MPR News is running a series this week featuring photos by St. Paul native John Vachon, who worked for the Farm Service Administration and Office of War Information. From 1938 to 1943 he documented American life and how relief programs were helping those struggling through the Great Depression.
The image above is the only Duluth photo so far, but there are a few Iron Range and Beltrami County gems.
Hey! A little late here with the news, but The Duluth Grill Cookbook has been picked up by Barnes & Noble in all Minnesota and Wisconsin stores. This is fun. My favorite news appearance was in Madison, not the least because they told me right at the last minute they’d love to see a cooking demo. I was not prepared for a cooking demo.
I recently saw the the work of Duluthian Shannon Hickok Cousino, including this piece.
My first thought is that I am drawn to it because it reminds me of other, iconic imagery — like the paintings of Ophelia (paintings by Millais and Waterhouse, below). These are the “tragic woman” of literature rendered as a beautiful tragedy. Almost so beautiful they are hard to imagine as tragic. Without a doubt, we have aestheticized the suffering of Ophelia, of women, repeatedly.
“Now we Float” makes no attempt to aestheticize the tragedy (at least, if by that, we mean erase suffering and replace it with flowers and outstretched hands).
Even as she floats, the figure in “Now we Float” does not break the surface. The surface weighs upon her. A friend of mine called it “weight of insurmountable pressure” — the kinds of pressures that crush someone, inside or out. I am remembering here the Pipher books about Ophelia that were so powerful in the 1990s.
But is the woman in Cousino’s work tragic? “Now we Float,” as a title, speaks to a kind of agency, even in death. As opposed to the scene captured on film (perhaps a scene of floundering, struggling, drowning, beneath those pressures), now, we float. Now, we simply rise to the surface. There is a simple clarity in that title, one that both underscores and undermines the tragedy, I think. No longer struggling, she floats. No longer struggling, though, she fails, still, to break the surface.
Manhattan-based photographer Charles Eshelman takes his bathtub to Duluth to capture video confessions. Guests in the tub are Vicki Fingalson & Jeff Madison, Linda Wick, Badger Colish, Mark Swenson, Zach Chase and Calland Metts & Sarah Lawrence.
Ah, the stereograph — a nineteenth-century wonder in which almost identical photographs, side by side, can viewed with a stereoscope and appear three-dimensional. On a website they just appear silly and pointless, but in this case there’s some fairly fancy historical scenes to browse.
By far the number one thing people contact the PDD Help Dept. about is uploading an image to a post. It’s actually a pretty simple thing, but there are just enough tricks to screw up a newbie. Since it’s much easier to learn with a visual aid, PDD Intern Kelsey Marier put together this video.
Charlie Parr is one of the most unusual and fascinating individuals I’ve ever met. He has lived in my neighborhood for years, but for some reason I hadn’t summoned the courage required to knock on his door until only recently. Finding him to be as accessible as an open book, I unexpectedly encountered a kindred spirit while making a friend. I don’t come across many kindred spirits, so this is worth writing home about.
Read more about this fascinating, one-of-a-kind soul here.
Duluth jazz bassist Adam Booker performs a track from his new album Unraveled Rival on the May 14 episode of WDSE-TV’s The PlayList. Booker’s band features Ryan Frane on keyboard, Tim Stratioti on trombone and Ben Ophoven-Baldwin on drums.