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On My Desk: Rock collection: Music motif infuses museum office

Colleen Sheehy is a fan of rock and roll and her office shows it. The director and CEO of the Plains Art Museum collects silk screen prints of music shows and her office decor includes a photo of Sheehy and rock superstar Bruce Springsteen. Dave Olson / The Forum

By Dave Olson


Colleen Sheehy’s work space at the Plains Art Museum is home to a personal collection of images and artifacts collected over years.

A common thread runs through much of it; from the silk screen posters of music events lining the walls to a photo of Sheehy with music legend Bruce Springsteen.

“I’m a big rock and roller, and I’ve tried to bring popular music into the art museum,” said Sheehy, who took the job of director and CEO at the Plains in October 2008.

Before that, she was education director at the Weisman Art Museum at the University of Minnesota.

While there, she worked on an exhibition relating to Springsteen and his connection to the road and automobiles.

As part of that, she ended up meeting Springsteen and having her picture taken with him.

Her overall impression of The Boss, as Springsteen is known?

“He was very quiet,” she said.

Besides the celebrity photo, other office décor include:

  •  Posters of music shows. Sheehy buys them inexpensively from a group of artists in the Twin Cities known collectively as the Aesthetic Apparatus.
  •  Ceramic plates bearing the likenesses of musical giants Frank Sinatra, Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley.

Old Blue Eyes and the Man in Black are posing for police mug shots

Sheehy thinks the image of Presley was taken when he entered the Army.

The plates were made by ceramics artist Amber Parsons.

“Usually you think of ceramic plates having, you know, some president on them,” Sheehy said. “I just thought it was funny she (Parsons) did these bad boys of music and their mug shots.”

  •  A Day of the Dead figurine wearing a sequined gown.

“Some friends gave that to me,” Sheehy said.

“The Day of the Dead practice in Mexico and other South American countries, they use skeletons doing all the things we do in life. It’s kind of this attitude about life and death not being that separated,” she said.

On one wall of Sheehy’s office hangs a poster she said speaks to what she believes about art and its role in people’s lives.

Part of it reads:

“Art has to be cheap and available to everybody. It needs to be everywhere because it is the inside of the world. Art soothes pain! Art fights against war and stupidity.”

Sheehy said she couldn’t agree more, calling art “something essential that should be for everyone.”

Dave Olson
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