The painter Todd Norsten, who is both an enthusiastic traveler and avid outdoorsman, has a deep appreciation for vernacular art and architecture. Born in Willmar, Minnesota, he has exhibited broadly (including at the 2006 Whitney Biennial) and is as at home in small Midwestern towns as he is in Los Angeles, New York or Rome. His recent exhibition at the Highpoint Center for Printmaking in Minneapolis was titled “NOWHERE”—an allusion perhaps to the places where he finds inspiration for his citations and reinventions of commonplace signage.
The 19 monotypes on view extended his painterly concerns to paper. On sheets that appear to have been knocked about a bit, off-kilter words and phrases expound broken poetry: “FUZZY LITTLE BLEEP” says one; “THE END IS AT HAND AGAIN” predicts another. In others, scrappy hand-drawn emblems and logos—Uncle Sam’s top hat, a can of Tru-Test house paint—fill the flat and careworn space. Some are appropriated from signs found in the real world; others he creates on his own.