Networks of art, history, laughter

The weekend was full of immersion in networks of art, history and laughter.

On Friday, I went to the MacRostie Art Center in Grand Rapids for the “Bridge” exhibit.

The exhibit is remarkable, and negotiations are under way to bring it to Duluth. From the text, the exhibit is “the result of two years spent documenting the stories of people affected by 2007′s I-35 bridge collapse by photographer Vance Gellert. Bridge presents portraits of 50 individuals including survivors, family members of victims, first responders, and secondary support people, as well as photographs of the twisted remains of the bridge itself.” The exhibit is both moving storytelling as well as a powerful visual experience at least in part because of some powerful curatorial decisions made by Katie Marshall and Ashley Kolka. They  helped to create an exhibit that is a genuine aesthetic and social experience.

The gallery and finance manager at the MacRostie was kind enough to invite me to join her and the artist at the local VFW for some live music.  I learned that she used to offer a class in American Art as told through Minnesota collections (e.g. the Walker, the Weisman, etc.). Duluth’s most significant early collectors of art were the Congdons, of course, and I was lucky enough to catch the last day of the Glensheen Holiday Tour. Sometimes, the opulence of Glensheen chafes at me — because I think about the lives of the servants, maybe, amid but not really a part of that opulence. But in the holidays, everything is splendid and splendor.

What impresses me most about Glensheen is the way programming has changed my experience of the site. When I moved here in 2005, you brought out-of-towners to Glensheen. Now, I go several times a year — for music in summer, pumpkins in Fall, now at Christmas.

I toured Glensheen with Catherine Meier, who is preparing for her upcoming McKnight exhibition. There is so much talent in Duluth.

Much of that talent was present at Lawrence Lee’s annual private showing of In the Bleak Midwinter at Zinema2. (I am amazed at how cool it is that you can affordably secure a screen for a private showing like that.) Lawrence is the Calendar Commander at PDD, a powerful engine for theatre and nerd culture in Duluth, and one of the finest men I’ve met.

And in Duluth, I meet a lot of fine people — whole networks with whom I might enjoy art, history, and laughter.

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