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Brian Barber Posts

Selective Focus: Flo Matamoros

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Tonight (Friday, August 19) at Prove Gallery, there’s an opening of a collaboration between Flo Matamoros and Brian Ring called “The things they carried.” Flo Matamoros tells how her spontaneous, flowing style came to be.

F.M: My creative background is one that has been shaped by obsessive curiosity through the tool box that Art History is and the amount of creative mentors I have had since a child.
I was fortunate enough to receive around 7 years of classical painting training from age 7 until 14 in El Salvador (thanks mom!). So, I had to paint a lot of what I consider boring shit. Still life, landscape, flowers, etc. My professor said I had to master all that “boring shit” before I was allowed to paint the human form. So it took me until my freshman year at St. Scholastica (I started my higher education as a Chemistry Major because I thought that painting was bogus and Art was meh) to get over myself.

Selective Focus: Richard Colburn

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This week, we look at the quiet, fascinating photography of Richard Colburn.

R.C.: As a photographer I am interested in the social landscape, the idea that a photograph is drawn from life and engages, however eccentrically, being human and alive. There is a wonderful circularity in this way of working in that the photograph originates in the world and through carefully viewing of that photograph we see the world with fresh eyes. That refreshed vision is the result of carefully considering not only the subject but also how the photographer employs the language of photography. That language includes a photographer’s knowledge of materials and processes and history of the medium.
It may be asking a lot for a viewer to make such an effort when we live in a world clotted with easily made and circulated images that are consumed in an instant.

Selective Focus: Adam Swanson

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This week we hear from one of the area’s most prolific and recognizable painters, Adam Swanson. Adam has an opening reception tonight (Friday, Aug. 5) at the Tettegouche State Park Visitor Center.

A.S.: I work primarily with acrylic paints on tempered hardboard panels. In my youth and studies I experimented with a wide variety of media and techniques. Though I’ve always rallied against specialization, I accidentally grew to love acrylic painting.

Selective Focus: Dave Kirwan

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This week, we profile the multi-talented Dave Kirwan, an illustrator, animator, designer and film buff. Dave talks about how he got to the point where people pay him to draw silly pictures and the changing industry.

DK: I am today what I have been for the past forty-nine years, a commercial illustrator. People pay me to draw pictures that tell a story.

My first professional gig began on my sixteenth birthday when I was asked to augment my main duties as a cut and paste keyliner on a small weekly shopper with original cartoons and illustrations. Later on I worked at television stations, printers, publishers, was even a partner in an prominent Twin Ports ad agency for eighteen years. Yet despite official job titles of graphic designer or creative director, I have always pursued my primary avocation… I’m the guy who draws little men with big noses. Print ads, animation, even a couple of stints at national syndicated cartooning, I’ve always had a pencil in hand ready to sketch out the next idea.

Selective Focus: Tami LaPole Edmunds

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Tami LaPole Edmunds has taken her art — repurposing clothing, jewelry and accessories — and made a successful career out of it. Art in the Alley now has two locations in Duluth.

TLE: I have been upcycling jewelry and clothing since we opened Art in the Alley 8 years ago. I love taking apart an existing garment and using it to create a totally different piece. It is like putting together a puzzle…without knowing what the final outcome will look like.

Selective Focus: Moheb Soliman

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This week we stretch the boundaries of Selective Focus — both geographically and conceptually. Moheb Soliman is a poet who will be installing his writing in the form of very official looking signs throughout Apostle Islands National Lakeshore and the four other major Great Lakes national parks at trails, vistas, and beaches as part of the National Park Service centennial celebration. Some of the installations are already done and this month he will be finishing up at Isle Royale National Park.

Selective Focus: Plein Air Duluth-Paint Du Nord

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Next week the Duluth Art Institute will be hosting its second annual outdoor painting festival, Plein Air Duluth: Paint du Nord, from July 10 – 16, 2016.

Selective Focus: Tim White

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This week in Selective Focus, we feature Tim White, who curated the previous iteration of Selective Focus – photo submissions based on a weekly theme. Tim is a photographer, writer, and proponent of the arts, and has worked on several collaborative projects in his short time in Duluth.

TW: I’ve been making photographs for about the past seven years, having lost my previous practice as a painter to solvent exposure. There were a few dormant years during this time that followed a series of personal crises, and I recently returned to photography after moving to Duluth almost two years ago. I appreciate filmic images (both moving and still), but work mostly — due to the chemistry — with digital capture, then mediate these until they better reflect what I felt when taking the initial shot. I don’t believe in pursuing a personal “style,” though I’m glad when viewers note a poetic quality to my pictures. I admire poetry’s ability to employ elements with conventional meanings (words) toward more ephemeral ends, and hope in a similar way that my work isn’t limited by the literality of the objects I depict.

Selective Focus: Tim Kaiser

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Years ago, I was having a nerdy discussion about theremins with a friend, who informed me that there was a guy in Duluth who built them. He sent me Tim Kaiser’s website address. It was filled with photos of crazy sci-fi contraptions that made all kinds of even crazier noises. Evil mad science happening in a basement right here in Duluth. This week in Selective Focus, Tim Kaiser explains his combination of audio and visual art.

TK: I create experimental “music” with non-traditional instrumentation. Because I am less concerned with normal conceptions of melody and rhythm, I require different tools to create sonic atmospheres. This led me to design and build my own instruments and devices. I started out as a typical frustrated guitarist, but was drawn to more and more avant garde music and finally put the guitar away.

Selective Focus: Joel Cooper

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I’ve been fascinated by screenprinting for a long time, because I’ve done it, and I know how difficult and frustrating the process can be. Joel Cooper tells us about his process for this week’s Selective Focus.

JoelCooperJC: I am a silkscreen printer. I became interested in this medium when attending a workshop at the Duluth Art Institute in the late ’80s. I guess the whole process appeals to me. It fits my personality … It is slow. Each color is drawn with black ink on acetate using a pen or brush, exposed to a screen, and using oil based ink squeeged to sheets of archival paper. The colors are layered one on top of the other starting with the lightest and ending usually with black. Most prints take well over a month start to finish. I take a lot of photos to get ideas in the summer and save the printing for our long cold winters. My style would be considered representational.

Selective Focus: Nate Lindstrom

You may have seen Nate Lindstrom’s photography at art festivals or through his annual calendar. For this week’s Selective Focus, Nate tells us about his landscape photography.

“Awaiting”, Sunrise along the North Shore


“Awaiting”, Sunrise along the North Shore

NL: It felt like it took a lot of experimenting, some minor frustrations and a heap of learning to make landscapes my photographic focus, but in hindsight that interest developed a long time ago. I’ve always had a love of nature and being outdoors and moving to a very outdoor-centered area of Minnesota helped me look at my surroundings in a different way. I was spending more time on trails, on the shore, sleeping in our many state parks, living through the hottest 10 days of our summer and diabolical winters. All of these things inspire what I look for in a subject or composition, and shape my overall style.

Selective Focus: Moira Villiard

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This week’s Selective Focus subject has a solo show opening next Monday, June 6, at Zeitgeist Arts in the Atrium. Moira Villiard talks about her paintings and the physical toll her work has taken on her.

MV: People are often surprised when I tell them I haven’t been a painter for very long. I’ve always been involved in the arts, but my skills didn’t mature all that much until I got out of high school and spent my first few post-secondary years sketching portraits I found in old National Geographic magazines. Prior to that, I used to draw doodles in my class notes and took pride in calling myself a “surrealist,” though everything I’d done had been on notebook paper.

Selective Focus: Andy Miller

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This week’s Selective Focus subject makes the most of the square format of Instagram with beautifully composed photos of abandoned, forgotten buildings around the area. Andy Miller tells us why he documents them.

Selective Focus: Ann Klefstad

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Ann Klefstad is an artist who is definitely connected to this area, through her work across many mediums and by the writing, promotion and encouragement she’s given to the arts in our area.

AK: I work in sculpture, mostly, with some drawing, including ink and tar drawing on wood. My real “medium”, though, would be my subject matter. Over the years I’ve drawn closer and closer to doing only work that comes out of the ecosystem I’m in. I’m kind of a literalist, I guess. I love the forms of things, and so I use those forms, I try to learn them and come to know them by imitating them, like a kid learns.

Selective Focus: Jonathan Thunder

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This week’s selective focus subject has appeared on PDD before; doing the Robot on every street corner in Duluth. He even made the Best Videos of 2014 list. Even more impressive than his dance moves are his paintings. He’s also an animator and filmmaker. Jonathan Thunder tells about his diverse work.