Selective Focus: Carolyn Olson


Carolyn Olson takes extremely ordinary daily events and turns them into big, colorful studies of life and relationships.

C.O.: I am primarily a narrative painter working in either gouache, water-based oil paint or pastel. I have also experimented a bit with sculptural figures made out of plywood or iron.

A bio photo from an oil on board 36" x 48" called "Halloween Costume"

Self-portrait called “Halloween Costume.” Oil on board 36″ x 48″


My subject matter has always been based in my daily life – family/friends, observations of others – often strangers. I’m from Duluth originally and moved to the Cities after high school to study painting and graphic design. From there I moved to Mississippi where I worked as a graphic designer for a non-profit organization dedicated to social reform. Being one of the few white folks in our neighborhood I spent a lot of time observing, listening, and re-examining my place and work. My drawings and paintings at that time were my way of trying to understand the people and the place where I was living. Being from the north and white – it was a cultural education. My paintings were universal stories such as a mother’s love for her family, children playing – poverty and race became a part of my subject matter.

PDD Calendar Index: Ska Fest

ska-fest-2016Friday: Ska Fest
Friday: Minnesota Ballet’s “Dracula”
Friday: The Rocky Horror Picture Show
Saturday: Boo at the Zoo
Saturday: Trampled by Turtles
Saturday: Remixing Shakespeare with Original Music by Low
Sunday: Ross William Perry
Sunday: Halestorm, Lita Ford and Dorothy
Monday: Brian Buckstead and Tracy Lipke-Perry
Wednesday: Boo Bash Skate and Scare

Farmhouse brewery under construction near Duluth


A distinctive brewery is under construction a few miles southeast of Duluth in Midway Township. Oakhold Farmhouse Brewery specializes in mixed fermentation, a method of brewing that yields a class of beers commonly referred to as “sours.”

Duluth Works Steel Mill Presentation

trainworldussteelSammy Maida produced this documentary about U.S. Steel’s Duluth Works operation. Maida built a 20-by-6-foot model diorama of the mill that was on display at Saint George Serbian Orthodox Church in June.

Curling and Possibility (A Reflection from Duluth Curling Club)

I went to the “learn to curl” night at Duluth Curling Club. The club has a storied history:

The Duluth Curling Club was organized in 1891… [The facility] can be expanded to provide up to 13 curling sheets for major events, and is the largest facility in the United States. With this facility, we have grown to the second largest club in the US; only the St Paul (MN) Curling Club, has more members.

We have hosted two World Championships, the US Olympic Trials, and numerous National events. Two DCC members have been inducted into the Curling Hall of Fame, for service to the sport. Numerous members have participated in and won State and National Championships over the years, and even a few World and Olympic Championships.

There are at least three curling clubs in the region, including one in Two Harbors and one in Superior, and I am thinking I will curl in Superior, if my friends out there will have me as I develop my skills.

Learning to curl taught me a lot.

Video Archive: Ted Nugent 1991 Backstage Interview in Duluth

damnyankeesPrior to the Feb. 27, 1991, Damn Yankees concert at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center Arena, KBJR-TV had a quick chat with Ted Nugent, Jack Blades and Tommy Shaw. In the clip, the “Motor City Madman” discusses his band’s mission to boost the morale of U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia.

Video: Red Fox at Sunrise on Park Point

park-point-recreation-area-sunrise-red-foxRichard Hoeg captured video of this red fox at sunrise this morning on Park Point. “Twas neat to watch the fox do its morning grooming and occasionally play with some sticks,” he wrote on his 365 Days of Birds blog.

Kaszuba leaves Brewhouse for Bev-Craft

Frank Kaszuba announced recently on Facebook he is leaving his position as head brewer at Fitger’s Brewhouse. His new employment is with Bev-Craft, a Superior-based consulting firm that helps new breweries by providing “development assistance, brewhouse planning, recipe formulation, ingredient selection, brand creation, and sales planning and assistance.”

St. Louis River Estuary National Water Trail Master Plan (Draft)

nwt-master-plan-report-draft-2016Duluth’s Parks and Recreation division is inviting the public to comment on a revised draft of the St. Louis River Estuary National Water Trail Master Plan. The plan seeks to recognize “one of the world’s largest freshwater estuaries as a premier paddle destination that targets a wide range of skill and interest levels,” according to a news release. “The rich history of this river as a significant waterway for Native Americans and Voyageurs and as a working river serving the twin ports of Duluth and Superior, combined with the expansive natural resources surrounding the estuary, provide a tremendous opportunity to showcase this amazing resource to the community.”

The draft plan was created during a nine-month planning process. It will be open for comment until Oct. 28. A revised plan will be presented to the Parks Commission on Nov. 9.

Waterfalls with Wern

Video by Kyle Zirbes.

Mystery Photo #43: Does anyone know which old bar this was?


This picture was originally posted on the Duluthians of Zenith Facebook page. So far, the Pickwick and Spalding Hotel have been eliminated. The poster figures it must be a bar in the Duluth area because it’s stamped with a Duluth Photographers name on the back. Someone in the thread recommended posting it here because you guys know everything there is to know.

Open Tues. Thru Sun. Closed Tue.


Similar to the Green Door Lounge, ay?

GinStrings from Minneapolis at the Gunflint Tavern

These guys killed it last night at Gunflint Tavern in Grand Marais. 10.14.16 – Check these guys out the next time you have a chance. #minnesotaproud

Sixteen Years on the Superior Hiking Trail: Cascade River to Temperance River

Paul Lundgren Saturday EssayThe second leg of my Superior Hiking Trail journey began Sept. 14, 2001, at Cascade River State Park. Two friends dropped me off that Friday night at a campsite in the dark, then immediately turned around and drove back to Duluth. My first job was to get out a flashlight and put up my tent.

The big clumsy contraption I slept in the previous year had now been replaced with a fancy Marmot model I could scrunch into a tight bundle, which would make hiking a bit easier. This tent has gone on to serve me well for 15 years and counting, but I wasn’t impressed the first time I set it up. Yes, I broke a tent pole before I ever slept in the thing. Perhaps setting it up for the first time in the dark led me to force things too much. Whatever the case, a single broken pole is not a big deal and did little to hamper my experience.

The next morning I was up early and on my way. Maybe an hour into the hike, a bit of morning mucus had built up and I did what anyone alone in the woods in such a situation would do: I pushed one finger against the side of my nose, turned my head and blew snot out the other nostril. It was at that moment I noticed a female hiker was right behind me, and this would be how we would get to know each other.

“Oh, good morning,” is probably what I said. She replied with a hello, or something like that, and kept on hiking at a rapid pace. I think I saw her again when she stopped for a snack and I passed her. Then she passed me again later. I don’t remember how many times this happened.

The truth about Shakespeare in Duluth

2016 has been full of 400th anniversary observations of Shakespeare’s 1616 death. Having first read Shakespeare in Duluth, I was thrilled to return for my hometown’s own First Folio celebrations, from the exhibit at the Tweed Museum to an early music concert. It was an honor to speak at St. Scholastica, where I was once part of the crew for Cymbeline, with librarian Todd White as the baddie Iachimo. At the Marshall School, I did the lighting for A Midsummer Night’s Dream, starring Maria Bamford (Titania) and Katie McGee (Puck) under the direction of Tim Blackburn. (Our Marshall librarian Louis Jenkins recently teamed up with Shakespearean actor Mark Rylance.)

ThineOwnSelfCaught up in the quatercentennial excitement, it’s easy to become fixated upon what Shakespeare supposedly thought, rather than how he thought — that is, what kind of education led him to think the way he did. I take as an example of this misguided fixation myself, 25 years ago. My 1991 yearbook profile includes the usual pimply portrait scribbled over by classmates’ farewells. For my motto, I selected a quotation from Hamlet: “To thine own self be true, and it shall follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.”

And I of course attributed those words to Shakespeare.

Unwittingly, I was doing what countless others had done before: quoting a dramatic passage out of its ironic context, and acting like Shakespeare said it himself, rather than a fictional character. Shakespeare’s words circulate far beyond their origins, whether in 17th century manuscripts, 18th century novels, 19th century poems, 20th century cinema, or 21st century politics.