Art Posts

Selective Focus: Editor’s Choice

One year of Selective Focus would be impossible to capture in a single post, so I’ve gleaned just a few personal favorites. I think we’ve accomplished together many of my initial desires to foreground the real people who live work and play here, and to build community through art, no matter how homely or grand.

Selective Focus: Loss

Karen Owsley Nease

Karen Owsley Nease, “Selling Mom’s Car”

There is a perverse fullness in loss. Loss propelled me here. It informs my need to make art. It makes space for the unexpected to grow. Atul Gawande’s recent book “Being Mortal” describes “the chasm of perspective between those who have to contend with life’s fragility and those who don’t.” Loss widens our apertures to see farther down narrow, well-worn paths. It opens us to risk, and to more keenly-felt joys.

Painting Charlie Parr’s guitar, and who the heck is Dave Hundrieser?

Charlie Parr's Guitar

My wife, Shawna Gilmore, has an interesting job. Today, for example, she painted the back of Charlie Parr’s amazing guitar. The instrument is a phenomenal work of art, both front and back. Next Tuesday is a great opportunity to come out and hear Charlie make music with it alongside his good buddy, Dave Hundrieser. Read more about Charlie and Dave, and see the garage they recorded in together previously, at Ed’s Big Adventure.

By the way, Teague Alexy, Tin Can Gin, Don Ness, Emily Larson, a stunning tap dancer, and I, will also be participating in Cornucopia at the Red Herring Lounge. Check out this amazing event on Facebook/a> and the PDD Calendar.

Selective Focus: Bliss

Tyler Johnson

Tyler Johnson, untitled

Bliss is seldom of an epiphanic nature; it often just slowly suffuses us, when after years or moments prior we’d barely thought it possible that matters could just placidly align. But a surfeit of joy can be just as intolerable as an abundance of grief. Neither can be sustained, and each will evanesce, then quietly, someday, return.

Selective Focus: November

Hugh Reitan

Hugh Reitan, untitled

Limbs (of trees) stripped near to bare, firewood cribbed, quilts at hand, larders stocked. This is the month that Maslow’s hierarchy seems tangibly real, unless you’re an artist and thus inclined to invert the pyramid. Many diverse takes this week, despite my dread that a theme so prospectively barren would go unchallenged. Credit a strain of Scandanavian fatalism? Anyhow, thanks.

PDD Video Lab: Experimental Animation – Film to 3-D


In this silent video Adam Dargan, an animator from Duluth who now lives in Minneapolis, takes the physical exploration of film and re-imagines it in a 3-D environment.

If the silence is too much to take, we’ve selected some possible soundtracks for you. Start the video above, then press play on a soundtrack below.

Last Boo on Grandview



This is the last year the house on Grandview in the Chester Park area will be haunted. After 25 years, that’s sad, but thanks to the owners for such good times. Glad it was your house and not mine.

Selective Focus: Ancestry

Brian Barber

Brian Barber, “John Barber: Service station owner, school bus driver, Mayor, Parnell, MO”

This week’s theme offers the opportunity for a p.s.a.: have prints made of the images you’re making now, or we might not have the kinds of memories shown here. Digital media storage changes so quickly that having our memories in tangible form may vanish. Anyone still have a floppy drive on their pc, or a pc for that matter?

Updating Technology, Advancing Careers


On Oct. 15, 11 individuals from Duluth were awarded funding from the Arrowhead Regional Arts Council for its Technology/Equipment Grant Program. These grants are for individual artists seeking funding for technology needed to advance their career and body of work.

Arts & Economic Prosperity in Duluth

Creative Minnesota Duluth

A study released on Monday suggests the nonprofit arts and culture sector in Duluth generates over $36 million annually in total economic activity. Arts & Economic Prosperity in the City of Duluth, MN is a follow up to the statewide study Creative Minnesota: The Impact and Health of the Nonprofit Arts and Culture Sector. Highlights are above, fine print is below, and the full text of both studies are linked in the sentence previous to this one.

Selective Focus: Black and White

Brian Barber

Brian Barber, “Bandit”

Black and white photography is most often anything but. Degrees of tone exist in a broad spectrum within what we reductively deem either/or. I’ve argued before that its use as an aesthetic device is antiquarian, retrogressive- that the medium has grown past the limitation, yet there remains an appeal in seeing images pared to their essence, without the ersatz mediation of hdr and hyper-saturation.

The “Portrait of an Artist” Art Opening at the Duluth Art Institute


This is the Oct. 15 art opening of Sarah Brokke’s show, “Portrait of an Artist.”

Video Archive: Chainsaw Artist John Gage


Video produced by Margo Devich and Nathan Steigman for UWS Studio 2; shot in Two Harbors on Sept. 17, 1995.

Selective Focus: Coming Home

Paul McIntyre

Paul McIntyre, untitled

The idea of “coming home” propels nearly all our endeavors, knowing we are tethered to other people, to familiar, comforting things. For anyone lacking a stable, sane place, or those exiled by circumstance, the capacity to venture is stunted while the desire to find moorings never leaves us. Emily Norton’s “Family Motto” (below) states well this simple, not easily-attained aspiration.

Art and Literature about the Environment

wolfflow2 wolfflow3 wolfflow1

One more post about art and literature this week … some poetry readings and some paintings about the environment, in different ways.

I attended the Wolf/Flow art opening, hosted by Stephanie Johnson and Angie Arden, at the Zeitgeist Arts gallery.The work shimmers with the energy of collaboration, with passion for the natural world, and with exploration of a variety of media. And, if you contributed a line to the community poem at Wolf/Flow 2, you may be happily surprised to see what became of it.