The Minnesota arts community is mourning the death of Pamela Espeland, a writer and editor who was passionate about every aspect of the local arts scene and used her stories to amplify artists and venues.
Espeland, 70, who penned the Artscape column for MinnPost Tuesdays-Fridays since the publication launched in 2007, died suddenly on Sunday. According to MinnPost, she "collapsed at home on Sunday night while working at her desk."
"As both a lover of the arts and a keen observer of human nature, Pamela was a pillar of the Twin Cities cultural scene, and helped to lift up the careers of so many writing articles for MinnPost and the Star Tribune. We were all shocked to learn of her sudden death Sunday night," Marianne Combs, a fellow arts journalist, wrote in a Go Fund Me page set up for Espeland's husband John Whiting, noting the couple was inseparable.
In a tribute MinnPost published Tuesday — the day Espeland's first column of the week would have run — former managing editor Susan Albright writes:
"Pamela was a consummate pro for whom 9 to 5 was more like 24/7. She and her husband, John Whiting, would frequently attend multiple arts events in a day – and the day often extended far into the night and early hours of the morning. I was Pamela’s editor, and I would often run into her and John during intermission at the Northrop or Orchestra Hall — only to hear about what venue they were heading to after the performance. So it was no surprise that Pamela was prepping for the week’s interviews on Sunday."
Combs wrote that Espeland's stories were often accompanied by photos taken by her husband, noting he helped make her career possible, adding "Really, it's the two of them who were covering the arts scene all these years."
Here is Espeland's final Artscape column:
Albright touted Espeland's interviewing skills and thoughtful questions, as well as her "lively, curious mind and a kind, generous spirit," noting she loved the arts, especially Jazz.
"And now we are in shock and feeling her loss deeply, realizing that we will no longer be illuminated by the radiant, effervescent light she brought to her work on the arts — and to everything she did," Albright said.
Tanner Curl, who is the executive director at MinnPost, posted on Twitter that he was "absolutely stunned" to get the "terrible news" about Espeland's death, adding: "Working with Pamela and getting to know her at MinnPost has been one of the best parts of working here."
Others who knew Espeland or her work have been paying tribute to her on social media. Here is a sampling:
The Go Fund Me will benefit Whiting, who is "devastated by the sudden loss of his beloved." The fundraiser notes money raised will help him make mortgage payments and cover the cost of living as he "likely begins a job search."