Artist left a legacy of creativity and positivity to his family and community.
Respected local artist Chris Foote was a beloved area resident known for his positivity within the community and creative talent as an artist and comic strip creator. “I’ve never met anyone as fine as Chris,” says his wife of over 25 years, Diane Foote, who is assembling a collection of Chris’ work for others to experience the depth of his creative talent.
Since Chris’ unexpected passing in 2021, Diane continues to discover some of his artwork that she’s never before seen. Their Deephaven home is full of Chris’ art—from small sketches to paintings over 6 feet tall. “I have the first oil painting he did when he was 8 years old,” Diane says—Chris never threw anything away. To wit, with the help of her daughter Erika Ramsey of Wayzata, they’ve photographed most of Chris’ art. So far, they’ve captured over 1,700 pieces, and there’s more to go. The breadth of his work is impressive—from religious-themed elements to “some of the most hilarious cartoons,” Diane says. Among his art clippings are political comics, personalized greeting cards and illustrated books.
A man of many talents, Chris was a writer, painter, illustrator and website designer. He had two home offices well before working from home was the norm, developing his website design business, Modern Design, tucked in the home’s lower level, and illustrating in his sun-filled artist studio on the main floor. Many might know him more for his work as a comic strip creator. He was hand-picked by Star Tribune cartoonist Steve Sack to illustrate Doodles, which they worked on for seven years starting in 2013. In 2020, Chris took over as the sole artist and writer. The Doodles activity cartoon strip for kids of all ages appeared in the Star Tribune and numerous papers throughout the United States and Canada. It was syndicated through Creators Syndicate.
Chris enjoyed interacting with readers, as many of them would send in riddles to be used in a future comic strip. “He saved every letter,” Diane says. Receiving up to 20 letters a day, some envelopes remain sealed, but most fans received a personalized thank you note from Chris.
The artist was smart, talented, kind and known to be a deep thinker. When not drawing or designing, Chris was an avid “serious” reader of philosophy. Diane never bothered him while he was nose deep in a book. He also had a silly side and was known as a prankster. Chris wrote five children’s books with a dream of becoming a published author. A stack of rejection letters sits alongside the sketches, but nothing stopped him from drawing.
Chris had another passion—his fondness for the community, which led him to create lakeminnetonka.com and the Lake Minnetonka Fan Club Facebook page (both inactive and up for sale this fall). He spent afternoons driving around Lake Minnetonka, pausing to draw places that impressed him. “It was common for him to be heading to a meeting and stop to sketch when something caught his eye,” Diane says.
Part of his personal collection includes pencil sketches of lake life around Wayzata and Excelsior and a large painting he entered in the Minnetonka Center for the Arts’ art show in 2004. An original collage is on display at the Champlin Library, where he captured the essence of the community, depicting Champlin’s past and present woven with pop culture trends.
There are more plans in the works to display collections of Chris’ work in the Twin Cities area and beyond. “For all those interested in seeing his artwork, special gallery showings are in the planning stages for galleries in the Minneapolis and St. Paul areas,” Diane says. “I promise to all who view the scope and breadth of his creative abilities, [they] will be stunned by his genius, his humor, his sensitivity and definitely his most humble spirit. He has been an unbelievable gift to our family and soon, hopefully, to all in the entire Lake Minnetonka area, which he grew to love so much.”
Artistic talent runs in the family. Chris’ first art teacher was his mother, Elinor Foote, who studied in the atelier of Edmund Wuerpel, an American painter and educator. Chris credited his mother for purchasing his first set of oil paints when he was 8 years old. “I learned the craft at my mother’s side, and, by the age of 12, I was selling my paintings and drawings at local art shows and on the steps of the capitol building in Washington, D.C.,” Chris once said by way of introducing himself at an area event.
Many might not know that when Chris moved to Deephaven from Washington, D.C., in 1968, with his family, he wasn’t fond of his new home. The cold winters were challenging for Chris and his siblings, and he missed the cherry blossoms that colorfully illustrate the East Coast. But Chris grew to love this area and didn’t venture far after graduating from Minnetonka High School in 1976. He delayed entrance to the University of Minnesota (U of M) in order to help care for both his parents, who were ill at the time.
Once attending the U of M, Chris studied art history and was the art director for the school newspaper. He later studied art at the Atelier Studio Program of Fine Arts in Minneapolis.
After graduating from the U of M with a degree in art in 1986, he worked in advertising. As an artist with Campbell Mithun (now Mithun Agency), he created cartoons on cereal boxes for General Mills, Kellogg’s and several other food companies.
As we now realize, his artistic story was just getting started …
For additional information, contact Diane at email@example.com.