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New art at Steeple Center looks at past and present Vietnam

Craig MacIntosh (speaking) and Betsy Preston (left) give an artist talk at the opening reception for "Vietnam...a look, then and now," on display at the Steeple Center through Dec. 31.

One of the perks of the Steeple Center remodel that took place last year is that the building now has a dedicated space for an art gallery. Every couple months, the Rosemount Area Arts Council (RAAC) showcases two regional artists whose works complement each other in some way.

This month, visitors to the Steeple Center gallery can view "Vietnam...a look, then and now," a collection of watercolor paintings and pencil sketches by Rosemount's own Craig MacIntosh and photographs by Wisconsin native Betsy Preston.

Both artists have spent time in Vietnam.

MacIntosh, who has called Rosemount home since 2004, grew up in a military family, spent three years in the army, and served as a platoon leader in Vietnam from 1968 to 1969. He later returned to Vietnam as a humanitarian.

Preston, who holds a Bachelor's Degree in Fine Art from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, traveled to Hanoi, Sa Pa, Hoi An, and Halong Bay in northern Vietnam in April with a group of photographers. Unlike MacIntosh, she has no memories of the Vietnam War.

"I'm going there with a different set of eyes," she said."I think (our works) complement each other nicely."

Preston said both her photographs and MacIntosh's paintings focus on the people of Vietnam. She said a number of war veterans attended RAAC's opening reception for the artists and MacIntosh's work in particular really spoke to them. One veteran shared that a piece depicting fishermen playing cards beneath a shelter shows Vietnam exactly as he remembers it.

"Some talked about how they feel like the country hasn't changed that much," Preston said. "The culture is the same."

RAAC member Mary Kay Lananger, who helped organize the exhibit, said that with Veterans Day approaching, she felt the timing was good.

"Many vets attended, talked, and shared stories," she said. "It was very heartwarming."

"Vietnam....a look, then and now" will be on display through the end of December. The artwork will be available for viewing during the Steeple Center's regular business hours, Mondays through Fridays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. It covers the building's first and second floors.

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