Matt Thorsen

Collector

Having grown up with two very artistic parents, it seemed natural to have a desire to appreciate and collect various pieces of artwork.

The desire grew even stronger after my family was introduced to Randall Voelker.

Back in the early 1970’s, my parents were looking for a framer to frame some of my father’s oil paintings.  They happened to stumble across a man that lived in this cute cottage in the woods.  He milled all his own frames, as well as handmade the mats and other details.  It developed into a friendship that lasted over 4o years.

Probably one of the first things I had framed by Randall was a batik I did when I was a freshman in high school.  When I went to go pick up the finished piece, I fell in love with Randall’s workmanship.  Now the fun began for me….

Over the past 30 years, I have been to many places and looked for interesting art work.  I also had my annual visits to the Cities’ art fairs  (Uptown-Loring Park- Powderhorn- Edina- Excelsior- Stockholm, WI …. ).  These continued visits introduced me to a variety of artists; many of whom I still have friendships.  As I collected work to be framed, I also continued to bond with Randall.  It became a challenge for both Randall and me.  I would tell Randall that I needed more unique features in the frames (so my whole house wouldn’t start looking like “Randall frames”)…. This grew into things like: me looking for 3-D pieces of artwork (ceramics- metal pins- ceramic coasters- carved wood).  One time I gave Randall a piece of stained glass, thinking he would frame it.  Instead, he made it into a table.. What a nice surprise.

When I would go on vacation, I would always look for very unique things for Randall to frame.  Half the excitement was seeing the expression on his face when I’d drop the work off at his house.  He would (many times) say, “Whoa!  This is going to be effortful.”  As always, the best part of our relationship was having Randall see my expression when I’d go pick up the finished frame.  He continued to amaze me!

Our friendship grew over the years and we spoke often (even though he lived 350 miles away).

Randall’s client base grew as my friends and family saw his artful works.  They not only became impassioned customers, they too formed strong fellowships.  

The collection of Randall works grew into over 200+ pieces these past years.  I thought it was time to pass these artworks on to others- for them to enjoy and admire.  

It continues to sadden me that Randall is gone, since having him in my life also inspired me to look at art in a different perspective.  I still feel that passion, but I’m not sure I will ever be able to find someone as unique as Randall to enhance my artwork.  

There is comfort in knowing that Randall’s work will carry on for years to come as it hangs in different peoples’ homes.