Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Personal tools

Navigation

Home

Tom Arndt’s Minnesota

2009
Author:

Tom Arndt
Introduction by George Slade
Foreword by Garrison Keillor

Home

A visual tribute to the people of Minnesota from a renowned photographer

Tom Arndt’s pictures are as plainspoken and humane as the people in the photographs. They speak to an ideal of modesty and fairness, of beauty in common things. They are a reminder of who we were and what we can still be.

Sandra S. Phillips, Senior Curator of Photography, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

For forty years, acclaimed photographer and native Minnesotan Tom Arndt has been documenting the faces of Minnesota with unparalleled skill and candor. In Home, Arndt presents what he calls “a poem to my home state” through a series of poignant and compelling photographs that highlight the unique character of Minnesota.

From Franklin Avenue in Minneapolis to Main Street in Willmar, from carnival workers at the state fair to drag racing fans in Anoka, and from small-town street dances to the Aquatennial torchlight parade, Home captures everyday life in the North Star State. By allowing people’s lives to speak for themselves, Arndt’s photographs reveal the often forgotten moments that build common bridges across a diverse and ever-changing state.

Enriched with more than 100 photographs, along with a personal and insightful preface by the author and a foreword by Garrison Keillor, Home is a landmark testimony to the people and culture of Minnesota. Arndt approaches his subjects—he would call them neighbors—with honesty, empathy, and humanity, and what emerges is a portrait of Minnesota that is at once achingly familiar and surprisingly new.

Home

Tom Arndt has been documenting his home state of Minnesota for more than forty years. His photographs are in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. His first book, Men in America, coincided with an exhibition at the National Museum of American Art. He lives in St. Paul.

Garrison Keillor is the host and writer of A Prairie Home Companion and host of the daily program The Writer's Almanac. He is the author of sixteen books, including Lake Wobegon Days, The Book of Guys, and Homegrown Democrat. His syndicated column "The Old Scout" is published in newspapers across the country.

George Slade is a Minnesota-born photography historian and curator. He received a 2007 Arts Writers Grant from the Creative Capital/Andy Warhol Foundation to support his forthcoming book, Looking Homeward: Notes on Photographic Minnesota.

Home

Tom Arndt’s pictures are as plainspoken and humane as the people in the photographs. They speak to an ideal of modesty and fairness, of beauty in common things. They are a reminder of who we were and what we can still be.

Sandra S. Phillips, Senior Curator of Photography, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

Tom’s images reflect his compassion for the people he photographs. For me, his work has a visual clarity and emotional richness equal to the very best documentary photography out there.

Toby Old

Each of Tom Arndt’s photographs evoke a short story, telling tales of lives lived long and well, and of youth living fast and hard. The Minnesotans at home whose histories are proudly shared counter the strangers passing through the State Fair Midway, yet we are drawn into both worlds through Tom’s camera lens. Gathered together in his book, the resulting narrative features a cavalcade of characters, all of whom take their place in our imagination.

Mary Virginia Swanson

Tom Arndt’s world is a dangerous place. In it you may catch a glimpse of your one, true, unattainable love, or you may walk right into a mean right hook you didn't see coming and end up on your back, seeing stars. Both hurt like the devil. There are moments in his pictures when you can feel the cold breath of despair on your neck or see in another's eyes the reflection of your worst fears. But never for long; darkest night is always relieved by the presence, however faint, and the promise, however implicit, of the illumination that will tell us where and who we are. The light is the destination and the reward. Tom’s photographs are a map and they are the path itself. They encourage us to unlock ourselves, and the world opens up in response. By this we may understand that the risk of pain is the price of an open heart. We're grateful to Tom for giving us a key.

Frank Gohlke

With Tom Arndt as your native-born guide, you can actually know a lot about Minnesotans just by looking. He begins from a psychological bedrock that he shares with his fellow Midwesterners and brings it to universal consciousness. It is an entirely human report on a place profoundly understood and sympathetically photographed, something rare in these days of instant messaging and short attentions spans.

David Travis, former Curator of Photography, The Art Institute of Chicago

Spanning 40 years, these moments freeze a lost time, a lost Minneapolis, and, when Arndt visits rural farming relatives with camera in hand, a lost way of life. The best part of the book comes at the end (although Garrison Keillor contributes a nice forward; the men are pals), when the photographer gives a little insight into the making of each photo.

MinnPost.com

Arndt has a generous spirit and creates images of tremendous empathy. Home is completely accessible, a book of local history for everyone who’s ever groaned at having to sit through a slide show of vacation photos with no people in them. Arndt is all about the people; as with an album of family photos, we smile at the familiarity of his subjects while noting the telling period details that creep in around the edges of the frame. This is a collection to visit and revisit for its documentation and celebration of the real Minnesota, the Minnesota we know and love.

Twin Cities Daily Planet

Forty years of Minnesota in gorgeous black and white.

Star Tribune

Arndt’s observations convey more than is seen at first glance, drawing the viewer back again to delve more deeply into the images. Home will resonate with anyone admiring fine photography—doubly so if Minnesota is their home too.

Lavender

At his best, Ardnt’s photos, most of them portraits, have the depth and power of documentary work by Frank and Liebling.

Rochester Post-Bulletin

Arndt has entered into a pact with his subjects, a mutual understanding about this Minnesota life—honest and affectionate without being sentimental or cloyingly romanticized. Each of these portraits is tied to a specific recognizable time and place: diners, parlors, drag strips and sports arenas, city sidewalks or the County Fair. The details of these settings are wonderful, and we could happily dwell on them alone. But these photographs are, most essentially, about the people who inhabit these places (often stoically, sometimes joyfully, always proudly) and call them home.

B&W Magazine

This book features a beautiful collection of . . . black and white images that offer a candid glimpse at daily life from the 1970s to the present.

Shutterbug

Midway through my first look at Home, agape came to mind among cascading layers of emotions and thoughts. I’ve never used that word in conversation or print (unless for some long forgotten college paper) before now. Rachmonis, yes—for you Lutherans, Yiddish for a broad sympathy, a feeling for the other: love, well of course, everyone knows what love is, even true love. Without true love there would be no Great American Songbook or rock n’ roll or opera. If you have a few lingering questions on this ancient topic, take a slow look at this book. Tom Arndt loves people; he loves each and every one of us unconditionally. Photographs prove nothing, but his photographs bear witness to this claim.

Photo Eye

Viewing Arndt’s photographs is like reading a book, very slowly, isolating and focusing on each word, one at a time. But, in the end there are sentences, paragraphs, stories, and meaning.

mnartists.org

Arndt’s images are powerful. . . . These photographs are potent not only in composition, but also for the information they contain. In a culture possessed with the attractions of consumption (at least until very recently), whether of things or personalities, Arndt’s work is singularly unconcerned with such things. His subjects are society’s persistently uncultivated; they are anti-bling. Rather, Arndt’s risk has been to find the significance in the insignificant. Underlying these seemingly banal images, a careful viewer can mine a reservoir of information—about the politics of the day, racial tension and harmony, the steadfast hand of poverty, the fruits of hard work, and the power of friendship.

Mason Riddle, mnartists.org

By allowing people’s lives to speak for themselves, Arndt’s photographs reveal the often forgotten moments that build common bridges across a diverse and ever-changing state.

The Photograph Collector