Art Posts

Experienced piano teacher bouncing with new ideas looking for students

the whole pianoI’m a piano teacher with more than 20 years experience teaching students of all ages and all abilities on the hunt for students! I spent last year getting an MA in Community Music in Ireland, and while that was happening I lost a lot of students (which makes me sad).

That MA is changing so much about the way that I approach my teaching and music making, I decided that I might as well present myself to the world as a brand new teacher, and to do that, I made a brand new website: emilymoepianostudio.com.


Anna Tennis Saturday EssayAll names in this story have been changed, because this is the internet. But not because of you. You’re wonderful.

If you had told me five years ago that a life could be forever altered by a toddler’s stutter, I would have rolled my eyes deep enough to dislocate my optic nerve. Maybe that’s a little melodramatic. My point is, I wouldn’t have understood. Like so many things, there’s often a pretty good delta between experience and imagination. I know a little better now, because of my own experience, and while this isn’t the worst thing that ever happened to me, it actually did change my whole life. This one little thing. A stutter.

I remember how, a week before my second daughter, Lilly, was born, I was thinking about how, in the new Pooh movie, Piglet lost his stutter. I had a little internal dialogue about the ridiculous, reactionary nature of helicopter parents, so sensitive to anything that might hurt … someone … that we couldn’t even joke around anymore. They had probably driven the change in Piglet’s fluency. Except I didn’t know to use the phrase, “change in Piglet’s fluency,” yet.

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.

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

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.

Selective Focus: Ken Zakovich

Ken has been working for many years as a designer for print, interactive and other projects that typically make their way through the ad agency where he works. Recently, he’s been applying his design skills to some innovative 3-d and other projects.

Call for Halloween Banners

We want to see your Halloween photos at the top of this page as banners. Keep in mind the hauntingly horizontal format, it can be tricky to work with, but a treat when it works well.

Sorry, that was terrible.

Click here for complete submission guidelines, but the basics are: 1135 pixels wide by 197 pixels high, e-mail them to [email protected]. We’ll put them in rotation near the end of the month.


Selective Focus: Bill Coit via Valerie Coit

Earlier this year, my friend Val started posting photos her dad had taken to a Facebook album. They were obviously decades old, but they were pristine. These weren’t scans of tattered, faded, off-color prints found in a box in the basement, they were scanned from the slide film her dad shot. A couple years ago, my mother-in-law passed away, and my brother-in-law took on the job of scanning the best photos from a big chest of old pictures and sharing them with the family via Dropbox. All this makes me wonder what will happen as most or all of our family photos become electronic, not physical.

Entering the story, painting the dump gray, and the last chicken


This is why I think you should go see the production of One River, happening at UMD’s Marshall Performing Arts Center each night this week until Friday. My experience relayed here might be a bit self-centered, especially the comparison to another touching moment when our dog died in my arms recently, but this is how I was affected by these remarkable young actors. Now I can see the power theater has to really touch the heart. Read more at Ed’s Big Adventure.

Dark in the Daytime

Saturday Essay - Dave SorensenHaving populated the northern reaches of this place, atop an oily veneer of civilization, we once more ride our tilting Earth into the shady side of its orbit, where things get slippery. For millennia natives traveled well in winter. Nowadays, however, snow-tires or no, wheels and ice don’t jibe. You probably noticed this the first time your car twirled like the Tea Cup ride at the fair, while sliding through a stop sign. Most types of winter recreation — snowshoes and sleds, skates and skis — not only start with the swishing of the letter “S,” they’re also atavistic. No fancy-schmancy wheels. Recreational snowmobilers are an evolutionary dead-end, though, as one once told my friend, “dinks gotta have fun, too.”

The Norwegians say there’s no bad weather, just bad clothing. Then again, the Norwegians gave Henry Kissinger a Nobel Peace Prize. So take that with enough grains of salt to cure a barrel of cod.

Before the deep snow, or the deep cold, the darkness begins. Is it any wonder that people light up the Christmas season like some sort of Jesus-in-Vegas act? There are long shadows at lunch, and the afternoon light shines all day long. My friend Tim, who no longer orbits the sun, used to putter around his house in late December, muttering, “ dark … dark in the daytime.”

Selective Focus: Joe Polecheck


Our area has provided plenty of stunning scenes for photographers, but Joe Polecheck’s photos go beyond typical landscapes as he has some fun with subjects, tricks and experiments.

J.P: I’ve always been involved in the arts, both painting and drawing ever since I was a child. I’ve always been able to identify things I liked or not when appreciating photography. About 2 years ago, I realized I’d better put up or shut up and try my hand at it. And as my wife has told me, “nothing can just be a hobby for you” which leads me here today!

Sixteen Years on the Superior Hiking Trail: Preparations

Paul Lundgren Saturday EssayAt some point in the 1990s, I started hearing about the Superior Hiking Trail, a new footpath designed for hikers to see the sexiest peaks and rivers in the wilderness along the North Shore of Lake Superior. It didn’t come up very often in conversation until the year 2000, which is when it began to annoy me that I had never hiked a speck of it — other than maybe wandering away from the waterfalls at Gooseberry and noticing markings that told me I was on the not-yet famous trail I’d been hearing about.

It was April 2000 when an upstart Duluth newspaper called the Ripsaw began publishing weekly and I stepped up to be its managing editor. The paper had a weekly “Adventure” article and I suddenly found myself around people who had taken on parts of the SHT and heard stories about a handful of souls who had through-hiked the whole thing, which at the time meant trekking from Two Harbors to the Canadian border.

There was a rumor going around that Dusty Olson ran the whole trail in two days, which I found almost but not quite believable. The notion that such a feat could be close to true at least led me to think I could do it in fewer than two weeks. Then I heard the first documented person to conquer the trail had a fused spine and partially paralyzed legs, and hiked with forearm crutches. That made it hard for me to make any excuse that I wasn’t physically up to the task.

Selective Focus: Hemlocks Leatherworks


This week, a little bit of fashion in Selective Focus. We hear from Candace Lacosse who operates Hemlocks Leatherworks.

C.L.: I am primarily a shoemaker (which is a cordwainer, not a cobbler), but I love designing and making just about anything out of leather and waxed canvas: bags, purses, wallets, leather-bound journals, really just about anything.

Sixteen Years on the Superior Hiking Trail: Introduction

Paul Lundgren Saturday EssayThe yearning for adventure is a pretty common human trait, along with the practical good sense to not get into a situation you can’t handle. The old Scout Motto is “be prepared,” a creed intended to make one think practically and plan ahead for potential disaster. There’s a colorful expression for those who are not ready for life’s misfortunes; they find themselves “up Shit Creek without a paddle.”

Not wanting to drift helplessly in liquid feces, people often put off serious adventure and plan to check their dreams off a “Bucket List” at some point between the impractical now and the day before it becomes physically impossible. When a Bucket List goes as planned, it’s a beautiful thing. More often than not, of course, it ends up being a list of unfulfilled wishes. That’s generally preferable to premature death in pursuit of pretty scenery, so lament accordingly.

There are also those perfect people in the primes of their lives, dressing up in expensive wingsuits and gliding majestically down from the world’s most spectacular cliffs. Are they the sons and daughters of the obscenely wealthy or did they persuade a gear manufacturer to sponsor them? Maybe both. Don’t be jealous. You probably wouldn’t take that leap if you could. I know I wouldn’t.

Selective Focus: Shawna Gilmore


Shawna Gilmore has had a busy year, with four shows in eight months, so chances are you’ve seen her sometimes surreal combinations of nature, kids and animals around town. This week in Selective Focus, she talks about her work and what she’ll do with a little bit of down time.

S.G.: I am a visual artist painting primarily in acrylics on wood panels. I occasionally use graphite and paper, my first artistic love. My style is ever-evolving. . . but my current illustrative style came about from a piece I did 3 or so years ago called “Beneath Her Feet” Everything about that piece made sense to me, from the starry sky and trees/roots, to the vintage woman and her farmhouse. It was really a lightbulb piece for me. I had been experimenting with people in my work, women’s faces mostly, but only the vintage characters rang true for me. Somehow their timelessness and history add the genuineness I need for my more narrative images to transcend current times. I also realized I was most interested in telling stories through surrealistic scenarios in my paintings.