Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Almost Wordless Wednesday: Culley, Chance, Nease and More

Culley crafts crisp lines forming fascinating and unexpected imagery, 
some of it fraught with emotion. You'll see many new pieces like these 
this coming Friday if you attend the 2017 Goin' Postal Fall Art Show.
816 Tower Avenue in Superior. 6-9 p.m.

THIS AFTERNOON at 3:30 p.m. 23 West 1st Street

Thursday evening. 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.

Friday 6-9 with afterparty at the Top Hat.

"Three States" Opening Reception at the new Joseph Nease Gallery, 
Saturday 2-5 p.m.

* * * *

So much to see, so little time. 
Will we see you there?

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Local Arts Scene: Makers Make A Mark

At one time photography was not respected as an art form. Then, a group of modernist photographers--Arthur Stieglitz, Paul Strand, Edward Weston and others--showed the possibilities and broke through the wall. A similar thing happened with printmaking around the 1940s and the definition of what was an acceptable art form was broadened yet again. The world has been enriched by these ever widening horizons.

This past week I dropped in on an Open House for Creative Makers and Artisans at the Creative Folk School in Lincoln Park. The place was buzzing with activity and enthusiasm.

When I first heard of the Twin Ports Makers, the word "Maker" in mind was tied to recent discussions and reading I had done pertaining to 3-D printing, technology empowerment and a movement to grass roots tool-making. Last week's Maker even was no such thing. It was people from various creative disciplines who have banded together to show and share their work, from basket-making to quilting, rosemaling to Zentangle. It's the art of functional creation, an aesthetic that seems to permeate our various blended cultures here in the North Country.

One of the groups represented was the Duluth Fiber Handcrafters Guild (DFHG). Formed in 1973, the DFHG is under the wing of the DAI and now consists of 125 members. One benefit of banding together with others is that beginners can get connected to mentors, experts who have learned many lessons about their craft-and-art making the hard way, including the business side.

This particular event was not about selling goods. Rather, it was an invitation to the public to come discover the kinds of makers we have actively creating in our community. The event was sponsored by the Needle Art Guild of Duluth, Northern Lights Machine Quilters Guild, Duluth Fiber Handcrafters Guild, and the Duluth Folk School. According to the DFHG website, "Our mission is to strengthen the creative capacity of our regional community by facilitating and encouraging a robust network of makers, artists, and community supporters."

If your creative urges flow in alternative channels, one of these might be worth checking out. The Northern Printmakers Alliance and the Northern Prints Gallery provide the same kind of opportunities for connection, mentoring, personal nurturing and growth. (Shout-out to Cecilia Lieder.) The potters and ceramicists here in the Twin Ports and up the Shore likewise have a decades long thing going. As do our Lake Superior Writers.

Once you get down to the grass roots, you discover how much more is happening here in the Twin Ports than you might have initially realized. It's worth the extra effort to dig down and check it out. 

Ribbon Cutting @ the new Joseph Nease Gallery tomorrow at 3:30 p.m.
23 West 1st Street

Kathy McTavish's "Chance" Opening Reception at the Tweed, Thursday evening.

The 2017 Goin' Postal Fall Art Show, Friday 6-9 with afterparty at the Top Hat.

"Three States" Opening Reception at the new Joseph Nease Gallery, Saturday 2-5 p.m.

* * * *
So much to see, so little time. 
Will you join us?

Monday, October 16, 2017

Local Art Seen: The Studio of Adam McCauley

Saturday afternoon I took advantage of the opportunity to visit the studio of Adam McCauley in the basement of his Lakeside home. As someone recently noted, he's incredibly prolific. He currently has a show featuring 42 pieces on display in Grand Rapids. I was there to pick up three pieces for next Friday's group show at Goin' Postal 8th Annual Fall Art Show featuring 15 to 18 local artists.

I've always enjoyed McCauley's explorations, so it was invigorating to have this opportunity to see more of his work, and the workspace it's created in. Married and the the father of a young son who plays soccer, he's worked in the restaurant trade for many years and also plays in a fairly edgy punk band. The twin passions of art and music not uncommon in artists or musicians.

As we entered the house he pointed out a Bill Morgan piece that he owns. I immediately had a better understanding of at least one of his influences. I checked  out a couple pieces that hung in the living room and then we descended to the basement, to his workspace. from there we climbed to the third floor attic space that has been finished off, providing storage for more work beneath its steeply pitched wings.

Designs both subtle and bold, textured and sparse, on canvases small and expansive, experiments and explorations that don't always work, while others producing marvelous effects. I suppose there are some who do not know how to appreciate non-representational and abstract designs. I find them intriguing, sometimes compelling, and nearly always interesting.

Here are some of the images I was able to capture this weekend. At least three of McCauley's pieces will be in our show Friday evening at Goin' Postal, 816 Tower Avenue, Superior.

Fodder for future designs.
I'm curious how many other artists are tucked away 
inside that network of Lakeside homes. 
Will we see you Friday?

Sunday, October 15, 2017

More Local Art Seen: An Elephant and a Souptown Exhibit

Jonathan Thunder was selected as this year's artist to decorate Elephant Rock in Lincoln Park. The Native artist has been turning heads lately. Here are several photos from the project. It would appear this is going to be a tradition. In my efforts to locate Elephant Rock I discovered that we also decorated the rock last year year as well.

Tools of the Trade

Here's a video of Jonathan Thunder talking about the project from the DNT. And here's Adam Swanson's rendition from 2016. It would appear that whoever named it Elephant Rock was apparently on to something.

* * * *
There are numerous local venues for emerging artists to place their work on public display. One of the first places I showed a few of my Dylan paintings was in a display case at the entrance of the Superior Library. It might be that are interested in finding a space to share your work. This is a small space but heavily trafficked. Here's what is on display during the month of October.

* * * * 

Mark your calendars: Kathy McTavish's Chance at Tweed on Thursday, and Goin Postal Show Friday. Three new artists in the mix: Elizabeth Kuth, Adam McAuley and Eric Dubnicka. Plus all the usual suspects. All good.

Meantime, art goes on all around you. Get into it.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Local Art Seen: Studio 101 Artists @ the DAI

This month's show in the John Steffl Gallery at the Duluth Art Institute features the artists of Studio 101, In Situ. In addition to art on the walls, the gallery has been set up to reflect the working space of an active studio where artists come together -- and in this particular case the artists of Studio 101 -- to paint together.

A special feature of this studio setup on the balcony of The Great Hall is that every Wednesday during the month of October the artists come and do their live painting here, the public invited to come watch. I can tell you from experience (I visited this past Wednesday for a little bit) that it's more interesting than watching paint dry.

Goran Hellekant
Each week they have a different model on a central podium and you can see, compare the various ways the artists interpret what they see. On the 4th they painted Terry Millikan, an artist who used to maintain a studio in Superior and who will be having a show at Lizzard's later this fall. This week Jamie Rosenthal sat for the four painters who came together on the 11th.

It was interesting to learn that the studio had originally been started by Jeffrey Schmidt and Penny Clark, who together operate Lizzard's Art Gallery & Framing. The seven artists who currently paint in Studio 101 (named for its address on Michigan Street) are Dorothea Diver, Lee Englund, Goran Hellekant, Constance Johnston, Cot LaFond, Dale Lucas and Larry Turbes.

I arrived after they'd been painting for about 90 minutes. You can see the impressive progress these artists made in such a short time.

Constance Johnston
Lee Englund
Dale Lucas

I love the various interpretations of the same scene. 
If you get a chance, check it out. 

Friday, October 13, 2017

Arts Writers Discuss Why, How Write About Art

1. one of 10 divisions of an ancient Roman legion
2. a group of people banded together or treated as a group.

Martin DeWitt
A new arts project is underway. It's esoteric title is Ambient Intelligence: Duluth Arts Writing Cohort, but it seems that whatever it gets called it's going to generate an immense quantity of fascinating dialogue with potentially significant ramifications. The creator of the Cohort, Judy Budreau, had been the force behind the journalism/media project One River, Many Stories of 2015-2016. 

For 90 minutes last night 20 people from a range of backgrounds and perspectives gathered in the DAI board room to discuss the questions "Why write about contemporary art?" and "Why do we participate in making art and writing about art?"

Kathy McTavish, whose newest exhibition Chance is slated to be unveiled next week at the Tweed, served as moderator for this first gathering. Three panelists were also present to present ideas that served as catalysts to further discussion: Jordan Moses (All Black Zine and Prove Gallery), Ryuta Nakajima (UMD School of Fine Art), and Ashley Kolka (ARAC).

In her opening remarks McTavish stated that writing was a profoundly human act and a way of understanding our world. She also discussed how writing is a positional act. That is, when we write we approach our themes positionally. We've all been taught the main viewpoints since grammar school, whether it be third person, second person or first person perspective. She then noted yet a fourth perspective, the "zero person" perspective, which comes from that subliminal place below the conscious mind, below "I", below the cerebral self. "It's a beautiful place to stay in for a moment," she said. And an interesting concept, I thought to myself.

After elaborating on this initial groundwork she introduced the panel, and for the next hour we dissected the premises put out on the table. The next day, one of the members of the cohort emailed me expressing her sentiments regarding the first meeting. "I thought the conversation yesterday was riveting," she wrote.

Here are a few of the highlights that emerged from the dialogue that ensued, attribution supplied where it was clearly indicated in my notes.


Digital image from Kathy McTavish's Quantum Project
1. "The arts writer's job is to find entry points for people to engage." --Tim White

2. Judy Budreau asked "Why is it important to write about art?" These were a few of the replies.
--"It's a passionate love story." (Kathy McTavish)
--"We write because we're afraid people are going to forget."
--""I write about it because it's survival and renewal, a revitalization of our culture. These are our stories. This is who we are." (Kayla Stewart)
--Annie Dugan compared it to a love letter connecting us.
--Jordan Moses stated that arts writing is something he does intentionally. "I care about the future."

3. "Art is a window that opens our eyes and minds." --Ryuta Nakajima

4. A concept that I heard echoed by more than one person was the problem that comes when our words "fix" a work of art in place, like capturing and pinning butterflies to a board, or placing things into cubby holes so they are neatly packaged and dispensed with. Words bring a "closure" that the art itself resists. (This was a discussion that could have been explored far more, were there time.)

5. Ryuta Nakajima shared how in the scientific community people write papers that show their full understanding of the thought and research that preceded us, how we then add our two cents (or whatever) onto the stack of previous papers, hoping to add to the accumulated knowledge. "Do we do this as artists?" he asked. What is our contribution to the historical dialogue?

Quite frankly, he was expressing the same line of thought that I've been recently contemplating. It was refreshing and stimulating to hear re-affirmed.

6. Another topic batted around briefly (and worth further exploration) was how the arts magazines have evolved into promotional tools for the galleries and museums, and that in an effort to keep advertising revenues flowing they tend to mute overly critical reviews. (EdNote: What I just stated is my interpretation of the discussion, which would be worthy of further exploration at some time down the road. I myself still have a 1974 ArtForum magazine which I enjoy perusing now and then. When I compare it to what that publication has become today -- a book-sized volume of 400 pages with seemingly three-fourths advertisements for galleries -- it's quite apparent that the above indictment could be leveled against this and other former leaders of arts criticism. They don't want to offend.)

7. There are many pockets of artists doing interesting work apart from the "big" arts scene today.

8. Jordan Moses described the Zine scene as "a lawless zone where I could say and do what I want," where there are no rules.

9. There was a significant discussion about recent events at the Walker involving an incident that occurred at the Walker Art Museum earlier this year.  (This insightful article was posted this week, furthering the dialogue about inclusiveness.)

10. "I write... because it's survival and renewal, revitalization of our culture. These are our stories. This is who we are." --Kayla Schubert, Indigenous Arts Journal

11. Another direction the conversation briefly went that could be explored further: "What happens in your brain when you have an aesthetic experience. Language has nothing to do with that."

12. Corollary: "Art can be a social betterment tool."

As our time expired one last comment seemed to resonate with the room. "Art is also a drug."

* * * *

What a rewarding discussion. What a shame we have to wait a month for the next meeting. Fortunately, we don't have to wait a month to have our next conversation. Thank you, Judy, for your work in putting this together.

Meantime, art goes on all around you. What are you working on now?

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Throwback Thursday: Play Ball!

So it is that another season has passed and the post-season festivities have commenced... and for the Cleveland Indians have concluded. This weekend the New York Yankees and Houston Astros will face off and duke it out for the right to represent the American League in the Fall Classic. Tonight, as I post this, the Chicago Cubs are battling the Washington Nationals for the right to advance to the next series. In short, it's a good evening for baseball chatter, a few anecdotes and quotes about the game. What follows was originally scribbled on this date in 2011.

* * * *

Yesterday afternoon I finished watching Ken Burns' ten-plus hours of documentary devoted to the game he loves called, simply, Baseball. As reviewer Dave McCoy at puts it, "Burns doesn't just detail the great players and the memorable plays and games; he also presents baseball as a cultural and social mirror, reflecting the beauty and hypocrisy of the nation that created it."

We love our heroes and we love our distractions, and we love the feeling of being part of something that has a long history, a continuity that precedes us and will extend beyond us as well. No matter what is going on in the outside world, baseball marches on. The game never stopped for World War I or World War II, the Korean War or Viet Nam, though for a moment on 9/11 it did pause for a few days. Nevertheless, for the most part baseball lives inside its own bubble. Salary disputes couldn't kill it. Strikes didn't kill it. Scandals haven't derail it. And based on the dollars flowing into the pockets and bank accounts of both players and owners one wonders how it can continue to so bedazzle this nation of fans.

When talking baseball I have to interject at least one personal anecdote, and his one came to mind because of the some of the new ways a player's value is determined. In Little League I was a star, one of two from our team to be invited to the All Star Game. But the following year, I had a very different experience. Being a late bloomer and not as fully developed for my age, that first year in Pony League proved, well, challenging. And I had a most unusual batting record.

I was a good infielder, so I got to play, but for some reason I had trouble with the faster pitchers. At this level there were some kids actually being scouted by major league teams, so you know what caliber of pitchers I was up against. All this to say I actually went an entire season without ever hitting a fair ball. To my credit, I had a good eye and discipline, so even though my batting average was zero my on base percentage was .500. That's right, I struck out 13 times and walked 13 times. As they say, a walk's as good as a hit. Fortunately my high school numbers only got better from there.

Needless to say, here are a few more quotes on The Game, courtesy QuoteGarden where they were assembled.

You see, you spend a good piece of your life gripping a baseball, and in the end it turns out that it was the other way around all the time. ~Jim Bouton, Ball Four, 1970

People ask me what I do in winter when there's no baseball. I'll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring. ~Rogers Hornsby

Baseball is the only field of endeavor where a man can succeed three times out of ten and be considered a good performer. ~Ted Williams

I'm convinced that every boy, in his heart, would rather steal second base than an automobile. ~Tom Clark

You gotta be a man to play baseball for a living, but you gotta have a lot of little boy in you, too. ~Roy Campanella

No game in the world is as tidy and dramatically neat as baseball, with cause and effect, crime and punishment, motive and result, so cleanly defined. ~Paul Gallico

There are three things in my life which I really love: God, my family, and baseball. The only problem - once baseball season starts, I change the order around a bit. ~Al Gallagher, 1971

I don't want to play golf. When I hit a ball, I want someone else to go chase it. ~Rogers Hornsby

* * * *

Meantime, life goes on... 

Event Reminders: Local Art Scene

OCTOBER 20, 6-9 P.M.

Prøve Collective

23 West 1st Street, Downtown Duluth
Wednesday October 18, 3:30 to 4:00 P.M.

@ the Tweed
Kathy McTavish's New Installation
Opens Thursday, October 19.

* * * *

* * * *
Meantime, art goes on all around you. Engage it.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Almost Wordless Wednesday: Live from Zenith Bookstore

All images on this page come from Zenith Bookstore, Central Avenue in Duluth.
Maybe one day this will become the next City Lights. 
If you have not yet been, you should check it out.
Across the parking lot from Beaners Central.

For what it's worth, at least two of my books can be found here.
No shipping costs when you buy in the store. Nice!

Meantime, what book did you say you were reading today? Or writing?