsville watercolor artist Bonnie Featherstone is a throat-lump contribution depicting Young and her husband battling the elements on the marathon course, joined closely at the waist by the strap he used to guide her.
Young asked her longtime friend to do the piece, and asked her again when Featherstone’s first version didn’t include mountains in the background.
“I don’t mind doing mountains,” said Featherstone, a prominent artist and south metro arts organizer for decades. “I like doing mountains.”
The exhibit includes depictions of runners from Austria, China, Canada and elsewhere, in mediums from watercolor and acrylic to Asian brush stroke and encaustic wax. Young even contributed a clay sculpture — her first to be showcased professionally — inspired by a stubbornly ambitious runner from Poland.
The runners’ personal stories and challenges, the demanding location where few ever venture and the collaborative nature of the exhibit all impart a message, according to Young.
“The bottom line is I really want people to be encouraged,” she said. “I really want them to come and feel encouraged and discover their dream. Their dream doesn’t have to be to go to Antarctica. Their dream may be I want a new job. Their dream may be I want to get a different home or learn a new language. Whatever it may be, maybe one of these stories are going to inspire them.”
“Journey to Rock Bottom” opened Aug. 29 and runs through Nov. 5 at the Ames Center, 12600 Nicollet Ave. Gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.
An artist reception will be held Saturday, Oct. 1, from 5:30-8 p.m. Young said about a third of the Antarctic Ice Marathon runners will attend, with many of them running the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon on Oct. 2.
More information is at annieyoungarts.com.
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