In an age of dire news the term “permaculture” may seem optimistic. Still, what might have been the province of raving hair-shirts not long ago now looks to be among our sanest alternatives to hegemony. Permaculture is an organizing principle of practices that assert systemic, creative approaches to the reuse of natural resources to sustain both people and native animals on a local scale. The Arrowhead is fortunate to have a concentration of people at the forefront of this movement, and the attached links are well-worth following.
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.
Oft sought, seldom found, more often induced. Still, when genuine… It might not be apparent, but our lead image this week by Aaron Reichow was shot at the circus. Amazing that amidst all of the tumult that this child managed to tune all else out. There’s something axiomatically spiritual in that, I think.
It is time again for the Duluth Superior Film Festival’s call for volunteers. This is an international film festival, and June 3-7 will be the sixth year of bringing independent film, musical events, performances, parties and art to the Duluth area. To keep the fun running smoothly, we depend on the help of volunteers.
I was warned what a wrecking ball of mirth this Homegrown fest can be, so I should count myself fortunate to have emerged merely psychologically disfigured. Hope you’ve all managed to retain some vestige of the life that pre-existed this marathon, and god willing we’ll see y’all next year.
Some new work this week, and favorites from seven months of moderating this virtual agora. Next week’s theme will be “whadya’ do last week” because I’ve heard there’s some sort of festival hereabout; “homespun,” “homeslice…” something like that.
When I announced the next week’s theme to be “bed,” I certainly did not intend that to be singular- that Kip Praslowicz would represent the only submission at hand. However, it does now occur to me that our artistic community might be reticent regarding anything that resembles prurience, at least publicly. Lesson learned, beloved new home.
This week has been a week of literary experiences for me, from International Falls to Minneapolis, from Icebox Radio to Holy Cow Press.
I drove with friends from the Arrowhead Regional Arts Council to International Falls. It was both planning/working/friendly talking time with Ashley (grants manager) and Bob (executive director) and time to visit friends in International Falls.
I’ve heard there is an austere beauty to deserts, though I have never lived in one. Still, I can’t imagine, being from the North, a landscape without trees, or being without their practical, aesthetic, poetic, mythical, and allegorical implications — all there is of oxygenation, fuel, foliage, building, climbing from our simian origins, tree of life, the axis mundi, tree of knowledge…
This week’s feature is somewhat scant due to fewer than usual submissions. However, the several photos that did arrive were clever, imaginative interpretations of our theme (in particular, Cheryl Reitan’s take on underwear, or lack thereof). Next week’s theme will be something else we’re all acquainted with, although possibly less bashful about exhibiting- “trees.”