Minnesota arts community mourns writer Pamela Espeland
Pamela Espeland, a writer and editor who was one of the busiest and most passionate journalists covering the Minnesota art scene, died Sunday evening of a stroke, according to a statement her family shared on Monday. afternoon on Facebook.
âMany of you know her as the voice of the Twin Cities arts community,â they wrote in an article made available to Espeland’s Facebook friends. “Some of you probably met her with John at a show at Dakota, Orchestra Hall, Icehouse, or the Old Artist’s Quarter. You’ve probably read her column, interviews and articles on MinnPost and [the] Tribune of the stars. Maybe you caught her at the yarn store or at Sebastian Joe’s. As a friend once told her: “You are accepted in more places than VISA”.
Tanner Curl, Executive Director of MinnPost – where Espeland was longtime art columnist – wrote on Twitter that he was “absolutely stunned” by the news and that the post was preparing “a keepsake that will be a start to recognize the incredible gifts Pamela has brought to MinnPost and our community.”
Espeland was a familiar face for thousands of artists and audiences from Twin Cities who grew accustomed to seeing her at concerts, plays, art exhibitions and readings. She was very passionate, but brought a critical perspective to her writing and a keen journalistic instinct for important stories like her most recent MinnPost article on the departure of community lawyer Joan Vonderbruggen from the Hennepin Theater Trust.
As the Twin Cities Art Reader notes, Espeland was a Carleton College graduate who “alternately wrote, co-authored, or edited over 200 books, including fiction and non-fiction titles,” during her employment with Minnesota Free Spirit Editions, which specializes in self-help books for children. She has also written for the Star Tribune, NPR and other sources. Marianne Combs, a fellow artistic journalist, launched a GoFundMe campaign to support the widower of Espeland, John Whiting: a photographer whose work often accompanied the stories of Espeland.
In the music world, Espeland was known as a fan of all types of music, but she was particularly knowledgeable and passionate about jazz. She understood the depth of the Twin Cities jazz scene and constantly worked to illuminate its stories.
âPamela was one of the first people to make me feel really welcome on the jazz scene as a talent scout,â recalls Diane Miller, host of The Current’s Local Show. âHis warmth and concern for the artistic community was undeniable. “
You make MPR News possible. Individual donations are the source of the clarity of our reporters’ coverage across the state, the stories that connect us, and the conversations that offer insight. Help ensure that MPR remains a resource that brings Minnesotans together.