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Art Posts

Duluth named a top city for foodies by Livability.com

DSC05565A cool story crossed news desks yesterday. Duluth is once again on the national radar as a very special place. Last year Outside magazine gave us kudos. Now it’s Livability.com. Here are the details.

Arts fellowships and grants awarded to Duluth artists and regional organizations

The Arrowhead Regional Arts Council awarded the following grants and fellowships to the following applicants, many from Duluth. If you see these artists, congratulate them.

Selective Focus: The Human Comedy

Jeremiah Brown

Jeremiah Brown, “Heiko”

Mirthful man that he was, Nietzsche wrote “it is man alone who laughs; he alone suffers so deeply that he had to invent laughter.” There’s a recognition there that being human is a difficult endeavor, and that taking ourselves too seriously is one of the ways we compound the difficulty. Thanks to all who braved letting down their stoic fronts this week.

Selective Focus: Open Theme

Eric Dubnicka

Eric Dubnicka, “Slop Bucket”

Glad that I called a random theme because it let me catch up with recent doings I’ve missed. Emily finished a marathon, Ed had a great opening (and buffet), Zach made it to Grand Marais, Aaron’s son finished 1st grade, and Richard snuck in a ‘lifty.’ Follow the links for more happenings, like the progress of Annie’s root cellar, or Brian’s contributuions to “Made Here” in the cities (which could flourish in the Twin Ports too).

Selective Focus: Zen

Bryce Kastning

Bryce Kastning, untitled

I did not anticipate needing this theme to the degree that I did; sometimes, you can be overwhelmed by the coarse, the squalid, the noisy, and the negative. Photography often affords me a psychic reprieve, and I’m grateful now to live in a place where one can so easily step into a placid physical place when the madness gets too far inside. Sufficient? Time will tell.

Art Aplenty in Minneapolis and Duluth

On Friday night I saw Cheng-Khee Chee demonstrate his painting at the Tweed Museum — OMG what an honor and a treasure to watch someone create a painting of Koi before your eyes. Thanks to Tweed Director Ken Bloom for making this possible.

Selective Focus: Idyll/Idle

Tina Luanna Fox

Tina Luanna Fox, untitled

It might be the nascent Quaker in me, or the latent Buddhist, but I’m coming to appreciate matters that are lovely because of their impermanence. Artists, maybe photographers in particular, are susceptible to an alternative notion that we can keep moments, thoughts, and experiences — as though the marking were the substantive thing when the effects may be more so. That said, sharing our markings can produce grand effects. 

Adam Swanson’s Spirit Mountain Mural

Local filmmaker Nicholas Sunsdahl has put out his second film in the past year: “Adam Swanson’s Spirit Mountain Mural.”

It’s about the mural now on display at the Spirit Mountain Grand Avenue Chalet. The mural was produced as part of the city of Duluth’s One Percent for the Arts program, and it’s subtitled in French, because, you know, Quebec isn’t far away.

Our very own “odd couple” produces food and art organically

Annie and Janaki

Annie Dugan and Janaki Fisher-Merritt are two of the most fascinating individuals I’ve ever met. When considering that they are forged together in the partnership of marriage, farming, and as catalysts of unique art, the combined effect is like lightning captured in a bottle. Duluth is beyond fortunate to have them influencing our lives in unique and whimsical ways. Learn about the masterminds behind the Food Farm, Free Range Film Festival, the Duluth Art Institute, and more, here.

Selective Focus: Memorial

Brian Barber

Brian Barber, “Cat Portrait”

Some vivid reminders this week that memorials can take many forms- anything from the solemn to the absurd. It’s good to recall our histories, our milestones, and our experiences with due reverence at times, and at others with some humor and an ironic distance.

The Duluth Superior Film Festival needs wheels!

The Duluth Superior Film Festival needs a 12/15/18-passenger vehicle for use during the festival. Every year the fabulous Riki McManus of the Upper Minnesota Film Office takes filmmakers and guests around the area and shows them all the great locations the area has to offer in an effort to get them to come back and shoot their next film here. In the past, we rented the vehicles, or got great help from the Duluth Experience. TDE is booked this year, and some weird liability change has taken all the rentals out of the market. Do you have (I’m looking at you, local bands) or know of anyone who could let us use one of these types of vehicles? We have money! Dates of use would just be a few hours on Friday, June 5 and Saturday, June 6. Please contact richard @ ds-ff.com if you know of anyone who could help. Thank you! Come see some free films!

Getting to know Adam Swanson

Adam

My quest to network and develop friendships within our local community of artists continues. In advance of Adam Swanson’s upcoming opening reception at the Great Lakes Aquarium later this week, read more about this fascinating local artist here.

Selective Focus: Permaculture

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.

Duluth Grill book in Barnes & Noble

duluth_grill_cookbookHey! 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.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jJn6ohCl6I0

“Now we Float”

Now we FloatI 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.

ophelia Ophelia 2

“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.